American Oceans

Can You Eat Barnacles?

If you’ve ever sat on a dock to fish, watch the sunset, or take a break from fishing, you’ve probably noticed odd-looking masses stuck to the posts. These cone-shaped, sharp masses are marine animals known as barnacles. Have you ever wondered, can you eat barnacles?

Closeup of Acorn barnacles

They may not be fun to step on, but they play a vital role in filtering organisms that consume plankton and extraneous floating substances in ocean water. People eat mussels and oysters, so why not barnacles?

Not only are they integral to ocean ecosystems, but they’re also an integral part of the human diet. You can eat barnacles, and they taste delicious!

You can read about how you can eat barnacles and discover recipes in the following sections. 

Safety Concerns for Eating Barnacles

plate of cooked barnacles

Barnacles are edible and safe to eat. They’re tasty and widespread crustaceans that have become prized delicacies in fancy restaurants and fish counters around the world.

That said, there are numerous species of barnacles, and not all are safe to eat. 

In fact, of the numerous types of barnacles, only two are edible and harvested for human consumption. Gooseneck barnacles and acorn barnacles are the species eaten by humans.

Gooseneck barnacles are the most popular for consumption because they supply more meat than acorn barnacles.  

 Since barnacles are filtering organisms, they trap a lot of dirt and unwanted detritus, so to ensure safety, you will need to clean them thoroughly before eating their meat.


Gooseneck barnacles

Barnacles are such prized delicacies because of their flavor and texture. Their meat looks like snail or mussel meat, but barnacles are more closely related to crabs and lobsters. 

Their meat is thus a perfect balance between sweet and briny, with the same chewiness and juiciness as lobster meat. 

Raw Barnacles

You can eat barnacles raw. Many restaurants use raw barnacle meat in ceviches.

It’s important to ensure you’ve shelled and thoroughly cleaned the barnacles as there’s nothing worse than getting a mouthful of leftover grit from the barnacle shells.

Considering how easy it is to overcook this expensive delicacy, raw consumption might be your best bet! 

Add comment