Going Paleo? This is the best liver recipe ever.

A lot of people are taking up Paleo diets these days, which consist of meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts, NO sugar and only small amounts of starch. It has inspired a lot of creative recipes using replacements for sugars and starches, and some of them are downright fantastic (check out my friends at Chowstalker.com for some of the best recipes, guaranteed Paleo-friendly.)

After a while, Paleos realize there is only so much steak and bacon a body can really eat, and they often start looking for healthier alternatives to that porterhouse steak or bacon-wrapped chicken breast. After all, if you buy it in a store, liver is inspected closer than your average steak or burger meat (plus, you know, no pink slime), and contains a boatload of vitamins, minerals and protein. It also contains a lot less fat and calories than most meat (before the bacon, anyway).  After I did a recent blog post on a delectable smoked chicken liver paté, I was contacted by many of them who wanted to eat more liver but simply didn’t like the taste of it.

Much of this reaction is simply psychological in my opinion. My sister and I ate liver all the time when we were kids, and LOVED IT, because we ate it before anyone told us we were supposed to hate it. I remember going to a restaurant when I was about 8, and my little sister and I ordered liver and onions off of the adult menu, prompting the waitress to look warily at my mother and ask “is this a joke?” Nope, mom told her, bring it on. They will eat every bite.

Part of it is also that my mom knows how to cook and make it so delicious we couldn’t help it. How, you ask? Same way you make everything tasty: bacon.

Best Beef Liver Ever

(This can also be made with chicken livers. Feel free to substitute different types of bacon, or to add more garlic, herbs, etc. This is just the way I like it.)

  • about 2 lbs. of beef liver, sliced
  • one large onion, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, diced
  • handful of sliced mushrooms
  • 5-6 slices of bacon
  • salt and pepper, other herbs or spices to taste

First, crisp the bacon in a big skillet (I recommend using a deep cast-iron skillet if you have one). Once the bacon is cooked most of the way, add the onions and garlic.

Then add mushrooms, as well as any other herbs and additional flavorings you might like to taste (like rosemary, parsley, thyme, garlic powder, paprika, or chili pepper).

Then scoot all of that to the side of your skillet and sear the liver slices on each side (for about one minute). Once the meat is seared on both sides, pile the onions, mushrooms and bacon on top of the liver, turn the heat down to medium and let the meat cook through for 5-10 minutes.

This will ensure a nice caramelized sear on the meat, as well as making sure it all cooks through.


liver recipe card

144 thoughts on “Going Paleo? This is the best liver recipe ever.

  1. I’m with you – LOVED it as a kid because I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to. I would ask for it for my birthday dinner and my mother would have to remind me that whoever I was inviting over would probably not be so enthusiastic about my choice. I will be giving this version a try, but can’t imagine it is anything but awesome! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just picked up some liver at the farmers market and this looks like a great recipe. Do you marinate your liver at all? I’ve seen some folks soak it in lemon (or even milk) before they cook it.


  3. the soaking is to remove any taint i was always led to believe. i do it with milk and soaking kidneys to remove any odour! i don’t think milk affects the flavour as you rinse the meat after a soaking. lemon i think would start to cook it in the acid, and you’d get lemon in the flavour. but i live in the UK where Palaeo hasn’t caught on yet …


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  5. This recipe is amazing! I’ve always loved beef liver and my mom made it often went i was little. I want my kids to eat it also. All 3 kids loved it, even my 11 month old. Hubby said it was the best I’ve made so far. I will be making this more. I did add freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little sherry when i was frying the liver. Thanks for a delicious recipe 🙂


  6. I just made this recipe as my first ever attempt at cooking liver. I was honestly terrified that I was going to screw it up horribly, but it was actually very easy to make! NGL, it still wasn’t my favorite—I think eating liver is going to take some acquiring of taste. I did finish my whole serving though, and didn’t gag even once. For an amateur liver eater, I’d call that a win 😀


    • Haha! I’m so glad you were able to choke it down! Just think of all of the minerals and vitamins you just nommed — your body is thanking you!
      Maybe next time try it with chicken livers, they’re a milder flavor and go just as well with this recipe. 🙂


  7. this is a recipe i’ll try. i’ve never liked liver, regardless of the many ’you will love it done this way’ efforts of friends and family over the years.

    i get my beef (grass fed) from a neighbour. since few folks like organs, the heart, liver (and tongue) are also saved for me. for free! the heart and tongue, i love. the liver, not so much.

    so, i hope this one makes me a liver lover. the liver arrives in 4 days!


