Demystifying Beef Tongue: What it Tastes Like and Why You Should Try It

Beef tongue may not be the first cut of meat that comes to mind when meal planning. In fact, the idea of eating tongue can seem unappealing or intimidating to the uninitiated. However, once you get past any hesitations and try properly prepared beef tongue, you’ll discover an incredibly tender, richly-flavored cut of meat.

Keep reading to learn exactly what beef tongue tastes like along with tips to bring out the best flavor and texture when cooking. With an open mind and a little know-how in the kitchen, you can make beef tongue a delicious addition to your dinner table rotation.

What Does Beef Tongue Taste Like?

Beef tongue has a taste and texture unlike any other cut of meat. Here’s a breakdown of its distinctive qualities:

  • Tender and smooth – When slowly braised, beef tongue becomes fall-apart tender with an ultra-smooth, dense texture. Think filet mignon tenderness.

  • Mild beef flavor – Beef tongue has a subtle beefy flavor rather than strong, mineral-y organ meat taste. It picks up seasoning well.

  • Melt-in-your-mouth – The tender muscle fibers give beef tongue a melt-in-your-mouth character. Slice thinly across the grain to maximize tenderness.

  • Juicy and succulent – Slow cooking keeps beef tongue moist. The end result is succulent meat that makes your mouth water.

  • Richness – There’s a depth of savory flavor that comes through, especially when browned first. The luxurious richness pairs perfectly with sauces.

  • Versatility – Beef tongue works well in tacos, sandwiches, hashes, braises and more, taking on the flavors it’s cooked with.

So in a nutshell, expect a tender steak-like texture with savory juiciness that makes beef tongue a phenomenal ingredient. The mild beefiness adapts readily to seasonings and cooking methods.

What Does Raw Beef Tongue Look and Feel Like?

If you buy a whole raw beef tongue, you’ll notice some key identifying features:

  • Size – Beef tongues are roughly 8 to 12 inches long and weigh 1 to 3 pounds. They are oblong in shape.

  • Color – Raw beef tongue has a pinkish-tan exterior. When sliced, the interior meat is a darker purplish-red color.

  • Texture – A raw tongue feels slick and smooth. There is a thin membrane covering the muscle.

  • Fat – External fat is cream colored with some connective tissue. Marbling is minimal inside.

  • Appearance – The surface has small bumps (papillae) and the tapered tip has a v-shaped notch.

The size, smoothness and slender shape make beef tongue ideal for slow braising to tender perfection. With its lack of marbling, it’s also a leaner choice.

Step-By-Step Cooking Instructions

The key to bringing out the best texture and flavor in beef tongue is gentle, low and slow cooking. Here are simple steps for cooking beef tongue:

  1. Rinse – Unwrap raw tongue and rinse under cold water. Pat dry.

  2. Simmer – Place in large pot and cover with water or broth. Add aromatics like onion, garlic, bay leaves.

  3. Cook low and slow – Simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 hours until fork tender. For more flavor, braise in the oven at 300°F.

  4. Check for doneness – Meat should reach 160°F internally. The tongue should feel very tender when poked.

  5. Cool slightly – Remove from liquid and let rest 10 minutes. Keep warm – this makes peeling easier.

  6. Peel – Gently peel away the outer membrane starting from the thick end. It should slip off easily.

  7. Trim – Cut off any remaining membranes or discolored portions.

  8. Slice and serve – Thinly slice across the grain. Enjoy!

![Simmering beef tongue][Simmer]

Beef tongue needs extended gentle cooking to become tender

With this simple braising technique, the beef tongue transforms from tough to fork tender and ready to become the star of the meal!

Ideas for Serving Beef Tongue

Once you’ve experienced how delicious beef tongue can be, you’ll want to incorporate it into all kinds of recipes:

  • Tacos – Thinly slice and grill or pan fry tongue for amazing tacos and burritos.

  • Sandwiches – Shredded tongue makes a delicious filling when paired with salsa and avocado.

  • Salads – Dice cooked tongue and add to leafy greens, veggies and dressing for a protein punch.

  • Eggs – Dice and fold tongue into scrambled eggs or chop and add to omelets.

  • Soups and stews – Kidney beans, hominy and tongue team up for the ultimate pozole.

  • Appetizers – Bread and deep fry thin slices for irresistible beef tongue crostini.

  • Breakfast – Make a Southwest hash with potatoes, tongue, peppers and spices.

