I've got some alligator in that I plan on cooking this weekend. I'm trying to figure out what the safe temperature is, but the internet is giving me very many conflicting responses, everything from 145F through to 190F.

What is the actual safe temperature for alligator?

  • 3
    Does any species have a particular "done" temperature? As cow can be served as steak tartare and beef borgonour it does not seem obvious. I would have thought it is the usual questions of palatability and food hygiene that apply to any meat.
    – User65535
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 8:49
  • 2
    The USDA publishes safe cooking temperatures. foodsafety.gov/food-safety-charts/… . I want to know the safe temperature for aligator. "Done temperature" where i am means "safe temperature"; googling "pork done temperature" gets you the minimum safe pork steak temp of 145. So yes, species have "done temperatures". Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 12:24
  • 5
    The safe temperature depends on the hygiene standards from the butcher to your dinner table which depend among other factors on jurisdiction. For pork handled according to US hygiene standards the safe temperature is 145 F. Pork handled according to German hygiene standards can be eaten at any temperature including raw for the first 12 hours after purchase.
    – quarague
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 11:55
  • 3
    Doneness temperatures exist, but they are not the same as the safe temperature. Also, each meat has multiple doneness temperatures (for different stages of doneness) and only one safe temperature per jurisdiction. If you didn't find the alligator safe temperature on the USDA site, it probably hasn't been defined at all. But there is of course the chance that some other country has done it, if alligator is more commonly eaten there.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 12:15
  • Note that this answer can change based upon geographical region and species. The important part about the time over temperature (it's not just temperature alone), is that those critical limits are established with specific pathogens of concern in mind. "Which" is determined during the product's hazard analyses process, which is why poultry products within the domestic US is typically 165°F (for salmonella, based on the outdated ― but still commonly cited — Thompkins study), and beef and swine 160°F (campylobacter jejuni plus a couple others). The same should apply here.
    – Arctiic
    Commented May 16, 2023 at 5:10

2 Answers 2


I've gathererd some potentially useful resources for your reference. Where applicable, I've also included backup copies that I'm hosting on my own cloud storage for access redundancy in case of broken links.


Please note that as you did not state a locale, I am proceding under the assumption you are referring to the American Alligator (Species Alligator mississippiensis, The Reptile Database), which may include but may not be limited to:


  • Crocodilus mississipiensis [sic]
    Daudin, 1802
  • Crocodilus lucius
    Cuvier, 1807
  • Crocodilus cuvieri
    Leach, 1815
  • Alligator lucius
    — A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1836
  • Alligator mississippiensis [sic]
    — Holbrook, 1842




Additional Reading


There isn't one. There are 'safe temps' for controlling bacteria like Salmonella, and parasites like Trichinella, but the alligator is already dead, and controlling for bacteria and parasites is certainly covered at USDA. In fact all USDA recommendations, of which there are very few specific to a specie, are based on only those two criteria. You may wish to render some of the fat as well to increase digestibility and edibility. Various sections of body fat may need Time & Temp to render, so time may become a large question depending on whether you are also controlling for infection. Some 'cuts' or organs, may be more preferential cooked or uncooked. Some may prefer a chemical cooking, or heat, others will be more educational to your eater by being served naked and raw. For eaxample, were you to cook the brain, you would probably not need to control for either a parasite or bacterial infection and would probably not exceed 130F. If you were to use some of the bile to flavor a blood sausage, you should probably cook to 160F or higher. In some cultures digestive tract and Anus is eaten. I would assume this meat would have a higher likelihood of needing to be controlled for both bacterial and parasitic infections.

  • I think this is totally correct. "Safe" means killing the things that could harm you, and this is a reasonable review of the things to consider..
    – User65535
    Commented May 14, 2023 at 9:18
  • @User65535 I can't agree with that. You are forgetting that food borne illnesses stemming from biological hazards come in three distinct routes: infection, intoxication, and infection-mediated intoxication. Lethality would certainly eliminate those that arise from infection, but you cannot "cook out" toxins. This is what makes spore-forming gram positive pathogens (e.g., listeria monocytogenes) such a significant concern, as the only way to keep food safe is by prevention of direct or indirect adulteration, e.g., cross contamination.
    – Arctiic
    Commented May 16, 2023 at 5:14
  • @Arctiic I see that you are concerned, yet apparently misinformed? please cite sources regarding your statement "this is what makes spore forming .. yadda yadda". I am unclear that bacteria produces spores. Your concern seems to point to explaining that you do not trust cooking FOOD versus cooking alligator. this is problematic.
    – Ben Munday
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 9:33
  • @BenMunday I am not concerned, because I am informed, unless the ten years I worked as an industrial food safety practitioner was just one long fluke? I didn't believe it necessary to cite what is considered to be common knowledge, but certainly, I have no issues with providing some literature: USDA Ask FSIS, or...
    – Arctiic
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 14:17
  • ...this FSIS publication. Notice, if you scroll down to "Staphylococcus aureus" under the prevention column, it states: ".. Because the toxins produced by this bacterium are resistant to heat and cannot be destroyed by cooking, preventing the contamination of food before the toxin can be produced is important. Keep hot foods hot (over 140°F) and cold foods cold (40°F or under); wash your hands with warm water and soap and wash kitchen counters with hot water and soap before and after preparing food..."
    – Arctiic
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 14:19

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