Cooking Snails and Slugs

Snails and slugs can be vectors for parasites, so learn how to stay safe when eating snails or slugs by cooking and boiling them thoroughly.

| June 2019


The European Grapevine Snail and its cousin Helix aspersa have become naturalized in North America. All snails and slugs are edible and offer the advantage of being very easy to catch. But all wild snails and slugs can carry dangerous parasites, so they must be cooked thoroughly – especially the giant African snail, recently found in Texas and probably coming to an environs near you. Snails and slugs are best not even handled barehanded until they have been cooked.


Purging for a day or so with wholesome fodder (most any vegetable you would eat) is recommended. Boiling is preferred in the wild or for smaller snails such as these, as it makes the snail easy to remove from its shell. Boiling in vinegar removes the distasteful slime from a slug, which is its protection since it does not have a shell.

Slugs can be a vector for transmission of parasitic nematodes that cause lungworm in various mammals, so they are usually avoided by hedgehogs and other mammals when other food is available. In a few rare cases, humans have contracted parasite-induced meningitis from eating raw slugs. Cook well.

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