How to Cook a Beef Tongue, With Photos

I DID IT!  (But I had some help.)  I finally cooked up the tongue we got with our quarter of grassfed beef.  This is one of my “catch up” posts – one where I took pictures but didn’t post when it actually happened.  You can see it was bright and green outside in the photos.

My sister Lois visited last fall, and what are big sisters for if not to help you eat strange things.  That said, we dragged the tongue out of the freezer.  Mmmmmmmm….

raw beef tongue

Lois gave it a good washing and held it up for a nice shot.

lois with raw beef tongue

Cooking it couldn’t be much simpler.  The tongue gets a lot of work, so it’s all muscle (no fat – mo marbling).  Mom always boiled it when we were kids, so that’s what we did, too.  We put it in a kettle of water with about an inch of water over the top, and added plenty of aromatics – garlic scapes, onions, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and some celery.

beef tongue in pot

Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours (I think we did 2 1/2).  Once finished cooking, place the tongue in an ice water bath to chill it enough to handle.

beef tongue in ice water bath

Once you can handle the tongue, peel off the skin.

This will give you an excellent piece of lean meat.

beef tongue cooked

Slice thinly and serve with your choice of condiments.  My brother Rich suggests horseradish.

cutting up beef tongue

And that’s it!  It was very tender and delicious, and the boys couldn’t tell it wasn’t “regular” roast.  (Personally, I found it to be more tender than the roast we had cooked the day before.)

So,  what unusual meats have you enjoyed recently?  I’d love to hear from you.

This post has been added to Simple Lives Thursday,
Real Food Wednesday,
Real Food Weekly,
and Pennywise Platter Thursday.
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  1. Jo's Health Corner says

    I ate a lot of tongue when I grew up, as well as heart and liver. I never had to prepare the tongue and as a child I thought it looked strange. It was absolutely nothing wrong with the taste..Great post.

  2. Laurie says

    You can do it, Diana! If you think you'd like to camouflage it more, my friend, Ted, suggests boil it for an hour, skin it, slice it thinly, and then place it in a roaster and cover it with barbecue sauce. Cook at 350 for a couple more hours.

  3. Sense of Home says

    I've cooked and eaten beef tongue before. It has a different texture, but it is good. You just have to get past the thought that you are eating tongue.

    Very nice tutorial! -Brenda

  4. Heather says

    Thanks for this shot of encouragement! We've got one in the freezer too and that and the heart are things I couldn't not take home (as we paid for them) but I also am not sure how I'll make them and get my hubby to eat them. It does kind of look like a tenderloin or something once you had it peeled. Like the tip about slicing and baking with sauce too…

    Any tips for heart? :)


    • Heidi S says

      We tried the heart last fall, we sliced it, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and pan fried it in real butter. It was great. Don’t get me wrong, it took me a minute to actually try it, but I am so glad I did! It tasted like the BEST steak I have ever had !!!

  5. Laurie says

    Heather – I had them grind up our heart and mix it in with the ground beef. You can't even tell that it's there.

  6. Audrey says

    OMG. Okay, I've recently jumped on the liver band wagon (I NEVER ate it growing up) and can only eat it mixed up with ground beef. It's going to be QUITE a while before I can try tongue. But when that time comes (which is probably still a LONG ways out), your post makes it seem not quite as intimidating!

  7. Laurie says

    lol, Audrey. I was a little freaked out when I tried this, too, but I found the tongue to be much tastier than liver. (Although good liver is much better than bad liver. I'll have to post about the "grade D but edible" stuff they fed us back in college at some point.) Really, truly, it tasted like a very tender roast when it was done.

  8. motherhen68 says

    A Mexican place here in town sells beef tongue tacos. I haven't tried them yet, but it's on my list of things to eat.

    The tongue is ridicliously priced here! Like 12.00 for an cleaned one and 10 for an uncleaned one. I mean, I can get a beef roast for that price.

  9. Diane-The WHOLE Gang says

    You're amazing. I've only eaten tongue once and it really was the most tender meat I've ever eaten. Not sure I'm ready to make it but when I am I'll come here to see how. Thank you for sharing this on Real Food Weekly!

  10. goatsandgreens says

    We had boiled tongue growing up, we loved it. A couple things we did differently: we poked some cloves into the tongue, and used the leftover juice from some dill pickle jars (probably 1:1 with water) and added pickling spices.

