What is Beef Tongue Called? Names and Uses for this Unique Meat Cut

Beef tongue, sometimes referred to as ox tongue or neat’s tongue, refers to the tongue organ cut from cattle. This unique cut of meat has a distinct shape and texture that lends itself well to certain dishes across many cuisines worldwide.

Common Names for Beef Tongue

Beef tongue goes by several common names depending on the country and language:

  • Beef tongue (English)
  • Langue de boeuf (French)
  • Rinderzunge (German)
  • Lingua di manzo (Italian)
  • Lengua de res (Spanish)

Regional dialect names for beef tongue include:

  • Neat’s tongue
  • Ox tongue
  • Cow tongue

The Spanish term “lengua” is frequently used, especially when referring to beef tongue tacos or burritos.

Distinct Properties of Beef Tongue

Compared to more common beef cuts like ribeye or brisket, tongue has some unique properties:

  • Composed almost entirely of muscle without much fat
  • Grainy, dense texture requiring long cooking times
  • Thin membrane or mucosa covering tongue must be peeled off
  • High moisture content produces tender meat when braised or stewed

These distinctive characteristics make beef tongue well-suited for braises, stews, or other moist-heat cooking methods to render it tender. The peeled tongue has a firm, meaty texture when cooked.

International Uses for Beef Tongue

Beef tongue has applications in many world cuisines:

  • Mexico: Lengua tacos and burritos with salsa
  • USA: Tongue sandwiches with horseradish sauce
  • France: Langue de boeuf with Madeira wine sauce
  • Germany: Zungenpfeffer – tongue with capers and vinegar
  • Russia: Russian salad with boiled beef tongue
  • Philippines: Lengua with pancit noodles in stew

In these dishes and more, beef tongue adds hearty, savory flavor. It often benefits from strong seasonings and sauces that complement its richness.

Buying Fresh Beef Tongue

When purchasing beef tongue, look for:

  • Bright red color without dry patches
  • Firm, smooth texture with no sticky mucosa
  • Fresh, clean scent with no odor
  • Packaged in vacuum sealed pouch or wrap

For best results, use fresh tongue within 2 weeks of purchase. If the tongue didn’t come peeled, remove the membrane at home before cooking.

How to Cook Beef Tongue

Popular cooking methods for beef tongue include:

  • Boiling – Submerge tongue in water and gently boil until tender, about 3 hours. Use broth for soups or stews.

  • Simmering – Braise tongue in flavorful liquid like wine, tomatoes, or beer until fully cooked.

  • Grilling – Parboil tongue briefly then finish over hot grill to add charred flavors.

  • Roasting – Roast seasoned tongue in the oven alongside vegetables to make a pot roast.

  • Pickling – Cure tongue in a brine solution for a few days to pickle it before serving.

Slow moist-heat techniques result in the most tender beef tongue with excellent texture. Adjust seasonings like onion, garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaf to complement the meaty tones.

With its unique grainy texture and bold flavor, beef tongue offers a tasty alternative to everyday beef cuts when cooked properly. Try this versatile meat in Mexico’s iconic tacos de lengua or Eastern Europe’s classic pickled tongue for a new food experience.

How to Make Beef Tongue


What’s another name for beef tongue?

ox tongue
cow’s tongue
neat’s tongue

What is it called when you eat cow tongue?

It is widely used in Mexican cuisine, and often seen in tacos and burritos (lengua). In Puerto Rican cuisine, lengua al caldero, pot roast tongue, and lengua rellena, braised stuffed tongue, are both served with pique criollo. Filipino dishes: kare-kare, lengua with white sauce and pancit canton-bihon.

Is barbacoa a cow tongue?

Nowadays, barbacoa is mostly known as the cheek meat (cachete), tongue (lengua) or “mixta,” which is all the various bits left after the cow head is cooked and the meat pulled off. The resulting barbacoa is usually served as tacos with cilantro, onions, chile pequins and a red or green sauce.

What kind of meat is beef tongue?

>Beef or cow tongue is organ meat, but it does not have the iron-like mineral taste that most organ meats have. Instead, it tastes like a delicious and tender piece of steak when prepped and cooked correctly. You can eat the tasty meat on its own or use it in tacos, burritos, and other dishes.

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