Beef Tacos de Lengua

This recipe is not for the food-queazy. If that’s you, you might want to just skip this one, or instead check out some of our chicken breast recipes.

What? You’re still with us? Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

My first recollection of beef tongue was when I was about 8 years old and there happened to be a huge one in the refrigerator. It looked, and felt (I touched it, who could resist?) like a ginormous tongue. Just like my little 8-year old tongue, but oh my gosh, it was so big! And then my parents cooked it and made us eat it. (No idea how they prepared it.) The texture. It was so, so tongue-like. All too weird, even for me.

Fast forward a couple decades (okay, more than a couple) and I’m in Mexico when my bud Matt announces that there’s a crowd around the lengua tacos in the buffet line. I get there just in time to scoop up the last of the day’s lengua for my taco and I’m in tongue heaven. So tender, so perfect in a taco.

Here’s the deal with tongue. Prepared correctly it is melt-in-your-mouth tender (from slow braising), flavorful (because it’s a muscle that got a lot of exercise), if you chop it up enough the texture isn’t an issue, and its home of homes is truly in a taco, slathered with salsa verde. By the way, my mother instructed me to tell you that the way you know you are at an authentic taqueria is that there are “tacos de lengua” (tongue tacos) on the menu. If you find yourself at such a taqueria, try some! Or if you are the adventurous sort, and love tacos and Mexican food, the following is a traditional Mexican recipe for tacos de lengua, taught to me by my Acapulco friend Arturo. This is the way his mother made it for him growing up. Outrageously good. If I could, I would eat the entire batch all by myself.

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Beef Tacos de Lengua Recipe

  • Yield: One 3-pound tongue makes enough meat for about 18-24 tacos.

Beef tongue may be found at local Asian markets, Mexican markets, or ordered by your local butcher

Ingredients

  • 1 3-4 lb beef tongue
  • 2 large onions, peeled
  • The cloves from 1 head (yes an entire head) of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 6-7 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp of peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Corn tortillas (2 to 3 per person)
  • Salsa verde*
  • Avocados
  • Cilantro
  • Chopped red onion
  • Thinly sliced radishes for garnish

* Bottled or canned salsa verde can be found in the Hispanic section of markets. To make homemade salsa verde, remove husks from 1 lb of tomatillos, place tomatillos in a pan, cover with water, simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Place tomatillos, 1/3 cup chopped onion, 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, 2 teaspoons of lemon or lime juice, a jalapeño or serrano chile pepper, and about a teaspoon of salt in a blender. Blend until smooth, add more salt to taste.

Method

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1 Fill a large (12-quart if you have one) stock pot two-thirds full with water. Add the tongue, onions, crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 3 hours, until the tongue is soft to the touch and tender.

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2 Remove tongue from water and let cool for a couple of minutes. Notice the light colored skin-like covering over most of the tongue. Using your fingers, and/or a sharp small knife, remove this covering and discard. Notice the rough patch of meat where the tongue would attach to the bottom of the mouth. Arturo removes this patch (as does his mother when she prepares tongue) because it is a little rough. It's perfectly edible though, so keep it attached if you want.

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3 Slice the tongue in 1/4-inch slices. (If you are not preparing the whole tongue for tacos, you can return whatever tongue you do not slice to the cooking water to soak.) Heat a little oil in a frying pan on medium high and sauté the slices on both sides until they are lightly browned. Remove from pan and slice first into strips, then crosswise again so that you end up with small cubes.

4 Soften tortillas either by cooking on the stove-top until pockets of air appear in them, or in the microwave (about 10 seconds per tortilla). Place a large spoonful of meat in the center of a tortilla. Add a spoonful of salsa verde and some chopped avocado, onion, and chopped fresh cilantro. Garnish with radish slices.

Hello! All photos and content are copyright protected. Please do not use our photos without prior written permission. If you wish to republish this recipe, please rewrite the recipe in your own unique words and link back to the source recipe here on Simply Recipes. Thank you!

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Links:
Cuban-style beef tongue with tomatoes, peppers, and onions from Masa Assassin
Tongue sliders from Houseboat Eats
Lengua Estofada (Braised Beef Tongue) from Gourmeted
Carol Blymire cooks Thomas Keller's braised veal tongue, likes it but is somewhat grossed out by the process
Beef tongue in caper sauce from Nikas Culinaria
Boiled ox tongue from Ryan of Nose to Tail at Home
Another take on tacos de lengua from He Cooks, She Cooks
Lamb's tongue from Pille of Nami-Nami

Many thanks to Arturo Vargas of Taste for the Senses for sharing his family recipe of tacos de lengua.

100 Comments

  1. Cristina

    God, this makes me so hungry! This is my absolute favorite taco filling.

    I personally cook the tongue in a pressure cooker, which reduces the cooking time dramatically, and the meat is just as tender. Then I top with a mix of cilantro and white onion, green salsa, and lime. Mmm.

  2. Stacia

    I would really like to try this! I had beef tongue (and brain, and heart, and anything that could be fried up and consumed) as a kid. The taste of tongue was fine but I was like you when it came to the texture. Nowadays, I never see tongue sold in the stores. You can’t even find liver anymore. I’ll have to find an authentic taqueria!