  8. I tried it today, very yummy, should have used more mushrooms though but the mix was perfect. Definitely making it again.
    I soak offal in filtered water and lemon juice or raw milk. From what I have been told, milk gives offal a “softer” texture, both help remove impurities and get rid of the bitter taste.


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  10. I’ve been wanting to try liver again since I’ve gone paleo, but have been reluctant to try it again, since I have never liked it. This recipe was amazing. I could eat this in place of steak and be happy with it. I’ll be adding more mushrooms next time as well though. Thank you much!


  11. I’m having this for lunch tomorrow. I do have a question about the liver though. You don’t mention how thick it is. All we can normally get is pre-packaged cut no more than 1/4″ thick. It’s difficult to get a little browning on both sides before it’s cooked through. After 5-10 minutes I fear it would be fit only for shoe leather.
    I too have tried the milk treatment but found that it rendered calves liver nearly tasteless. Perhaps it’s necessary if you’ve gotten hold of the liver of a really old animal?


    • I’ve never soaked mine in milk so I wouldn’t know about the difference; I have heard that it takes away a lot of the iron-y and blood-y flavor. Since that is what liver generally tastes like, then of course eliminating that taste would eliminate all tastes.
      As far as the thickness, I usually get them about 1/4 inch thick, but I move them around on the skillet a lot and watch the heat, so it’s actually quite tender. Just keep an eye on the flame. 🙂


  12. I just made a version of this – it was my first time eating liver!! What’s the big deal? It just tastes like meat…. I didn’t have any mushrooms, but they’d be perfect with the other ingredients, and i will use them next time i make this – cause there will definitely be a next time. I’ve been paleo since March, but have put off trying organs cause they’re unfamiliar to me. No longer! For herbs, i added rosemary and sage and it was really good.


  13. My favorite liver is rabbit liver. Oh, I’ll eat other livers (goat, sheep, pig, cow, chicken), but rabbit has the best flavor by far. 🙂

    I’ll be trying this recipe next week. Thanks!


  14. I wish my mom had this recipe when I was growing up. We had liver and onions, but it was always overcooked and got my butt smacked more than once because I refused to eat it. I just went Paleo a few weeks ago and thought I’d give liver another try. Maybe the bacon had something to do with it, but this tasted pretty good. Not sure that I’d class it as just as good as a steak, but I know it is good for me so I’m willing to do it. I have enough leftovers to try it reheated tomorrow and I guess it is a major success that I don’t mind eating it again!


  15. with all these comments i have to try! was looking for a change in my liver and onions, just to make some thing different… but are you not cooking the liver a bit long? i so don’t like overcooked liver 🙂


  16. I want to give this recipe a try but I am not really a fan of mushrooms. Do you think brussel sprouts would work well in their place?



  17. Your method is the way I normally make liver for my family also. There are never leftovers.
    Sometimes for a little variety, I dice up apples instead of mushrooms. I add the apples in last because they cook down quickly. Last time I used apples, instead of the usual herbs, I used some fresh chopped mint leaves. Yes, mint! It gave the liver a light & lively lift, and everybody liked it!
    When I didn’t have bacon handy, I’ve added red wine while cooking the liver, and that was great too. The liver picked up the wine flavor.
    I cut the liver into strips, fork-size, easy to spear, and requiring very little cooking time.
    I love the ease of this dish, as well as the nutritional content.
    Everything goes into one pan, and in a few minutes, you have a powerful plateful of goodness.


  18. My wife keeps telling me I should try liver but the thought of it makes me feel ill. But your recipe sounds quite nice so maybe I should just ‘get over it’ and try it out.


  19. Making this tonight! We bought some lamb liver at the farmer’s market and we are really nervous but I’m throwing in some turkish figs and sherry…hope it’s the right combo 🙂


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  21. I’ve always liked liver, but never tried to cook it on my own. This is easy and delicious. I’ll definitely make that again!


  22. I am trying this for tonight’s dinner, can’t wait to taste it. I’ve always loved liver, any way.
    Ruth Isenogle


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  25. Thanks for this recipe! You’re right bacon is the cure all to make ANYTHING taste better! Thank your mom for me. I just found out I’m a bit anemic and perimenopausal so I need to incorporate liver into my diet at least once a month or maybe every other week. I can already taste the maple bacon, onions, cayenne pepper and mushrooms! Going to try it tonight as an experience. Question, which is better beef liver or chicken liver, in iron content? Also, does eating it have a more “friendly” effect on the GI track? Again thanks!


