Grilled Beef Heart with Roasted Chili Peppers

The romantic in us would like to think that the heart is a tender organ, but in reality, it just ain’t so. The heart is one big muscle that works constantly, and as a result it tends to be pretty tough. This doesn’t mean, however, that it’s an organ meat to be avoided. Heart is high in protein and nutrients: thiamin, folate, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, CoQ10 and several B vitamins, not to mention compounds that may promote the production of collagen. It’s also an organ that can be coaxed into tenderness through different cooking methods, ultimately becoming a richly flavored cut that meat lovers will adore.

Braising is a good cooking method for a heart since simmering any tough cut of meat in liquid for a long period of time is tenderizing. But if you don’t have hours to braise or if turning on your oven in the heat of summer is the last thing you want to do, grilling is the way to go. This gives the meat a nice crispy coating, which is an ideal way to avoid the softer, chewier texture that a heart can sometimes have. When grilling, the trick to tenderness is slicing the meat very thinly after it’s cooked. Richard Freund uses this method in the Grilled Beef Heart with Roasted Chili Peppers recipe he sent in for the Reader-Created Cookbook Challenge. His idea of tossing the tender strips of heart with thinly sliced, roasted chili peppers creates the perfect appetizer and turns the heart into a cut that looks a lot like steak. Although the flavor of beef heart is slightly gamier than steak, it’s not so different that we can’t imagine adding a few more ingredients (onion, tomato, avocado) and turning this recipe into beef heart fajitas.

As far as the chili peppers go, a mix of mild sweet peppers and spicier jalapenos is a colorful combo. Anaheims, cherry peppers and poblanos are other mild peppers to throw into the mix. If you want to play with fire, habanero and serrano chiles can be added too, but consider wearing latex gloves while handling them. Instead of serving the peppers raw, Richard roasts them to bring out the flavor and soften the texture. Blackening the peppers can be done on the grill, under a broiler, or directly over the flame of a gas stove. As they cook, turn the peppers until the skin on all sides is burned. Tying the warm peppers up in a plastic bag will help loosen the skin and when they’re cool, run the peppers under water as you peel off the blackened exterior. The interior of the pepper will be soft and easy to slice and have a smoky flavor that is just right with the beef heart and a squirt of lemon or lime.

Beef heart is the largest heart you’ll see at the market, usually weighing 2-3 pounds. If you’re not quite ready to deal with a beef heart, chicken hearts are small and easy to cook; in the case of this recipe you could season and skewer a half-dozen and toss them with peppers for an equally delicious dish. Whichever you choose, this summer appetizer couldn’t be easier and although it’s a little adventurous, it’s well worth a try.


  • 2-4 chili peppers for roasting
  • One beef heart
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper (or 2 tablespoons of your favorite seasoning rub)


Roast or grill chili peppers until skin is black, then remove the skin in a basin of water or under running water. Remove the stem (and seeds for less heat) and slice thinly.

Slice the beef heart in half lengthwise, which will reveal the white inner gristle and maybe even a valve. Remove both with a knife or kitchen scissors.

Rub the heart halves with the spices.

Over medium-high heat, grill the heart until the outside becomes crispy and the inside is still slightly pink.

Slice the beef heart into thin strips and mix with the peppers. Serve with lime or lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil.

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35 thoughts on “Grilled Beef Heart with Roasted Chili Peppers”

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  1. This actually looks incredible. I grew up eating beef and chicken liver. However, it was usually battered and fried, smothered in peppered gravy.

  2. The only way I can eat this is if someone makes it for me. I’m not at that stage of preparing it myself, yet!

  3. I like to cook beef heart sous vide for 48 hours at 133 degrees F. Then sear it quickly and slice it thinly.

    1. This is NOT a dumb question. It may be difficult to find a heart from a grass fed cow in certain areas. I bought a 1/2 cow with the heart. I would first look for one at your farmers market. Go to to find a farmers market near you.

      1. is another great website listing grass fed and humanely raised local sources for the entire USA

    2. I’ve seen it at my local commissary (military base) at $2.80 for a whole heart. Most likely a grain-fed cow though.

    3. Try Wild Idea Buffalo Co. They are a great company with great customer service

  4. Wow. I had no idea the benefits of beef heart. I never ate heart from any animal. This is perfect timming as far as collagen is concerned. We women worry a lot about maintaining collagen & lose it little by little as we age & go to the beauty products for it etc. ( I don’t use any beauty product 😉 )

    Just knowing this, gives me some relief & something more to just add to the shopping list. Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  5. I hunt whitetail deer every fall and the heart is probably our favorite part to eat. Not sure if it’s PB or not, but we usually just boil it for a few hours and then eat it cold with shrimp cocktail sauce…Amazing!

