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How to prepare and cook squirrel meat

Learn how to safely prepare squirrel meat and get the most out of your harvest.

Squirrel hunting is great way to add wild food to your freezer throughout the fall and winter. While both red and gray squirrel are huntable species in Massachusetts, most hunters target gray squirrels because they are larger and produce more meat. 

Table of Contents

Cleaning and meat preparation

After a little bit of time and practice, squirrel cleaning will become second nature. The quicker you get to the task, the easier the hide will come off, and the quicker you can cool down the finished meat.

  • Wear rubber gloves to keep your hands clean and keep any bacteria from your hands off your squirrel meat. 

Step One (The Shirt):

  • Cut the base of the tail, just above the anus with a sharp knife. Cut through the vertebrae in the tail but do not cut the skin on the other side. 
  • Place the severed tail under your boot pinning it between your footwear and a rock (or piece of wood) and grab the squirrel by its hind legs. 
  • In one smooth motion, pull up on the squirrel’s legs away from the tail. The hide will begin to peel off the carcass, like you are taking off the squirrel’s “shirt.” This works best when the squirrel is still warm right after the shot.
  • You will be able to pull the hide off the carcass all the way to the head and front paws. Leave the hide on at this step, it’ll help you with leverage for the next step.

Step Two (The Pants):

  • After Step One you will be left with a carcass that only has hide on the rear legs, resembling “pants.” There will still be fur attached to the head and front legs too, which you will use to anchor the squirrel for removing the “pants.”
  • Continuing to step on the tail attached to the “shirt” section of the hide, pull the “pants” section of the hide off the squirrel to the hind paws, where you can sever the hind paws from the carcass and then sever the head and forepaws from the carcass.


Once the hide, feet, head, and tail have all been removed from the squirrel, it is time to gut using a knife or game shears.

  • If using a knife: make an incision from the bottom of the rib cage toward the back legs. This will allow you to reach your hand inside the body cavity and remove all the internal organs. Once the squirrel is eviscerated, it’s ready for cooking.
  • If using game shears: make an incision from the bottom of the rib cage toward the back legs and cut through the center of the pelvis (muscle and bone), then gently push the legs apart to open the pelvis. Then use the shears to reach inside and clip out the internal organs, letting gravity take them to the ground.
  • Placing skinned and gutted squirrels in a gallon-sized plastic bag in the back of your upland vest or inside your pack will help to keep the meat free from debris. Leave the plastic bag open so the meat can continue to cool.


  • Once the squirrel is eviscerated, you can quarter it easily with shears. It’s usually better to do this when you get home from your hunt. The two front legs can be clipped right off behind the shoulder. The two hind legs can then be cut at the hip joint. This will give you 5 pieces of squirrel ready for cooking.
  • If you want to take it a step further, you can delicately remove the meat from the bones to allow for bone free cooking. A small sharp knife and some patience will do the trick for the legs. Don’t forget to remove the meat along the spine as well.
  • Don’t be afraid to rinse the meat prior to cooking; often there will be hair and blood on the meat after gutting.

Read more about best practices for wild game processing and preparation.

Squirrel pot pie recipe

Squirrel pot pie

This recipe makes 12 personal pot pies.

Prepare the squirrel

  • 8 quartered squirrels
  • Chicken broth
  • Water


  1. Add the quartered squirrels to a slow cooker. Cover with liquid which is half chicken broth and half water. Set the slow cooker on low and cook for 4–6 hours. 

  2. Once cooked, pick the meat off the bones and set aside. 

Prepare the pastry

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour 

  • 1 tsp salt 

  • 1 ½ cups of cold butter 

  • 1 egg 

  • 5 tbsp of cold water 

  • 1 tbsp of distilled white vinegar 


  1. Combine flour and salt in bowl and work butter into mixture for 3–4 minutes. 

  2. Beat egg and then incorporate into mixture. Add cold water and vinegar and stir mixture together until it is combined. 

  3. Wrap in plastic and put in refrigerator. 

Prepare the filling and cook the pies

  • 1 large yellow onion 

  • 3 celery stalks 

  • 3 peeled carrots 

  • ¼ cup of all-purpose flour 

  • ½ stick of butter 

  • 2 cups of chicken broth 

  • 1 chicken bouillon cube 

  • ¼ cup white wine 

  • 1 cup heavy cream 

  • 3 sprigs of thyme 

  • Salt and pepper, to taste 


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

  2. Place a large pot over medium heat and add butter. 

  3. Dice vegetables and add to pot. Sauté vegetables for a few minutes. Add squirrel meat and combine. Sprinkle flour, stir, and cook for a few minutes. 

  4. Pour chicken broth, and bouillon cube to create gravy. Pour in heavy cream and set stove to low heat and stir occasionally. Season to taste and add thyme. 

  5. Remove from heat. Pour the filling mixture into personal pot pie tins.

  6. Roll out the pastry dough and cut pieces that are a little bigger in diameter than the pie tins and lay it on top of the mixture. Press the pastry dough around the outer edge of the tin.

  7. Bake for about 30 minutes or the crust is golden brown. 

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