Liver and Onions

This liver and onions recipe will delight liver lovers! Quickly cook tender calf liver in bacon fat and serve with plenty of savory sautéed onions. It's just like mom used to make.

Side view of a plate with liver and onions recipe.
Alison Bickel

Once a month, my entire childhood, mom would serve us liver and onions for dinner.

I think it was the only dish in which whining was even remotely tolerated. "Liver and onions, OH NOOOOO!" was the hue and cry from the assembled kids.

Mom and dad never really forced us to eat anything. But, if you didn't like what was on the table, there was no alternative. And complaining really wasn't an option; one look from dad was enough to keep any of us quiet. My parents worked hard enough to put food on the table, and we knew it.

It was for these quiet moments of culinary desperation that God invented ketchup. Ketchup was the only thing that could save us from the overwhelming taste of liver. And we poured it on. The onions helped too.

Recently mom and dad admitted to me that they don't like liver that much; they made it as often as they did because (back then, before hormone-fed beef) it was good for us kids. I have been begging them for two years to make it again and they finally did tonight. "I'm sure this will be a popular one for the website," laughed my dad.

And you know what? It was good. Really good. Much better than I remember it being as a kid, and without all that ketchup.

Tips To Make the Best Fried Liver

Two important points to remember when making liver. First, use the most organic, free-range, antibiotic, hormone-free calf liver you can. As full of vitamins and nutrients that liver is, it also collects the bad stuff. So, get beef that is as free of chemicals as possible.

Second, use calf liver, veal liver, or baby beef liver, not regular beef liver, which is just too strong in flavor.

A plate of liver and onions and ketchup.
Alison Bickel

Watch This Traditional Liver and Onions Recipe

Tips for Buying Calves Liver

These days, calf livers are sold already sliced. However, if you have to buy them whole, remove the outer membrane, freeze them for a while to firm them up, and then slice them horizontally. They are rather flimsy and delicate and would be really hard to slice yourself without partially freezing them first.

Note that calves liver may be hard to find. You may have to special order it from your butcher.

How To Remove the Metallic Taste of Liver

Worried about your liver having a strong taste? Soak in milk or buttermilk! Place the liver slices in a shallow pan and pour in enough milk to cover. Refrigerate at least and hour or two. Drain and pat dry before dredging in the flour.

Alternately, you can soak soak your liver slices in lemon or lime juice, or even vinegar. The acid counterbalances the flavor of the liver.

Even if you don't have any milk or citrus juice, just soaking in water overnight will help mellow that strong liver flavor.

Great Side Dishes for Liver and Onions

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Liver and Onions

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Servings 4 servings

This recipe also works with lamb, venison, and elk liver.


  • 1/2 to 1 cup all purpose flour

  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika, or to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground dry mustard powder, or to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

  • 1 1/4 pound calves liver (4 slices) (be sure to use calf or veal liver, not mature beef liver)

  • 1 tablespoon bacon fat (or butter), divided

  • 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced


  1. Make the seasoned flour:

    Combine the flour, paprika, mustard powder, salt, and black pepper, and spread out on a shallow plate.

  2. Dredge the liver:

    Dredge the liver slices in the seasoned flour until completely covered on both sides. Set aside.

  3. Sauté the onions:

    Heat a large cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Add a teaspoon of the bacon fat (or butter). Sauté the onions until translucent, a couple of minutes. Remove onions from pan with a slotted spoon. Set aside onto a serving dish.

    Sliced onions cooking in a skillet to make a liver and onions recipe.
    Alison Bickel
  4. Fry the liver slices:

    Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of bacon fat (or butter) to the skillet. Working in batches, if necessary, add the liver slices. Fry until browned on both sides, no more than 3 to 4 minutes on each side.

    Serve hot with sautéed onions (and ketchup on the side!).

    A skillet with liver coated in flour to show how to cook liver.
    Alison Bickel
    A skillet with cooked liver inside to show how to cook liver.
    Alison Bickel
    A skillet with liver and onions recipe and ketchup.
    Alison Bickel
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
435 Calories
11g Fat
36g Carbs
45g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 435
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 564mg 188%
Sodium 251mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 36g 13%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 45g
Vitamin C 5mg 26%
Calcium 25mg 2%
Iron 11mg 60%
Potassium 616mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.