How to Catch And Cook Snapping Turtles

Food sources can be scarce if you live off the grid, but lucky are you if you live next to the coastline or near a lake.

In these waters, you can catch and cook snapping turtles to supplement your food. It is a delicious dish that can be prepared in many different ways.

Snapping turtles are aquatic animals that like shallow and muddy places. Your work is to identify these spots, set your trap, and you are in for a great meal.

Even when food is very scarce, you can still depend on them to change your diet.

In this article, we will discuss different ways of catching snapping turtles and steps to cleaning them. Also, we will mention the most common snapping turtle dishes. Keep reading!

3 Ways To Catch Snapping Turtles

Catching snapping turtles is not challenging at all. You only need to identify the favorite approach, which can be setting a trap, using a floating jug, or using your hand.

Armed with the most appropriate method, head into the waters where you believe snapping turtles are and get to work.

Catch By The Trap

Using a trap to catch snapping turtles is by far the safest method of the three mentioned methods. You can buy an already-made snapping turtle trap or make it if you are a DIYer.

These traps can be a floating or a sinking type, and both are effective for catching snapping turtles.

With the trap ready, identify places you believe have snapping turtles. These can be muddy ponds, lakesides, beaches, or other water bodies that attract snapping turtles.

Get the most delicious bait, such as chicken legs or uncooked shrimp, and set it inside the trap.

Place the trap with bait along the edge of the water so that it is just submerged. Within a few hours, you should have your catch. Try other places if you are unsuccessful the first day.

Tomahawk Rigid Turtle Trap

Catch By Floating Jug

This method is more similar to catching a fish with a hook. The only difference is that a tightly sealed jug, such as a milk jug, is used to keep the caught snapping turtle afloat.

You will need a floating jug, fishing line, a hook, and bait.

Tie one end of the fishing line to a hook and the other to a floating jug. Set your bait on the hook and place the trap into the waters where snapping turtles are.

After a few hours, you should have your catch. And because of the floating jug, the caught snapping turtle cannot go back into the mud.

Catch By Hand

Catching snapping turtles by hand is a sure way, but it is also an approach that requires confidence. You need to be sure you can lift the animal from the water without falling into the same water.

For this method, you only need a pair of animal handling gloves and yourself. Good eyesight will also be necessary when spotting snapping turtles in muddy waters. Wear the gloves and head out for hunting.

Keep your eyes on the animals within the water and only act when you are sure what you are about to catch is a snapping turtle.

Grab it up by its two back legs and lift it out of the water. You can also grab it from the tail, however, that is likely to cause injury to the animal.


  • Catching animals such as snapping turtles is controlled by state laws and regulations. Check out these laws to ensure that you are permitted to carry out such an activity.
  • Catching snapping turtles can be a dangerous activity. So, check that there are no dangers in the water, where you will lay the traps or use your hands.
  • Snapping turtles can bite when provoked. You should be careful with its jaws and claws at all times.

Steps To Clean A Snapping Turtle

Steps To Clean A Snapping Turtle

Catching a snapping turtle is one task, and cleaning it is another thing altogether. Unlike fish that are relatively clean and easy to prepare, cleaning turtles can be challenging.

You have to follow a procedure if you intend to cook it and enjoy the meal.

The following are the steps for cleaning a snapping turtle:

Remove The Turtle’s Head

We will assume you already have your snapping turtle. If not, find a trap and set it in the shallow waters and wait for your catch.

Put the snapping turtle on the ground and stand on its shell. Its head should be right in front of you.

Grab its head with pliers or your hands and pull up. Have your hand gloves on if you will be grabbing the snapping turtle’s head with your hands.

With a clean and sharp knife, cut the heat from the body at its throat where the joint is. This step should be carried out diligently not to inflict excess pain on the animal. Do it fast and as appropriate.

Remove The Feet

This next step requires that your turtle is tightly held in place. To do this, you can drive two or three nails into a chopping board from the bottom.

Pin the snapping turtle onto nails sticking out of the board. Now proceed to cut the feet, about an inch from the claws. Your knife should find the joints.

You need to cut the feet to remove the claws that can cause unnecessary injuries in the subsequent steps.

Separate The Turtle Shell From The Meat

Turtle shells are not edible and should be separated from the turtle meat. It might look like a challenging task, but it is equally easy.

Cut the center of the bottom plate from the top right through to the vent. Now cut around the shell perimeter and start skinning from the middle.

The shoulder blades are located right next to the bottom shell. So, you need to be careful when doing this.

Work your way around the legs and neck and continue skinning just like you would with any other hunted animal. Continue until you set the top and bottom shells loose.

Remove Skin Legs And Neck

Complete the skinning by removing all the scaly skin around the legs and neck. The skinning is done in a much similar way to skinning other animals. Nothing is complicated!

Remove Intestines

To remove the intestines, cut open the skinned turtle. You can choose to cut it into four parts or just dissect it to remove the unwanted intestines.

This might not be a straightforward process, as you do with other animals, because snapping turtles have different bone structures.

Remove Bones

Depending on the type of dish you want to prepare, you can choose to remove the bones or not. This process involves separating meat from the bones, and you have to do it one by one.

Soak The Meat In Salt Water

Rinse the meat with clean water and soak in salt water and let it stay all through the night. It will be ready for cooking the next day.

6 Suggested Dishes To Cook A Snapping Turtle

6 Suggested Dishes To Cook A Snapping Turtle

Snapping turtles are a source of palatable meat. There are many ways through which you can prepare a turtle dish from the meat.

You can make a turtle sauce, stew, etouffee, fry, or pressure cook it. Any of these methods results in a delicious meal provided you follow the right recipe.

