Beef Tongue in Green Sauce (Lengua Verde): A Delicious Twist on Tradition

Beef tongue, or “lengua” in Spanish, is a prized ingredient in many cuisines around the world. In Mexican cuisine, one standout preparation that showcases the versatility and rich flavors of beef tongue is “Lengua Verde” or Beef Tongue in Green Sauce. This dish combines tender, slow-cooked beef tongue with a vibrant green sauce made from tomatillos, chilies, and herbs, resulting in a tantalizing culinary experience.

What Is Lengua Verde?

Lengua Verde is a traditional Mexican dish featuring beef tongue as the primary ingredient. The tongue is typically simmered until tender and then thinly sliced or diced. What sets Lengua Verde apart is the flavorful green sauce in which the tongue is bathed. This sauce is created from a blend of tomatillos, green chilies, and a selection of herbs and spices.

Key Characteristics of Lengua Verde

  1. Tender and Flavorful Tongue: The beef tongue, when cooked correctly, becomes exceptionally tender, with a melt-in-your-mouth quality. It retains a mild, meaty flavor that complements the vibrant sauce.
  2. Vibrant Green Sauce: The green sauce is the heart of Lengua Verde. It’s made from tomatillos, green chilies (such as serrano or jalapeño), cilantro, and other aromatic herbs. This sauce imparts a zesty and slightly tangy taste to the dish.
  3. Complex Flavor Profile: Lengua Verde offers a balanced and complex flavor profile. The tanginess of the tomatillos, the heat of the chilies, and the freshness of the herbs come together to create a harmonious and delicious taste.
  4. Versatility: Lengua Verde can be served in various ways. It’s commonly used as a filling for tacos, tortas (sandwiches), or burritos. The tender beef tongue pairs well with the sauce and toppings like onions, cilantro, and avocado.
  5. Regional Variations: While Lengua Verde is popular in Mexico, you may find regional variations and interpretations of the dish. Different regions may use slightly different ingredients or preparation methods.

How to Enjoy Lengua Verde

  1. Tacos: One of the most popular ways to savor Lengua Verde is by serving it in tacos. Warm corn tortillas are filled with slices of beef tongue, topped with green sauce, and garnished with onions, cilantro, and lime.
  2. Tortas: Lengua Verde can also be used as a filling for tortas, which are Mexican sandwiches. The tender beef tongue, combined with the green sauce, creates a flavorful and hearty sandwich.
  3. Burritos: Lengua Verde can be rolled into burritos, along with rice, beans, and other toppings, creating a complete and satisfying meal.
  4. Accompaniments: Serve Lengua Verde with traditional Mexican side dishes like rice and beans or alongside a fresh salsa or guacamole for added flavor.

Beef Tongue in Green Sauce (Lengua Verde) Recipe


For the Beef Tongue:

  • 1 beef tongue (approximately 3 pounds)
  • Water for boiling
  • Salt

For the Green Sauce:

  • 1 pound fresh tomatillos, husked and washed
  • 2-3 fresh green chilies (serrano or jalapeño, adjust to your desired level of heat)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup chopped white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt to taste


Preparing and Cooking the Beef Tongue:

  1. Begin by cleaning the beef tongue. Rinse it thoroughly under cold water, and if necessary, scrub it gently with a brush to remove any impurities or residue.
  2. Place the cleaned beef tongue in a large pot and cover it with water. Add a generous pinch of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and let the tongue cook for approximately 2.5 to 3 hours. The tongue is done when it is tender and easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Remove the tongue from the pot and allow it to cool slightly. Then, peel off the tough outer skin, which should come off easily. Slice the tender meat into thin, bite-sized pieces.

Preparing the Green Sauce:

  1. While the beef tongue is cooking, you can prepare the green sauce. Start by roasting the tomatillos and green chilies. You can do this by placing them on a hot, dry skillet or griddle and turning them until they are charred and softened. Alternatively, you can roast them under the broiler.
  2. Once roasted, transfer the tomatillos, green chilies, and any juices to a blender or food processor. Add the chopped cilantro, chopped white onion, minced garlic, cumin, dried oregano, and a pinch of salt.
  3. Blend the ingredients until you achieve a smooth and vibrant green sauce. Taste and adjust the salt and spiciness to your liking. If you prefer a milder sauce, you can remove the seeds from the green chilies before blending.

Bringing It All Together:

  1. In a large skillet or frying pan, heat a bit of oil over medium heat. Add the sliced beef tongue and sauté briefly to heat it through.
  2. Pour the green sauce over the beef tongue and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce is heated.
  3. Serve the Beef Tongue in Green Sauce in tacos, tortas, burritos, or on a plate with rice and beans. Garnish with extra chopped cilantro, onions, and lime wedges for added flavor.

Enjoy your homemade Beef Tongue in Green Sauce (Lengua Verde) with the vibrant and zesty flavors of this traditional Mexican delicacy.

Bottom Line

Lengua Verde, or Beef Tongue in Green Sauce, is a delectable twist on a traditional Mexican favorite. The tender beef tongue paired with the vibrant green sauce offers a culinary experience that’s both flavorful and exciting. Whether you enjoy it in tacos, tortas, or burritos, Lengua Verde showcases the rich tapestry of Mexican cuisine and is a must-try for those looking to explore authentic flavors and textures.

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