Preparing and Serving Escargot

My husband associates New Year’s Eve with lobster and escargot. He grew up the son of a chef, and every year his family hosted a party to ring in the new year.

How to Prepare and Serve Escargot |

I was introduced to this tradition during my first holiday season after our engagement. With the ingredients laid out in front of me, I learned how to stuff the shells full of garlic butter, and of course, snails.

Escargot is usually served as an appetizer in Spain and France. In France, they are typically removed from shells and then prepared before returning them to the shells for presentation purposes. They are usually cooked with garlic butter and wine.

Preparing Escargots de Bourgogne |

Other ingredients such as parsley and thyme may be added. Snails are very high in protein and low in fat, (when they’re cooked without butter, of course).

I wasn’t sure what to think when I tried my first sample. Everyone watched as I dug into the shell. It was delicious, but then again, how could something drenched in garlic and butter not be delicious?

It is easier than you might think to prepare this dish. You may have visions of scouring your garden on your hands and knees to find your snails, but that needn’t be the case at all. Escargot is conveniently sold in cans at your local specialty market or on Amazon.

Escal French Burgundy Escargot Snails available on Amazon

Of course, some people do choose to harvest their own backyard snails. If you are “lucky” enough to have your own snail infestation, you can find many tasty treats in your garden. My husband knows someone who used to harvest his own and they were supposedly delicious.

The meat may be a bit smaller, but they should taste just as good if not better than the canned variety.

Making Escargots de Bourgogne |

If you decide to go this route, please check with your local wildlife agency to make sure your garden snails are not endangered, since the law prohibits the collection of threatened species. A few varieties can harbor parasites or nematodes that can affect humans as well (of course, the cooking process should kill them).

Roland Extra Large Snail Shells (3 dozen) found on Amazon

For an authentic dining experience, you can purchase shells to serve the snails in. These shells can be cleaned and reused. Simply place the used shells in a pot of water with some white vinegar. Bring the water to a boil and let the shells boil for for a few minutes. You may see the butter rise to the top of the pot.

The vinegar will work to cut the grease, and helps with removing the scent of the garlic. Once the shells have been boiled, carefully drain the pot, being sure not to let the butter residue coat the shells again. Place your shells on a dishcloth or paper towel and allow them to air dry.

If the shells still have a strong garlic smell once they are dry, then repeat the process. Store shells in an airtight container or large zip-top storage bag.

Escargot Serving Dish |

The typical serving plate features six compartments. This is the perfect size for serving up an appetizer for your guests. These plates are available in ceramic or stainless steel. Some of these specialty dishes feature a handle.

Escargot Snail Ceramic Plate with Handle found on Amazon

If you do not have an escargot serving dish, you can serve the snails on a bed of kosher salt. The salt helps to stabilize the shells on a dish or platter.

Be sure to have some crusty bread or baguette on hand, to sop up all of the delicious garlic butter that remains in the serving dish.

Preparing Escargots à la Bourguignonne |

Spoon-shaped snail tongs are specifically designed to grasp the shells, so that you can use a cocktail fork to scoop out the delicious meat in the center. You will also need a thin cocktail fork in order to get to the meat. These tongs are an absolute must if you plan to eat the snails right out of the shell.

Escargot Stainless Steel Tongs on Amazon

Be sure to grasp the shell firmly. It may take some practice to get the technique just right, but the correct tool will hold the shell securely so you can enjoy each savory bite.

My kids always look forward to special occasions, which we celebrate by enjoying a lovely dinner preceded by escargot.

Explore more to French cooking classics by checking out our article on the cuisine here.

Escargots à la Bourguignonne Recipe |
Escargots à la Bourguignonne
Votes: 6
Rating: 3.83
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
4 people
4 people
Escargots à la Bourguignonne Recipe |
Escargots à la Bourguignonne
Votes: 6
Rating: 3.83
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
4 people
4 people
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter softened
  • 1/4 cup parsley minced
  • 1 Tablespoon white wine
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 shallot minced
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 24 extra large snail shells
  • 24 extra large snails canned
Servings: people
  1. In a large bowl, mix together garlic, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, anchovies, lemon juice, and wine.
  2. Incorporate butter into the mixture.
  3. Add parsley and shallots.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  6. Spoon about ½ tsp. of the garlic and butter mixture into each shell.
  7. Push a snail into each shell, and then top with remaining butter mixture.
  8. Arrange snail shells butter side up in a baking dish and bake 10 -12 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Escargots de Bourgogne Recipe |

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About Jennifer Swartvagher

Jennifer is an experienced journalist and author. Her work has been featured on TODAY Parents, The New York Times Blog, BlogHer, Scary Mommy, and scores of other parenting and cooking publications.

