I mentioned before how much of a superfood liver is and how little of it we have been consuming. It was time to grin and bear it, however, given the health-promoting properties of the offal.

By using some of the tips provided by you in the comments and through my own research I came up with a simple, familiar recipe that my family actually liked. And from here on out I will be preparing liver using these guidelines.

1. Soak It In Acidic Water

I read this in several places, including Nourishing Traditions. One of the toughest (pun intended) things to get past about liver is the texture, which is much more dense than meat. The acidity seems to break down the liver and make it more palatable.

To Do: Simply place your cut up liver in a bowl, barely cover with water and add the juice of a lemon or a tablespoon or two of vinegar. Soak for a few hours before cooking, drain and pat dry.

2. Do Not Overcook It.

In fact err on the side of just undercooked. Even though the lemon juice makes the liver a bit more tender, overcooking can really ruin it. I cooked mine until it just had a hint of pinkness left, and then removed it from the heat.

To Do: Cut the liver in thin strips and fry only a few minutes on each side. It should be a touch pink inside when you remove it from the heat. The residual heat of the pan will finish the job for you.

3. Use A Lot of Cooking Fat.

Fat carries flavors, which is why it makes things taste so good. It is also good for you, in case you’re worried about that. I recommend an animal fat like bacon drippings, lard, tallow, an unflavored coconut oil.

To Do: Use somewhere between 1/3 to 1/2 cup of fat per pound of liver + flavorings.

4. Cook It With Lots of Flavorful Ingredients.

Liver has a distinct and strong flavor that is tough for some to get over. Cooking it with pungent foods really tones down the "liverness" of the dish.

To Do: I believe onions and garlic are almost a necessity when cooking liver. Also try bacon, chilies, and aromatic herbs like thyme or sage.

5. When All Else Fails, Pass the Ketchup.

I grew up eating liver with ketchup, so I had some at the ready. The strong sweet-sour flavor really tames the liver flavor.

To Do: Try to avoid high fructose corn syrup by buying organic. Or make your own. Add enzymes with a lacto-fermented ketchup. Sugar-free barbecue sauce is another great option.

I used the above guidelines to cook beef liver last week and my husband asked for seconds. In times past he either choked it down or took a bite and said no thanks. It was a big moment in the nourishing days home.

And did I mention he ate the leftovers cold for lunch the next day?

Tomorrow I will share my recipe for beef liver that my husband really liked. And this week we are moving on to experimenting with chicken liver pate.

{photo credit}  ::  this post is a contribution to kitchen tip tuesday


28 Responses to Five Tips For Cooking Liver That Had My Husband Going Back For Seconds

  1. Peggy says:

    Bacon! Cook the liver in bacon fat and sprinkle each serving with cooked bacon!


  2. Alissa says:

    You’ve inspired me to overcome my fear of liver. What’s the use in buying it if you can’t swallow it? Thanks Shannon–looking forward to your recipe!


  3. Heather says:

    If my husband ever ate liver it would have to be at gunpoint! Although he is a big fan of bacon, maybe I’ll try that and just not tell him what it is……


  4. So if I buy natural ketchup without HFCS (Trader Joes brand) , can I lactoferment it after I bring it home? I’ve always wondered this…. Would it make it healthier?


    Shannon Reply:

    Jana – I am not sure about fermenting already prepared ketchup. Most recipes call for making it yourself and fermenting it. I will share a recipe soon!


  5. I need these tips! This is one of my goals right now. Thanks! Good thing I just ordered a big thing of organic ketchup, huh? :)


    Shannon Reply:

    Stephanie – I’m so glad these tips are useful for you. Ketchup can cover up a multitude of least favorite foods :) .


  6. Donna C. says:

    I usually don’t mind liver. But, then I started reading NT, and a lady gave me some organic beef liver. I soaked it, and cooked it as usual, with onions. It was so mushy, it made me gag! Any thoughts or suggestions, since I still have 15 or so of these livers left?


  7. Rebecca says:

    I throw in some brandy too… it contributes to the flavour-masking-effect :) .


  8. I decided I like it best in a sandwich, with a garlicy spread. Ketchup is what I”ll try next- I need a grain free way to eat liver :)


  9. Great tips! I mentioned our favorite way to prepare (disguise) chicken livers in my blog post today, too!



    Shannon Reply:

    Michele – Great post! I need to do that more often too. We don’t love liver but are willing to eat it due to the nutrients. I think I will try pureeing and then freezing into ice cubes to add randomly to things. Thanks!


