The History of Frog Legs (cuisses de grenouille) 🐸

A brief history of frog legs

Frog legs… DUN DUN DUN! Arguably the most controversial and divisive of all French foods is this ribbit-based dish right here.

However, it’s important to remember the delicacy is also consumed across Asia, various other European nations, and in America.

So, we’re here today to go through their history and showcase why eating these things isn’t weird. And it’s much weirder to head to McDonald’s to munch on its heavily processed foods. Allez!

What Are Frog Legs? And Why Do Some People Have a Problem With Them?!

They’re the legs of frogs! They’re served like any other meat after being cooked, often with a mixture of butter, garlic, and vegetables.

It’s common just to get them on a plate with butter and garlic. We’ve tried this dish back in Paris circa 1998 at Le Chablis and remember them being nice, like any other meat, but a bit overpowered by the butter/garlic combination.

Here in England, frog legs aren’t readily available.

There’s a strong antipathy towards the French from many English people (an issue largely born out of jealously, we think), with the idiotic “French frogs” insult being aimed at its people for enjoying this dish. As noted in this 2009 article by The Guardian: A short history of frog eating:

“We Brits have long since ceased eating frogs, however, and disguise our incomprehension of those who do by poking fun at them: we have been calling the French frog-eaters (now mostly shortened to Frogs) since at least the 16th century.”

This being from a nation that eats black pudding, pork pies, fish & chips etc. How is eating a different meat any more unusual, other than it falls out of your sense of familiarity and comfort zone?

Plus, there’s odd looking stuff such as stargazy pie and jellied eels.

Frog legs are incredibly rare across the UK and we can’t recall ever seeing it on any menu here (although we do have vague memories of seeing it mentioned once or twice). But were it to be commonplace, it would lead to looting, rioting, and the collapse of British society.

Why the fierce reaction?

It’s like in this clip from one of Gordon Ramsay’s shows. The chef is often very upfront on TV, giving a reality check for viewers on how food is actually produced. It’s something, clearly, a lot of people don’t like contemplating.

Frog legs are one of those foodstuffs fussy eaters go, “I don’t normally eat that. Therefore, this is appalling and I am outraged and disgusted.” Before heading off to stuff their face with preservative-ridden ready meals with meat from god knows where.

And the vast majority of people criticising frog legs won’t have tried it.

Give them a whirl, though, and you’ll find they’re tasty enough. If the idea horrifies you, but eating a beef burger is A okay, maybe also look into the process that meat goes through to end up on your plate.

Head on over to Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation (2002) for some insights (i.e. it’s not very pretty at all).

A Brief History of Frog Legs

Although most commonly associated with France, the foodstuff hails back thousands of years to southern China. Records show frog legs were eaten as early as 1st century AD.

The Aztecs liked them as well.

And, bloody hell, in 2013 archaeologists discovered 10,000 year old cooked frog legs… near Stonehenge! Can you imagine!? Those HERETICS cooked the French rival dish on HOME SOIL and oh my days, the country is in ruin.

That was reported in the National Geographic in Frog Legs: A British Innovation? Can you imagine the terror this would instil on fervent patriots here, post-Brexit? My God! Better keep this story hidden under a mass off bizarre, panic-stricken stories about The Woke.

As David Jacques, of the University of Buckingham, noted:

“[It’s] well before the first documentation of the French eating frog. The earliest source for [that] is in The Annals of the Catholic Church from the 12th century.”

That reminds us of the Trigger Happy TV sketch, where Dom Joly pretends to be a bigoted English football hooligan unhappy the French do things differently.

Anyway, that delightful reality check for us English people aside, it seems clear the dish became popular across Asia a long time ago.

Again, at least by 1st century AD.

To this day, you can get them in Cambodia, Thailand, southern China, Vietnam, Indonesia etc. But they’re still very popular in France, particularly in Dombes across the east of the country.

Based on 2021 stats, about 4,000 tonnes of frog legs get consumed across the glorious French nation each and every year.

Compare that to America’s favourite meat—in 2022, beef production went off the scales at 12.6 million metric tonnes of the stuff (28.29 billion pounds). Although, to be fair, cows are bigger and heavier than frogs.

But all archaeological evidence highlights frogs have been consumed by humans across the planet for a long time.

And it’s no big surprise, really. Frogs are everywhere, easy to catch, and some curious soul thousands of years ago will have decided to give it a go.

However, it’s still quite a confused history. We can’t say definitely where eating these things originated. But it clearly was the French who turned the dish into a delicacy, as famous novelist Alexandra Dumas noted in Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine the dish was hugely popular by the 1600s. And nothing has stopped them since.

Are Frog Legs Good For You?

Yes. Despite the negative reputation they have, frog legs are an excellent source of:

  • Protein
  • Omega-3
  • Vitamin A
  • Potassium

So, there we go then. All that high salt, high fat red meat people down like there’s no tomorrow, that’s seriously not good for you (rashers of bacon yum, yum) and… yes, frog legs are much better. Hurray!

However, moving around live (or unfrozen) frogs is very bloody dangerous. And it can lead to outbreaks of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis and Ranavirus.

Those are amphibian diseases.

Unfortunately, a lot of countries pay no real attention to that. Canada, does, though! If you want to get frog legs there, rest assured the country bans their sale unless they’re checked and cleared as safe to eat.

How to Make Frog Legs

If you want to terrify and/or repulsive your dinner party guests, why not serve them frog legs? An inspired choice.

The core ingredient here is… frog legs.

We’ve never cooked this before, but we researched it and the time to fry them up is about 10 minutes. 24 frog legs will serve about six people.

Variety is the spice of life, and all that, so why not give it a go?


  1. Have to say I’ve never eaten frogs legs. Though I did eat snails once, in a restaurant on the Rue de Lafayette, apparently made by adding a lot of garlic and butter to some fried rubber bands. I wish I’d gone for the frogs legs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you’d gone for the frog legs, you’d find they were also made by adding a small vat of butter and garlic. That was my experience of it in 1998. Not sure why they did that. It was tasty enough, just overpowered by butter and garlic.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I worked in a very posh English restaurant in my youth and their one nod to Eurofood was escargot, which were served absolutely swimming(?) in garlic butter. They were hugely popular and, if I’m honest, slightly more rubbery that Matthew’s rubber bands…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure why chefs do that, as it totally drowns out any taste but for the garlic and butter. Anything slightly unusual – snails, frogs – and it seems to be international law to drown them in butter/garlic.

      Liked by 1 person

Dispense with some gibberish!

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