  3. jonathan

    All those years of Spanish-language study prepared me for what I was getting into, so I continued reading. The photos, on the other hand…;)
    And now, I must say….hasta mañana.

    Et tu Jonathan? Et tu? ~Elise

  4. BMJ

    wow! I have got to try this one. I’m always up for an adventure. :)

  5. joanna

    I have a tongue left over from our freezer beef, and have been wondering what o do with it- I’ll definitely try this! Do you think the boiling/simmering could be done in a large crockpot instead of a stockpot on the stove?

    Yep, I think it would cook perfectly well in a slow cooker. ~Elise

  6. Brook

    My local grocery always has tongue. I haven’t had the nerve to buy any yet. This recipe is moving me closer to that day I must say.

  7. Acher

    I love tongue!! My first experience with tongue was at a Korean BBQ restaurant. I don’t know what the Korean name is for it, but the tongue is sliced super, super thin and then grilled at the table. So tasty. I have wanted to try cooking tongue at home, but wasn’t sure where to start, but now I know! Looks like tongue will be on the grocery list this weekend…

  8. Susan @ SGCC

    The tacos really do look tasty, but I just can’t get past the fact that they’re tongue! My first experience with it was at summer camp when I was 7. I attended a camp program sponsored by a Hebrew school (I’m Catholic. Don’t ask!) in Westchester, NY, and they served tongue for lunch one day. I was forced to eat it. It was horrible and let’s just say I had a severe gastric reaction (Ew!). I’ve never been able to muster up the courage to try it again! :(

  9. Seth @ Boy Meets Food

    I love going to the real taquerias near my house. It’s kind of funny how the really good ones end up being the little hole-in-the-wall places with chickens running around in the street.

    I love tacos de lengua, but I’ve never dared try making them at home. Maybe now I can. One latin dish that does still get me is menudo. I never really acquired a taste for it…

  10. Regina

    Man… I’ve always walked by the tongue in the meat section (we have a LARGE Hispanic community here in Alabama), and said that I didn’t want to taste anything that could taste me back, but those tacos look amazing.

    What would you compare the texture to? Maybe a steak of some sort? I may have to try this, as an experiment, when my friend comes to town – he’s Puerto Rican.

    Good question. The texture sort of reminds me of corned beef brisket, cut thin against the grain, but much more tender. ~Elise

  11. Val

    You can also find beef tongue in any good Russian/Jewish delicatessen. This stuff is delicious, especially when cut thinly and spread on some dark bread.

  12. Sarah

    Beef tongue was the first truly adventurous food I remember trying at about age 12 at my friend’s house – it wasn’t in tacos, but it was the most delicious cut of meat I’d ever had. I don’t think I’ve had it since, but that may change with this recipe.

  13. Krista

    My husband has always liked Lengua (Lengua tacos, lengua and scrambled eggs…) while I have always been a little grossed out by the idea. Well, grossed out no more. A little taco stand near us serves lengua tacos, and I reently tried them. They are delicious! Even our 5 year old tried them and loved them. I don’t see myself buying a whole tongue anytime in the near (or distant) future, but I’ll definitely order up a taco again.

    love your blog : )

  14. Stephany

    I thought I’d never say this but I think I could eat tongue because, and only because, you put it up on your blog. I would love to try this but not tell my family what they were eating until dinner was nearly over. I love trying new things but not nasty things. This was in my nasty category up until now. We’ll see how long that lasts when I have to pick the thing up and start cooking it. I’ll let you know.

  15. Stephany

    Do you keep the water you boil the tongue in for stock or broth?

    Great question. Arturo doesn’t, but I checked Diana Kennedy and she used some of the cooking water stock to make a sauce in one of her dishes. With all of those aromatics, it’s going to be rather strongly flavored. ~Elise

  16. Danny

    I’m in Los Angeles and there is a chain of restaurants named “King Taco”. They have every variety of meat that a taqueria can offer and lengua is one of my favorites. I enjoy lengua tacos prep’ed exactly like Elise suggests. It’s funny how many people can’t get past eating tongue. My wife loved the burritos de lengua they served. That is until I told her the English translation of lengua.

  17. Karen

    Dad always kept a jar of pickled tongue in the door of the refrigerator. It haunted my childhood. I always suspected he did it to keep me away from the stash of Laughing Cow cheese he kept right next to it, and that he never actually ate the tongue. At age 39, I’d like to announce that I’m grown up enough that I would consider trying a tongue taco prepared properly by a third party, but I am not yet ready to let the thing into my house or my refrigerator. Gimme another 10 years ;)

  18. HankShaw

    Big fan of the tongue, but the texture of big ole’ chunks can be off-putting. I like it more in the Korean style, braised, seared hard in large pieces, then sliced very thin. Some area taco trucks do the same thing — delish!