  10. Kim says:

    This is for beef liver – soak overnight in buttermilk – then fry up some bacon & onions, LOTS of onions – then the liver, it doesn’t need to be cooked too long or you will end up with shoe leather!


    Shannon Reply:

    Kim – Buttermilk, interesting. I know when I dip chicken in buttermilk and then cook it it always is so tender. Thanks for sharing!


  11. [...] Five Tips For Cooking Liver That Had My Husband Going Back For Seconds [...]

  12. ValerieH says:

    Thanks for this! I grew up eating liver. My mom treated it as though it was just another meal. I don’t remember anyone making a fuss about it. My kids don’t like it. I have considered grinding it and mixing it into hamburger to get the nutrition into them. However, it is far better to teach them to eat it. Maybe I should do both until they are more accepting of it. I love grilled onions but only 1 of my kids will eat them. I’m going to try generous bacon grease and finger size pieces.

    Ketchup is good advice. We ran out of HFCS ketchup and I made my own from Nourishing Traditions. I think it’s a good condiment but it is too tomato-paste-y to be ketchup. Maybe I’ll try using it to make BBQ sauce.

    My favorite chicken liver pate recipe is in Eat Fat Lose Fat book.


  13. Barbara says:

    I grew up eating and loving to eat liver, but my family refuses. Especially my husband who wants me to find out how liver can be good for you when it is the gland that eliminates harmful chemicals and detoxes environmental toxins from our bodies.

    I’m not playing devil’s advocate; I just want to understand why eating liver is good for you! Can you help me?



    Shannon Reply:

    Hi Barbara,

    Funny you should ask because I wrote a Q&A about liver that addresses just that misconception. You can find it here: http://www.nourishingdays.com/2010/06/liver-qa-why-liver-is-not-full-of-toxins-and-where-to-find-good-liver/


  14. Debbie says:

    I am so glad to find your site! This post on how to cook liver is just what the doctor ordered! Thanks!


  15. [...] Adventures in Nutrient-Dense Superfoods: The Liver Edition. I’m not kidding. I’ll let you know how it goes Cancel [...]

  16. Robin says:

    We harvested a deer during an exceptionally bad drought and she was very thin. We cooked her liver and it was really weird and mushy no matter how long it cooked it never even got tough. It was the most annoying thing. Maybe the starvation state caused changes in her liver that made it that way. We gave up on it. Any one else ever run into mushy liver?


  17. Ernie says:

    I Love Liver!
    An important (actually crucial) tip my mother taught me about cooking liver?
    NEVER cook the onions in the same pan! The extracted carmelized or burned bits of onion impart a sour nasty taste into the Liver.
    I prefer thick slices soaked in milk (usually overnight) and then drain the milk and use a tablespoon or more of olive oil added back then weather permitting BBQ the liver outdoors over charcoal or in the winter on our Jenn air grill. I use medium heat and usually not more than 2-3 minutes per side leaving it pink in the middle. I use a sharp knife to chech to insure I DO NOT Overcook.
    In a pan while waiting for the grill to heat I render some fatty bacon (or pancetta if you have) then add some butter and onion rings to saute or add a pinch of sugar and a few drops of wine vinegar to carmelize for about 10-15 minutes.
    Serve ton a bed of braised spinich, dress with black or white freshly ground pepper………to die for!

    Try this ONCE you will be converted


  18. Barbara says:

    Cook the liver in melted butter at high heat about halfway, then splash just a bit of milk in with the liver so it begins boiling and turn the heat to medium, sprinkle generously with rosemary, and let simmer to boil off the liquid, turning often. Cook until faintly pink in the centers only. Apply some soy sauce just before removing from heat and serve. It will be tender, savory, and delicious.


  19. Yasmin says:


    Great post, amazing information! I was just wondering: do you know if soaking the liver in the acid water combination removes the vitamins? You always hear people saying you shouldn’t cook vegetables in water as all the vitamins and minerals end up leeking into the water so I can’t help but wonder if it that dosn’t happen when you’re soaking the liver?

    Thanks a lot!
    Kind regards,


  20. […] liver with bacon and onions makes it delectable, as do these tips for cooking liver. Adding a layer of garlic-laden marinara sauce adds one more layer of flavor to balance out that […]

  21. Dr.Soe Khine says:

    Use a cooking thermometer.


  22. Jonathan says:

    Also try eating with cooked carrot, along with sugar onion and bacon. they all seem to tone down the intensity of liver.
    Try cooking with cream and maple syrup also.


  23. Marlyn says:

    I am anemic and have to eat liver. To make it palatable, I put it into the blender with eggs to make a pate.


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