Eat your Tacos de Lengua, or else I will


Eat your Tacos de Lengua, or else I will

When it comes to eating meat, Mexico goes from nose to tail. From menudo to pancita, and from tostadas de pata to tacos de cabeza, not only do we know how to cook each part well, we go on to dress and celebrate it on the plate.

As for me, the only part I haven’t warmed up to is sesos. My dad tricked me into eating some, when I was Juju’s age, in a quesadilla from a street stand that he said was filled with potatoes (…caught you on the first bite, papi!).

No doubt, one of the most popular and tastiest parts is the tongue.

Not a fan? Then you just haven’t given it a real try. With abandon and an open mind.

Oh, what’s that? You tried it and haven’t been converted yet? Then I assure you, what you have tried wasn’t cooked right.

If you are not a meat eater…go ahead, skip this post. Or by the time you are done, you will have witnessed an ode to the tongue.

Take one of the simplest ways we prepare it: cooked in a gently simmering broth, seasoned with a subtle combination of herbs and spices, until utterly tender. Then it is peeled, diced, and given a quick sear along with chopped onions and a sprinkle of salt. It ends up a perfectly browned, melt in your mouth, crazy good tasting filling for tacos when generously spooned on warm corn tortillas

tacos de lengua

Having a gamey taste and that ridiculously tender texture, the best salsa to pair it with is a tangy and punchy cooked salsa verde

tacos de lengua with salsa

And a must: garnish with fresh, bright cilantro.

tacos de lengua with salsa and cilantro

Also a must: top it off with crunchy, sweet white onion.

finished tacos de lengua

That is your basic, most exquisite tongue taco.

After tacos de lengua, my favorite way of eating tongue is in a stew, either with salsa verde and potatoes or a la veracruzana. But we have to leave something for a next time…

Tongue Tacos

Tacos de Lengua
5 to 6 tacos
Pati Jinich
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beef, cilantro, corn tortillas, garlic, lime, onion, salsa verde, tongue
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
If you are not a meat eater…go ahead, skip this post. Or by the time you are done, you will have witnessed an ode to the tongue. Take one of the simplest ways we prepare it: cooked in a gently simmering broth, seasoned with a subtle combination of herbs and spices, until utterly tender. Then it is peeled, diced, and given a quick sear along with chopped onions and a sprinkle of salt. It ends up a perfectly browned, melt in your mouth, crazy good tasting filling for tacos when generously spooned on warm corn tortillas…


  • 1 whole beef tongue, about 3 to 4 pounds, cut into 2 to 3 pieces(ask the butcher or do it yourself)
  • 1 head of garlic outer dry peel removed, split in half horizontally
  • 1 white onion, outer peel removed, split in half horizontally
  • 5 whole dried bay leaves
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon kosher or coarse sea salt, plus more for seasoning
  • To taste freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion, divided, (1/4 for cooking with the meat and 1/4 to reserve for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves and upper part of stems, coarsely chopped
  • 1 batch of Cooked Salsa Verde
  • 1 lime, cut in quarters, optional garnish
  • 10 to 12 corn tortillas

To Prepare

  • Place tongue, garlic, onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, marjoram, thyme, oregano and 1 tablespoon salt in a casserole or soup pot. Cover with water up to 2 inches above the tongue.
  • Bring to a rolling boil over high heat, then reduce to a gentle medium simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 3 hours, or until the tongue is completely tender and soft. Check the water halfway through and add more hot water if need be to keep the tongue mostly covered.
  • Turn off the heat. Let cool slightly in the liquid until you are ready to eat.
  • Remove the tongue from the broth and place on a chopping board. Using a small sharp knife and your hands, remove the outer layer of skin, as well as the bottom part of the tongue, which would attach it to the mouth, as it tends to be harder and greasy. The tongue is easier to peel if it is still warm or hot.
  • Slice into 1/4-inch slices and cut into about a 1/4-inch dice.
  • Heat oil in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup of the chopped onion and cook for a couple minutes, until softened. Incorporate diced tongue, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and the onion has completely softened. Turn off the heat.
  • Heat corn tortillas on an already heated comal over medium heat. Make sure the tortillas are thoroughly heated and lightly browned on both sides. Place in a clean kitchen towel and wrap to keep warm, or keep in a tortilla warmer.
  • Place the tongue in a bowl and start assembling the tacos: spoon a generous amount of tongue in the middle of the tortilla, spoon a generous amount of salsa verde on top, and garnish with fresh chopped onion and cilantro. If desired, add a gentle squeeze of fresh lime juice.

111 comments on “Eat your Tacos de Lengua, or else I will

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  1. Lengua/tongue is very low in fat, making a lot of dietary sense, as well as being delicious! Just takes a long, slow cooking time.

