How to Cook Beef Tongue + Two Recipes

How to Cook Beef Tongue + Tacos de Lengua Recipe + Chinese Beef Tongue Salad Recipe |

Beef tongue belongs in the category of foods that you wonder, why on earth someone would want to eat it, and once you taste it, you hate yourself for not having tried it sooner.

In this post, I introduced:

  1. How to Make Beef Tongue
  2. Tacos de Lengua Recipe
  3. Chinese Beef Salad Recipe

After 30 years of living in China, there’s no piece of offal that seems strange to me. However, I don’t usually cook with offal (except pork feet). My mom was not at all enthusiastic about me cooking with offal. As a result, I didn’t have the chance to cook much of it, as compared to many Chinese households.

After moving to the US, the chance to cook offal seemed even rarer, since people do not have the habit of eating strange parts of an animal. To my surprise, I found beef tongue at H-E-B and didn’t have to travel 40 minutes to the Asian market. (HEB is the Texas equivalent of a Safeway, Kroger, or Albertsons).

Raw beef tongue is not even a common product in China. You can get a cooked one at the market. But raw tongue is considered a luxury ingredient and you are more likely to find it on the menu of a Korean or Japanese BBQ restaurant.

Later on, I learned that Mexican cuisine also uses beef tongue extensively, where it’s called lengua. There is even a famous taco dish called tacos de lengua. Although I’d never tried these tacos before, I couldn’t wait to try cooking them at home, after my friend and reader Tom shared his favorite tacos de lengua recipe with me (adapted from the slow cooker lengua from Allrecipes).

How to Cook Beef Tongue + Tacos de Lengua Recipe + Chinese Beef Tongue Salad Recipe |

To my total surprise, cooking beef tongue is the easiest thing in the world. Even easier than cooking with regular beef. You simply need to add a few herbs and slow cook it for a few hours. That’s it. Whenever you want to serve it, simply slice it into smaller pieces, sprinkle some salt on it, and brown it in a hot pan. What you get is a piece of meat that has a rich beefy flavor, a crispy crust, and a buttery texture.

Beef tongue is definitely something I’ll add to my daily recipe list. Because:

  1. It’s cheap. I got a 3-pound beef tongue for $15, which is good for 2 to 3 very tasty meals for two of us.
  2. It’s so easy to prepare. You only need 5 minutes to prep it. That’s all.
  3. It stays good in the fridge for a week, so you can use the leftovers to cook other cool things.
  4. It’s even tastier than beef (try it once and you’ll believe me). The science behind this – beef tongue has a very good ratio of protein to fat (Its fat content per ounce is double the amount found in beef brisket and one third that in foie gras). You will render some extra fat after boiling it, and even more after searing. In the end, you can get a very crispy crust and melt-in-your-mouth texture.

The most basic way to serve beef tongue is to slice it really thin, sprinkle sea salt on it, and sear until crispy. It’ll be a wonderful snack or appetizer that goes well with beer.

How to Cook Beef Tongue + Tacos de Lengua Recipe + Chinese Beef Tongue Salad Recipe |

How to Cook Beef Tongue

To learn more delicious beef tongue recipes, click the buttons below.

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How to Cook Beef Tongue
Prep time
Cook time
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The recipe is shared by my friend and reader Tom, adapted from the slow cooker lengua from Allrecipes.
Recipe type: Main, Appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 6 to 8
  • 1 beef tongue
  • 1/2 big onion, sliced (White or Yellow)
  • 5 to 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • Sea salt to taste
  1. Put beef tongue, onion, garlic and bay leaves in a slow cooker and add enough water to cover tongue. Cook overnight on low. You can also gently boil it on the stovetop for 2 hours to 3 hours, until the beef tongue turns very tender.
    How to Cook Beef Tongue Cooking Process | How to Cook Beef Tongue Cooking Process |
  2. When tongue is cool enough to handle, peel off and discard rough tongue skin.
    How to Cook Beef Tongue Cooking Process | How to Cook Beef Tongue Cooking Process |
  3. Cut tongue in 1/2-inch slices across grain then into 1/2-inch cubes. It can also be shredded or sliced, depend on the dish you cook. If you won’t serve the tongue soon, store in an airtight container or ziplock bag in the fridge up to 5 days.
    How to Cook Beef Tongue Cooking Process | How to Cook Beef Tongue Cooking Process |
  4. When ready to serve, heat oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet set over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add tongue pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until tongue is well browned on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes total. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


Three beef tongue recipes, including Tacos de Lengua, and Chinese Beef Tongue Salad |

Tacos de Lengua

After cooking the beef tongue, of course we made tacos with it. The tacos had very simple toppings – homemade salsa, red onion, queso casera, and cilantro. I suppressed my urge to dump cheese and sour cream on it. After one bite, I realized it really didn’t need any more toppings. The beef tongue was so powerful a touch of homemade salsa and fresh cheese was just perfect 🙂

Tacos de Lengua | omnivorescookbook.comIf you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it #omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!

