If you’re wondering, “What is escargot?” you’re in the right place. We’re covering everything you need to know about this classic French snail dish, from what it is, to what it tastes like, and where to find it near you. Plus a classic recipe for Escargots de Bourgogne. This post contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission when you shop through them. 

Escargot is widely known as a delicacy in French cuisine. The word escargot means “snail” in French and usually refers to the dish of cooked snails with a buttery sauce. Many people in several different countries enjoy eating snails.

Like uni, caviar, and truffles, this ingredient might be a bit mysterious if you haven’t tried it before. If you are curious to know more about escargot, this guide will cover its origins, how it is processed, how it is eaten, the benefits, the possible dangers, and how you can cook it at home. Read on to learn more about this classic French delicacy.

What is Escargot?

Famously served in French cuisine, escargot is a dish of snails, usually cooked in a buttery garlic sauce with herbs, although there are different ways to prepare and serve it. Escargot is widely used to refer to the dish but can also mean any edible snail.  

What Kind of Snails Are Used?

Escargot snails are sold at a market in Paris.

There are several different species of snails used as escargot snails. The most common is the European Garden Snail (Helix Aspersa). Other common species include the Turkish Snail and the Burgundy Snail, which is the most prized.

These snails can be found and harvested around the world. Some people work as escargot harvesters. Edible snails are also farmed, where they are raised in an artificial environment before being harvested.

How are Snails Processed?

After the snails are harvested, they must be processed before being used for cooking. They must be thoroughly cleaned and prepared for use in the kitchen. First, they must be purged. This is done by fasting the snails for a couple of days. This step is essential for making sure the snails are free of anything harmful in their systems.

Then, the snails are removed from their shells. Often, they are boiled first; this makes it easier to remove them from their shells. Others remove them from the shell first before cooking. Boiling also helps to remove any slime. In extensive snail processing facilities, the snails are boiled before being canned. Most imported escargot is canned.

A History of Escargot

The history of humans eating snails is quite long. France is the most popular place today for eating escargot, but did it originate there? People have actually been eating snails for tens of thousands of years. The ancient Romans were already enjoying snails as a delicacy 2,000 years ago.

Over time eating snails became more widespread and popular in many places, including France, Spain, and Portugal. Now, escargot is a famous dish in French cuisine and is considered a delicacy by some and a curiosity by others.  

Is Escargot French?

Is escargot French? Many would say yes, as it has long been part of French cuisine, and classic escargot de Bourgogne is prepared using French cooking methods. However, some argue that it is Spanish or Italian since it was first eaten in those regions. In any case, it is certainly a popular item in all of these places, but especially in France, which consumes more escargot than anywhere else in the world.

What Does Escargot Taste Like?

So, you must be wondering what escargot tastes like. The meat itself does not have a strong or distinctive flavor but typically takes on the flavors of the sauce it is cooked in. In the typical escargots escargot de Bourgogne recipe, that is going to be a creamy, buttery, garlic, and herb sauce.

What about the texture? The texture of escargot is described as firm, meaty, and soft but also chewy. You will want to chew it instead of swallowing it right away.

Benefits of Eating Escargot

There are many benefits to eating escargot. Escargot is high in protein. It is also high in several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A. Vitamin A helps the body fight off disease and is good for the eyes. It is also rich in magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and iron. This tasty source of protein is entirely free of fat, carbohydrates, and sugar, although the sauce it is usually served with is a different story.

Are there any Dangers to Eating Escargot?

Eating escargot is considered perfectly safe. However, there are some things to be wary of when it comes to eating this dish. If you have any shellfish allergies, you should avoid eating escargot as it can trigger shellfish allergies. Also, garden snails caught in the world could have poison or other harmful substances in their systems, so the snails must be thoroughly and carefully purged when processing. Snails processed and canned at facilities should be safe to eat.

Where is Escargot Eaten?

A girl eats escargot in shells with fries at Carette, and outdoor cafe in Paris.

As mentioned, escargot is a staple in classic French cuisine. Our kids first tried it at Carette, a lovely cafe in the Marais district of Paris. More escargots are eaten in this country than anywhere else. Escargots are also popular in other places, however. Areas, where they are consumed, include Spain, Portugal, Italy, and many other Mediterranean countries. They are also popular in Germany, Great Britain, Algeria, Morocco, and parts of Africa and Asia.

If you’d like to try this dish in a restaurant but can’t get to France, look for a local French restaurant. On the Central Coast of California, you can find it at Bell’s in Los Alamos. 

How to eat Escargot

The front of L'Escargot Montorguel in Paris France. The building sign is topped with a golden snail. Classic French restaurant.

Eating escargot is a unique experience that won’t soon be forgotten! First of all, you should mentally prepare yourself. If you are worried about eating snails, just remind yourself that this dish has been processed correctly is safe to eat, and that people have been eating it for thousands of years.

Escargot is usually served as an appetizer with a garlic butter sauce. The sauce usually has herbs and spices, and often white wine, as well. It will usually be served in the shell, but not always. In a restaurant, it is usually served on a special escargot plate with little indentations for the escargot to rest. Alongside the plate will usually be an escargot fork and tongs.