    Serving after: I agree with your brother. Horseradish. Or mustard. Or horseradish mustard.

    Since then I've had both goat and lamb tongue, excellent! Just cook it less long. I tried pig tongue but was totally unimpressed, it's very meal-y.

    There are delis in New York City that sell tongue sandwiches, and we do have a local Mexican place that I believe makes tongue tacos, or some dish with tongue.

  11. Laurie says

    Thanks for the tongue tips. :-) I have friends with goats and lamb, so I may have to see about trying those out when the time comes. We don't eat a lot of pork. None of us have ever really enjoyed the flavor, except in cured meats, but most of those have additives we try to avoid.

  12. Leanna says

    My ex (from Mexico) loved tongue. I had never cooked it or eaten it until he asked me to cook it.. trust me I gave him a crazy look.. but he showed me how. In Mexico they eat tongue tacos.. very very good.. with a little cilantro, fresh onion and avocado!

  13. Christina Rozema says

    This sounds wonderful! I remember eating tongue meat in sandwiches (in jelly and yummy). We are getting a pig from the butcher this coming weekend so if anyone has suggestions for a pig’s head, I’m all ears (haha)


  14. Nancy says

    Tongue is a favorite at our house most likely because it is something of a rarity and there are quite a few of us to feed. more than 20 years ago, my dad taught me how to prepare it using a pressure cooker and it is so delicious and tender. These days while my husband knows how to prepare tongue (in case of some emergency where I was unavailable, lol) I still get called in to peel it; he still can’t get over that step! I have never had it boiled but I would imagine it is much the same. We use the broth to cook noodles or flavor mashed potatoes as well. If you manage to have any left, it is great the next day as a cold meat sandwich – we love it with Miracle Whip, lol.

  15. says

    Leanna – that sounds good! The aromatics are a good idea to add flavor, as the meat itself can be somewhat bland.

    Christina – you could make head cheese or kishka (pig’s head sausage with blood and barley). I haven’t tried making either at home, but I remember them from when I was a little girl. The book “The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating” may be helpful as well.

    Nancy – too funny that your husband is squeamish about peeling the tongue. Good thing he has you!

  16. marci357 says

    Like Nancy – I pressure cook it, with spices, then peel etc. The tip of the tongue is such a delicacy the kids would fight over it :)

    One thing not mentioned, once peeled, is to grind it up – large grind, then medium grind. Add miracle whip to it and some seasonings, salt – and use it like a deviled ham spread…or like tuna fish spread. With more miracle whip on bread, maybe a little mustard if you like the tang, this is a great sandwich spread :)

  17. Nadia says

    I use the slow cooker over night with garlic. Then in morning I peel it and slice but place now in oven for half hour to an hr it gives it a different texture n its awesom

  18. Rowan says

    I grew up eating pickled cow’s tongue and loved it. My mother prepared it but I never saw what spices she used and she passed away young. We grew up eating a lot of Jewish ethnic food and tongue is a staple. It can still be found at some deli’s in towns with a larger Jewish population. I live near Pittsburgh and they still have a couple of places that sell it.

  19. Ray says

    Growing up on the farm we ate everything. Dad used to say that the only thing we didn’t use from a pig was the “oink”. I have eaten tongue several ways. Mom used to boil it, peel it, slice it and put it on a cookiesheet with some salt, onion powder& garlic powder . Roast it for about 30 or so minutes. I like it sliced cold on bread with Mayo & lettuce. Mexican cuisine & the Greeks do a small dice and sautee it with onion, peppers, tomatoes & seasoings. Germans like it with a Ginger Snap sauce. A Tavern I used to frequent in Fallon, NV served it pickled. So many ways to enjoy tongue. In the Middle East, Kuwait, I ate Lamb tongue several times. Beef liver, sliced very thin is best if soaked overnight in milk, this removes all the blood that gives liver it’s unique flavor if no removed first. If you have a cat it will wait for you to fix liver it will just lap up the milk. Sautee sliced onions, remove when translucent, dredge the liver in seasoned flour and then brown in a little oil. Remove from pan and add some butter or oil anda bit of flour brown the flour season with salt & pepper to taste and slowly add some milk to form a gravy add the liver & the onions and cook until the liver is done. Do not over cook.

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