The following are the recipes for preparing snapping turtle dishes:

Deep-Fried Snapping Turtle

Prepare Materials

  • 1/2 Cup White Vinegar
  • 2 Quarts of Water
  • 1.5 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Cornmeal
  • 2 Tablespoons Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 Egg
  • Vegetable/Peanut Oil (Deep Frying)

Cooking Instructions

Cut the snapping turtle meat into bite pieces and boil in a heavy pot with a mixture of water and vinegar to soften. Simmer for about one hour and then remove the pieces of meat and allow them to cool.

Heat the oil to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit in a heavy pot. Meanwhile, mix flour, cornmeal, and cajun seasoning in one bowl.

In another bowl, beat one egg with small quantities of water to make an egg wash.

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Dip the meat pieces into the egg wash and then toss in the flour mixture. Allow it to rest for about five minutes for the proper coating to take place.

Drop the pieces, one by one, into the heated oil. Place just enough so that the oil temperature does not drop.

Fry for five minutes or until a golden-brown crust is formed on the turtle meat pieces.

Remove the turtle pieces from the oil and put them into a paper-lined platter ready to be served.

Turtle Sauce Piquant Recipe

Ingredients for Stock:

  • 4 Pounds Snapping Turtle Meat (Cleaned and Trimmed)
  • 1 Large Onion (Quartered)
  • 1 Carrot (Sliced)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 4 Cloves Garlic (Crushed)
  • ½ Tsp Black Peppercorns
  • Salt (To Taste)

Instructions for stock

Place all the ingredients in a one-gallon heavy pot and add lightly salted water to cover it up to two inches.

Boil the mixture and simmer for one hour

Strain and keep three parts of the stock. Discard vegetables and place the turtle meat aside.

Ingredients for Sauce Piquante:

  • 3 Quarts Reserved Turtle Stock (See Above)
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup Flour
  • 1 Cup Onions (Diced)
  • 1 Cup Celery (Diced)
  • 1 Cup Bell Peppers (Diced)
  • 2 Tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 Can Tomato Sauce (8-Ounce)
  • 1 Cup Tomatoes (Diced)
  • 1 Tbsp Jalapeno Peppers (Diced)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1/2 Tsp Thyme
  • 1/2 Tsp Basil
  • Salt/Pepper (To Taste)
  • Cayenne Pepper (To Taste)
  • Granulated Garlic (To Taste)
  • 1 Cup Green Onions (Sliced)
  • 1 Cup Parsley (Chopped)

Cooking Instructions

Heat oil in a one-gallon heavy saucepan over medium to high heat.

Whisk in flour while constantly stirring to achieve a dark brown roux.

Add onions, celery, bell peppers, and minced garlic and cook until vegetables are wilted.

Stir in tomato sauce, tomatoes, jalapeños, bay leaves, thyme, basil, and then add the preserved turtle meat while constantly stirring.

Bring to a low boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.

Gently stir in turtle meat and continue to cook for 30-45 minutes and then add stock as necessary to keep the quantity.

Add salt, peppers, and granulated garlic, then stir in green onions and parsley to taste.

Grandma’s New Jersey-style Turtle Soup Recipe

Prepare Materials

  • 2 ½ Sticks Unsalted Butter (Divided)
  • 1-2 Pounds Turtle Meat (1/2-Inch Cubes)
  • 1 Cup Celery (Minced)
  • 1 Cup Onion (Chopped)
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Minced Garlic
  • 3 Bay Leave s
  • 1 Teaspoon Oregano
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Thyme
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 1/2 Cups Tomato Puree
  • 1 Quart Beef Stock
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt/Pepper
  • 3/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Fresh Parsley (Minced)
  • Dry Sherry

Cooking Instructions

It is easy to make the dish once you have all the ingredients. Get the cooking method at the gameandfishmag.

Pressure Cooked Turtle

Prepare Materials

  • Turtle Meat
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Black Pepper
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Your Favorite Fish Breading

Cooking Instructions

Place the meat in a cooking pot and add water to cover it. Place over a pressure cooker and cook for about 35 minutes at 15 lbs of pressure. Add bay leaf and seasoning salt to taste.

Roll the cooked meat in your favorite fish breading and panfry like a chicken until golden brown. Serve and enjoy.

Turtle Stew Recipe

Turtle Stew Recipe

Prepare Materials

  • 1 Pound Snapper Turtle (Cleaned, Rinsed, and Medium Diced)
  • 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Red Wine
  • 1/3 Cup Celery (Chopped)
  • 1/3 Cup Onion (Chopped)
  • 1/3 Cup Carrot (Chopped)
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic
  • 1 Quart Beef Stock
  • 1/2 Cup Water (Plus 2 Tablespoons-Divided)
  • 1 Teaspoon Worcestershire
  • 3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Parsley Leaves (Minced)
  • 2 Teaspoons Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/3 Cup Tomato Paste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon White Pepper (Ground)
  • 1/3 Cup Sherry

Cooking Instructions

Find cooking details at the Foodnetwork and make your turtle meat stew.

Turtle Etouffee

Prepare Materials

  • Olive Oil
  • 10 Pounds Turtle Meat (Cleaned)
  • 8 Pounds Onion (Well Chopped)
  • 3 Bell Peppers (Well Chopped)
  • 1 Clove Garlic (Finely Chopped)
  • Juice From 1/2 Lemon
  • Salt/Pepper
  • 1 Cup Fresh Parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

Cooking Instructions

Wash and drain turtle meat.

Add salt and pepper and brown in olive oil.

Put the content in a heavy pot and add all other remaining ingredients.

Cook for 6-8 hours or until the meat is soft.

Serve with rice.


Snapping turtle meat can be delicious if the turtles are cleaned and you make sure the meat is tenderized. Let us know if you have any other turtle cooking recipes you would like to share with us.

And as always, thank you for stopping by to read this article. We hope you found it educational.