What Are Beef Hearts? A Complete Guide to This Nutritious Organ Meat

Beef heart is an incredibly nutritious yet often overlooked cut of meat. Also known as oxheart, beef heart comes from the actual heart of a cow. This vital organ pumps blood throughout the animal’s massive body. On average, beef hearts weigh around 3 to 4 pounds.

While the idea of eating heart might seem unappealing at first, beef heart is actually quite mild, lean, and tasty. When properly prepared, it has a pleasant meaty flavor and tender texture similar to steak.

Adding beef heart to your diet provides a hearty dose of vitamins, minerals, protein, and other nutrients. This guide will cover everything you need to know about beef hearts, including:

  • What beef heart is
  • Beef heart nutrition facts
  • Where to buy beef hearts
  • How to prepare and cook beef heart
  • Beef heart recipes
  • And more

What Are Beef Hearts?

To understand what beef hearts are, it helps to first visualize what the heart of a cow looks like.

Whole beef hearts are large, rounded organs encased in a tough, yellowish membrane called the pericardium. Smaller blood vessels and flaps of tissue called auricles are also attached.

When you slice open a whole beef heart, the interior reveals thick, deep red meat along with valves and connective tissue called chordae tendineae.

Often, beef heart gets trimmed and cut into smaller portions before being sold. Halved or quartered hearts still have the signature deep red color inside when trimmed.

While we’re used to seeing standard cuts like ribeye or brisket at the grocery store, the beef heart is an example of organ meat or offal. These parts come from the internal organs or “off-fall” of cattle processed for meat.

Other common organ meats besides heart include liver, kidneys, tongue, tripe, sweetbreads, and brain.

Beef Heart Nutrition Facts: Why Is It Healthy?

At first glance, beef heart may seem like an unusual choice compared to popular picks like ground beef or sirloin. However, beef heart is actually loaded with nutrition. Let’s look at some of the biggest nutritional benefits:

High in protein – A 3-ounce serving of beef heart contains about 27% of the recommended daily value. The abundant protein provides the building blocks for muscle growth and maintenance.

Excellent source of iron – Beef heart provides 68% of the daily recommended iron. This mineral is essential for transporting oxygen via red blood cells throughout the body.

High in B vitamins – it contains substantial amounts of energizing B vitamins like riboflavin, folate, and vitamin B12. One serving offers 383% of the daily recommended vitamin B12.

Rich in minerals – Beef heart contains worthwhile amounts of selenium, zinc, phosphorus, copper, and magnesium. These support immunity, bone health, metabolism, and more.

Low in fat and calories – With around 4 grams of fat and 140 calories per 3-ounce serving, beef heart is leaner than many cuts of beef.

The stellar nutrition profile makes beef heart an excellent choice, especially for those following low carb, paleo, carnivore, or nose-to-tail diets.

Where To Buy Beef Heart

Beef heart can be difficult to find at regular grocery stores. However, you may be able to purchase it from:

  • Butcher shops or meat markets
  • Specialty grocery stores
  • Online meat delivery companies

When buying beef heart, look for high-quality, grass-fed, or organic options whenever possible. Beef heart sold in vacuum sealed packages are often more fresh.

You can also save money buying beef hearts in bulk quantities. Either cook it right away or freeze portions in air-tight bags for later use.

How To Buy Beef Heart

Beef hearts can be purchased:

  • Whole
  • Halved
  • Quartered
  • Ground
  • Cubed for stew
  • Or pre-sliced into strips or medallions

Whole hearts may have the tough outer membrane (pericardium) left on or removed. The interior valves, veins, and tissues are also usually left intact on whole beef hearts.

When purchasing halves or quarters, the butcher often trims away the outer membrane and discards the unusable interior parts. This leaves behind just the edible deep red meat.

Packaged ground or stew-ready beef heart has also been pre-trimmed and processed for convenience.

How Much Does Beef Heart Cost?

Beef heart prices ultimately depend on factors like:

  • Where it was purchased
  • Quantity
  • Quality
  • Whether organic, grass-fed, etc.

To give a general idea, you can expect to spend:

  • $6 to $12 per pound at specialty butcher shops or meat markets
  • $3 to $6 per pound for conventional beef heart at warehouse stores
  • Around $12 to $18 per pound for high-end online organic beef heart delivery

Buying bulk beef heart can help lower the per pound price. Sales and promotions on beef heart may also offer cost savings.

