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Beef liver is an old-school superfood. Our ancestors prized it for its nutritional properties and taste, and it’s only in the last few decades that liver fell out of fashion. The pastures are finally starting to rotate, however, and liver is starting to reclaim its place as a nutritional and culinary powerhouse.

From pan-seared liver served alongside onions and potatoes, to the rich flavors of Pakistani curries, to pate, eating beef liver is fantastic any time of the year.

Today, we’re going to talk a bit about what livers are and how they are generally used, and then we’ll get into specific ways to cook them and leave you with some of our all-time favorite beef liver recipes.

What is beef liver?

Beef liver is often the largest vital organ in cattle and primarily filter toxins, process digested food, and help store essential nutrients[*]. Beef liver is considered offal, which is a general term for organ meats in animals. Liver is known for its meaty, metallic taste, soft texture, and sleek grayish red color.

Lamb livers, chicken livers, and duck livers are also popular, but in this piece we’ll be focusing on cow livers.

What does beef liver taste like?

Beef liver has a strong meaty and metallic taste characteristic of offal in general. It is sweet, bitter, and meaty all at once, and any combination of those flavors can be brought out with different cooking methods.

Many people prefer to soak their livers in milk to dull the bitterness, but some people argue that doing that gets rid of what makes liver so great.

It’s hard to describe, so the only solution is to try beef liver for yourself!

3 common ways to cook beef liver

The more you fall in love with liver, the more ways you find to sneak it into your favorite recipes.

For example, we make a grass-fed liver/kidney/heart/ground beef mix that is perfect for adding some of offal’s amazing nutritional value to your hamburgers or other ground beef recipes.

Here are the most popular ways to cook beef liver, followed by step-by-step instructions for 3 of them below:

  • Pan-seared with onions and served over rice or alongside potatoes.
  • Stewed with a mixture of onions, broth, and wine.
  • Curried in an overwhelming number of Indian and Pakistani styles.
  • Beef liver pate.
  • Beef liverwurst.
  • Stir-fried with veggies and rice.
  • Made into meatballs.

Beef liver cooks quickly, so most recipes rely on a short browning in a pan and/or browning and then braising the meat to retain the moisture. The trick is not to overcook liver! It’s easy to do, and once you do the liver will be dry and lose a lot of the texture that makes this meat so special.

Method 1: Pan-Fried

Inspired by KeyIngredient.

You can skip the flour when pan-frying as well, but you won’t get as much of a nice brown texture.

  1. Rinse the liver under cold water.
  2. Remove the membrane.
  3. Cut into strips.
  4. Soak in milk or buttermilk for 30 minutes to 2 hours to remove bitterness (optional).
  5. Heat up a skillet to medium-high heat.
  6. Place some flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Dredge liver pieces in flour.
  8. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet thoroughly.
  9. Brown liver on both sides. Try to only flip them once.
  10. Remove and serve with potatoes, rice, plantains, or any other side of your choice.

Method 2: Braised

Inspired by Food.com.

Think of this style like beef bourguignon. You cook the meat, deglaze, and then add in some liquid to stew the meat in for a bit while the mixture reduces.

  1. Rinse the liver under cold water.
  2. Remove the membrane.
  3. Cut into strips.
  4. Soak in milk or buttermilk for 30 minutes to 2 hours to remove bitterness (optional).
  5. Heat up a skillet to medium-high heat.
  6. Place some flour on a plate and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Dredge liver pieces in flour.
  8. Add enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet thoroughly.
  9. Brown liver on both sides. Try to only flip them once.
  10. Remove liver and set aside.
  11. Brown some onions in the same pan.
  12. Remove onions and place them on top of the liver.
  13. Add beef broth, fresh lemon juice, and a bit of sugar to the hot pan and deglaze. You can also use wine or the deglazing liquid of your choice.
  14. Put the liver and onion back into the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
  15. Turn off the heat and add a bit of sour cream if you want to make the liquid a bit more creamy.
  16. Serve with parsley whipped potatoes and your favorite green vegetable.

Method 3: Pate

Inspired by The Top Meal.

Pate may be the most popular way to eat liver. It’s essentially a finely ground and spiced mixture used for dipping bread and crackers in. You’ll love it!

  1. Rinse the liver under cold water.
  2. Remove the membrane.
  3. Cut into strips.
  4. Soak in milk or buttermilk for 30 minutes to 2 hours to remove bitterness (optional).
  5. Heat up a skillet to medium-high heat.
  6. Melt some butter in the pan.
  7. Add a sliced onion or two and some fresh minced garlic.
  8. Shake the milk off the liver slices and add to the onions.
  9. Cook until brown on both sides.
  10. Turn off ingredients and add everything to a food processor.
  11. Blend and add oil or more butter if needed for the texture.
  12. Enjoy with crackers or bread!

Best practices for cooking beef liver

Here are some pro tips on cooking beef liver:

Cut the liver the right way.

Beef livers have tough ventricles in the organ, and if you don’t cut the liver correctly, you can end up with a couple of tough bites. To prevent this, instead of slicing long ways down the liver, cut shorter pieces across that break up the ventricles. Here’s a video detailing the process.

Remove the membranes for a softer texture.

Beef livers are covered in a thin but tough membrane. Removing this before slicing makes for tender liver. And if you’re having a hard time getting the membrane off, try putting your livers in the freezer for 30 minutes or so until they are cold but not frozen. This should make it easier.

