With over 6,000 species living on every continent except Antarctica, frogs are one of the most widespread types of animals in the world. Their croaks and chirps are a familiar sound in ponds, marshes, and rainforests globally. But can you eat them?

If you’re Jewish and keep kosher, you may be wondering: are frogs kosher?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Most Orthodox authorities consider frogs to be non-kosher. This is because they lack the kosher signs (fins and scales) that would make them permissible to eat under Jewish law.

In this approximately 3,000 word article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the kosher status of frogs. We’ll cover:

The Laws of Kashrut

Keeping kosher, also known as keeping the laws of kashrut, is an important part of the Jewish faith. Kashrut refers to the set of Jewish dietary laws that determine which foods are kosher, meaning fit for consumption, and which are not.

When it comes to land animals like frogs, there are specific signs that must be present for the animal to be considered kosher.

What Makes a Land Animal Kosher?

According to the laws of kashrut outlined in the Torah, for a land animal to be kosher it must chew its cud and have split hooves. Ruminant animals like cows, sheep, and goats all meet these requirements.

However, animals like pigs, rabbits, and horses do not have split hooves and are therefore not kosher. Frogs present an interesting case when examining kashrut laws regarding land animals.

As amphibians, frogs live both on land and in the water. However, they do not possess split hooves or chew their cud as cows and sheep do. As such, frogs do not meet the biblical requirements to be considered a kosher land animal.

This distinction is important, as there are different rules regarding aquatic life versus land animals when it comes to keeping kosher.

The Kosher Signs: Fins and Scales

For fish and other sea creatures, the Torah states they must have fins and scales to be considered kosher. Shellfish like lobster, shrimp, clams, and oysters do not have scales and are not kosher. But what about frogs and other amphibious creatures?

According to kosher dietary law, for an aquatic animal to be kosher, it must have fins and scales not just sometimes, but even after being removed from the water. Frogs do not meet this qualification, as they shed their scales when on dry land.

Some key facts regarding frogs and kashrut:

  • As land animals, frogs do not chew their cud or have split hooves, so they are not kosher based on the laws for land creatures.
  • As aquatic life, frogs shed their scales when on land and therefore do not meet the requirement of having permanent fins and scales to be considered kosher seafood.
  • Notable rabbis and kosher certification organizations like the Orthodox Union agree that frogs are not kosher animals.
  • There are no examples in Jewish texts or history of frogs being considered acceptable for kosher consumption.

So while frogs are a rather unusual case, the consensus among kosher authorities is clear – frogs are not kosher. The laws of kashrut regarding land animals and seafood both exclude frogs from being acceptable for consumption by observant Jews.

So if you see frog legs on a menu, it’s a sure sign that kitchen is not kosher!

For more detailed information on the kosher status of frogs, check out OU Kosher’s article or speak to your local rabbi.

Do Frogs Have Scales?

Smooth, Moist Skin

Frogs do not have scales like fish or reptiles. Instead, they have smooth, moist skin that helps them breathe and drink water through their skin. A frog’s skin is thin, contains many mucous glands, and is kept moist by the frog’s own secretions.

The texture is slick and slippery to the touch, more like the skin of an amphibian than the scales of a fish.

Frog Anatomy

A frog’s anatomy is suited for living both in water and on land. Their boneless bodies lack scales, but have sturdy limbs for jumping and swimming. Frogs breathe through their nostrils while on land, and through their skin while in water. Unique to frogs, they shed their skin periodically – an ability that helps them reduce disease risk and eliminate parasites.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are over 6,000 frog species known globally. Yet none have the telltale scales required to be considered kosher. So when evaluating if frogs are “kosher,” the lack of scales means they do not meet traditional Jewish dietary laws.

Rulings on the Kashrut of Frogs

Orthodox Opinions

Orthodox Jewish authorities have engaged in lively debates regarding the kosher status of frogs over the centuries. The Talmud states that all creatures that live in water and reproduce by laying eggs are permissible to eat.

Based on this, most Orthodox rabbis have ruled that certain frog species are kosher. However, there are some dissenting opinions.

The renowned 12th century scholar Maimonides argued that frogs should not be considered kosher. His reasoning was that frogs have certain anatomy features that resemble reptiles, which are not kosher. However, most later authorities rejected this view.

Prominent Orthodox rabbis who deem frogs with smooth skin to be kosher include Yosef Karo, Moses Isserles, and Israel Meir Kagan.

In the modern era, Orthodox Union does not currently certify any frog products as kosher. However, some Orthodox rabbis, especially European ones, still hold that frogs can be kosher. According to the Orthodox Union’s position paper on frog kashrut:

  • Green frogs are permissible, but bullfrogs are questionable
  • Only the hind legs of certain smooth-skinned species may be eaten
  • Frogs may not be slaughtered, but must be harvested after death

So while mainstream Orthodox authorities allow for the possibility of kosher frogs, uncertainties around species and preparation make certification rare.

