Braised Rabbit with Prunes

Rabbit is available at many specialty markets, if not fresh then frozen, or can usually be ordered from your local butcher.

Whole rabbits are harder to break down than chickens, so ask your butcher to part it out for you (you may need to call ahead so they can defrost one, if all they have are frozen rabbits). Or you can check out Hank's steps for cutting up a rabbit.

This is a pretty basic rabbit with prunes preparation. You can easily dress it up with some stewed tomatoes and or olives. Some recipes call for soaking the olives in cognac and adding them in at the very end, which would be good too.

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4


  • One 3 to 3 1/2 pound rabbit, cut into six to eight serving parts
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 3-4 large shallots, sliced, about 1 cup
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry white wine (or chicken stock with a tablespoon of vinegar)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 ounces (200 grams) pitted prunes (dried plums)
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 rabbit liver (optional, should be sold with the rabbit)
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar (optional)


1 Brown the rabbit pieces in butter: Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a large thick-bottomed Dutch oven (I used a 5 quart) on medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of butter. Pat dry the rabbit pieces, sprinkle all over with salt, and working in batches, brown on all sides in the pan.

rabbit meat cut into parts brown rabbit parts in dutch oven

2 Sauté shallots, garlic, deglaze with white wine: Remove the rabbit pieces from the pan. Add the sliced shallots, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the minced garlic clove and cook for 30 seconds more.

cook shallots in dutch oven for braised rabbit deglaze pan with white wine over shallots

Add the white wine and increase the heat to high. Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the wine boil, until reduced by at least a half.

3 Place rabbit, prunes, thyme, bay leaf, on top of shallots in pan, cover and cook: Lower the heat to low (you may want to move the pot to the smallest burner on your stove). Arrange the rabbit pieces, prunes, thyme, and bay leaf in the pan. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste.

add prunes and thyme to rabbit in dutch oven cook braised rabbit with prunes

Cover tightly and let cook for 45 minutes. (Cooking time assumes you are starting with a rabbit that has been brought to near room temp before cooking. If you are using a rabbit straight from the fridge, it may take a few more minutes to cook through. Also, if you keep lifting up the lid to check on the rabbit, it will increase the needed cooking time.)

4 Optional step using rabbit liver: After the rabbit is cooked through, if you want, you can intensify the flavor of the sauce using the rabbit's liver. The liver should have been included with the rabbit from your butcher, just like whole chickens come with the giblets. (Don't worry, the liver won't make your dish taste like liver. You can even try just a little amount to taste to make sure. The liver acts as a "liaison", thickening the sauce and making it richer.)

Purée the rabbit liver with 1 Tbsp of vinegar (I used wine vinegar, but cider or white vinegar will do). Remove the rabbit pieces, prunes, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf from the pot (discard thyme and bay leaves) to a serving dish.

Whisk the puréed liver vinegar mixture into the sauce in the pot and cook for another 10 minutes. (If the sauce is still too thin, you can thicken further with corn starch or flour.) Then drizzle the sauce over and around the rabbit and prunes.

Great served over egg noodles.

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  • Carol

    Can you cook it the day before eating?

  • Tamara Meulemeester

    My in-laws were from Belgium and they cooked rabbit this way, but they used red wine and canned prunes (with their juices). Mine never tastes as good as my Mother-in-law’s did. Sadly she passed away a few years ago and no one else has her recipe. I am getting closer to perfecting it though.

  • Vanessa

    Staying in Barcelona and a great shop in the Gracia market has rabbits. They looked great, not too big ie force fed and a lovely healthy colour. Here they are very serious about preparing animals so I was given the liver and I asked for the kidneys too but refused the head. It is delightful to see such pride in preparation and nothing is too much trouble. All pieces cut to size and beautifully laid out. Made this dish and it was sublime. Repeated it tonight but cooked it too quickly. Important that the rabbit is slowly cooked for the 45 minutes and to seal the pot with foil under the lid to keep all the moisture in. A seriously good dish. Thanks


  • rose

    made this a few weeks ago – LOVE IT. i happen to love rabbit and wish i could find it more often (i had to order it frozen). this dish has it all – savory, sweet, a bit more taste and game than chicken (yay!), and a nice sauce. only complaint? wish i could get rabbit fresh so the meat department would do the leg work of butchering the pieces! but thats not really a complaint…just commentary on our meat choices in america i guess.
    anyway, YUM. will definitely make again – thanks again elise!

    Hi Rose, I called our local butcher a few hours ahead of my going there and had them defrost a rabbit, so by the time I got there they could cut it up for me. The butchering process really is a lot harder with rabbit than with chicken. ~Elise


  • Nick

    I raise organic meat rabbits in Maine: Californian/New Zealand hybrids. And this dish will be perfect for dinner and left overs! A friend of mine from France approves and said he loves lapin aux pruneaux, so I’ll have to prepare this some time soon.

  • Sara

    I tried this recipe last night, it was my first time cooking (and eating) rabbit. It didn’t really work out well for me… took a lot longer than was called for (almost twice as long) and just wasn’t too my taste. But it was an interesting experiment, and my boyfriend liked it. Maybe my lowest setting was a bit too low?

    Yes, it could be that your lowest setting was too low, or perhaps the rabbit was still a bit too chilled to start. ~Elise

  • Andrea

    Tagine is another great dish that can be made with dried prunes or apricots. I have also been tinkering with a recipe for the dish that the main characters eat in the Hunger Games trilogy — a lamb stew with prunes. So tasty!

  • Christine

    I live with a person that is too caught up on the “its cute little bunny rabbit” thing and will not eat rabbit.

    So if I use chicken in its place should I go with breast or thighs? I’m not sure if rabbit falls in the dark or white meat category. Can’t wait to try it out.

    The flavor of domesticated rabbit is mild, so chicken breasts would probably come closest. But you have to take care that they don’t get dried out. I would brown them skin on, bone in, in a little less fat than this recipe calls for, given that the chicken skin is fatty. And then just spoon out any excess fat that gets rendered. ~Elise

  • Paula

    I know that this recipie is about the prunes, of which I am a fan, but I have two big bags of dried figs that my Mother gave me and I wonder if figs would work with this dish. Any Idea?
    Thanks for the great recipies and photos!

    I think the figs would work great. In fact, we were just talking about trying this with figs since we also have a lot of them. ~Elise

  • Diana

    I am a prune addict. My mom used to hide them from me as a kid because I’d eat them until, well, you know. They were like candy to me! I’ve never had rabbit but this sounds really good. Where did you learn the trick with the liver? Does that work with other animals too? Seems like great way to thicken a sauce w/out cornstarch.

    Hi Diana, Hank first told me about this trick a while ago, and then I read about it in Larousse. My Frenchman also tells me that this is quite common, at least with rabbit. Don’t know about other meats. Perhaps chicken? ~Elise