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Coon balls: a historical dish with a unique flavor. Discover the story behind this controversial treat and learn how to make them with our step-by-step guide

Coon Balls: A Historical Dish with a Unique Flavor

Coon Balls: A Tasty Trek Through History

An old, unique, and somewhat controversial dish, Coon balls are a delicious piece of culinary history. This dish has its roots in the early days of American colonization and has an intriguing story to tell.


– A brief history of Coon balls
2Ingredients & Shopping List
3Equipment You’ll Need
4Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions
– Preparing the Meat
– Making the Gravy
– Shaping the Balls
– Frying to Perfection
5Tips & Tricks for the Best Coon Balls
6Serving Suggestions
7Storing and Reheating Leftovers
8Health Benefits and Nutrition
9The Controversy Around the Dish
10Conclusion: A Taste of History


Coon Balls: A Historical Dish with a Unique Flavor

A Brief History of Coon Balls

Coon balls are an old, unique dish with a somewhat controversial past. This dish has its roots in early American history, particularly in the colonial era. It is believed that the first coon balls were created out of necessity by early settlers and hunters who wanted to make the most of their game.

The term ‘coon’ refers to a raccoon, and this meat was commonly used in the past as a food source, particularly in the southern states of America. Coon meat was considered a delicacy and was often used in stews and, of course, coon balls. This dish was a way to preserve and honor every part of the animal, ensuring nothing went to waste.

Over time, coon balls became a staple in southern cooking and were often served at gatherings and special occasions. They were also a popular dish during the Great Depression, as they were an affordable and filling meal for families.

Today, coon balls are not as commonly eaten, and the use of raccoon meat is much more controversial. However, this dish remains an important part of culinary history and a tasty treat for those willing to give it a try.

Ingredients & Shopping List

For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of ground raccoon meat (you can substitute with ground dark meat turkey or chicken)
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups of vegetable oil for frying

For the gravy:

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Equipment You’ll Need

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Frying pan or skillet
  • Wooden spoon
  • Meat grinder (if grinding your own meat)
  • Slotted spoon
  • Paper towels

Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions

Preparing the Meat

Start by grinding the raccoon meat if you have purchased it in steak form. You can ask your butcher to do this for you, or you can do it yourself at home with a meat grinder. If you are using ground turkey or chicken, simply skip this step.

Once you have your ground meat, place it in a large mixing bowl and add the bread crumbs, eggs, milk, parsley, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Use your hands or a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients until they are well combined.

Making the Gravy

Now, it’s time to make the delicious gravy that will accompany your coon balls. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add the flour and whisk continuously for about 2 minutes until the flour is absorbed and a paste forms.

Slowly pour in the broth, whisking continuously, until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and set the gravy aside until you are ready to serve.

Shaping the Balls

Take a small amount of the meat mixture and roll it into a ball between your palms. Continue this process until all the meat mixture has been used, and you have a plate full of coon balls ready for frying.

Frying to Perfection

Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan or skillet over medium-high heat. You want the oil to be hot but not smoking. Carefully place the coon balls into the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry the balls in batches if needed.

Fry the balls for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until they are golden brown and cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to remove the cooked balls from the oil, and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Tips & Tricks for the Perfect Coon Balls

  • If you’re using a meat grinder, it’s best to grind the meat twice to ensure a fine, even texture.
  • Don’t skip the nutmeg! It might seem like an unusual ingredient, but it adds a wonderful depth of flavor to the dish.
  • When frying, ensure your oil is at the right temperature. If it’s too hot, the outside of the balls will burn before the inside is cooked. Too cold, and they will absorb too much oil and become greasy.
  • Use a thermometer to check that the coon balls are cooked through. The internal temperature should be 165°F.

Serving Suggestions

Coon balls make a great main course and can be served with a variety of sides. Try them with mashed potatoes and a generous helping of the creamy gravy you prepared earlier. For a true southern-style meal, serve them with cornbread and collard greens.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Allow any leftovers to cool completely, then store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place the coon balls in a preheated oven at 350°F for about 10 minutes, or until heated through.

Health Benefits and Nutrition

While coon meat may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of healthy foods, it does have some nutritional benefits. Raccoon meat is a good source of protein and contains essential amino acids. It is also lower in fat and calories compared to other red meats.

However, it’s important to note that, as with all game meats, there may be concerns about parasites and bacteria. Ensure the meat is properly sourced and cooked thoroughly to minimize any potential risks.

The Controversy Around the Dish

It’s important to address the controversy surrounding this dish. In modern times, the idea of eating raccoon meat is often met with skepticism and even disgust by some. There are concerns about the potential for disease and the impact of hunting raccoons for food.

Additionally, the term ‘coon’ is considered offensive by some, particularly in reference to its historical use as a racial slur.

This dish is a reminder of a time when cultural and culinary norms were very different, and it sparks important conversations about food ethics and cultural sensitivity.

Conclusion: A Taste of History

Coon balls are a fascinating piece of culinary history and a delicious treat for those willing to give them a try. This dish may not be for everyone, but it is an important reminder of how food can connect us to the past and spark interesting conversations about culture and history.


  1. Are coon balls safe to eat? Yes, when properly sourced and prepared, coon balls are safe to eat. Ensure you are buying meat from a reputable source, and always cook the meat thoroughly to minimize any potential risks.
  2. Can I use a different type of meat? Absolutely! If you don’t have access to raccoon meat or prefer not to use it, ground dark meat turkey or chicken makes a great alternative.
  3. How can I make this dish spicier? If you like a little kick to your coon balls, simply add some cayenne pepper to the meat mixture. Start with a small amount and adjust to your taste preferences.
  4. Can I bake the coon balls instead of frying them? Yes, you can bake them in the oven at 375°F for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through. They won’t have the same crispy exterior as the fried version, but they will still be delicious.
  5. How can I make this dish ahead of time? You can prepare the meat mixture and shape the balls in advance, then store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before frying. This makes it a great make-ahead dish for a busy day.

I hope you enjoyed this journey through history and flavor!


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