What Does Beef Heart Taste Like?

If you’ve never tried beef heart before, you may be curious about the flavor. Compared to other organ meats, beef heart is mild tasting.

The meat has a rich beefiness with hints of minerality. Some describe it as similar to venison or elk, while others say it tastes like a tenderer cut of steak. There is only a very subtle “gaminess” that is barely detectable.

Overall, beef heart is pleasant tasting and in no way overpowering or off-putting. With proper cooking, the flavor and texture rivals that of prime steak cuts.

Can You Eat The Outer Membrane of Beef Heart?

Whole beef hearts are covered by a membrane called the pericardium. Contrary to what some believe, this outer membrane is 100% edible.

The pericardium has a very meaty taste, especially when pan-fried, grilled, or roasted to render the exterior slightly crispy. Feel free to eat beef hearts membrane and all.

What Is The Texture of Beef Heart?

Thanks to its abundant muscle fibers, beef heart has a supremely meaty texture. When cooked properly, it is fork-tender yet still has a pleasant chew similar to steak.

Unlike other soft organ meats like liver or kidneys, beef heart offers a hearty, steak-like mouthfeel. The exterior membrane crisps up nicely when pan-fried or grilled as well.

How To Clean Beef Heart

Cleaning beef heart before cooking is optional, but can help remove any excess blood or debris. Here is a simple cleaning method:

  1. Place the beef heart in a large bowl. Cover with cold water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar. Apple cider vinegar works well, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

  2. Allow the heart to soak for 60 minutes, occasionally pouring water over the top. The vinegar helps draw out any impurities.

  3. Remove the beef heart from the water and rinse thoroughly under cool running water.

  4. Pat the beef heart dry with paper towels. At this point, it is ready to trim and slice before cooking.

How To Cook Beef Heart

Beef heart can be prepared using almost any cooking method. Here are some of the most popular ways to cook tender, flavorful beef heart:

Pan-frying – Cut hearts into strips or medallions. Season with salt and pepper then pan-fry in butter, ghee, or oil over high heat until browned.

Grilling – Grill seasoned beef hearts over direct high heat for 5-7 minutes per side. Use a cast iron griddle or outdoor grill.

Braising – Brown beef heart pieces then braise in liquid like broth or wine until extremely tender.

Stewing – Cut into 1-inch cubes. Simmer in stew along with vegetables for hours until perfectly tender.

Roasting – Roast seasoned beef hearts covered in foil at 375°F for 2 1⁄2 – 4 hours until fork tender.

Slow cooker – Place cubed beef heart and vegetables in a slow cooker with broth. Cook on low setting for 8+ hours.

Pressure cooker – Pressure cook chopped beef heart with seasonings and liquid for 60-90 minutes until tender.

Beef heart pairs well with seasoning blends featuring salt, pepper, garlic, onions, thyme, rosemary, etc. Avoid overcooking as it can become tough.

Easy Beef Heart Recipes

These simple yet delicious recipes are perfect for cooking beef heart:

Pan-Fried Beef Heart


  • 1 lb beef heart, trimmed and sliced into 1⁄4 inch strips
  • 2 Tbsp butter or ghee
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp black pepper
  • 1⁄2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1⁄2 tsp onion powder


  1. Pat the beef heart strips dry with a paper towel. Season all over with spices.
  2. Melt butter or ghee in large cast iron skillet over high heat until hot.
  3. Add heart strips and pan fry undisturbed for 2 minutes per side until nicely browned.
  4. Transfer to plate and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Slow Cooker Beef Heart Stew


  • 2 lbs beef heart, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 lb stew beef cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • Fresh thyme or rosemary (optional)


  1. Place beef heart and stew beef cubes into slow cooker.
  2. Add onion, garlic, broth, salt, and pepper. Stir well.
  3. Cook on high heat setting for 6-8 hours until beef is fall-apart tender.
  4. Remove thyme stems if used. Adjust seasoning and serve stew.

