how to cook beef tongue

Crispy & tender – the ultimate beef tongue recipe

This rich and delicious beef tongue treat features that elusive combo of crisp seared crust surrounding impossibly tender meat.


Beef tongue is one of the BEST cuts you’ve probably never been game enough to try. Sometimes people are freaked out by the appearance, sometimes it’s because they just have no idea how to cook it. Problem solved, as I come at you with my ultimate beef tongue recipe. PLEASE, trust me on this one. I know some people are totally grossed out by offal or nasty bits of the animal. I myself am not a huge fan of brains, tripe, or anything with a weird texture or flavor. As long as you can get past the visual appearance of tongue, you’ll find it is one of the most sumptuous and rich cut on the steer. If there was ever a time I was going to practically guarantee you’re gonna like something, this would be it.

peeling back the skin on a beef tongue

Tongue is commonly used to make Lengua tacos, where the meat is either cooked down into tender shreds or coarsely chopped before being thrown into a tortilla. And while lengua tacos are completely delicious, I don’t think they showcase the incredible texture the tongue meat has to offer. There’s a lot of fat inside the tongue itself, which bubbles and crisps up when seared. That’s why I employ a poach/sear method for this tongue recipe. I suppose its more accurately a boil than a poach, but the phrase “boiled tongue” does NOT do this justice. I am lucky enough to find whole beef tongue in my local grocery store, but it’s also commonly found at Mexican grocery stores, and there are places online who will ship it right to you.

Now, there is some pretty funky looking skin you will need to peel off the actual tongue meat, and it’s best to do this after it has been poached. It’s much easier to peel this way. You may need a paring knife to help you in spots. Also, there’s a funky bit at the base of the tongue that, while edible, is not the most appealing texture or flavor. It’s basically a huge chunk of what you will be purchasing, but I always trim it off and use it for dog food so it’s not just discarded as waste. It’s much easier to trim once cooked so when you slice the cooked tongue, you will see the portion that needs to be trimmed away. An inverted “V” shaped cut usually is all it takes to trim it away.

trimming a beef tongue

The tongue meat really shines during the final heat application. The first cooking step is to tenderize the meat, but the second step brings the real magic. As the fat renders out of the tongue, an incredible golden crust forms. This can be done either on a grill or in a pan. The sear will start off slow, but as the fat starts to render the whole cooking process will speed up dramatically.  You’ll have to be quick about turning the pieces frequently so they can color without burning. As long as you know to expect it, you’ll be fine. And the results will absolutely be worth it.

searing beef tongue on a grill

I prefer to use Hardcore Carnivore Meatchelada seasoning for this recipe. It’s a bright but earthy chili lime rub (more flavor than heat) with a vivid all-natural red hue. The flavor profile fits this recipe really nicely, and the zing of lime works well with the richness of the meat. If you don’t want to use this seasoning (why tho?!) you can just season with salt.

Also for the record, if you wanted to put these slices in a tortilla and call it a taco, no one will be mad at you.

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how to cook beef tongue

Crispy & tender – the ultimate beef tongue recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 4 reviews

  • Author: Jess Pryles
  • Total Time: 5 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: serves 2-4 1x



1 x 3-4 lb whole beef tongue

8 garlic cloves

1/2 onion

1 small orange

2 tablespoons kosher salt

3 tablespoons Hardcore Carnivore Meatchelada seasoning


  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil on the stove.
  2. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of a knife to release the flavor and aroma. Add smashed cloves, salt and the whole half of an onion to the water. Peel the orange and add the peel to the water, then squeeze in the juice.
  3. Slowly add the beef tongue to the boiling water. Cover the pot and simmer for 4-5 hours. The beef tongue is ready when a knife is easily inserted into the middle of the flesh with little resistance.
  4. Remove the tongue from the pot and discard the water. Allow the tongue to cool 10-15 minutes before handling.
  5. Peel the skin away, if necessary using a small knife to remove any stubborn bits. Discard the tongue skin.
  6. Slice the tongue into 1/4″ slices, and cut away a wedge of the darker “under tongue” section. (See post above for more info). Season the slices well on both sides with Meatchelada seasoning.
  7. Heat a grill for high heat grilling, about 500f. Alternatively, you can also do this sear step in a skillet on the stove.
  8. Grill the tongue pieces, flipping frequently. The tongue is already cooked at this stage, you are just looking to develop a seared crust on the outside. As the fat begins to render the caramelization will speed up, so be careful of flare ups.
  9. Once the desired color is achieved, removed from the grill and serve immediately.
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 hours

6 thoughts on “Crispy & tender – the ultimate beef tongue recipe”

  1. I think I get to be the first review…woo hoo! My first thought is…this woman knows her beef!

    I was searching the Internet for recipes for tongue as I’ve never cooked it, but I watch chef porn and it is always a feature at some point so I bought two three pound tongues and started the process.

    Firstly, I always make recipes side by side, with the original as written to compare with a modified version. The only modification I made was to cook on high in a pressure cooker for 1 hour 15 mins with a 20 min cool down to let the pot naturally cool. I did this because I forgot I had school conferences and didn’t have the four or five hours on the stove.

    YUMMY! That’s my review. Both versions were voted hella good by my three children. (I did lie to one and told him it was a tenderloin).

    Because I’m teaching the boys to cook, we do a side by side play with flavour profiles. The second was cooked in half a bottle of Riesling and water to one inch over the contents of the pot. I used the spices, orange, onion, etc but added half a dozen small figs halved, a dozen creminni (sp?) mushrooms cut in half, white pepper, a hefty pinch of cinnamon and the same with nutmeg as well as about a tablespoon worth of shaved fresh ginger.

    I did use the orange, but I did three. A three second squirt of pure maple syrup off our tree… ok only in my imagination, but maple syrup none the less, with another hefty pinch of sweet paprika and fresh sage verses bay leaf. I threw in a handful of end cut bacon chunks as well and put in a teaspoon of duck fat at the base to discourage sticking, but in hind sight, it was unnecessary.

    I can’t tell you which was best frankly. The original had a beautiful spicy kick but not too spicy for grandma (who thinks mild salsa is hot) and the modified was akin to a sweet southern bbq flavour. Side dishes were quinoa cooked in beef stock, to which I added the cooked down veggies (onion and mushrooms) diced.

    Both were delicious.

    I am now a devoted tongue cooker lol as well as a follower of this wonderful carne expert!! The only thing I didn’t do was to finish off in the big green egg as I was concerned about keeping a close eye on that step so I used cast iron skillets. I might be brave and try the egg now that I know how they cook.

    Long review, but honestly, I have fun cooking with the boys and letting them learn to follow a recipe as well as how to play with flavour while still keeping the original in mind cuz when it’s good….it’s just good! This one is GOOD.

  2. Just found your recipe have used veal pork and beef tong before to use for soup or add to chillies or stews. This recipe is so intriguing I bough a 4 pound beef tong and will make fabulous sounding recipe for a special dinner party.
    Thank you posting inwill let you know how I made out.

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