  2. Thank you another wonderful recipe. I cannot wait to try. Yes worked with true Hispanic young men. We always shared food. Love this recipe I love that it is full of spices and ideas. Thank you Pati. You are the best

  3. We are so lucky to have spot in town that makes these. It is the only type I order from them.soooooooogood

  4. I made tongue all the time when my boys were small. It was cheap; (the), the loved it because it was easy to chew. they still love it. Many of my “gringo” friends were not really fans!!! I like it and everyone should try it.

  5. Recently I had this most wonderful tongue sandwich in a Jewish Deli. I have had tongue so many different ways, yet never as you have most graciously described for us. I look forward to making this meal for our daughters, my wife and me. Unlike your home, where males outnumber you. I live in a home where the women out number me and the pet dog is a female too.
    We are a blended family from such different cultural experiences, foods and traditions.

    Thank you for the recipe

  6. Pati what is your feeling on pickling tongue for a few days before cooking it? I was told it adds a more robust flavor-tho your recipe has most of the spices in it without having to wait 3 days. MY mom in law made a tasty red sauce from sauté chili de Arbol and onions but would never share the recipe.

    1. I’d think that you’d cook it in pickling liquid first or pickle it after cooking it and then… use it in many different ways? Don’t know about pickling raw…

  7. Thank you for this recipe. Tacos de lengua are my absolute favorite! I am definitely going to try your recipe. I like to cook my beef tongue overnight on low in the crock pot. It turns out perfect every time.

  8. My husband was born and raised in Guanajauto and Tacos de Lengua are one of his favorites, however, his gringa wife doesn’t have the slightest idea how to make it for him. Thanks to you, I now am ready to try my luck at this.I had to laugh when you mentioned Sesos, I watched my mother in law prepare it and I think I will let it be her “specialty” dish.

    1. Me and my wife grew up in El Paso Texas, we now live in San Diego and watch your show religiously. We make lengua every Halloween because it is my brother-in-laws birthday and we all love it. Your recipe is very similar to what we grew up with so I will try your exact recipe this year. Thank you for sharing all of your talents.

  9. This is delicious. Don’t be intimidated by the meat. It’s no weirder than eating pork belly which is bacon. I grew up occasionally eating tongue but my mother never made it as tasty as this recipe. PS – the leftover tongue makes a tasty sandwich, too.

  10. Patti! My husband & I salivate the entire length of your program. We especially enjoy when you visit Mexico and taste the wonderful “street vendor food.”
    We were discussing how amazing it would be for you to chaperone a “tour vacation” to Mexico. It could be available for your viewers to join you in your tasty adventures! Sign us up please! Give me some churros!! ?

  11. Hi Pati!

    Is cumin used in traditional Mexican cooking? I never use it, but wonder if some dishes might taste better with cumin. Thank you.

  12. Hola Pati, y saludos desde Vancouver!
    My wife and I are going to make fish tacos for Noche Buena this year. Do you have any suggestions for the meal? We are going to serve them with corn tortillas, crema, and shredded cabbage. What about salsas? Accompaniments?

  13. Hi Pati,
    I want to continue the tradition of making tamales for Christmas; however, some members of my family (including myself), have to watch our cholesterol. For this reason I am reluctant to use lard in the masa. Do you think coconut oil would be a good substitute? Do you have any suggestions as to how to make delicious and nutritious tamales?

    1. Vegetable shortening is a great substitute for lard and many brands have 0% cholesterol! (Check the label before buying…) Let me know how they turn out!

    2. Look up the latest recommendations for cholesterol. They’re finally admitting there is no reason to limit dietary cholesterol!

  14. Hi Pati! Yay! I’m so glad you posted this recipe. We just had lengua at a restaurant for the first time about a month ago. I’ve been thinking about it since then. Can you cook this is a slow cooker instead of a pot on the stove? I cook pork shoulder to use in tacos in my slow cooker all the time. It seems that tough cuts get especially tender when I cook them low and slow. My whole family watches your show! We are fortunate to live in San Antonio so finding ingredients is never a problem. Thanks again for such a wonderful show and for sharing for your talent and knowledge with us. I really can’t wait to try this!

