Tongue is one of the most delicious beef cuts available! Marbled in texture with even more tenderness than a sirloin steak, it’s worth purchasing, worth keeping on butchering day. Once you learn how to cook beef tongue, you’ll find yourself wishing for more! Guaranteed!
But first, you need to know how to get your hands on a beef tongue!
If you don’t butcher your own beef (or have friends who do), you may be able to purchase tongue at your local grocery store, particularly if you shop at a large center. Costco sometimes carries a double package, produced by Rumba Meats.
However, for those of us who do butcher our own beef, removing the tongue is simple and fast!
Removing the Tongue on Butchering Day
Remove the tongue after your animal has been skinned and the head detached. Pry the cow’s mouth open with your hands, wide enough to get a blade between the teeth. Recruit help, if needed! Take your knife and slice the cheeks open, toward the back of the head. Without this prep work, it will be difficult to get at the whole tongue!
Once the cheeks have been slit open, slip your blade under the tongue and reach as far back as possible. Slice through the base of the tongue where it connects in the throat. Take your prize home and rinse well. Cook immediately or freeze until ready to use.
How to Cook Beef Tongue
Because a cow’s tongue has a tough, outer skin, I recommend boiling it first and then peeling it. Let me show you how!
Add Salt, Herbs and Water
If frozen, thaw the tongue before cooking. Though you may be tempted to remove the skin, please don’t! You’ll save meat and time by leaving it intact. Place the tongue in a pot and add the following herbs and spices to it.
- 2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1 tsp rubbed sage
- 1/2 tsp rosemary
- 6 large garlic cloves, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
Once this is accomplished, add water until the tongue is (mostly) covered. The amount of liquid needed will depend on the size of your pot and the tongue. Here, the tongue weighed approx 1.12 lbs (508 gm) and needed 8 C water to cover.
Boil the Tongue
Add a lid to the pot and bring water to a rolling boil. Reduce to a light simmer and set the timer for 2 hrs. After the proper amount of time has passed, take a fork and “test” the meat.
If fork encounters little resistance when inserted into the tongue, the meat is done. However, if it still feels tough and takes effort to push the fork through, continue cooking. Be sure to test every 20 minutes to avoid over-cooking!
When you’re satisfied, remove tongue from the broth it created and place on a cutting board.
Peel the Tongue
I know! It looks very unappetizing at this point. But don’t worry. Things are about to get better!
You need to peel the tongue with your fingers. Start at the underside of the base and gently peel skin toward the tip. Tender pink flesh will be revealed underneath. Over this next 30 minutes, the flesh will darken due to oxygen exposure.
You’ll discover an almost-sticky coating underneath the skin. Don’t let it deter you! It won’t be tasted or felt in the finished product!
Gently Slice the Tongue
Take your knife and cut meat into slices, as you would a roast. It is very tender and will quickly fall apart, so be gentle unless you want shredded beef tongue!
That’s How You Cook Beef Tongue!
In comparison to roast beef, the color of carved tongue is only slightly lighter and nothing about it suggests ‘tongue.’ Enjoy your meat! I highly recommend it for use in tacos or wraps, in sandwiches or served alongside mashed potatoes and gravy!
As a child my parents slaughtered their own beef. Tongue was the perfect meat to make sandwiches!
I have cooked tongue myself delicious but never used all the seasoning that you have…..onions salt and pepper
were my flavours.
My coworkers were grossed out when they asked what is for lunch.
I must see if I can locate one …. Thanks for reminding me about this beautiful cut !
I’d like to try using my instant pot do you have any suggestions??
I don’t use the instapot, but I have cooked tongue overnight in a crockpot on low heat. I’d recommend the same for the instapot!
I’ve cooked beef tongue in my pressure cooker for years.. I ordered a tongue from a well known online meat market. It looked great but tasted terrible. I will keep getting them from my local grocery store,, as I’ve never had a bad one from them. I do wonder what happens when they are overcooked?
So I put mine in a crock pot on low for 12 hours which is what my grandma and aunties did. But I keep seeing recipes that say 2-3 hours and I’m wondering if I’m overlooking the tongue.
If you’re happy with the results, keep doing whatever works! 🙂 Since I wrote this post, I have put tongue in my crock pot and cooked it overnight. The results were still excellent.
i Poke holes in mine marinate in Italian dressing and grill it. Slice soooo good.
I put mine a crockpot and cook it for around 8 hours and then I chop it very fine almost like a chopped sandwich and make tacos out of it with cilantro and onion and homemade hot sauce delicious
That sounds delicious! I’ll have to try that next time!
Why doesn’t the skin peel off our most recent tongue? My wife and I have been cooking beef and lamb tongues now for 40 years and both grew up with ’em, too, and neither of us have ever had this happen before. Yes, it was cooked till tender, as always before.
Sorry, but I have no idea. I’ve never had a problem with them not peeling!
Thanks, Autumn. After posting the question about difficulty pealing we tried eating it and it tasted unpleasant, too. Maybe a really old animal?? We pick tongues up catch as catch can at various farm markets in the surrounding counties. Just bad luck, I guess. Thanks again.
I was reading your article on beef tongue.
Love that stuff. My question is can I put it in a crock pot and cook for 8 hrs on low ?
Hey Brian! I don’t know about the crockpot; I’ve never used it. The key thing with tongue is to avoid overcooking, so if you think you could do that in your crock, go for it!
Yes, it will come out perfect.