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Thai Chili Beef Heart Skewers

I’m not gonna lie. The thought of eating beef heart was not appealing.

A few weeks ago, when I pulled it out of the freezer to defrost, I silently said “it’s now or never” as if I was gearing up to run a marathon (not that that would ever happen).

You see, that beef heart had been taking up space in our freezer for more than 6 months, since we got our grass-fed cow. The awesome Alaskan ranchers we bought it from literally give you the organ meats (and soup bones!) if you want them, and knowing the incredible nutritional benefits (and my ballsy-meets-grandma attitude in the kitchen), I eagerly said YES.

But here I was, standing in our 38-degree garage next to the deep freezer wondering what the hell I was gonna do with it.

So I did what anybody would do. I Googled it.

And Googled it.

And Googled it some more.

Turns out you can prepare beef heart in many different ways – like steak, in the slow cooker, ground and added to burgers, as tartar…

But since I’m not a crazy huge fan of steak (I know, weird) and the rest of the beef we eat is either slow-cooked or ground, I decided to take a different approach.

And because I have an aversion to actually following recipes, I decided to make up my own (I know you’re not surprised).

This was a huge gamble, but if I gamble with anything, it’s food.

So once this baby was defrosted, I got to work with my sharpest knife and loosely followed the advice from Master Chef Google.

First, I cut it in half. Then began slicing away any valves (because, duh, this is a heart!) and other iffy bits, which all went into a container in the freezer to add to my next bone broth.

I told you I’m a grandma.

And actually, there wasn’t too much to trim away.

That’s when I realized this heart was from a super healthy cow. Most of the photos I saw online showed a pale, almost anemic-looking flabby heart with big chunks of fat.

Mine was deep, deep maroon, solid in texture, and had minimal, healthy-looking bits of fat. It reminded me of seeing those cadaver exhibits of healthy lungs compared to a smoker’s lungs.

It’s as if my cow had lived his entire life grazing on a pristine, remote Alaskan island.

Oh wait, he did.

Back to the heart.

Once it was trimmed, I cut the heart into sections a few inches wide (I easily got three pounds of useable meat from this, by the way). Then into super thin slices, marinated it (in a yummy and super-easy-to-make Thai chili marinade), skewered it, and put it on the grill for the magic to happen.

Really, that’s it.

The verdict?

With a little hesitation, my husband and I grabbed a piece (and air-toasted the bites in case these would be our last), and quickly went back for another.

This was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S!

My husband compared it to tri tip. I personally found the flavor to be a bit iron-y, but the Thai chili marinade and grilled veggies balanced it out perfectly.

I found it far more delicious than liver. We even invited people over to sample it and got rave reviews all around.

I would totally eat it again, but I’ll have to wait until next year’s cow to enjoy this delicacy.

Hopefully you’ll give it a shot one of these days. If so, here’s my recipe for Thai Chili Beef Heart Skewers.

Aaand loads of photos of the whole process because I know you’re super curious.

Thai Chili Beef Heart Skewers

  • 1 lb beef heart, cut into thin strips (that's approximately one-third the beef heart pictured below)
  • 1-2 bell peppers, cubed
  • 1 onion, cubed

For the marinade: ­

  • 2 Tbsp lime juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 4- ­5 dashes fish sauce (this is your salt)
  • 1- ­2 tsp Thai red chili paste (depending on how spicy you want it - I use Mae Ploy brand)
  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil


  1. With a very sharp knife, cut heart in half. Trim off valves and sinew (reserve for making stock or grinding into burger meat).
  2. Cut into one-quarter inch slices. Places in a large dish.
  3. Add marinade. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Using kabob skewers, alternate slices of beef heart, bell pepper, and onion. Brush leftover marinade over entire skewer (share the love with the veggies!).
  5. Grill over hot charcoals for 3 min. When lightly brown, flip, and grill for another 3 min. Serve.










Have you tried beef heart before?

If so, how’d you prepare it? Share in the comments below.

Until next week,

PS – Want to learn more about the benefits of eating grass-fed beef? Read this!

PPS – Organ meats are especially healthy if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive, as I explain here and in my book, Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.

Don’t be scared! Offal is not awful. 🙂

Veggies: Eat them because you want to, not because you have to

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Lily Nichols is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, researcher, and author with a passion for evidence-based prenatal nutrition and exercise. Her work is known for being research-focused, thorough, and unapologetically critical of outdated dietary guidelines. She is the author of two bestselling books, Real Food for Pregnancy and Real Food for Gestational Diabetes.


