Whether you are looking to spice up your home meals or are interested in adding another source of delicious protein to your diet, beef tongue recipes might be just the thing you’re looking for.
Beef tongue is a popular dish in South American and Eastern European cuisines and is famous for its mild taste and pleasant texture (trust us!).
There are numerous ways to prepare beef tongue, but most methods involve boiling or braising the beef tongue first. Regardless of the method, cooking beef tongue is surprisingly easy, and there are plenty of options for both novice cooks and all the offal pros out there.
Beef tongue basics
Beef tongue (or cow tongue) is an organ meat with a clean and beefy taste, so it doesn’t have any of the characteristic metallic taste a lot of other organ meats have. So, if you’re afraid of tongue because of a bad liver experience, don’t worry.
This clean flavor, along with its appealing nutritional content, makes beef tongue a popular ingredient for chefs and home cooks alike.
Beef tongue dishes date back several millennia and were popular with the original inhabitants of East Africa as well as 19th-century Americans. And if you’ve ever had a “lengua” taco, then you already know what it tastes like!
Beef tongue also has a high-fat content, which gives it a wonderfully soft texture, and it contains a high amount of protein, amino acids, and other vitamins and nutrients necessary for a healthy and active lifestyle [*].
Common ways beef tongue is used
Beef tongue is a tender, moist, and mild-tasting piece of meat that will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week after being cooked. The best ways to cook beef tongue are braising, slow cooking, and instant pot cooking, and we like to serve it peeled and thinly sliced or cubed.
Most people use beef tongue for:
- Sandwich meat
- Warm main dinner course
- Cold meat for salads
The options don’t end there, though! You can sub beef tongue in for almost any other meat ingredient you can think of.
How to cook beef tongue
The key to preparing a tender and moist beef tongue is to cook it on low heat for long periods of time. It’s tough if you don’t, so most recipes use one or a combination of these methods:
Take a soup pot and add a teaspoon or so of salt. Add the beef tongue and enough water to cover it, and then bring it up to a boil. Cook for three hours or so or until you see the outer layer start to peel off. The timing depends on the tongue, and you can add more water if needed along the way.
Braising is just searing a piece of meat and then simmering it in a combination of its own juices and the liquid of your choice.
When braising beef tongue, you actually want to start with a short boil or blanch. Do the same steps as above but only cook it for about half the time (90min or so). Then, peel the beef tongue, brown it in a pot, add whatever aromatics and liquids like wine or stock you want, and cook it for a few more hours until soft.
Cooking beef tongue in a slow cooker is as easy as it gets. Just rub it down with salt and throw it on low for 8 hours or so along with your favorite aromatics. After you take it out, you can chop it up and pan-fry it to finish it off.
You may also have to peel it if it comes raw, and sometimes raw tongue includes a hard bit of cartilage at the back of the tongue that you will need to remove after your initial boiling or braising.
11 best beef tongue recipes
There are so many ways to add beef tongue to various dishes. We’ve rounded up a few of our favorite recipes to give you some inspiration and to get you started on adding beef tongue to your catalog.
And remember, for the best results use grass-fed and grass-finished beef tongue. Chefs love it, and once you try it you will never go back!
1. Slow-cooked beef tongue tacos
Cooking up beef tongue in a slow pot and then smoking it on a hot cast iron pan gives this dish a smokey flavor and pleasant texture. Just peel and cube the tongue after cooking it, and you have a unique and delicious taco filler. Serve it with avocado, red cabbage, pickled onions, or anything else that speaks to you. This beef tongue is also great with rice and beans, in a salad, or just plain.
This high-heat style recipe calls for cooking beef tongue in water or stock, adding aromatics and spices, and finishing up by tossing it on the grill. Because beef tongue is so fatty, you don’t have to worry about it getting tough or dry.
3. Beef tongue stew basque style
This beef tongue comes out so fall-off-the-tongue tender that you could eat it as a standalone dish without a sauce, but the sauce makes it even better. Use a little horseradish for an extra punch and your tastebuds will love you forever.
If you are looking to punch up the flavor of your beef tongue dish, this recipe is for you. In this recipe, lightly browned beef tongue slices are smothered with garlic lemon butter sauce and served with scallions, pepper, and lemon juice. They also recommend wrapping the cooked beef tongue in cling film and placing it in the fridge overnight to make slicing the tongue easier.
This recipe gets you all the awesome flavor without any off-limits keto ingredients. It uses stock made from pressure-cooking the beef tongue along with mushrooms, heavy cream, cooked garlic, onions, and peppercorns to create an amazingly rich taste. And even though we still recommend using a slow cooker or braising to make beef tongue, this pressure-cooked variation has definitely won us over.
6. Tongue n’ cheek tacos
This innovative take on traditional tacos gets its fantastic taste from a method called “reverse braising.” Just slow cook the meat until it falls apart, shred it, then brown it in a skillet to preserve all of the flavors. The outcome is tender yet crispy and is so good for parties.
This Dominican recipe includes carrots, olives, tomato sauce, lots of garlic, and a scotch bonnet pepper to bring some heat. Boiled in hot water and seared in a pan over high heat, this spicy beef tongue recipe is one of our favorite ways to cook beef tongue.