  15. Pati, I started watching your show earlier this year. I am Mexican/American growing up only in the US. I learned to cook from my mother, but not extensively. So I only cooked American food learning from recipes using processed products. I never grew up liking chiles and stayed away from it at all cost. Now, watching you and learning from you I have made a handful of your recipes and my family loves it. I have learned to love cooking with different types of chiles and it is all because of you. My cooking has life and flavor now! I just recently bought your cookbook and I hope you come out with dvd’s. I learn much more by watching you. Your show doesn’t show in Texas anymore (well not where I live in Dallas) so I am so sad about that. Estoy muy triste. Cada Sabado a las 11am era mi tiempo de verte en la tele. Y ya no puedo. I thank you for sharing your expertise, your time and your show. Que Dios te Bendiga. Gracias. All my best – Mary Lus…

  16. Hi Pati, [ YOUR AWESOME ] can’t tell you how happy i was to find your tv show. I’ve tried several of your recipes and they have all turned out Fantastic,My friends and family think i actually know what im doing in the kitchen and i owe it all to you and your recipes. However im having one problem i hope you can help me with. When i fry my corn tortillas to make tostadas they turn out chewy instead of crispy. Can you give me any tips on how to correct this problem. Cant wait for your next epasode, Thanks Pati

  17. Hello Pati, I want to do something else besides a traditional Thanksgiving dinner this year. Love your recipes; therefore, please let me know what you serve for this holiday? Thank you very much.

  18. No question, just a big thank you for your recipes and emails. Hard to swallow without drooling over your cooking. I enjoy your site and always try to watch your show on television. Your family is very lucky that they have you. Thanks again, Ed (I am roasting Anaheim chilies since having problems buying the 29 ounce cans this year, I have about 50 pounds to go!)(yummy)

  19. Hi Pati,

    I enjoy your show very much and have recently purchased your first cookbook so I could follow your recipes from the PB shows! But for some reason they never seem to match or be listed in the book! What am I doing wrong? With other shows, I’m able to follow them. Why not with yours? Please help. I do not want to stop watching your show!!!

    Muchas gracias!!!

    1. Thank you for tuning into the show and for purchasing my first book! All of the recipes from the show are listed here on the site so you can follow. I have a new cookbook coming out in April that will also feature many recipes from the recent episodes! =)

  20. Hola Pati,
    Que emocion escribirte! Soy una super fan tuya, mi familia yo siempre vemos tu show. Eres casi parte de nuestra familia, mis bebes bailan y se emocionan cuando esta tu show 🙂 Nos encantan tus recetas, y ya quiero que salga tu nuevo libro! No hay comida mas rica que la autentica Mexicana. Cuando vienes a San Antonio? No tienes una receta de empanadas de cajeta?

  21. Hi Pat, love your recipes and your show just got the recipe for Tongue Tacos thanks for sending it to me as you know my husband’s from Uruapan Mexico and has told me how delicious they are. God Bless you.

    1. Hola! Definitely try your local Latin market or natural foods store. If that yields no results, is always a great resource!

    1. Hola Jennie! I try to watch my rice closely. First you must bring the water to a boil, cover it, then reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting. It usually takes around 15-20 minutes for the broth or water I’m cooking it in to absorb and for the rice to cook through. If the rice grains don’t seem soft and cooked through after about 20 minutes or so, I would add a bit more chicken stock or water and let it cook for another 5 more minutes. After this, remove the pan from the heat and let the rice sit covered for 5-10 more minutes. Then fluff with a fork! Here are some recipes:

  22. Dear Pati,
    what is the best way to do almond torts with real almond taste, the way to feel the almond taste when I bite the tart. I dont like almonds spreads on the top just the real creamy test?
    Thank you in advance,

  23. Hi pati, I am one of your biggest fans, and my question is, one day on your show can you show how to buy and make soft chicharon with mild chile.. it is one of my favorite’s and if you can will you send me an email on the date and time it will show. I like to eat it on a plate but it is better in a burrito..

    1. Hi Henry, I LOVE chicharrón en salsa as well. And of course I will try to add. It is very simple to make: in any salsa of your choice, heated up, you break the chicharrón into pieces and let it soak and heat a little. Done!

  24. Pati;
    Do you have a Avocado Sauce recipe to be used for Shrimp Tacos?

    I really enjoy your show and recipe’s. Thank you for sharing

    1. Thanks so much for tuning in! I do not have an avocado sauce recipe specifically for shrimp tacos yet, but I will try to post one soon!

  25. Please tell me the name of the wonderful theme song on your t.v. show. What is the translation, as I love to sing along every
    Saturday while I watch your show on PBS. Love the show and have made several of your recipes…much to my friends’ delight!!

  26. Hola Pati!
    I love your cookbook, newsletter and videos, especially for your corn tortillas.
    I found your recipe for making flour tortillas, but I can not find a video.
    Do you have one? Or would you make one? Please post it in your next newsletter. Or if possible, send me the YouTube link for it.
    Thank you so much!
    Nancy Schrock

    1. Hola Nancy! I do not have a video for this yet, but I will try to record and post one soon! Thank you so much for writing to me!