  19. Rossella

    I LOVE tongue but sometimes I am discouraged by all the preparation it requires (mind you, in Northern Italy it is such a common food that you can find it in pre-cooked packages, so you just need to give it a quick boil and slice it). My aunt Bianca makes an AMAZING version cooked with beer and raisins, a bittersweet wonder that is sliced so thinly it practically melts in your mouth. I’ll try to get the recipe from her and share it with you guys, I am sure it is something good for your parents daring cuisine :)

    Please do! ~Elise

  20. Diana

    Hi Elise,
    A follow-up question to the slow cooker comment- is there any risk of over-cooking the tongue? Or can I just throw it in the crock pot and forget about it until it seems done?
    Thanks!

    Great question. I think if you braise any meat too long the water will eventually leach the flavor out of it (think making beef stock). But I do think there is some leeway with the cooking times, and slow cooking is more gentle cooking than what can typically be achieved on the stovetop. ~Elise

  21. Ernesto

    I’ve read your food blog for some time now and have enjoyed it but this one really got my attention. I never expected it…bravo! Tacos de lengua are my favorite tacos to eat anywhere anytime. The meat is soft and tender best choice for a taco I was taught as a kid. My mother used to make in mole dulce (dark sweet and mildly spicy sauce) with Mexican rice…definitely reminds me of my childhood.

  22. janene caldwell

    Is this a budget meal?

    The tongue we picked up was $2.70 a pound. 3 1/2 pounds came to around $10, which serves 6-8 people. So yes, I would consider this easy on the budget. While you’re at the market that sells tongue, try to pick up a bag of bay leaves, which are less expensive in bulk than what you typically find in the spice jars. ~Elise

  23. Joanna

    I’ve never had a tongue taco, but thinly-sliced toungue on rye bread with a little spicy mustard and a half-sour pickle on the side is one of my favorite meals. Yum! I’m really curious as to how the Mexican preparation of tongue compares to the Jewish deli version… though after seeing those pictures, I’m not sure if I’m quite ready to try to make it myself. :p

  24. Paloma

    Yes…. TACOS DE LENGUA! I would say: My favorite tacos!!! I am a Mexican and I just LOVE IT! Many people do not know what they are missing when they do not try it… It’s just… BEEF! Yes, it doesn’t look good when it’s in “its original form” but IT IS GREAT!! My husband is an American and when we were dating he went to Mexico and ate tacos “on the street” he loved them and wanted to ask for two more… then he asked me what that was because it was so delicious… for me it was so common that I didn’t hesitate so I told him it was “cow tongue tacos” he couldn’t believe it and thought I was kidding… he still asked for two more! LOL!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Paloma.

  25. Elizabeth

    these look DELICIOSO! although a bit too time-consuming…growing up in the Central Valley of California, I am more familiar with pickled tongue – a staple in local Basque restaurants. Now that we live in Orange County, I crave garlicky-tender-fabulous tongue, and get it whenever and however I can!
    Thanks for posting, Elise!

  26. Beatriz

    My Mom used to make this. I don’t remember how she boilded it, but I could smell and see fresh oregano sprigs in the broth. It was really good. If you ever get the chance to try Basque Pickled Tongue on Pyrenees bread, you’re in for a true delicacy.

  27. Steve-Anna

    Like Maggi, I too tend to avoid offal, but make an exception for foie gras. Now that I’ve braved reading this entire post (and seeing the photos), I might just have to step out of my comfort zone and try the beef tacos de lengua next time I have the chance. I passed on them at Food Blog Camp in Mexico (despite Elise’s and Matt’s enthusiasm!).

    PS: And thank you for prompting me to notice new homonyms: “offal” and “awful”. Now what made me think of that? :)

  28. Solaera

    Elise thank you so much for posting this! I love, love, love lengua tacos and aside from cabesa it is my favorite taco filling! My husband and I made carne asada street tacos last night for dinner and we were saying we needed a recipe for lenqua. You rock!

  29. Aqui na Cozinha (Patty Martins)

    I did not know you were eating lengua here in the U.S.. I was very surprised. Lengua is one of my favorite dishes. For example, lengua Madeira Sauce is very good.
    Kisses
    Patty Martins
    Brazil

  30. Chad Dore

    Here in southern Louisiana tongue is quite available. In fact, I can think of about 5 places within a 5 mile radius of my home that sell it, but its always stuffed with pork sausage.

  31. Arturo Vargas

    Personally I love this dish, not just because I cooked it. Only because my Mom used to make it with all her passion and tender love “para su muchachito Arturito”.
    Greetings to everyone and buen apetito!

  32. Alex

    Hello Elise, Is this seriously from a cow’s tongue? Or does it just feel like a tongue so it’s called tongue? I am dying to know if the answer. Thanks.

    Oh yes, just like rump roast is seriously from the rump end of a steer, the tongue indeed is the tongue. And jello comes from cow toenails, did you know that? Personally my favorite is oxtail, which truly is the tail. :-) ~Elise

  33. Amanda

    Oh my god thank you so much for this recipe! I have a local restaurant that sells these, but I’ve been wanting to tackle them in my own kitchen. I was mulling over how to prepare them the other day…your step-by-step photos make for a great tutorial. Oh yum. I love tacos de lengua. Tacos de cabeza (cheek meat) are delicious too!!!!

  34. Garrett

    Crazy, I just had this for lunch at a local taqueria today. I love lengua with salsa verde. Super tasty as tongue tastes more mellow than steak from the cow.

