pickled beef tongue

Pickled Beef Tongue

Beef tongue has been prepared and eaten in different regions of the world since ancient times. Beef tongue is found in many cuisines that make up the Coal Region including Eastern European, German and Pennsylvania Dutch, English, Italian, and Mexican to name a few. 

In Russian cuisine the cooked beef tongue is sliced and served cold for “zakuska” (a starter) by itself or as a part of assorted cold meats platter. Tongue can be roasted, boiled, barbecued, smoked, or pickled.

Although it might seem intimidating, cooking beef tongue is quite simple to do. It is tender and delicious and can be served on a sandwich, with mustard and/or horseradish sauce.

Some pickled beef tongue recipes call for “pink salt” aka potassium nitrate in the brine which helps the meat retain its pink color (think corned beef or salamis), but this one does  not. 

Some cooks prepare it by doing nothing more than cooking the tongue in salted water, cleaning it, slicing it, pouring pure vinegar over it in a jar and allowing it to marinate.

Pickled Beef Tongue

Recipe by A Coalcracker in the KitchenCourse: Appetizers, Snacks, EntreeCuisine: Eastern European, Pa. Dutch, Coal RegionDifficulty: Intermediate


Prep time


Cooking time



Beef tongue is quite simple to prepare. It is tender and delicious and can be served on a sandwich, with mustard and/or horseradish sauce.


  • 1 – 3 to 4 pound beef tongue

  • 2 cups white vinegar

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1 tsp salt or to taste

  • 1 Tablespoon pickling spice

  • 1 carrot

  • 1 rib celery

  • 1 small peeled onion


  • In large pot, cover tongue with cold water, add salt, carrot, onion, celery; cover and simmer until tender (a couple of hours).
  • Drain and reserve 2 cups broth.
  • Cool tongue until able to handle, then peel off thick covering.
  • Combine reserved broth with the vinegar, sugar, and pickling spices. Add salt to taste.
  • Place tongue in non-reactive bowl or jar. Cover with vinegar mixture.
  • Cover, chill for 48 hours. Remove from vinegar mixture, slice across the grain and serve.