    • I am not certain, but I believe the beef liver is better for you in terms of iron content, but both are equally delicious in my opinion. I’m so glad you liked the recipe … I’ll mention it to Mama. 🙂


    • I’ve been researching iron a lot lately and, surprisingly enough, chicken liver actually has a considerably higher iron content. Who woulda thunk it?! (As a side-note, calcium is one of the many things that competes with iron for absorption in the body, so I would think soaking it in milk might not be a good idea! Lemon, however, would be perfect, because Vitamin C aids in iron absorption by quite a bit!)


  26. Delicious! I dumped a bag of cleaned and cut collard greens on top at the end and stir-fried it for 5 mins or so to make it a meal. Question, do you cut up your liver (the 1/4 inch slices) into bite-sized pieces or leave it intact?


    • Ooh yummy, I will have to try that next time!
      I usually serve the slices of liver (plus the pieces of bacon, etc.) intact on the plate and then people can cut it up as they eat it. If it’s beef liver. Obviously the chicken livers are much smaller so they are usually bite-sized — or one big bite. 🙂


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  28. I made this with rabbit liver. It was very easy and delish! I am new to the paleo lifestyle and I am eating meats I have never had before. I am glad I found this blog


  29. I almost always order liver if its on a menu because I’m determined to learn to like it. This was the best liver I’ve ever had by far, but I’m still not a liver fan. My BF thought it was fantastic, but was already okay with liver. I’ll probably still make it once a month since I get some gorgeous grass-fed livers locally for CHEAP.


  30. Thank you! I tried liver once before and wasn’t really a fan, but I wanted to give it another go so I made this tonight and it was delicious – I even made the Balsamic-Fig compote in Practical Paleo to have on the side as a safety catch but I didn’t want, let alone need, it!


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  32. Oh my God. I just made this for my family, who has never eaten liver before and liked it. My husband found it tolerable (he’s been wanting to eat more liver and will stick to this recipe), and my 2 young boys LOVED it!! One said that he could eat a million pieces of it, it was so good! And this is coming from one of the pickiest eaters ever. Thank you for sharing this!!


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  35. My mom’s favorite dish was liver and onions. We never had to eat it, I think because my dad never ate it. One time when I was about 8 I ate at the neighbor’s and somehow I choked down the liver so I could have the strawberry shortcake dessert. That was the last time I ate it and that was over 55 years ago. This last year I have been slowly trying different recipes. I agree this is the best liver recipe ever. …as long as I have a little of the other ingredients with every bite, I actually liked it. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks so much.


  36. I Googled a few liver recipes and decided on this one. I had all the ingredients minus the mushrooms but I didn’t want to wait. only thing I changed was marinating/soaking the liver in milk then right b4 putting to sear I dipped the liver in oat flour. it came out better than I expected. my mom took seconds (so did I).My 16yo son ate it without even asking what it was. I’m afraid to tell him! I’ll tell him tomorrow after he eats it again when I make it again with mushrooms!!


  37. Def not psychological for all of us. I had my first liver around age 5 was immediately and violently sick. The baseline flavor of liver doesn’t bother me or the texture, just that back of the throat acrid taste that sets me off. I’ve had German made liverwurst spread that I found delightful on crackers but since it lacks that one specific taste I now know it’s the source of my problem. I did learn today reading the comments that milk might go a long way to allowing me to make liver recipes without that taste so I’ll try it.


  38. If you don’t like chicken liver, you might consider trying the livers of pastured roosters. They are very different than hen livers. They are a rich red color, have a dry surface, and just need a touch of frying on both sides. http://wp.me/p44c6k-4V


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  40. I had never had beef liver before. I got some as part of a quarter beef I bought from my uncle. Though I think I probably would have liked it anyway, this recipe is downright delicious!! Thank you for sharing!


  41. Omg I just made this and it was absolutely delicious will definitely be making it again!! I used lambs liver because I couldn’t get calves liver fresh but it seemed to work just as well!! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂


  42. I’ve only ever had basic liver and onions at restaurants – never homemade… My husband made this recipe last night, and it was the best liver i’ve ever had – sooooooo delicious! THANK YOU!

    BTW – He cut the liver into small strips and chunks, and after searing, only cooked it for 5 more minutes – it was perfect 🙂


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  59. I haven’t made liver in eons, but your recipe inspired me to make it again as I do enjoy it. It turned out fabulously and I will make it again, no doubt!


