Where to Buy Beef Tongue: A Guide to Finding and Cooking This Underrated Delicacy

Beef tongue may not be the first cut of meat that comes to mind when planning dinner, but this incredibly versatile and flavorful cut is worth seeking out. Beef tongue has a tender, dense texture and a rich, meaty taste that takes well to braising, simmering, grilling and more. It can be used in tacos, sandwiches, soups and stews. When cooked properly, sliced beef tongue almost melts in your mouth.

Once you get over any hesitations about its origins, beef tongue can become a regular item in your dinner rotation. The key is knowing where to source good quality beef tongue and how to cook it. This guide will cover where you can buy beef tongue online or locally, how to select the best pieces, storage tips, and simple recipes for preparing beef tongue at home.

Where to Buy Beef Tongue

Online Options

Ordering beef tongue online from specialty meat purveyors is a convenient option if you don’t have a trusted local butcher. Two recommended companies offering quality beef tongue delivery:

  • White Oak Pastures: This women-owned farm in Bluffton, Georgia raises grassfed cattle and sheep. Their beef tongue comes from grassfed cattle and is free of hormones, antibiotics and GMOs. It is shipped fresh, not frozen. A 2-pack of whole beef tongues (around 2 lbs total) costs $20.59.

  • Happy Valley Meat Co.: This Pennsylvania company sources beef tongue and other cuts from small family-owned farms in their state. Their beef is “grass-fed, grain-finished” for more marbling. Beef tongue is sold fresh, whole and averages 1.25-2.25 lbs each. A single tongue costs $15.

When ordering beef tongue online, look for sellers that use transparent farming practices and don’t use hormones or routine antibiotics. Grassfed beef tongue has a richer flavor than conventional.

Butcher Shops or Meat Markets

For a more local option, check with trusted butchers in your area to see if they stock or can source beef tongue for you. Many specialty butchers and delis have access to quality beef tongue:

  • Look for traditional butcher shops that get whole carcasses from local farms and cut their own steaks, roasts, etc. They may have or can get fresh or frozen beef tongue.

  • Try gourmet grocery stores with butcher counters, like Whole Foods Market, for specialty cuts like tongue.

  • Ethnic markets, especially Mexican carnicerías, commonly carry beef tongue for dishes like tacos de lengua and menudo. Check Yelp for top rated carnicerías near you.

  • Farmers markets are another place to find farmers and butchers selling quality local meats. Ask vendors if they have beef tongue or take custom orders.

When buying from a butcher, look for beef tongue that is bright red with a thin white covering and without blemishes or dry spots. Whole tongue has more uses than pre-sliced.

Selecting and Storing Beef Tongue

Beef tongue is a single muscle cut covered by a thick skin. It has a tapered shape with a fatty end and a pointed tip. High quality beef tongue should:

  • Have bright red meat with thin white membrane covering
  • Look moist without dry or brown spots
  • Have good marbling and fat cap on one end
  • Have no foul odors
  • Weigh 1-3 pounds for whole tongue

Properly stored, fresh beef tongue will keep 3-4 days in the refrigerator. If you won’t use it right away, freeze for up to 3 months.

Fresh Storage

  • Place fresh beef tongue in a container or resealable bag.

  • Store in the coldest part of the refrigerator, 35-40°F.

  • Use within 3-4 days for best quality.

Frozen Storage

  • Double wrap beef tongue in freezer bags or plastic wrap. This prevents freezer burn.

  • Freeze at 0°F or below. Constant 0°F is best for long term storage.

  • Frozen whole tongue keeps 6 months to 1 year before drying out.

  • Thawed tongue can be refrozen if not cooked, but quality declines after multiple freezings.

  • For longer storage, consider cutting tongue in halves or slices before freezing. This makes it easier to thaw just what you need.

How to Cook Beef Tongue

Beef tongue has a dense, tender texture when slowly cooked by moist heat methods like braising, simmering or stewing. Simple preparations let its rich, meaty flavor shine.

Prepare and Peel

Before cooking, the tongue must be peeled to remove the outer skin membrane.

  • Place whole tongue in a pot and cover with water. Add aromatics like onion, celery, peppercorns, bay leaf, etc.