    Never understood some people’s aversion to tongue. Some people are cool eating the muscles surrounding the stomach, or eating the bone marrow, but not the muscle in the animal’s mouth?

  35. azelia

    I have eaten almost every part of the animal but the tongue has never attracted me, maybe seeing too many live cow tongues close up and personal when young put me off :-)

    I does look very tender.

  36. zoe maya

    HOORAY for nose to tail cooking!!! it is so important for us to be eating these cuts of meat. not to mention lengua es deliciosa.
    thanks elise.

  37. Veronica

    Love it! I just ate beef lengua tacos at my mom’s house last week. On her homemade tortillas with finely chopped onion and cilantro and her homemade salsa–they are heavenly. I usually end up eating a ton of these. My husband tried them once without knowing what they were. When I revealed my little secret he was not amused. While he agreed that the tacos were delicious, he just couldn’t get past the thought of the beef tongue. I think that’s just ridiculous if you eat other parts of the same animal!

  38. Hanna

    Like you mentioned, tongue is an oft-used muscle and it’s oh-so-flavorful. Here in Korea, I don’t make much in the way of Mexican food since it’s not a budget-friendly option here, but I adore slow cooking tongue and eating pieces wrapped up in leafy greens, Korean style. (Just tuck the piece of meat into a perilla leaf with your choice of aromatics…yum!)

  39. Christian

    Awesome!

    I love tongue! Now, you need to have your friend hook you up with a tacos al pastor recipe!

    I’ve been working on that one. It’s a little more difficult as traditionally the tacos al pastor meat is cooked with a rotisserie next to flame, not exactly home equipment. I’ll get there. It’s on the list! ~Elise

  40. Ian D.

    What a coincidence!

    I went into a Mexican supermarket after school one day and bought a package of pork lengua.

    Can the same method be used for pork tongue?

    No idea. But if you try it, please let us know how it turns out! ~Elise

  41. Diana

    Coincidentally, my mom made this for the first time just a couple of nights ago. It was slow-cooked (8 hours, I think), so the texture was extra-extra tender and melt-in-your-mouth soft. I’d never eaten it before, so when I watched her take it out of the crockpot, I was utterly grossed out (it was way bigger than the one shown in the photos, and I commented that it looked like something out of a sci-fi movie with outer-space cuisine). But once she peeled/discarded the outer part and pulled the meat apart, it looked so very tender and tasty (I wouldn’t have guessed it was tongue).

    I dared to try one, since everyone else said the tacos were very good (they had seconds, thirds, fourths…). One bite was all it took for me to get hooked. The meat was incredibly delicious and unbelievably tender — perfect taco meat! I had never tasted such delicious tacos like those before. Green salsa, chopped onion, salt, cilantro, and radishes were the perfect accompaniments.

    If you can’t stomach cooking and preparing it (I hate the smell of meat as it slow-cooks), then try these tacos at a good restaurant (or at a friend’s house, if it’s something they make). Very delicious!

    Thanks for sharing the recipe! :)

  42. Brian

    mmmmmmmmmmm, tacos de lengua :) I’ve lived in Texas all my life, and have eaten many of these. Lengua and menudo are perfect for a hangover, or when you are still a little tipsy from the day before ;) will fix you right up.

  43. Diana

    This looks great! I love tongue, it has a really distinct taste and texture. Are you sure what you cooked was beef tongue and not veal tongue? From my experiece beef tongue is much bigger (at least in Russian stores in NYC).
    By the way, for the skin to come off easier peel the tongue under running cold water. And pig tongue is pretty much the same in terms of taste but it’s much smaller in size so just more hassle to prepare because you would have to make at least a few of them.

  44. Brian

    Quick question….are the radishes on the side, raw? or pickled? I love both.

    Raw, though I guess you could use pickled if you want. ~Elise

  45. Nadine

    I was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We also used tongue for making Empanadas, a Mexican fried pie comparable to mincemeat filled pies.

  46. Cricket McRae

    Elise, this is perfect. I got a tongue with my quarter of grass fed beef, and had no idea how to cook it. This looks terrific, and I’ll be trying it soon. Now: do you have any good recipes for beef heart? ; – >

  47. Hannah

    When I was about 8, my dad made me a kidney omelette. I’ve never had kidney since, nor will I willingly choose an omelette. However, reading this post I feel a strong urge to rectify the situation… kidney tacos, anyone?

  48. lacrema

    Hey Elise,

    I recently began making tongue tacos since the street tacos at the taqueria are $3 each and I like to have about 20. I was sure I’d save money making them, and I do!

    I asked several of the best Mexican grandma cooks I know for their recipes, then cobbled something together only to find that Gourmet had already done the job for me.

    It may be a regional difference in recipes, but you really do need to add some cumin and oregano, and the addition of the stock to the chopped, frying meat, makes the taco 100 times better!! It is waaaay juicy and yummy and after a couple of my MX friends tasted these they told me I was officially brown. : )

    Also, since the tongue is so fatty and flavorful, I really haven’t found that you can overcook it. You can cook it all day long and it will taste just as good. (Maybe that’s because I add some broth back in, though).

