What Part of a Turtle Can You Eat?


While turtles are a part of some regional cuisines, including the spicy symphony of flavors found in southern Louisiana, they are not considered a mainstream entree. For this reason, if you are going to cook a turtle, be selective. If a turtle has red ears and a hard shell, it's likely that you won't find enough meat for the preparation to be worth your while. Snapping turtles and sea turtles are the most commonly prepared, and there are several parts of their body where you will find meat.

Outside the Shell: Neck and Tail

  • A turtle's tail and neck are edible. You can boil them or fry them, and after you've boiled the meat, you can include it in a soup or casserole.


  • A turtle's arms and legs, or fins, are also edible. They are best when prepared in a soup or goulash. At the point where the fins meet the main body, you will find the majority of a turtle's meat. The amount at this spot will vary widely by species, but the meat at this point is the best-tasting part of a turtle if you bake or fry it.

Internal Organs

  • In addition to the meat in and near the fins, you can also eat a turtle's liver, heart, windpipe, esophagus, pancreas and lungs. These might be more palatable in a stew or soup.


  • If you've caught a pregnant turtle, you may find some eggs inside when you open the body up before starting to cook it. They will look like a yellow bunch of grapes. In some cultures, these are a delicacy.

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