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  75. This is the way I learned from my grand mother, and her recipe came from her mother!!! I thought everyone cooked liver this way!!!! (We like more onions though)


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  78. I just have to balance things out a bit with a critical review. Not critical of the recipe, but critical of the idea that liver haters will be converted with this or any other recipe. I am a healthful, open-minded, broad palate 42-year old. I remember having to soak my mother’s liver and onions in ketchup and hold my nose to get it down. I expected this recipe to help me eat liver, which has been purported to be full of nutrition, but I just gagged it down- with copious amounts of ketchup! Sorry, but I just wanted to temper people’s expectations before they try to fix their relationship with this vile organ meat. Blech!


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  80. Thank you for sharing this recipe! I think some people biologically, maybe because of body pH or other body chemistry going on, just react differently to liver than others. For years my husband and I have only been able to eat liver by pureeing it after it was cooked with onions and then swallowing it in bites with liquid, like a pill, so as not to taste it. If it touches our tongues we have automatic gag reflexes. It’s not mental for us. We love the physical benefits we experience that liver gives us and eat it regularly for that…and for years we’ve hoped we can eventually adjust to it. We’ve *wanted* to like it, but the horrid reflex hasn’t gone away. It’s slowly gotten better, though, over five years. When I first began eating liver, even days later I’d wake up in the middle of the night to foul liver burps. I wasn’t thinking about it; it wasn’t mental. Then I got to the point of eating it without plugging my nose, and recently could tolerate tiny bits on my tongue with minimal automatic shuddering if they accidentally got there, but when I tried a whole bite, I was dry heaving and retching it back up (sorry for gross description). We raised our own pigs this year on our cow’s raw milk, pasture, hay, and sprouted barely grass fodder and the livers from them were the first I actually ever liked. They were tasty! So, I had hope that somehow I had just adjusted and grassfed beef liver wouldn’t make me gag and shudder. Nope. Still happened, numerous different times. Some of our kids like liver, and some of them really struggle with it like my husband and I do. We made your recipe tonight, added apples and wine, and I was AMAZED. I could eat it like steak!!! I can put liver on my tongue??!!! Chew it like normal food??!!! Some bites had a liver aftertaste that made me cringe, but I could chew and eat and enjoy this like food even still. It was a tasty, enjoyable meal. Whoah. Did I just say that about liver?? The kids all devoured and loved it (all eight of them, from toddler to teen). I am anemic and so need to eat liver frequently. I was even shredding it and swallowing it raw to try and get my iron levels up. That was easier and less awful tasting than when cooked, for whatever reason, but I did get headaches from it and had to stop doing that. Our whole family is very grateful to find a recipe that we actually enjoy. Thank you!!


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  82. when i was young my mother would take leftover liver and grind it up and add mayo and lots of sweet pickles. makes for a great sandwich spread.


  83. I think one of the biggest issues many people have with liver is that they’ve only ever had overcooked liver. My mother would cook liver to the point we had to drown it in ketchup to choke it down. It was awful, dry and crumbly and totally tasteless. I had sworn off liver the day I moved out, however, that changed when I tried rabbit liver. We raise our own rabbits, normally I throw the “nasty bits” to the dogs, but I was looking at this beautiful, healthy liver and thought… ya know, mom WAS an awful cook. Maybe? I made pate with it, and OMG. Have since made beef liver w peppers and onions, and now I know. Liver is great, when you ruin it before it ever reaches the plate. (And rabbit is hands down the best! It’s almost sweet!)


  84. Why does the liver need to be fried clear through? having liver medium/pink in the middle makes it more tender and less like shoe leather. Indians and mountain men used to eat fresh and raw direct from a newly killed buffalo and especially liked it dipped in gall from the animals gall bladder. Kind of hard to try gall these days unless you are butchering your own animal. Anyway keep liver medium and I believe you will find it tastes better. Thanks.


  85. I made this tonight with elk liver. Since I didn’t know how it was prepared when it was butchered, I cleaned the liver, slicing into ½” pieces, before soaking in milk for 6 hours. I tripled the garlic because mine was getting old & added 1½ cups of sliced mushrooms to the mix after the bacn was cooked. After browning the liver I put another 1½ cups of sliced mushrooms & about 8 large, fresh, brussel sprouts on the bottom of the pan. Next, I covered that with the liver & finally added the bacon, onion, garlic & mushroom mix to the top. I let the whole thing simmer on medium for 25 minutes. The ½” pieces required more cooking time. It is fantastic! I love liver! Thank you all for the suggestions!


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