    Thanks for posting a recipe for this, though. Tacos de lengua are a REAL treat!

    Thanks for the suggestion on cumin and oregano. I’ll keep that in mind for next time! ~Elise

  49. Anita

    I am with Cristina–I grew up having this cooked in the pressure cooker and I love it. I have never tried it in taco form so this is on the list of must make. I want to try it in the crock pot as well since I dislike my pressure cooker.

    I also second Cricket’s request for beef heart recipes. Anticuchos? MMmmm, delish.

  50. Annie

    Good for you, Elise – I remember the comment you made on Twitter about your childhood experience. :) The tacos de lengua we get at our local place are so crazy tender I would almost compare the texture with tofu. No one sells tongue around here on a regular basis except the grass-fed co-op – not even the Spanish supermarket. I really do want to make my own, since buying the tacos just leaves us wanting more than we can afford! I would love to find out how the old neighborhood deli used to make their tongue (we don’t have any neighborhood delis for miles and miles). It was really delicious and completely different from the Mexican preparation in color, taste and texture. And now I’m off to look up Basque pickled tongue!

  51. Annie

    Et voila – both the Jewish http://tinyurl.com/ydvnbnb and Basque http://tinyurl.com/ybyt5ke versions of pickled tongue!

  52. Andy

    There is a great taqueria down the street that serves lengua tacos, but my girlfriend wouldn’t let me get one!! After this recipe I may have to impose my will and go for broke… :)

    They also had cactus on the menu in various forms, I wonder if you have a recipe for that? I believe they had it grilled, would love to see this authentic ingredient with a delicious preparation!

    Hi Andy, check out the nopalitos recipe on the site, basically sautéed cactus paddles with onions and tomato. (And good luck ordering those tacos!) ~Elise

  53. Regina

    OK – I made the salsa verde last night (I like my salsa cold), and the tongue is simmering as I type, it smells amazing. The only change I’m making is subbing flour tortillas for the corn (I am not a huge fan of the corn). I MAY have also slipped in a couple extra cloves of garlic and I cut the onions in half so they would fit better in the pot. Another 2 hours and I should start peeling (not looking forward to THAT part, I must say).

  54. David Eger

    Love it! Tacos de lengua are the best… what’s to be squeamish about? Don’t knock ‘em until you’ve tried them.

    I guarantee that once you try tongue, you’ll never turn your nose up at it again. (Is that a mixed metaphor?)

  55. Matt S

    When I’m at my local taqueria, I usually order lengua y chorizo burritos as the combo is off the hook. However, I saw tongue on sale at the local asian mart and had to buy a 3.3 pounder. Let’s just say, it came out awesome and I can’t wait to make this again.

    Great! ~Elise

  56. Anna

    I’m sooooo glad to see you are posting recipes like this! Who needs yet another recipe for ground beef taco filing anyway? I’m trying to adopt a more traditional “nose-to-tail” eating philosophy and this recipe helps immensely. For two years I’ve been buying a free-range grassfed half bison once or twice a year; this year I was able to persuade the rancher to save the tongue, heart, and liver for me. I have plenty of old-fashioned cookbooks with recipes for tongue, but well, the finished dish looks like tongue! That doesn’t help win over the family to my new food adventures.

    Tacos (or taco salad for my husband and I since we are watching the starch) are very popular in our house, so I plan to give this one a whirl.

  57. Bob Weber

    My on and only experience with tacos de lengua to date was during a trip to Mexico a few years back. We were in Guadalajara with some locals and had them from a street vendor. They were excellent, but I haven’t had the nerve to make them since. Maybe I will follow your recipe and try it out.

  58. Mirian

    You are too cool for posting this! My mom used to make them and I remember being able to easily put away 6 as a kid, so good! So good in fact, that all we put on them was cilantro and onion and some lime juice. I have never attempted to make this on my own but I will now. Thanks!

  59. tommy2rs

    Tortas de lengua are good too. Lengua, avocado and pico de gallo on a sliced bolillo. Usually if a place has the taco they can do the torta.

  60. Patricia Leder

    Elise, good for you. Many years ago, when we were young and raised our own beef, we used all parts of the animal, and tongue was one of them. One evening a friend stopped by while we were eating dinner, we invited him to join us, and he did. He commented it was the best tasting venison he’d ever had, and wondered how we’d kept some so late in the year, even though we had a freezer, he seemed surprised. Well, we hadn’t told any of our seven children what they were eating, and we definitely didn’t tell him, but it’s been a standing joke with me and Terry. That’s the best tasting venison we’ve ever had, he had a very tender stomach and wouldn’t have even tried it. But venison? Never passed it up! I wonder sometimes about what we will and won’t eat. But then, I’ve never tried chicken feet, either, although I love eggs, and we know where they come from. You’re doing a GREAT job, and I do so enjoy your recipes, marvelous pictures, too.
    Patricia

  61. Behan

    We are living on a sailboat in Mexico, and tongue tacos are a favorite. When we cross to the south pacific this spring, I’m REALLY going to miss Mexican food…these in particular. Now hopefully I’ll just be making them for our family instead of feeling sorry for myself!