Reform and Conservative Views

Reform and Conservative Jewish authorities have more lenient stances on frog kashrut. Since these movements focus more on the ethical purposes of kosher laws, doubts related to frog anatomy are less concerning.

Both Reform and Conservative dietary policies officially permit the consumption of certain frog species when relevant criteria are met. These include:

  • Smooth skin
  • Free of blemishes/injuries
  • Killed swiftly before being cut open

However, even Reform and Conservative rabbis rarely certify frog products as kosher. This may be partly due to lingering doubts about their Kosher status. But an equally important factor is that there is little commercial demand for kosher frog products outside some specialized ethnic cuisines.

Orthodox Ruling Potentially kosher depending on species and processing method, but not certified
Conservative Ruling Kosher certification permitted for some species
Reform Ruling Kosher certification permitted for some species

Examples of Kosher Amphibians

Frogs vs. Toads

When it comes to keeping amphibians, there is often confusion surrounding the difference between frogs and toads. However, in terms of kashrut laws, both are considered kosher as long as they fulfill certain requirements.

Here’s a quick overview of the key differences between frogs and toads:

  • Frogs have smooth, moist skin and long, powerful hind legs made for jumping and swimming. Toads have bumpy, dry skin and shorter hind legs better suited for walking.
  • Frogs are found in or around water. Toads prefer dry land and only visit water to breed.
  • Frogs have teeth to catch prey. Toads do not have teeth and use their sticky tongues instead.

When it comes to kosher laws, both frogs and toads are permitted as long as they have the attributes of kosher locusts outlined in Leviticus 11:20-23. This includes having jointed legs to leap with and being swarming creatures (meaning they congregate in large groups).

Salamanders, Newts, and Caecilians

Besides frogs and toads, there are some other amphibians that may qualify as kosher:

  • Salamanders – These tailed amphibians have four legs and smooth, moist skin like frogs. Some large aquatic species like mudpuppies and hellbenders could potentially be kosher.
  • Newts – Newts are a type of salamander that live both on land and in the water. The small semiaquatic species may be kosher if they meet the criteria.
  • Caecilians – These little-known amphibians resemble large worms or snakes. They have small legs and live underground, so are unlikely to be considered kosher.

The key deciding factors are whether these amphibians have jointed hind legs for jumping and are swarming creatures. Salamanders and newts that congregate seasonally to breed in ponds and streams are the most likely to be permitted according to Jewish law.

Serving Frog in a Kosher Style

Removing Limbs and Skin

When preparing frog to be served in a kosher manner, it is important to properly remove the limbs and skin according to Jewish law. The fore and hind legs of the frog must be cut off at each joint. The laws state that for an animal to be kosher, it must be slaughtered in a specific way, with particular steps taken after slaughter to remove blood from the meat.

Since slaughtering a frog in the kosher method can be difficult, simply cutting off the limbs allows the meat to be pareve and acceptable to eat according to kosher guidelines.

After the legs are removed, the skin must also be peeled off the meat completely. Jewish law prohibits eating blood, so all blood vessels within the skin need to be stripped away. The skinning should leave just the frog’s muscle tissue, with no discoloration or remaining bits of skin or fat left on the meat.

Some chefs may opt to brine the frog meat after skinning to draw out any residual blood.

Checking for Injuries

Inspecting the frog meat carefully is vital to keeping kosher. According to kosher law, any animals with injuries or defects cannot be eaten. This applies to hunted frogs as well; each part of the frog that will be consumed or served must be checked for any blemishes, bruises, cuts, or broken bones.

Even small nicks in the meat render that section unkosher. The laws regarding injured animals originate from Deuteronomy 14:21.

To ensure no injured portions are overlooked, a qualified mashgiach should thoroughly examine the prepared frog meat. A mashgiach is trained in the complex laws of kashrut and can identify any adhesions, inflamed tissue, abnormalities, or damaged areas that would prohibit the meat from being served.

With their keen oversight, the frog can retain its kosher status from beginning to end. Trusting an observant mashgiach is key to properly adhering to Jewish dietary regulations.


While orthodox authorities universally consider frogs to be a non-kosher species, more liberal Jewish movements permit eating frog legs and other parts of the animal if properly prepared. However, most observant Jews abstain from frog to comply with traditional kosher dietary laws.

Frogs play an important role in many ecosystems, and some species are threatened or endangered. So whether you keep kosher or not, be mindful of sustainability if you choose to partake of these amphibious animals.

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