Squirrel or Rabbit Hasenpfeffer

Squirrel or Rabbit Hasenpfeffer- Photo Credit: © Steven Rinella
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Note: This recipe can be applied to any small game animal.

My mom originally got some version of this recipe from the back of a box containing a frozen domestic rabbit. She used it to prepare countless squirrels that my two brothers and I bagged as kids, and it’s still a favorite dish for the three of us.


  • 2-3 pounds rabbit or squirrel (legs and back)
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 ½ cups cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • ½ cup flour
  • Cooking oil
  • 5 or 6 crushed gingerbread cookies, (optional).

To Prepare:

  1.  Combine the water, vinegar, cloves, bay leaves, onion, salt, sugar, pepper, and allspice to make the brine.
  2. Place the meat in a food safe tub, pour over the brine and set a heavy plate on top of the meat to keep it submerged. Refrigerate for two or three days.
  3. Remove the meat and pat it dry with paper towels. (Reserve the leftover brine).
  4. Dust the pieces with flour, and start to brown them in a ¼” of cooking oil in a heavy, low-rimmed pot (such as a Dutch oven) set over medium-high heat.
  5. Remove meat, pour off excess oil, and return meat to the pot arranging it in a single layer on the bottom. Add enough of the brine to just barely cover the meat then let it simmer over low heat for 1 ½ hours.
  6. Remove the meat and thicken the remaining cooked brine in the pan with flour or, preferably, crushed gingersnap cookies.

Lay the cooked meat over a bed of mashed potatoes and drown in thickened sauce.


8 Responses to “Squirrel or Rabbit Hasenpfeffer”

  1. Stevo

    Hey man, love the show and website!! On the pic, it looks like you’re “giving us the bird” (in more than one way). I’m sure it was just coincidence :-)

    What do we have to do to get your show bumped up to an hour (or two)? 30 minutes just isn’t enough man.

    • Kyle

      my only question with this whole meal which looked great on the show is whether on not we should make the squirrel boneless or not for flavors sake. I’ve eaten squirrel but i tried frying it and it all turned out as hard as a brick. That hasenpfeffer though has got to give it a better flavor and feel (something mom would enjoy) especially after the brineing process breaks it down a bit.

  2. mattfly77

    Let me first say I’m a huge follower of Steven Rinella. Just about all of his recipes are fantastic, but this one, however, turned out nearly inedible for me(just my preference) because of the amount of cider vinegar it calls for. Maybe that’s what the flavor profile of this recipe is supposed to be like, but the vinegar imparted too strong of a taste. I’ve grown up eating squirrel and have had it several different ways, but I couldn’t finish this one.

    I would suggest using a 3rd of the amount of cider vinegar that the recipe calls for. That would be the only thing I would change. The meat did come out super tender….literally falling off the bone, so that was definitely a plus.
    I will try it again using only maybe a 1/2 to 3/4 cup of vinegar and the rest water.

  3. osmark

    lol @shawnwohler, I’m curious how yours turned out as well… Cup and a half of cider vinegar seems like way too much… Don’t want to risk my bunnies, can’t imagine this could possibly work… I’m thinking cup and a half of white wine would be a safer choice.

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