    I even take the hearts of the deer that the other guys I hunt with get.

    1. Eating the heart of the animal you hunted and killed? Dude, that’s so PB it ain’t even funny!!

      1. Haha, yea its about as primal as you can get! My future brother in law is going to take me hunting this year. It will be a first time experience but one hell of one.

      2. My wife’s family introduced me to it. So the first year I went around grabbing all of the hearts from my fellow deer hunter’s, they thought I was crazy. When your friends (who more than likely follow CW) think your eating is crazy, it just means your all PB!!

  6. I am kind of a pansy about organ meats, at this point at least, so can someone try to explain what the taste and texture of it are like? I have tried cooking beef liver in various forms and I just couldn’t stomach the taste, as a hard as I tried. Is heart more like muscle meat?

    1. Heart is basically pure muscle. It is a little tough, which is why when we eat animal heart its almost like a snack, with shrimp sauce.

  7. Looks tasty. I’m still getting over the learning curve from a lifetime of indoctrination that “organ meats are gross.” My experience so far has been the complete opposite!

  8. I add minced or finely chopped heart to minced beef to make Shepherds Pie, Chilli, Bolognese etc. It adds a nice depth to the flavour.
    It was always a traditional ingredient in the British dish called “Faggots” (an unfortunate name for our American friends – not the same connotations this side of the pond). They’re a bit like meat balls. Really nice.

  9. My mother used to have the butcher grind it up for hamburger. I thought it was pretty tasty.

  10. recently I cooked bison heart – tasty!
    I got them from a vender at a farmers’ market.

  11. My personal favorite heart recipe: Slice and serve. Beef heart sashimi.

  12. I wonder if Alton’s skirt steak recipe would translate well for heart. I bet it would. Basically, just marinade and grill:

    * 1/2 cup olive oil
    * 1/3 cup soy sauce
    * 4 scallions, washed and cut in 1/2
    * 2 large cloves garlic
    * 1/4 cup lime juice
    * 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    * 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    * 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar

    In a blender, put in oil, soy sauce, scallions, garlic, lime juice, red pepper, cumin, and sugar and puree. In a large heavy duty, zip top bag, put pieces of skirt steak and pour in marinade. Seal bag, removing as much air as possible. Allow steak to marinate for 1 hour in refrigerator.

  13. I can’t help it… I’m grossed out by all these organ recipes! I just can’t get over it 🙁 (At most, I do eat pâté de foie gras)

  14. This looks delish!

    Here’s what I do…

    Soaking beef heart in vinegar, I like coconut vinegar (lemon/lime juice or butter milk will work too) for at least a couple hours (overnight is better) will tenderize it like you wouldn’t believe. A quick simmer in the soaking juices & topped with a salty fermented hot relish & it is sooo good. Added bonus I can get beef heart cheap! $1.69 per lb or less, it’s a win all the way around.

  15. I literally just finished eating a modded version of this. I used chicken hearts, and sliced them in half (a good idea as you can clean out the clots). I seasoned with cumin and a spice mix I had in the cupboard. For cooking, I used a Chef Michael Smith technique. I heated a frying pan on medium then melted a pat of butter mixed with roughly equal amounts of vegetable oil. Once melted and hot, I put the hearts in the pan inside side down for 3 minutes. Flip and another 3 minutes cooked them beautifully.

    First time for heart and it won’t be the last!

  16. I am making meatloaf right now with grass-fed antelope, grass fed beef, and grass-fed bison heart. My husband is going to smoke it on the grill. Will let you know how it is but sounds amazing. So far I’ve only been able to do organ meats mixed in with other meats. But I am going to set aside some heart and try marinating, grilling it and serving as fajitas. hmmmmm. good idea.

  17. Here’s a blog I have of eating venison heart.

    The hunter’s sauce was made of sauteed mushrooms, onions, roasted tomatoes, and herbs. The radicchio relish was chopped radicchio, a touch of mascarpone, and balsamic vinegar.

    I know, not completely primal with the mascarpone, but it was great. Honestly, without the relish, it would have been primal, and no one would have guessed it was heart. Everyone would have just assumed it was just a tender piece of venison.

  18. I grew up eating venison, beef, pork, and every other kind of heart. Venison heart is my favorite. I like it sliced thin, sauteed, and dipped in mustard and horseradish.

    This is how I prefer liver as well, although heart is hardly like other organs, seeing as it’s all muscle.

  19. Chicken hearts are just awesome. My Brazilian friends sprinkle them with salt and garlic granules and grill them. I simply toss them in the frying pan with salt and garlic granules. I like them quite crispy. So good! I can eat them like candy!