However you choose to prepare it, beef tongue rarely disappoints. Just be sure to slice it thinly across the grain for tenderness.

Buying Beef Tongue

Beef tongue can be found:

  • Fresh or frozen at Latin markets and butcher shops. Look for tongues with uniform shape and color.

  • Canned – Cooked tongue is available canned, ready to eat or heat and add to recipes.

  • Deli counter – Find sliced tongue for sandwiches alongside other lunch meats.

  • Online – Order fresh or precooked beef tongue from specialty online retailers.

For best flavor and texture, choose fresh over precooked varieties when possible. Figure about 1/3 to 1/2 pound per person.

Storing and Handling Beef Tongue

  • Store fresh tongue loosely wrapped in the fridge for 2-3 days.

  • Freeze for 4-6 months – portion into recipe sizes first.

  • Submerge in cold water before braising to remove impurities. Rinse well.

  • Refrigerate cooked tongue 3-4 days or slice and freeze for longer storage.

  • Reheat gently in braising liquid to prevent drying out.

Proper storage keeps beef tongue fresh and ready to cook. Rinsing before cooking also improves flavor.

Is Beef Tongue Healthy?

In addition to its great taste, beef tongue offers nutritional benefits:

  • High in protein – A 3 ounce serving provides 15g protein for strong muscles.

  • Low calorie – With only 145 calories in 3 ounces, it fits into any diet.

  • Low fat – Beef tongue has less total fat and saturated fat compared to cuts like brisket.

  • Iron – An excellent source of iron with 3mg per serving to prevent anemia.

  • Zinc – Provides over 10% of the RDI for immunity-boosting zinc.

So along with its wildly delicious flavor, beef tongue packs a nutritious punch. It’s an especially smart choice for low fat, high protein diets.

Common Questions about Beef Tongue

Is beef tongue tough and chewy?

Beef tongue can become tough and chewy if not cooked properly. The key is gentle, moist simmering or braising for 2 1/2 – 3 hours which breaks down the connective tissue. Slicing thinly across the grain of the cooked tongue also prevents chewiness.

What does beef tongue smell like?

Fresh or cooked beef tongue has a mild beef or veal-like aroma. There shouldn’t be any offensive odors. Discard tongue with an unpleasant sour or ammonia smell.

Can I eat beef tongue raw?

It’s not recommended to eat raw beef tongue, just as you wouldn’t eat raw beef. Raw meat carries bacteria that can cause foodborne illness. Always cook beef tongue thoroughly to 160°F internal temperature.

What does the texture of beef tongue resemble?

When braised until fork tender and sliced thinly, beef tongue has a smooth, dense texture reminiscent of filet mignon. The muscle fibers are tender but still hold together for a pleasant meaty chew.

Is beef tongue expensive?

Beef tongue is very economical compared to steak cuts. Expect to pay $3-6 per pound for fresh tongue, even less for canned. So it’s easy to add to your rotation of beef recipes.

Conquer Your Fears and Try Beef Tongue

While beef tongue may seem intimidating at first, its incredibly tender, beefy flavor is sure to make you a convert after the first bite. With proper handling and cooking, you can turn this inexpensive cut into a memorable dining experience. So conquer any hesitations you may have about preparing beef tongue at home. Once you taste how delicious it can be, you’ll ask yourself why you waited so long to try it!

What does cow tongue taste like?


Is beef tongue good eating?

Although its appearance may seem a little off-putting at first, beef tongue is a delicious delicacy in many parts of the world, especially in Southeast Asia and Central and South America. In Japane, Beef Tongue is called Gyutan which is thinly sliced beef tongue which is then grilled with salt and citrus.

Is beef tongue chewy?

Beef tongue can be chewy and tough if cooked incorrectly, so it’s integral to remember to cook the tongue slowly on low heat. Ideally, you want to tenderize the meat first, making it much easier to remove the tongue’s firm outer layer. When prepared correctly, tongue meat’s texture can resemble that of butter.

What is the texture of cooked beef tongue?

Beef tongue is actually extremely fatty which is what gives it such a great soft texture when cooked. What we want to do is braise it in hot water for 4 hours which will make it extremely tender as well. The texture is springy and soft while the flavor tastes very similar to regular beef cuts.

Does tongue taste like liver?

Tongue is a tender muscle and actually tastes more like regular meat than offal (organ meat), without that distinctive ‘offal’ flavor like liver or kidneys have. By ordering this product, you are paying a non-refundable deposit.

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