How to Cook a Cottontail Rabbit

Cottontail rabbits live wild throughout most of the U.S. and are a favorite prey of small game hunters. Cottontail rabbit meat is nutritious, containing less fat than chicken, turkey, beef, pork or lamb. Use moist-cooking methods for tender, flavorful meat because rabbit meat has naturally low moisture content. Rabbit meat can replace chicken in any chicken recipe, including recipes for cold cooked chicken. For a simple, hot rabbit dish, try a fricassee.

A cooked leg of rabbit on a tray.
Credit: ALLEKO/iStock/Getty Images

Step 1

Cut the rabbit into serving pieces. One adult rabbit should yield 2 to 2 1/2 lbs. of bone-in meat, or about four servings. Dust the rabbit pieces with flour.

Step 2

Heat a large skillet to melt 1/4 cup butter or 1/4 cup olive oil. Place the floured rabbit pieces into the hot skillet and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Fry the meat over medium-high heat until it is browned on all sides. Move the meat to edges of the skillet.

Step 3

Cook the diced onion in the center of the skillet until it turns translucent. Pour in 1-1/2 cups of red wine.

Step 4

Cut the celery into 1-inch pieces. Tie the celery, lemon, parsley and bay leaf in a piece of cheesecloth and place it in the skillet liquid. Cover the skillet with a tight-fitting lid and simmer gently for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the meat is tender and the liquid has reduced slightly.

Step 5

Remove the rabbit from the skillet and place it on a warm serving platter. Remove and discard the seasoning bag. Cut together 1 tbsp. butter and 1 tbsp. flour until crumbly, and add to the wine liquid in the skillet. Stir constantly until the sauce bubbles and thickens.

Step 6

Pour the wine sauce over the rabbit and garnish with fresh parsley sprigs.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cottontail rabbit, field dressed and washed

  • 1 cup flour

  • Large skillet with tight lid

  • 1/4 cup butter or olive oil

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 1 1/2 cups red wine

  • Lemon zest from 1/2 lemon

  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley

  • 2 leafy stalks of celery

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 tbsp. flour

  • 1 tbsp. butter

  • Sprigs of fresh parsley


Prepare the seasoning packet ahead of time. A sweet wine, such as blackberry or elderberry, makes a flavorful substitution for grape wine in the sauce.

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