Tips for Getting Kids to Eat Beef Heart

The idea of eating heart or other organ meats understandably doesn’t appeal to many kids. Here are tips to help make beef heart more “kid-friendly”:

  • Disguise it – Slice beef heart thinly and cook like steak. Don’t mention it’s heart!

  • Add to ground beef – Blend chopped heart into burger or taco meat.

  • Serve with favorite sides – Pair it with go-to veggies, rice, potatoes, etc. that they love.

  • Slow cook stews – Simmer hearty beef heart stews loaded with carrots, tomatoes, peas, and potatoes.

  • Start young – Introduce small tastes earlier before picky eating sets in.

  • Lead by example – Eat beef heart to model enjoyment of new foods.

With persistence and creativity, you can get even the pickiest eaters to give nutritious beef heart a try!

Beef Heart vs. Beef Liver Comparison

Beef liver and beef heart are two of the most popular organ meats eaten. While their nutrition profiles overlap, there are some key differences:

Nutrition – Beef liver has more vitamin A and selenium, while beef heart boasts higher amounts of iron, phosphorus, zinc and B vitamins.

Texture – Beef heart has a thicker, steak-like texture. Liver is more smooth and tender.

Flavor – Heart is milder tasting than liver’s stronger, mineral-rich flavor.

Cooking – Liver is best pan-fried or sautéed while heart can pan-fry, braise, grill, or stew well.

Cost – Beef liver tends to be slightly less expensive per pound than beef heart.

Both are extremely nutritious. Beef heart appeals to those wanting a heartier steak-like meal. Liver’s soft texture makes a great pâté or mousse. Include both in your routine to reap their unique benefits.

Is It Safe To Eat Beef Heart Raw?

Some food safety experts caution against consuming raw or undercooked beef heart due to potential risks of foodborne illness.

However, some individuals believe that raw beef heart is highly nutritious. As with any raw meat, there is an increased risk of contamination with potentially harmful bacteria when not thoroughly cooked.

Use your best personal judgement regarding consumption of raw beef heart. Always source hearts from reputable suppliers. Handle raw heart safely and sanitize any surfaces it touches.

Feeding Beef Heart To Dogs

Canines love beef heart! This nourishing organ meat provides dogs with protein, essential vitamins, and bioavailable minerals.

Beef heart is an especially healthy addition to raw dog food diets. Before serving it raw, be sure to freeze heart for at least 2 weeks to kill off any parasites.

Lightly cooked beef heart is another excellent way to add it to your dog’s diet. Dogs benefit from beef heart’s iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and other vital nutrients.

Trim off any excess fat or membranes first for safety. Chop, dice, or grind beef heart into bite-sized pieces appropriate for your dog’s size before feeding.

Is Beef Heart Worth Eating?

If you’ve been hesitant about trying beef heart in the past, hopefully this guide has shed new light on the topic.

While initially foreign to some, beef heart is an extremely nutritious, affordable, and delicious way to enjoy noseto- tail organ meat. It offers a bounty of protein, essential vitamins, and minerals.

Beef heart has a pleasantly meaty flavor when properly prepared. Its hearty texture when cooked rivals prime steak cuts.

Sourcing high quality, grass-fed beef heart from reputable suppliers helps ensure both taste and nutrition.

Next time you’re shopping for meat, consider adding beef heart alongside classic cuts like ribeye or ground beef. Your body will thank you for this nutritious variety!

BENEFITS OF BEEF LIVER | Beef Liver vs Beef Kidney vs Beef Heart


Is beef heart good for you?

Beef Heart is both tasty and healthy. Beef Heart is rich in Vitamin B12 and Iron. The outer membrane ie Pericardium can be eaten by rendering on a pan. The lean meat is a rich darm red color and has the texture of a lean steak.

Is beef heart an actual heart?

Beef heart meat is the muscle that’s been trimmed from the heart wall. “Beef heart” includes the meat and essentially everything else—the blood vessels, fat, and blood chambers.

What animal is beef heart?

Our beef hearts come from 100% grass-fed and grass-finished cattle – that natural lifestyle results in the highest quality nutrition and eating experience.

What are beef hearts used for?

The heart is also one of the more versatile types of offal; it’s tough and low in fat but takes well to either quick cooking or long stewing. Beef heart is by far the largest of the hearts you’ll find at the butcher’s counter.

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