Fried Frog Legs

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves

    4 to 6

    , Depending on The Size of the frogs

Appears in

One of my favorite sports as a child was frog gigging, but I think the real fascination for me was watching the legs move hours after the frog was killed. I used to beg my mother to let me shake salt or lemon juice on them. I’ve seen the legs of large dead bullfrogs contract so much when sprinkled with lemon juice that they have literally jumped off the counter. Bullfrogs live in all of the contiguous 48 states. Where I grew up, a few blocks from the banks of the Edisto River—the longest blackwater river in the world—they could be almost deafening with their bellows after a rainstorm.

Henry Laurens, a Charleston merchant and planter of French heritage, ate frogs while traveling in Burgundy in the late 18th century; he noted his intent to gather them from his own properties in the Lowcountry. If you too are fond of the frog legs sold in restaurants, you should treat yourself to some fresh ones. Frogs do not do well in captivity; all of the frogs sold in restaurants are taken from the wild, mostly in Southeast Asia. Like other edible amphibians and reptiles, frog meat changes its texture when frozen and thawed, becoming somewhat gelatinous in the process. The difference is as dramatic as the difference between freshly shucked and canned oysters: freshly killed frog is always succulent and delicately flavorful. It is best pan-fried, probably the way Henry Laurens ate it. And frogs are mildly flavored; season them lightly so as not to mask their true character. My mother deglazed the pan with vermouth and sometimes added capers for color and flavor, but neither is necessary.

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  • 24 (about 4 pounds) individual frog legs
  • 1 lemon unbleached (all-purpose) flour for dusting
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter a little salt and freshly ground black pepper dry white wine (optional) drained capers (optional)


Put the frog legs in a shallow nonreactive baking dish and squeeze the juice of the lemon all over them. Allow to marinate for about 30 minutes at room temperature. Remove the legs from the pan, pat dry, and dust lightly with flour. Melt the butter in a sauté pan, shake off any excess flour from the legs, and sauté them over fairly high heat in the butter until golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side. You may deglaze the pan with a little dry white wine, if desired, and you may add some capers, as my father recommends, before pouring the now browned butter over the legs and serving them hot.