  • Simmer until fork tender, about 3 hours for a 2 lb tongue.

  • Drain and cool until easy to handle.

  • Use a paring knife to peel off the skin. It should slip off easily.

  • Remove any bones or gristle at the root end. The tongue is now ready for your recipe.

Braise, Simmer or Stew

Low, moist heat draws out the best texture and flavor in tongue:

  • Braise peeled tongue in flavorful liquid like broth, wine or tomato sauce. Add vegetables too.

  • Simmer tongue in chili, soups and stews. It gets deliciously tender.

  • Cook up some taco meat by simmering sliced tongue in a Mexican adobo sauce.

  • For cold preparations, braise tongue then chill in the braising liquid which jells into a tasty coating.

Slice and Serve

The most versatile way to serve beef tongue is in thin slices:

  • Chilled, braised tongue slices make easy sandwiches, charcuterie and salads.

  • Sauté sliced tongue in a pan to heat through or crisp the edges.

  • Top nachos or flatbread pizza with shredded or diced tongue.

  • For appetizers, slice tongue thinly and serve like carpaccio on crostini.

Beef tongue also takes well to grilling and smoking low and slow. Try cutting into chunks first for more surface area.

Beef Tongue Recipes to Try

These recipes highlight the rich flavor and luscious texture of beef tongue:

Braised Beef Tongue

This is the classic way to cook whole beef tongue into tender slices for sandwiches, plating or chopping into other dishes.


  • 1 whole beef tongue (2-3 lbs)
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • Red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Simmer tongue in a pot of water with aromatics for 3 hours until very tender.
  2. Drain, cool and peel off outer skin.
  3. Place peeled tongue in a Dutch oven with fresh aromatics. Add enough broth, wine or water to come halfway up the tongue.
  4. Braise covered on low heat for 2-3 hours until very tender.
  5. Cool in braising liquid before slicing.
  6. Slice braised tongue thinly across the grain.
  7. Serve warm in sauce or chill and serve cold.

Lengua Tacos

Tender beef tongue shines in these flavorful Mexican tacos.


  • 1 lb braised beef tongue, shredded
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 chipotle pepper, canned adobo sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Corn tortillas, warmed
  • Toppings like cilantro, onion, lime


  1. Heat olive oil in pan over medium high.
  2. Add onion and garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes until soft.
  3. Add shredded tongue, spices and chopped chipotle pepper.
  4. Cook while stirring another 2-3 minutes until heated through.
  5. Spoon tongue mixture into warm tortillas and add desired toppings.

Italian Beef Tongue Salad

Chilled, sliced beef tongue is dressed in a bold Italian-style vinaigrette in this hearty salad.


  • 1 lb braised beef tongue, chilled
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted
  • Fresh parsley, chopped


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together.
  2. Slice braised tongue very thinly and place in a large bowl.
  3. Add lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onion and olives on top.
  4. Pour over vinaigrette and toss thoroughly to coat.
  5. Garnish salad with fresh parsley before serving.

Beef tongue is worth seeking out for its melt-in-your-mouth tenderness when slowly cooked. With a little upfront preparation, it can be transformed into all sorts of savory dishes. Follow this guide to find and cook quality beef tongue to enjoy this underrated yet flavorful cut.

How to Make Beef Tongue


What is the name of beef tongue meat?

Beef tongue (also known as neat’s tongue or ox tongue) is a cut of beef made of the tongue of a cow.

Is ox tongue the same as beef tongue?

Beef tongue, also commonly referred to as Ox tongue, falls into the same category as cuts of meat like pig’s trotters, lamb kidneys and pig’s ear. They’re cuts of meat that perhaps we are a little scared to eat, but if we try it just once, we’d see what we were missing out on.

Does beef tongue taste like steak?

The cow tongue is soft, mild in taste, and with a nice amount of moisture. It tastes like beef, not much different from other cuts, especially if you cook it in a recipe with rich sauce like this Instant Pot Mongolian Beef.

Is beef tongue an organ meat?

There are many different types of organ meat, including liver, tongue, heart and kidneys. Most are named according to their organ name, with the exception of sweetbreads and tripe.

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