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17 Jul

Tender Beef Tongue with Onions and Garlic

When Kerry Carlson submitted an offal recipe for the Primal Blueprint Reader-Created Cookbook Contest, the first words of the email were “don’t be afraid.”

In the interest of full disclosure, we have to admit we were just a tiny bit afraid. It’s not every day, after all, that we bring home beef tongue from the market. But once we reminded ourselves that tongue is simply another part of the animal, no different than eating beef ribs, shank, loin or brisket, our fear started to subside. It also helped that Kerry’s preparation method is incredibly simple. In fact, the most difficult part might be finding the beef tongue in the first place. Keep in mind that butchers will usually special order it for you and it’s found readily at most Hispanic markets (where it’s called lengua).

Once you bring your tongue home, be prepared for it to be bigger than you might expect. It’s likely to weigh more than 2 pounds and it may come rolled up, like ours was, or it could be quite a bit longer if stretched out. Tongue is a fairly fatty piece of meat and it’s covered in a thin layer of skin, but you don’t have to deal with any of this while the meat is still raw. Most of the fat cooks off and the skin easily slides off with the help of a knife after the meat has cooked.

Kerry simmers the tongue for several hours with onion, shallot, garlic, jalapeno, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. You can also cook it all day in a Crock Pot with a little bit of liquid or braise it in the oven like a roast. We went for a faster method and put ours in a pressure cooker for just over an hour. As the tongue cooks, your kitchen will be filled with the same rich, savory and appetizing aroma that any other cut of beef gives off. While it’s cooking and your appetite is building, it’s a good time to think about how you’re going to serve the tongue meat. It can be eaten plain (many people recommend dipping it in mustard), pickled, or sautéed until crispy. It’s commonly used in dishes like tacos or can be mixed in with almost any kind of vegetable.

Meat from the tongue is prized for its tenderness and a rich flavor similar to pot roast or brisket. In fact, unless you told someone they were eating tongue meat, the flavor would probably lead them to assume they were eating a more common cut of beef.

So you see, there really isn’t anything to be afraid of. If you’ve ever considered eating more of a cow than just a steak, or if you’re simply looking for a bargain cut of meat, now is the perfect time to give tongue a try.


  • 1 beef tongue
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno (optional), sliced in half or minced
  • Pinch of red chili flakes
  • 1 bay leaf


Put all ingredients into a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer for about 3 hours until tender. Let cool until you are able to handle. Peel off skin and slice.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I love tongue!
    My mother would make it a few times a year. Later, when grown, I’ve had it frequently in Mexican cuisine, tacos and such. Wonderful! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    paleo charlie wrote on August 18th, 2012
  2. If you don’t eat beef tongue, you are missing one of the finer things in this life….only got one life….go ahead and try it, you’ll be glad you did.

    Russell wrote on September 13th, 2012
  3. I cooked this in my slow cooker on low for 7 hours. We were out for the day and came home to this amazing smell. The meat was melt in your mouth tender with a heavenly texture. Super easy and divine. A family favorite. (I put it in the section of my recipe binder called “Inexpensive AND easy” ). Oh wait, I did add one thing…a few beef bones. I usually throw those in, after reading in “Nourishing Traditions” how incredibly good for your health beef stock is (the real thing simmered a long time with real bones, to draw out the nutrients).

    Johannah wrote on January 19th, 2013
  4. My Mom used to cook tongue and serve in sandwiches. However she always called them “Mother-In-Law Sandwiches”. I have one in the pressure cooker right now.

    Bill wrote on February 17th, 2013
  5. I am simmering a beef tongue right now and I am so looking forward to the sandwiches this week :) I also grew up on this recipe and I recommend it to anyone!

    Lisa wrote on April 6th, 2014
  6. This is a fun new experience for me. Just made this recipe and I’m curious if this great smelling juice can now be a broth? I’m new to even eating red meat so I’m not sure. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

    Amanda wrote on August 12th, 2014
  7. This recipe is now my new go to for beef tongue. I made it for the very first time today and it was out of this world delicious. I will be making it again, soon.

    Lilo wrote on October 11th, 2014
  8. Just made beef tongue in the pressure cooker and it turned out great! It’s like a mild, tender beef pot roast. Peeling it was super easy. I didn’t even cool it off first, just took it out of the broth and pulled at the peel with two forks. It pretty much fell away. The dog will get the peel and the few gristly bits as part of her breakfast. The cat adored the cooked tongue and he’s really picky! (The dog will pretty much eat anything! lol)

    Andrea wrote on December 18th, 2014
  9. I just made chili with brisket and tongue. I wonder why, or if is necessary for any reason other than aesthetic, to skin the tongue. I cooked the skin with the rest. After all, aren’t we eating the “whole animal”?

    Jim wrote on August 16th, 2015
  10. Thanks for this recipe! I have a beef tongue ready to go. We’re planning to have it cold tomorrow for lunch. My partner rembers cold tongue, my kids are keen to try it…in to the pot it goes!!!

    Linda wrote on September 4th, 2015
  11. My mother made souse every year when the hogs were butchered. She always added beef tongue to the mix. It was spicy and delicious and great with crackers or on a sandwich. My husband would not touch it because of the name, “head cheese”. He worked on a tugboat early in our marriage and the captain brought store-bought souse onboard for sandwiches and he liked it and asked me what souse was? When I told him, he said, “I’ll be darn”. After that he tried my mother’s homemade souse and liked it better. He loves liver & onions.
    Personally, I can’t get past the smell of the kidneys to cook them. My husband will not knowingly eat the heart. I have cooked it, ground it up and added it to gravy and he was none the wiser.
    When I was growing up, we ate what we raised, caught or grew in the garden. My husband’s family bought theirs, mostly.

    Pat Nelson wrote on January 2nd, 2016
  12. I grew up eating cow’s tongue in my Portuguese/Chinese home. I love it! Looking forward to trying out this recipe. :)

    Viviana wrote on July 15th, 2016

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