Beef Liver and Onions Recipe

a plate of beef liver and onions

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5 from 7 reviews

Learn how to cook perfectly tender, flavorul beef liver with these expert tips and tricks. Liver is surprisingly easy to cook and can be a fast and easy family dinner. It's especially good served with onions. 


Units Scale
  • 1 pound beef liver, cut into "steaks" that are 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick and about 2 to 4-inches wide
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Fresh parsley or thyme for garnish


  1. Pat the liver dry with paper towels. 
  2. Season both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder. 
  3. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. 
  4. Add the onion. 
  5. Cook the onion until it is soft and nicely browned, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes. You might need to turn the heat down slightly while it cooks to prevent the onion from burning. 
  6. Push the onion to the sides of the pan. 
  7. Turn heat up to medium-high. When the skillet is hot, add the liver.
  8. Cook 2 minutes, until nicely seared. As it cooks, the sides of the liver will turn from red to brown.
  9. Flip the slices of liver and cook 2 minutes more. If the slices are thicker (closer to 1-inch thick) you might need an extra minute or two on each side. You can slice a piece with a knife to check the middle, which can be left light pink but shouldn’t look raw or bloody. 
  10. Remove the liver from the pan. Let it rest on a plate. 
  11. Squeeze the lemon juice into the pan to deglaze the pan. Use a spatula to scrap up the crispy bits of liver stuck to the bottom of the skillet. 
  12. Stir the onions back into to the middle of the pan, moving them around to pick up flavor.
  13. Arrange the onions around the liver on a plate. Garnish with fresh parsley or thyme if you want the dish to look prettier! 


Soaking Liver in Milk 

Soaking liver in milk before cooking it is optional. Soaking is done to make the flavor less "gamey" and to tenderize the meat. The lactic acid in buttermilk (and milk) tenderizes protein. To soak liver, put it in a dish and cover it completely with milk or buttermilk. Let it soak in the milk for 30 to 60 minutes, then pat it dry and proceed with the recipe. 

Breading the Liver in Flour

Breading liver in a light coating of flour is optional. It's done to help the outside of the liver brown quickly. The starch in flour caramelizes quickly, giving liver a brown crust. 

Cooking Temperature: According to the USDA, "organ meats should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 as measured with a food thermometer."

Storage: Cooked liver tastes best when eaten right after cooking. However, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.