  27. Saludos Pati:
    I love watching your cooking shows, I have learned a great deal from you. I need to ask if you have a recipe for menudo? I have never made it, and would like to try making it. thank you.

  28. Hello Pati,my wife and I are big fans. I grow wonderful corn in Maine and grind my own cornmeal. I am considering soaking some in hydrated pickling lime to create the authentic masa harina. Any advice or opinions on if it is worth the effort.

    1. That is definitely labor intensive but well worth your effort. There are special machines that are sold for nixtamalizing and grinding corn, online. Of all sizes. Search online and see if you find something that would suit your needs if you are considering doing this on a regular basis…

  29. Pati, I run a family childcare for 16 years and I need new kid friendly meals. Do you have any suggestions and or do you have a site where I can look at? Greatly appreciate your help.

  30. Pati,
    Just picked a lot of tomatillos from my garden. This is the first year I have grown them and have never made salsa verde. Could I can your recipe for salsa verde – meaning putting in jars and water bath it? The recipe I have calls for vinegar and cumin. Would like to try your recipe if possible. Thanks!

  31. Hola Paty me encanta tu programa vivo en el paso tx. No habló inglés entiendo poco pero si pongo atención me han salido tus recetas sobre todo los postres. Mmmm

  32. Hola Pati, as a kid my parents would take us with them to camp on the beaches of Ensenada,BC. We got to go shopping in town with mom. Two things I always looked for and this was in the 50’s. Ensenada had not exploded into what it is now. I always looked for the cart that sold those big white clams served in the shell with a pico de Gallo, lemon juice bottle Chile and a little ketchup. The other the other cart I looked for a man who sold vanilla ice cream cones in a push cart. For years I tried to make that ice cream but could not find the special taste. Now I’m thinking could it be Mexican canela what do you think? Have you ever had anything like that? I love your cooking show. Con todo respeto, Alberto Martinez

  33. instead of saflower or corn oil, I would like to use olive oil which I found to be healthier? will it be alright or will the taste change to a considerable degree? or is the nutritional factor the same? Thanks

  34. Hola Pati,

    Love your new book! Can you please tell me if you have the recipe to hojarasca Mexican cookies?
    I tried them at a bakery recently and fell in love with them. Thank you so much!

    1. Puedes hacer toda la cantidad y recalentar! O puedes hacer la mitad. Lo que pasa es que por lo general se venden las lenguas enteras y más o menos eso es lo que pesan… Pero queda muy rico recalentado en los próximos días también…

  35. Salsa de Arboles. Served with tacos at a stand on the beach.
    Salulita, Mex. My son loved the the salsa and we were told it was made with arbol chiles and oil. I tried that and needs something, would like to duplicate the salsa. Can you help


  36. Hi Pati! I am looking for a good tortilla press, do you have a favorite or can you recommend a good one. Thank you,I enjoy watching your show!

  37. Hi Pati
    Can you suggest a substitute for tomatillos? The substitute I came across is unripe tomatoes with lime or lemon but it is claimed to be a poor substitute. I live in this part of the world where it is impossible to get it. I may consider growing but in the meantime any solution ?

    1. Oh no… truth is, it is hard to find a good substitute.. have your tried finding canned? Not as good as fresh, but in a pinch they work. Or else, yes, green tomatoes do the trick. But I suggest you ask your grocer, they are becoming more and more accesible and are very easy to grow.

  38. Tacos de lengua are my absolute favorite!! My mom never made lengua but my aunt did and that’s when I fell in love with it! The flavor is so rich and the texture is smooth and soooo tender! I agree with you Pati; if you’ve never tried it, prepared the correct way, you don’t know what you’re missing. Also, if you didn’t know that you were eating lengua, you’d probably think you were eating some of the most tender roast beef ever! Give it a try!

  39. Hi Pati!

    I miss your show, I missed the Mexican (fruit) gazpacho recipe. I make the Spanish version. (which can be as varied as there are Spaniards) Would you please send it to me?

  40. When I was in Texas last year we went to little Mexican restaurant were we had a deep fried bun with chicken, lettuce and cilantro is there a recipe for this bun

  41. I’ve never made tamales, but I want to try your recipes for the holidays. I told a few of my friends who are Latin and they all said to be sure that the masa flour I buy is for making tamales. I never thought that there was more than one kind of masa flour. Could you kindly explain the differences? Thanks so very much!!! 🙂

  42. Hi Pati,
    With Christmas coming I usually make traditional pork tamales and tamale pie with my mom. I would love to see how you make tamales. I am not a fan of sweet tamales so any other would be fine. Muchas Gracias

  43. Pati,
    you need to come to Las Vegas!!!
    por favor, DC is way to far from west coast LATINOS
    i hope you will consider this trip…
    we love you!!
    Dios te bendiga