    I love this- quoting a commenter above: “…I think I could eat tongue because, and only because, you put it up on your blog.” Making a difference!!

    So how about a recipe for tacos de cabeza?

    A beef version of head cheese? in a taco? I’m all over it. ;-) ~Elise

  62. Alta

    LOVE LOVE LOVE lengua! I even posted it on my blog last year (along with barbacoa – and yes, for those that are squeamish, turn back now!). I make it in the slow cooker (on low for about 8 hours) but I like your version too. What really amazed me is that the last time I made it, I “tricked” my picky-as-hell daughter into tasting it before I told her what it was, and she really liked it. The crazy part is she actually STILL liked it after she knew it was tongue! I need to make this again. I’m hungry now.

  63. Hairybizness

    My grandma used to make this all the time growing up, I never knew how to make it. What perfect comfort food! One question, can you do this in a crock pot? I want to put it on before I go to work, and come home to a great meal.

    Yes, I’m pretty sure this would be ideal for cooking in a crockpot. ~Elise

  64. Patricia Leder

    Elise, I forgot to tell you how I prepared our “venison” version of tongue. . . beef tongue that our friend thought was venison. Simmered several hours on the stove with some herbs, onions, etc. .. it was 25 years ago that this little episode happened, so I’m sure I’d done some good ‘stuff’ to it. . .cooled it, skinned and trimmed it, then cut it into 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices. . . breaded in seasoned bread crumbs as I would porkchops, ground beef, etc. . . and fried in olive oil, turning when they were crispy on the first side, and putting out on a papercovered plate to ease some of the oil out. . . served hot with bbq sauce, or, as the children insisted on, catsup, ketchup, catch-up!! . . .however you want to call it. . . keep up the GOOD WORK!! Patricia

    Oh, a tongue cutlet, what a great idea! ~Elise

  65. Cynthia H.

    I am saving this recipe and will definitely give it a whirl. Although the concept of eating a cow tongue . . . leaves much to be desired – I remember with great fondness the tongue my mother used to prepare with regularity. As a child, I never connected the name of the dish with the reality of it – I only knew it was the most delicious, most succulent, most flavorful meat my mother cooked. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and saw an actual cow tongue at the butcher’s counter that it hit me – my favorite dish was a COW’S TONGUE! Oh. My. God! But to have tacos made of it – yum – I definitely missed out on this growing up in Santa Monica. I’m so sad, living out in the woods on the east coast, now – real Mexican food is nearly impossible to find.

  66. Maria Bauer

    I love these tacos. I have a recipe for the slow cooker version. I’ve made it twice and everyone in my family loves it. The meat is so tender it falls apart, with a little help from a fork :) It calls for the same ingredients as the ones posted above. You put it in the slow cooker on HI for 4 hours then change it to LOW for another 8. I start it at 8 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday night, and by 8 a.m. the next morning it’s done. I take the skin off and shred the meat. Enjoy!

  67. KerryAnn May

    I made this recipe this past Sunday. The tongue was kinda mushy. We imagined it would be chewier, firmer texture. Did we cook it too long? We did simmer it a half an hour too long, we simply lost track of time. We then fried it and sliced and diced it, per the recipe.

    We were disappointed. Good flavor, but mushy meat. Please let us know if we overcooked it or if this is just how tongue is.

    I make tons of recipes from your site and this is the first time I’m thinking I won’t be making it again.

    Good question. It should be tender, not mushy. If you are anywhere near a good taqueria you might order a lengua taco for comparison’s sake. Could be that the meat got overcooked. Could be you had a veal tongue and not a beef tongue. Could be you had a particularly tender tongue. ~Elise

  68. Luke Spencer

    Lengua – tongue in English – Roast beef deluxe in my language. This is definitely one of the most overlooked part of the cow. You are making me want to throw one in the crock pot right now.

    Thank you for the recipe
    Luke Spencer

  69. Nate @ House of Annie

    There’s always 3 tacos I go for at any self-respecting taqueria: al pastor, carnitas, and lengua. Anybody can do carne asada but whoever can get those 3 right, especially lengua, merits a return trip very soon.

    Thanks for sharing the recipe! I haven’t seen any beef tongue here in Kuching (beef isn’t as big a thing in Sarawak as pork or chicken). So now another craving has been flung.

  70. Melissa

    Interesting. I’ve wanted to try tongue since I went to a taqueria with some friends who were Mexican and one of them ordered it. It didn’t look like tongue at all (I always pictured a tongue in the middle of a tortilla for some reason). It smelled delicious. I may have to try this recipe, if I can find some tongue.

  71. Zoe

    You know what? This instruction gave me the courage to cook and eat tongue. I had the computer in the kitchen and followed the instructions and it was so easy! The pictures were really helpful. We gave the bottom part of the tongue to a very grateful dog!

    Those tacos were so darn good. We made homemade torts to go with them and some pumpernickle bread for tasting! I now have the courage to make tongue any old time I want it! Thank you Elise!

