Alligator meat is the meat from alligators that is for consumption. It has been used both historically and in contemporary times in various cuisines of the Southern United States. Alligator eggs are also for consumption. Alligator meat has been described as a healthy meat source for humans due to its high protein and low fat composition. It has been described as being mild flavored and firm in texture.
In the United States, it can only be legally sourced from alligator farms, and is available for consumer purchase in specialty food stores, some grocery stores, and can also be mail ordered. Some U.S. companies process and market alligator meat derived only from the tail of alligators.
Alligator meat consists of 143 calories in a 3.5 ounce serving, 29 grams of protein, 3 percent fat and 65 milligrams of cholesterol. It also contains a significant amount of phosphorus, potassium, vitamin B12, niacin and monounsaturated fatty acids. It has been described as a healthy meat source for humans due to its overall composition and for being low in fat and high in protein.
Various methods of preparation and cooking exist, including tenderization, marination, deep frying, stewing, roasting, smoking and sauteeing. Alligator meat is used in dishes such as gumbo, and is used in traditional Louisiana Creole cuisine. Sausages are also prepared using the meat.
Cuts from the animal used include meat from the animal's tail and backbone, which have been described as "the choicest cuts".
Alligator eggs were a part of the cuisine in many areas of the Southern United States in the early 1900s. During this time people would harvest the eggs and then sell them as a source of income.
Harvesting of wild alligator eggs is illegal without a proper permit; violators face serious fines and jail time.
In the United States, alligator hunting is legal in Arkansas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Additionally, the meat can only be sourced from alligator farms.[clarification needed]