Smoked Alligator

  • By: Jack Mancuso

Smoked Alligator

Hamburger…. Chicken…. Pork… over and over again. Yes, they are staples in the house, and you can make numerous meals out of them. But what about the proverbial other white meat?

Alligator is a good place to start if you’re looking for something exotic. People often refer to it as the “chicken of the swamp” because it indeed has a flavor somewhat like chicken! Smoked alligator meat is far more versatile than you might expect. It’s certainly a way to surprise your guests! 

Fire up your smoker with me today and give alligator a chance to impress. You’ll find it tender, tasty, and juicy when cooked properly. 

Brine the Alligator Meat?

Many chefs like to brine their alligator meat before applying a dry rub, particularly large pieces. The approach here is using a seasoned buttermilk mix like you might for deep-fried chicken. It’s simple and offsets the more unusual flavors of alligator hiding in the background. 

A basic brine consists of 3 cups brown sugar, 1 cup salt, and 2 cups white sugar for each gallon of water. However, you have options for additional ingredients like lemons, oranges, thyme, bay, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, peppercorns, and red pepper flakes. Let the alligator sit in the brine for 16-24 hours. 

Dry Rub for Alligator

If you decide to skip the brine, you can move on to applying a dry rub for flavor. You can also use seasonings in tandem with brining. In either case, pat the meat dry before adding the spices. 

Apply the rub evenly on all sides of the meat. 

Some of Cuso Cut’s All Natural Seasonings you can try as rubs on your alligator include:

Coconut Rum


Hot Honey and

Maple Bourbon

Wait 30 minutes to an hour before smoking the meat so those flavors work their magic. You can adjust this recipe depending on the number of guests. With sides, each person will eat about ⅓ lb of alligator filet.

Suggested smoking woods: Pecan, hickory, apple, cherry, or oak.


1-pound alligator filets

½ c buttermilk

1 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp white sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp fresh ground pepper

Cuso’s All-Natural Seasoning (your choice)


  1. Mix together the buttermilk with all seasonings save for your final rub
  2. Place the alligator filets into a Ziplock bag
  3. Pour the buttermilk mixture inside
  4. Let the meat sit for three hours in the refrigerator 
  5. Heat the smoker to 225F
  6. Dust the filets with Cuso’s Seasoning on both sides
  7. Place on the smoker for 30-60 minutes
  8. Check at the 30-minute mark. They’re done when the internal temperature reads 160F

PitMaster’s Memo: Bite by Bite

Just like different parts of a cow taste somewhat different, the part of the alligator you cook will have its own distinction. Legs, for example, are tougher than other parts of the alligator. They’re dark meat; you can cook them like chicken wings. 

The ribs respond to slow cooking. If you don’t overcook them, they’ll be fall-off-the-bone tender. You can smoke alligator ribs, too, but it’s advisable to marinate them for three or more hours. 

Finally, the tail is the star of the show. It’s all white meat. You can treat it as a good steak. Grill it, smoke it, fry it, bake it… you don’t even have to marinate the meat for a tender, juicy result.


Buttermilk slaw

Cajun Remoulade sauce 

Rice stuffed zucchini

Salt n’ vinegar fries

Smoked scalloped potatoes


Banana split

Bread pudding with whisky sauce

Mandarin sorbet

Molasses cookies

Pistachio pie

From the Bar

Alligator Bite

Green “Gator”ade

Jagermeister liqueur

Pinot Grigio

Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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