    Music to my ears. Thank you for giving it a go! ~Elise

  72. Raquel

    I have been eating lengua tacos as early as I can remember. It was my favorite birthday dinner request every year! My mom always cooked it in the pressure cooker and cut it up while keeping us out of the kitchen. This is the first time I’ve ever actually seen what a tongue looks like! She was always afraid that I wouldn’t want to eat it if I new what it really looked like. Now that I’ve seen your pics, I guess it’s not really that bad and should probably learn how to cook it now that I’ve got my own kids!

  73. Kandyce

    I grew up on a farm in WI, and we ate all parts of the steer. I remember shortly after butchering day, my mom would boil the heart and tongue in salt water for a couple of hours and we would eat it cold, sliced, and dipped in ketchup! We ate pork heart and tongue the same way. Some of my brothers and sisters preferred the heart, but the tongue was always my favorite.
    However I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to get my picky Puerto Rican husband to try tongue in any form! :)

  74. Gracie

    Thank you for posting beef tongue recipe. Bold move. I have loved beef tongue since I was a child, my favorites are tongue sandwich white bread slathered with mustard and in a taco with sour cream on top.

  75. Kelly

    I work for a large beef facility (aka slaughterhouse) and buy tongue during the employee sales for about $1.05/lb. We always have a freezer full of them as we buy in bulk (8/case). I prepare it pretty similar to your recipe with the seasoning, but I cook mine in the crockpot 6-8 hours on low and then shred the meat for tacos or whatever. Delicious!

  76. Omar

    I find these comments quite hilarious.
    Tongue tacos are absolutely my favorite and have been since I was a youth growing up in East Los Angeles. I find it amazing how disconnected we as Americans are from our once breathing food, and that some people won’t even eat meat off of bone, let alone stuff like tongue, stomach, etc. For all you American borns who are venturing into the world of “other” meats, I applaud your open mind and courage. The rest of you, I feel sorry for, but I can’t fault you. You’re just a product of this “bleached” American lifestyle.

  77. John

    Come on people, the tongue is just another muscle, just as a ribeye is part of a muscle. El Portal, in Auburn CA, @ the Foresthill exit, has been serving lengua tacos since day one, so tender and moist. Great blog!

  78. Vondella

    Dear Elise,

    I’ve been following your wonderful blog for a few months now but haven’t ever taken the time to comment. This recipe, though, and the posted comments had me laughing out loud. I’m sold ~ I’m going in search of a lengua this week to cook up for my family, something I thought I’d never do. We’re pretty adventurous eaters around here but until now, I’ve never been inclined to cook up a tongue myself. Here’s hoping it goes well.

    Thank you for providing us with delicious recipes (your blog is my go-to blog for inspiration) and a bit of humor as well.

    Vondella

    Yay! Another lengua convert! Have fun with it. ~Elise

  79. Gracie

    This lengua recipe is just like my mom makes. Thank you for this easy recipe. I happen to love this stuff as does my youngest daughter, she actually took some to school for snack – quite a few vegetarian classmates HA! I also like to put lengua in a tortilla with sourcream and/or tomatillo sauce. Also on a sandwich with just mustard. Yum Yum.

  80. Musi

    I love cooking lengua. I prepare it in a slow cooker. What I do is put the lengua in the pot with three or four bay leaves and enough water. When its cooked I remove it from the pot, peel it, cut very thin slices. Then I fry onion slices, add tomato sauce, cappers and olives, add the tongue and let it cook for a few minutes and its delicious.

  81. Shannan

    The stars were aligned and we were gifted a lovely beef tongue from a nearby ranch. We nearly fainted when we saw it. It looked like an alien. But after the laughing and squealing (OK that was mostly the me part of we) I got down to biz with your recipe. Homemade salsa verde and torts… ultra ripe avocado. Oh my GOD. Where have these little gems been all my life? Thank you for the appetizing pic that inspired me to make it and the recipe that inspired satisfied MMMM’s from the hungry eaters.

  82. Laurie B

    I sure do miss my Mama’s lengua. Thanks for the reminder on how to prepare beef tongue. When I order lengua tacos at a taco truck, they all nod, ah si! :-)

  83. veronica rivera

    I luv this tacos .. I grew up eating them every sunday before or after church .. w/ white onion, cilatro, lemon and salt.. but where i’m from we call it “Barbacoa”.

  84. Robin

    My friend just brought me two beef tongues ( a bonus to the 2 beef hearts I asked her for). My husband and I tried tacos de lengua in Texas a few months ago so I wanted to try making them at home. I was really intimidated by the tongue plus I used my pressure cooker for the first time. I made the leap and invited our neighbors over for a trial. They turned out to be amazing!! Luckily I live in Wyoming so finding someone who is sending a steer to be butchered isn’t too hard to do! I’ll be looking for more soon, may even try elk tongue! Thanks for the recipe!

  85. GM Jabbora

    My father was from Germany and we had tongue a lot. It was usually smaller than a full grown cow tongue. After cooking it he would slice it thin and put it in a vinegar and oil dressing with sliced onions. We would eat it on crackers or black rye bread.

  86. Cameron

    My first experience eating tongue was at a Japanese izakaya here in San Diego. They slice it thin and grill it – very simple but absolutely delicious. It is so tender with the flavor of a well marbled ribeye. I see tongue at 99 Ranch all the time, so I can’t wait to pick one up and try your taco recipe!