Chinese Beef Tongue Salad

After making tacos, I started to spin off from the original recipe. I tried it the Chinese way, and served the beef tongue in a savory hot sauce, and it was SO GOOD.

Although we have some beef tongue dishes in China, I like my version much better.

The traditional Chinese way of serving beef tongue is to slow cook it with many herbs (such as cooking wine, soy sauce, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, etc.). Let it marinate overnight. Then serve it cold with a garlicky, savory sauce.

However, I realized the texture of beef tongue gets much better if you sear it and serve it warm. Plus, you can add as much flavor as you want afterwards, in the sauce. This means you just need one simple recipe, the one listed on the first page, to slow cook the beef tongue, and you can then use it in many different cuisines.

So here it is – the Chinese beef tongue salad with chili oil and seasoned soy sauce, developed from a Mexican recipe 🙂

Chinese Beef Tongue Salad |
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Meet Maggie

Born and raised in Beijing, Maggie now calls Texas home. She’s learned to love barbecue, but her heart belongs to the food she grew up with. For her, Omnivore’s Cookbook is all about introducing cooks to real-deal Chinese dishes, which can be as easy as a 30-minute stir-fry or as adventurous as making your own dim sum. Recipes, step-by-step photos and video are the tools she uses to share her knowledge—and her enthusiasm for Chinese food.

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14 thoughts on “How to Cook Beef Tongue + Two Recipes

  1. Sofia | From the Land we Live on

    Beef tongue is hands down my fav cut of beef. I also slow cook it and can honestly just eat slices of straight outta the slow cooker. Soooo good. Love the tacos and the sliced and seared version looks really good too. Unfortunately it’s not cheap where I live/shop. It used to be but it’s kinda hard to find these days.

    1. Jody

      Sam’s club or Costco is a good place to get tongue, or a Mexican market also if you have one near you. The tongue and ox tail is the best 2 cuts on a cow.

  2. Tamara

    Maggie, you must be in Texas? I live in McAllen, TX. near the gulf, and love shopping at HEB. Locals refer to my HEB as the GucciB because of the fancy foods found there, high end wine selection, and huge international foods section… It’s fabulous! I had to comment on this post because I love tongue, both dishes sound fabulous, but most of all, I love that you’re educating people on a fabulous protein. Bravo!

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Tamara, yes I lives in Austin, Texas. So glad to know another Texan blogger 🙂
      Isn’t HEB the best? I’m so agree with you, they have a great collection, with a very reasonable price! I shop there every week.
      Beef tongue is such an amazing cut, so I really hope more people would like to give it a try! A must-write post 😉
      Have a great week ahead!

  3. Helen @ Scrummy Lane

    It’s really interesting to see a recipe for something unusual like this, Maggie!

    I remember when I was little my grandma used to serve tongue with a salad for a buffet dinner and I was really shocked when I found out that it was actually a cow’s tongue. I thought that was just what it was called!

    I LOVE your photos in this post, too. Just gorgeous with that blue background!

    1. Maggie Post author

      I won’t tell it’s a beef tongue if someone prepares the food for me and does not tell me what’s in it. So tasty isn’t it?
      This is my first time to cook with beef tongue and I’m totally hooked. It’s so simple to make and you can use it in many other dishes!

  4. Heather Herrmann

    I was excited to cook this and looking at the ingredients and cook time, I thought it would fit in with our evening perfectly. However, when I actually went to make it, the directions say OVERNIGHT. The original cook time only says 1 hour! Bummed out, but still looking forward to those tacos.

    1. Maggie Post author

      Hi Heather, sorry that my initial cooking time stated in the recipe was misleading. I usually cook it on stove top in a pan instead of a slow cooker, so it usually takes me 2 to 3 hours, not overnight. I hope your tacos turn out well!

  5. Michael Tischler

    I have a meat market in my small South Dakota town that gives me all the offal and beef bones I want for free. I have 4 tongues 5 hearts and 10 lbs of beef liver in the freeser and was wondering how to cook the tongue and heart…