Leave a comment
  1. Whoa, I’ve never had a beef heart! But I just had deliciously organic lean steak last night 😀

    • I hope you get a chance someday, Cassie. It was really good!

  2. Hi Lily,
    I’m so glad I read this. I can totally relate to the “6 month old grass-fed organs in the freezer” bit! I too got the organs with our beef thinking that I’d like to try them… someday. I just haven’t been able to get over the idea that they’re, well, organs. Sounds silly, right? This recipe looks great and I can’t wait to try it. Any suggestions/recipes for preparing kidneys? Thanks!

    • Glad I’m not alone, Mindy. The funny thing is eating organ meats was standard practice up until the last century (and still is in many parts of the world), so it’s definitely a mind over matter issue.

      I have yet to prepare kidneys (well, beef kidneys anyways), but when I do, I’ll be sure to write about it. 🙂

      • Mine was the chicken liver sitting in the freezer for who knows how long. But I finally tried Lily’s liver. Probably the best version I’ve had. Also, like the tip to freeze in smaller portions!!!

  3. Lily! Thank you!
    I’m totally inspired to go to my freezer and finally defrost my cows heart that’s been staring at me for the past 4 months!
    So pleased to hear it tasted really good and thank you for your constantly fun and inspiring posts! 🙂

    • Oh good! Report back and let us know what you think of the recipe, Andrew. 🙂

  4. That is so fun! I look forward to trying your recipe! We just made beef heart chili a few weeks ago. We trimmed the valves and fat, then ground it up before cooking. An interesting difference in heart health… our cow was from a family farm, but conventionally raised and his heart was very very fatty!

    • Yeah, the grass-fed cow hearts I’ve used have all been almost devoid of fat and a rich, maroon color. Way different from the conventional cow hearts I’ve seen at the grocery store & butcher. Just like humans, diet matters!

  5. This looks appetizing! I have organ meats in our freezer too from our pig and cow and I’ve been making dehydrated treats for out dogs.. I think I need to try this recipe now!

    • Hope you get a chance to try it!

  6. I wonder if this could be broiled in the oven if you don’t have a grill……thoughts?

  7. Is this tender or chewy I wonder. Just had 3 lbs of grass fed beef heart ground up for me at a local boutique butcher. Then, I froze in 0.25 pound sections. Hoping to sneak into anything calling for ground beef! Would like some more ideas though. I have TMJD and cannot eat anything super chewy.

    • We’ve started incorporating heart into recipes. So far I’ve smoked it, used in stew, fast fried as steak, and micro ground (freeze dried) to incorporate into other dishes. Any larger pieces have been quite chewy. If frying/grilling, rare is more tender but very rich meat (iron) flavor. Even the slow cooked stew was a bit chewy, but I used 1 inch pieces and would try even smaller next time. Of course the stuff I freeze dry (yes, we have a household freeze dryer) and grind is perfect to add to, and hide in, anything. I think your ground heart should be perfectly fine and not too chewy, especially if you mix with other ground beef. My wife, son, and I have adapted quickly to the flavor and now consider it tastes like a very rich steak, not a bad thing at all. Good luck.

  8. I would love to try this! I am the same as you in that I don’t care for steak. I eat ground meat or meat that is slow cooked to falling apart. This recipe sounds delicious and I know it is super good for you too!

  9. I made this last night. The marinade is so good! Preparing the heart wasn’t gross, just different. I cut mine too thick and overcooked it a bit, so it could’ve been more tender, but that’s my fault, not the recipe’s. In future, I’ll aim for very thin slices and pull them off the grill sooner.
    We served it to my future brother-in-law, who hunts venison, and he mentioned that he stir-fries venison heart with mushrooms and onions, so there’s another great option for this underrated organ. Thanks for inspiring me to try heart, Lily! I plan to put this recipe in our regular rotation.

  10. I grew up eating all parts of the animal thanks to my dad. He would make beef tongue sandwiches where he would thinly slice the beef tongue and I always enjoyed them. I am looking forward to trying these skewers postpartum! I already told my dad that he will be making these for me. I am a big advocate of the head to toe eating.

  11. I can’t wait to try this recipe! I usually like to get liver and heart from a local rancher who seems to always have extra. Interesting hope grass makes such a difference in the quality of meat. I just found out recently that they do feed some grain while the cattle are on pasture, but it’s still that beautiful deep reddish brown with minimal fat.
    I like to make tacos with mine, marinade, dice it up, serve with cilantro and onion and salsa.

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