  87. Leila

    its funny to hear people complain and get grossed out about toungue and tripe dishes,

    but i bet you cut them up and serve it to them they wont know the difference!

    i also add 1 cup cooking sherry and stab 3-4 holes into meat to cook much quicker, i’ve got it down to 1 1/2hrs and its nice and tender.

    lol, told my mom it was “beef”, she ate THIRDS!!! see, its all in peoples heads about these foods

  88. Herbie

    I am attempting to make this like my dad makes it right now. He always cooks it overnight on low heat for at least 8 hours. It’s the best. Even more rare than the restaurant that serves it is the restaurant that serves it right. Most places have it cut into cubes and it is tasteless and very rubbery. Another thing restaurants do wrong is they leave the skin on. A properly cooked tongue should be so tender that the skin comes off easily. If it is tough and rubbery, the skin won’t slide off (and it is gross both texture-wise and to look at). You wouldn’t eat tenderloin with the skin on would you? Lengua is even more tender than filet mignon if done right. The slower it’s cooked, the more tender it should be.

  89. Nancy

    I sure do miss my Mama’s lengua.When I order lengua tacos at a taco truck, they all so gud, ah si! :-)i lub lengua so much nd its so gud 2 eat!!!!!!!!!

  90. Antoine

    The best way to tempt people to eat beef tongue is by getting them drunk with their favorite alcoholic drink, serve it and don’t tell them until the next day. You’ll see whose tongue comes out our their mouths first. He/She who hasn’t tried tongue, I’m so sorry!!

  91. Christina

    I made this last night with a canned tomatillo sauce, should have made it from scratch, but the tongue was very good. But then I let it cool before sauteeing it there was a gross yellow fat that came out. I hope this is normal and I didn’t get some icky kind of meat from some unnatural cow. But the meat was really good, which left me wondering if there are other ways to serve it! Thanks.

  92. Weiwen

    Just made this and it was very good. The first time I had tongue it was a bit too gamey, but this was fine.

    Does anyone have good ideas for a tongue chili recipe? It seems like this cut of meat would go well with chili.

  93. Christina

    This recipe was amazing. This is my first time cooking and eating beef tongue (or any tongue in that case). My boyfriend is Mexican and he was craving some good tongue tacos. I followed the recipe and they came out great. He said they were just as good as the ones he’s had at taquerias. I’m somewhat adventurous when it comes to new food but after dicing up the meat, it was pretty much indistinguishable anyways. The tongue is just a large muscle after all. The meat was so tender after cooking, I will definitely make tacos de lengua again.

  94. Eric Arens

    Some of the responses reminded me of somethng that happened to me many years ago. I was in a buffet line at a hotel, and was putting some deli style tongue on my plate. A very nice lady next to me asked what I was putting on my plate. I told her tongue, and she asked “from a cow?”. I replied yes, when she responded with “ew, I would never eat anything from a cows mouth!” I looked at her plate, and smiling said “I see you like the eggs though.”
    I just returned from Aquascalientes, Mexico where I had the best Tacos La Cabeza, made from lamb heads. They seal the heads in a big pot, and cook them in a pit in the ground. I had the tongue! They put a little red sauce, not to spicey, with a squeeze of lime. Nothing else, and I must tell you that it may have been the best food I ever tasted.

    Great story Eric, thanks! ~Elise

  95. Alma Fumiko Hesus

    I’ve had lengua tacos at a Latina deli and they were amazing! I am going to attempt to make this today…let the slow cooking begin.

  96. Moniqu

    I am so glad I tried this. Now I LOVE beef tongue prepared in a dish such as this. Sauteing it again in oil removes the gamey taste. I ran out of salsa verde so I topped the taco with chili sauce and horseradish. So so good, words can’t describe the deliciousness!!! I’ll never look down my nose at tongue again!

  97. Grace

    Thank you for this recipe . . I’ve two on and cooking right now!

    I grew up around a large Basque population, pickled tongue is a staple on their tables. It is AMAZING . . on fresh sourdough and real butter . . it melts in your mouth. It is a family requested favorite at the holidays (and we’re Irish LOL) I was not hesitant to try lengua tacos when I saw them on a menu at a restaurant and am hooked for life.

    For those of you that tongue grosses out . . I say try it. Try it first at a restaurant if the look of it weirds you out . . it is just little cubes of beef and is the most “beefy” tasting, tender beef that you will ever eat. Very healthy too . . virtually fat free.

  98. mike wilkie

    i am the whitest white boy who grew up in a family with a mexican step father and i tell you this recipe brings me back to my childhood, Lengua is my faverite food and this recipe was awsome…

  99. Kristin

    My friend and I made this for the Super Bowl and it came out great!!! I had been fascinated with the idea of making lengua for some time—your step by step photos took the mystery out of it. We cooked the tongue in the pressure cooker.

    So glad you went for it. ~Elise

  100. The Omnivore

    The last time I had tongue was as a child when it was part of a deli meat platter my aunt got. My father made a huge sandwich out of it and I excitedly tasted it — only to be totally disturbed by the texture (you could feel the taste buds!). Cut up this small, though, I imagine that would no longer be the case?

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