We weren’t kidding when we said there is no shortage of ways to prepare beef tongue. This recipe has excellent step-by-step instructions for prepping and cleaning the meat, then cooking it to tender, smoky perfection. Peppercorns, bay leaves, and a beef rub play up the BBQ spin, and finishing it on the grill gives it an unforgettable smokey flavor.
9. French kiss soup
This recipe involves cooking beef tongue in an instant pot, then dicing it into pieces, and cooking once more in a pot with beef tongue broth and vegetables. The result is an earthy medley that will warm your stomach and your spirit.
This one is a bit out of left field, but don’t sleep on pickled beef tongue. It’s great as an appetizer, and you can make it several days ahead of time.
As we said above, beef tongue has marbles of fat throughout its mass, making the meat super tender. This also makes a great candidate for frying. It gets as crispy as bacon or pork sausage with no effort on your part. This instant pot recipe also cuts down the time it takes to make good beef tongue.
The bottom line on cow tongue
Beef tongue is a protein and nutrient-packed cut of organ meat that is way easier to cook than you might have thought. Its mild taste and pleasant texture make it a great choice for dishes like soups, tacos, and stews.
And with a vast number of available recipes and ways to make it, you’ll never find yourself wondering where you can fit it in.
The best beef tongue begins and ends with grass
The healthiest and tastiest beef can only come from 100% grass-fed, grass-finished cattle. That means no antibiotics, no GMOs, no dark warehouses — it’s just beef, raised the way it should be raised.
And that starts from the moment the cow is born until the moment it dies. There are no grains or industrialized additives added at any point. Because we know that if you’re doing the right things, you don’t need to pump your cows full of medicine.
And those decisions make a huge impact on both taste and nutrition. So if you want to give beef tongue a shot, don’t settle for something that’s bad for your body and taste buds, get the real thing instead.
See what 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef tongue tastes like.
Nathan Phelps is a writer, ethical foodie, and outdoors-aficionado hailing from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.
Place tongue into a soup pot. Season with salt and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until the outer skin begins to peel off, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Peel off skin and discard.What temp should cow tongue be cooked to? ›
You can use a braising pan too. Liquid should cover just to the top ideally and will take 3-4 hours to get to a safe temperature and to 160 degrees F inside thickest part. For more flavor use 2 cups of red wine and the remaining would be water, as well as your herbs of choice.Can you overcook beef tongue? ›
A 3-pound beef tongue typically takes about 2 hours to cook in a stockpot on the stove, 8 hours on low in a slow cooker, or about 60 to 75 minutes in a pressure cooker. However, be careful not to overcook your beef tongue. The meat could become stringy and lose its juiciness if it's overcooked.Do you eat the skin on beef tongue? ›
You should always peel your beef tongue before cooking it to attain the optimal texture. Its skin tends to be tough, gritty, and slightly bumpy. Beef tongue is easy to peel after boiling it for at least two and a half to three hours.How often can you eat cow tongue? ›
The tongue weighs between 3-4 pounds and it sold fresh or cured in brine. It also contains more protein then a T-bone steak, but has a pretty high amount of cholesterol so you shouldn't eat it every day. So, if you're interested in trying out a new cut of meat, this interesting food could be for you.Is cow tongue healthy? ›
Beef tongue has been long celebrated as a wonderfood for its amazing health benefits: packed with essential vitamins and minerals such as protein, zinc, iron, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. It's these essential nutrients that help you feel energized and vital each day.How long does beef tongue last in the fridge? ›
For raw ground meats, poultry, seafood and variety meats (liver, tongue, chitterlings, etc.), refrigerate them only 1 to 2 days before either cooking or freezing. Beef, veal, lamb and pork roasts, steaks and chops may be kept 3 to 5 days.Do you have to brine beef tongue? ›
The taste and texture are akin to a well-prepared brisket, but even more tender. I truly doubt most people would know they were eating tongue if served this dish. The key is to brine for 5-7 days, covered, in the refrigerator.What is cooked cow tongue called? ›
Lengua (Beef Tongue)Does cow tongue taste like steak? ›
The cow tongue is soft, mild in taste, and with a nice amount of moisture. It tastes like beef, not much different from other cuts, especially if you cook it in a recipe with rich sauce like this Instant Pot Mongolian Beef.
Beef tongue is a tender, moist, and mild-tasting piece of meat that will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week after being cooked. The best ways to cook beef tongue are braising, slow cooking, and instant pot cooking, and we like to serve it peeled and thinly sliced or cubed.Should you brush your tongue hard or soft? ›
The easiest way to clean your tongue is with a soft-bristled toothbrush or a tongue scraper. A tongue scraper is soft, with flexible plastic that gently peels away the thin layer of debris and mucus-like coating from your tongue.Is cooked tongue healthy? ›
Eating protein-packed cow tongue is excellent for your physical and mental health with plenty of nutritional benefits. Beef Tongue, while not quite packing the same punch as Liver or Kidney, it is rich in immune-boosting vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, choline, and high in Vitamin B12.How do you clean your tongue to taste better? ›
A study that compared brushing the tongue with a toothbrush versus scraping the tongue with a tongue scraper found that taste improved with both, but significantly more so with the tongue scraper.
If you insist on brushing your tongue, be sure to use this technique. If you brush your tongue too hard, you could irritate the muscle and cause injuries over time.