Nail the timing.

It’s really easy to overcook liver, and that’s where the expertise in cooking liver comes into play. Most liver recipes aren’t that difficult, but when you’re putting livers on and off the heat, it’s easy to go overboard. Aim for 160 and cut one open to see if it just has just a bit of pink. That’s the sweet spot.

Make gravy with the drippings.

Livers have a lot of liquid in them, and adding some flour and beef broth to those drippings is a great way to extract some extra taste. This isn’t an option if you’re already currying or stewing, but don’t overlook it if you’re pan-searing your liver!

Are beef livers healthy?

A resounding, 100%, arms-high-the-air, double-thumbs up YES. Livers are so nutritious on a per calorie basis it’s hard to believe. A modest serving of liver can exceed your daily nutrition needs for many common minerals and vitamins, and it’s lower calorie than sirloin steak.

Some important minerals in livers include[*]:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Folate
  • Copper
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin

This rich profile of nutrients is why native tribes prized them and ketoers can’t get enough of them. Plus, offal includes choline, which is thought to promote brain health[*].

Where to buy beef liver

Even though livers aren’t extremely popular inside the American home, they are still the most popular offal and are easy to find in most stores and butcher shops.

We advise buying whole livers instead of pre-cut and opting for 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef livers. These livers are richer in nutrients, aren’t carrying the antibiotics and gunk that industrial farms feed them, and just taste better.

See what humanely-raised beef livers raised exclusively on the healthiest grass in the world taste like.

Our 10 favorite beef liver recipes

If you’re ready to give cooking beef livers a shot, then pick up some 100% pasture-raised beef livers, choose your recipe, and then get going!

You’re going to love it, and here are a few of our favorite recipes to get you started.

1. Liver, Bacon, and Onions

If you want to jump into the world of liver without fear, then don’t overcomplicate it — just cook it up with some onions and bacon and enjoy the full and delicious richness that offal can deliver. This Paleo-friendly recipe uses an arrowroot flour coating on the liver and lets the ingredients shine. Plus it’s great for thyroid health!

2. Easy Beef Liver Pate

To take beef liver in a completely different direction, try making pate at home! Pate is a delicious way to eat offal, and this recipe from The Top Meal is the simplest version — but with the right liver and fresh crackers or bread, it is extremely tasty!

3. Classic Beef Liver Pate

For a slightly more sophisticated (and tastier) pate, go for this classic beef liver pate from Chef Jessica Haggard. It uses grass-fed butter, heavy whipping cream, and a smart blend of spices to make a wonderfully delicious spread that you can share with your whole family.

4. Fried Beef Liver and Onions

This recipe from Cincy Shopper is as classic as it gets, and I mean that in the best way. If you want the no-frills experience, then pick up some grass-fed beef livers, slice up some onions, and grab a side of your choice to give this one a shot.

5. Mexican Liver and Onions

This recipe from Mexico In My Kitchen is similar to the fried beef liver recipe above, but it adds in some more fresh spices and varies the sides to give it a Mexican twist. I love the beans and Mexican rice alongside the liver, and I know you will too!

6. Beef Liver Your Kids Will Love

Liver is usually the arch enemy of children, but if you spin it right, you may be surprised at what your kids will say. How about “nuggets” that happen to be made of beef liver? It’s not a guarantee, but if you want to sneak in some of liver’s incredible nutrients to your kids, this is your best shot!

7. Baked Liver and Onions with Bacon

If you want to try a liver recipe that’s closer to beef bourguignon, then try this one. You use thyme, wine, and parsley to cook up the livers in the oven, and the end is a rich and creamy dish that feels close to a stew.

8. Nutrient-Dense Burger Bake

It looks a little strange, but don’t sleep on this nutrient-packed burger bake. It combines oysters, liver, and grass-fed ground beef to make an incredibly nutritious protein source. Once you bake it, you can eat it on bread like a burger, put it in pasta, or eat is as a main alongside fresh vegetables — perfect for meal prep before a busy week!

9. Kaleiji Masala Liver Fry

We try not to pick favorites, but this recipe from Recipe52 is really, really good. The combination of spices including turmeric and cumin turns the liver into a flavor-packed dish that will have you coming back again and again.

10. Beef Liver Meatballs

If you’re in a pasta mood but want to get some offal involved, check out these beef liver meatballs. They use ground beef, liver, walnuts, coconut oil, eggs, and other fresh ingredients to create a meatball that is both delicious and healthy. You can also make a bunch, flash freeze them, and use them for future weeknight dinners!

The bottom line on cooking beef liver

Beef livers have a mixed rep, but we’d argue that anyone who doesn’t like liver either had a bad liver (meaning not grass-fed or old) or the chef didn’t do it justice. Livers are the original superfood and are wonderfully delicious when prepared correctly. We hope the tips we’ve given you in the blog have inspired you — now go get cooking!

The best beef liver recipes start with the best beef livers.

We take pride in being extremely careful with the farmers we work with. Every cow that goes through our shop is fed an exclusive diet of fresh grass — all the way to the end. Plus, we only work with farmers who prioritize sustainability and use innovative farming techniques that are keeping us and our world healthy.

It’s beef the way beef should be.

See what beef livers raised on the healthiest grass in the world can do for you recipe.

 


Nathan PhelpsNathan Phelps

Nathan Phelps is a writer, ethical foodie, and outdoors-aficionado hailing from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.

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