24 thoughts on “Preparing and Serving Escargot”

  1. I was a Francophile as a teen and so I’ve always been curious about trying escargot. But I still haven’t taken the plunge. It seems surprisingly easy to prepare and I’ve seen them at a local supermarket, plus I agree you can never go wrong with garlic butter… hmm. I might just have to go ahead and do it at some point.

  2. I have never tried escargo. This recipe makes me wish it wasn’t snails. I thought in oils read over it and get up the nerve to try it, but I’m not so sure yet. I’m going to go over this with my husband. We both love trying new things, so thank you for the recipe, you may have just convinced us this was worth a shot!

  3. I’ve had escargot once in my life. Sadly, it was once in my life when I was younger & really had not built a developed palate. It wasn’t horrible. I remember it was pretty good but I also remember my mind winning over matter in that it being a snail superseded the taste in the memory itself. Boo. This seems like an easy recipe to try & give myself a second chance.

    • I am in a similar situation. I have tried it, but I really do not remember much of it and I am sure I was at one of those ages where you just do not appreciate those types of things. Makes me want to give it another try though sometime, and I am betting I will love it.

  4. Despite living very close to France, I’ve never tried escargots before in my life and was very surprised to find out how easy they are to cook. I would never have guessed that they simply go in the oven for 10 minutes!

    • I absolutely adore, often crave escargot. Have often ordered as appetizer then as entree. They are not slimy nor fishy, rather have a umani texture. My very fave was special snail dish used (shells not allowed in Tx restaurants) topped w melted brie. I now prepare the duplicacy at home, have my own supply of oven safe snail serving dishes & buy my tins of snails at a specialty grocer.

  5. This is the one article i read with fear and a lot of reservation… call me ‘chicken’ or whatever but it’d take a lot of muscle to convince me to indulge in escargots… i bet it tastes awesome and i don’t want to say ‘never ever’… i never know maybe i just might open up one day…until then {lets leave it at that}.

    • I can’t say anything as we had it at our wedding. I chickened out and went for lobster instead. It strange how people are happy eating one type of bug, but not another.

      I’d be reluctant to collect snails from the garden for cooking. It isn’t just the risk of weedkillers, hookworm and others, but also that the tradional ones are now bred for flavour so to get the best taste, a good supplier really helps.

  6. I have only tried it once. I didn’t think I would like it, because of the “ick factor,” but it’s not icky at all! It’s actually very good. Also, if you stop to consider what is in a lot of other dishes or what other foods are made from, you’ll learn to either expand your horizons or just stop thinking about some of those details, lol.

    Be adventurous. Life is short. Try new things while you have time to enjoy them. This one is definitely worth trying.

  7. I was given an opportunity to try it as a child and I didn’t. I had just assumed that it was disgusting and didn’t want to. As I have gotten older I have let go of many of my food prejudices. I have yet to try escargot but after reading this article I may try it. I like garlic & butter, who doesn’t? I’m just worried about whether the texture will put me off.

  8. Man, the plate actually looks good, aesthetically – the shells, the leaves, the colors, the roasted garlic butter… And I know a lady in Paris who just goes and “harvests” a ton of snails after the rain and apparently, she prepares it very nicely. But I never liked fish or sea stuff, oyster just looks too slimy for me, so escargot is not something I’d try anytime soon. Might be tasty, like grasshopper, but I don’t think I need that in my life. Nice to look at, though.

  9. The first time I tried escargot was in Japan three months ago and it was delicious! After reading this article and finding out that it was appetizer mostly served in Spain and France, it feels kind of weird thinking back that I ate this in Japan. But I guess that’s not the main point. The main point is their delicious! It’s exactly as Jennifer says! It’s served with so much garlic butter that the bottom of each compartment on the serving dish actually had a small soup puddle of garlic butter in it! But to be honest, I was pretty disgusted when I heard that this was snail meat (as I’ve never ate bugs before) but after eating a couple, I felt more at ease. Still a little bit disgusted by eating escargot but I have to agree that it does taste good.