To eat the escargot, use the tongs with your non-dominant hand to hold the shell. With your dominant hand, use the small fork to pierce the meat, twisting it to remove it from the shell. Often the escargot is served in the sauce; sometimes, the sauce is on the side. If the sauce is served on the side, dip the meat in the sauce. If any crusty bread or toast is provided, try eating the escargot on the toast. 

Can you Freeze Escargot?A package of escargots in shells with parsley butter sauce in the freezer aisle of a grocery store.

Escargot is best eaten while still fresh. You certainly don’t want to leave escargot meat sitting around. If you cannot cook them right away, you can freeze them. Place them inside a plastic freezer bag or an airtight container and put them in the freezer. They can stay good in the freezer for 3-6 months; any longer and the quality will suffer. Some grocery stores sell frozen escargots in shells with parsley butter sauce. All you have to do is bake them! 

Escargots de Bourgogne

This photo shows how to make escargots de Bourgogne. There are bowls of snail shells, homemade parsley butter, and prepared escargots de Bourgogn on a wooden table.

If you’d like to try cooking snails at home, here is a recipe for Escargots de Bourgogne, the traditional French way to serve them. 

Escargots de Bourgogne is a preparation of snails served in shells with garlic, butter, and parsley sauce. 

A can of Roland Escargots giant snails in a grocery store.

How to Make Escargot de Bourgogne

To make this dish, you’ll need to get the snails and their shells. Some gourmet grocery stores and French markets will have them, and you can also find them online. All the other ingredients should be easy to find in any grocery store. 

How to Clean the Shells 

The shells should be cleaned before use and can be reused. To clean the shells, boil them for about 5 minutes in a large pot of water with some vinegar. Ensure there is not any water trapped inside by drying it on a cookie sheet in a 200-degree F oven for about 20 minutes, or air dry. 

Are Canned Escargots Cooked? 

Yes, canned escargots are already cooked. However, you should always drain and rinse them in cool water before use. We recommend trying them in the classic French preparation below which is surprisingly quick and easy. 

In the Shell or Out?

Usually, especially in restaurants, escargots are served in the shell. Although they are removed from their shells for boiling and cooking, they are returned to the shells for presentation. Canned escargots are even served in shells. Snail shells for serving escargot can be purchased separately just for this purpose.

Although escargot is usually served in shells, it can be served and eaten without the shells. Escargots de Bourgogne is sometimes prepared in an escargot dish without shells. 


French cuisine usually involves a lot of butter when cooking. The escargot is most often cooked in a butter sauce, which may have garlic, herbs, and wine added. The dish is served either doused in the sauce or with sauce on the side for dipping.

Herbs and Spices

There are many herbs and spices that pair well with escargot and can be added to the sauce. Some of these herbs and spices include parsley, chervil, thyme, nutmeg, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning. There are many different flavors you can create with escargot.

What is it Served With?

Escargot is often served with slices of crusty bread or with a baguette. The bread can be fresh or toasted. Often, some sauce will be available on the side to dip the escargots or the bread in. Wine is usually served with this tasty appetizer. Which wine you choose to pair with the escargot will mostly depend on the flavor of the sauce. With the typical butter garlic escargot, a Chardonnay is a great choice.

In Summary

People have been eating snails for tens of thousands of years. Escargot is a popular French delicacy but is also widely eaten in many other countries. Snails are processed by first being purged, then cleaned, and removed from shells. Often, the snails are boiled before being separated from the shells, as boiling makes this easier. Canned snails are also available.

Typically, escargot de Bourgogne is cooked with a delicious garlic butter sauce. This dish is often served as an appetizer with crusty bread and white wine. Snails are widely considered safe to eat and have several health benefits. It is a lean protein with several vitamins and minerals, and it has no carbs, fat, or sugars. 

Yield: 24 snails

Escargots de Bourgogne

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

This escargot recipe features flavorful garlic and parsley butter. Canned snails are cooked with butter in shells for a classic French appetizer.

A white plate of escargots snails in shells with butter and parsley sauce.


  • 24 Empty Snail Shells
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon dry white wine
  • pinch freshly cracked black or white pepper
  • 1 can Escargots snails, canned
  • 1 baguette, warmed and sliced


  1. Boil the shells in a large pot of water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside to air dry. Preheat the oven to 400°F. 
  2. To make the compound butter, we combine the butter with the rest of the ingredients. You can do with with a stand or hand mixer, a spatula, or a food processor (works best if butter is cold).
  3. Finely chop the shallot, garlic, and parsley, and add to a medium bowl. Stir in the room-temperature butter, wine, and pepper with a spatula or mixer until well combined. Transfer to a piping bag if you have one.
  4. Drain and rinse the canned escargots.
  5. Using a small spoon, knife, or piping bag (preferred), fill the shells with a bit of garlic parsley butter.
  6. Press one snail per shell into the butter. Top with more butter to cover the snail. Snail shells filled with garlic parsley butter ready to cook.
  7. Place the filled shells butter-side-up on a baking dish. So that the shells don't roll around, it's best to use a rimmed baking dish that keeps them closely packed together. You can also use a mini muffin tin. Bake for 10 minutes, until the butter, is bubbling and melted. Escargots de Bourgogne (snails with parsley garlic butter) in a baking dish.
  8. Serve immediately with a sliced baguette.


Escargots are typically eaten with a small fork and tongs, but any small fork will do. There are also special escargot plates that have indentations to hold the shells.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 4 snails
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 136Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 159mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 16g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your favorite calculator.