  10. As many times as I’ve heard of escargot, I’ve never read anything to do with actually making it, nor have I seen non-illustrated images of it. So reading this was a first! I learned a lot of things here. I didn’t even know that the inside of the shells was green; it almost looks like pea soup. I’ve never thought the idea of eating snails particularly appealing, but then again I honestly though you just cooked them in the shell and then slurped them out with no added ingredients. Disgusting, but that’s what I had in mind. I’d definitely be interested in trying this recipe out someday. I don’t think any of my friends or family have tried it out either, so it would be fun for a laugh to see how they’d react if I served this to them.

  11. I have a Belgian friend who delights in eating escargot. I don’t know if I could stomach it, personally- I can’t even stand to accidentally squish a snail with my shoe nevermind put one in my mouth. That said, you do make them look delicious! I wouldn’t be able to stand making them myself but I will pass this recipe on to my friend.

  12. I’ve tried escargot a few times in my life, but I don’t recall what they tasted like. I definitely wouldn’t try harvesting my own in my yard, although i do have an infestation of sorts. They are way too small, and also, many people here use pesticides and weedkiller products, so I wouldn’t want to take the chance on poisoning myself or others. I wasn’t aware that snails were sold on Amazon, and I do love the look of the shells, so I might consider buying them.

  13. I have always been terrified of escargot. Thought I do agree with you that garlic butter makes everything better. I’m still a little reluctant to actually try this. The recipe seem simple enough, thought I think I’ll do this when I decide to host a party or a family get together. That way if I try it and don’t like it then they won’t go to waste. I must say you make it sound rather delicious and I though escargot was like live snail? That in order to eat it you would have to kill it with salt, or is that just a myth?

  14. This is probably the first tutorial I’ve ever seen on preparing escargot. I tried it years ago in a French restaurant in NYC. My impression was that it was much ado about nothing. The presentation was appealing, but the snails were black and rubbery. A friend suggested they might have over-cooked them. I haven’t tried them since, but this recipe makes them sound delicious. Maybe I’ll give ’em another try.

  15. Sorry to say this is the first recipe I’ve read here that does not appeal to my appetite. Ever since I was a child until now I have been completely terrified of snails. Yes they are probably the slowest moving creatures on earth but they are so creepy and they completely gross me out. I’m sure they’re probably delicious but this is one dish wish I will have to say no to.

  16. We actually bought a set of canned snails and shells a while ago but have never gotten around to cooking them. Now I know the proper way to cook them. Is there anything to look for or avoid when purchasing the canned snails?

  17. I have never tried escargot, but I have friends and family members that have tried it, and they all said it’s delicious. I clicked on the article because I was curious to how it’s made. After finding out there’s a lot of garlic and butter, no wonder so many love the taste of escargot. I don’t know if I’m ready to take the plunge of eating this dish yet, but the presentation and recipe has made the dish a little more palatable for me.

  18. Escargot is something that I always wanted to try but never got around to doing so (it’s basically impossible to find it in Romania, even at the fancier restaurants). I have no excuse now since this recipe seems to be straight-forward and not that hard.

  19. I have always thought of giving it a try, but didn’t know how to, thank you very much for making it possible for me.

  20. Wow. Number of comments from people who have never even tried escargot!
    #1 — Try them in a good restaurant so you aren’t put off by the bare product and preparation. Most common preparation involves butter and garlic, so most likely if you like those flavors, you will probably like the dish.
    #2 — If you try making them at home, most likely you will be opening a can. After a quick rinse, dump them immediately into whatever mixture so you aren’t looking at their little gray bodies. Yes, not pretty, but some raw products are not.
    #3 — Wine. While prepping, and certainly while eating.


  21. If you’re lucky enough to have escargot ceramic plates as shown in the photo, then cook the snails directly in those without fiddling around with shells. That’s what it’s made for after all, doesn’t require special implements to hold the shells and you can mop up the garlic butter more easily.

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