Beef tongue tacos, or taquitos de lengua, are classic street food in Mexico, adored for their meltingly tender, knee-wobblingly flavorful magnificence. Tuck this slow-cooked beef into a tortilla and smother it with salsa and you’ve got yourself a taste of taco heaven.Angie Zoobkoff

Man's hand holding four beef tongue tacos, or taquitos de lengua, filled with cubed meat, onions, cilantro

Beef Tongue Tacos

4.34 / 3 votes
Yes, beef tongue tacos. DON’T click off this page! These little babies are made from beef tongue that is slowly cooked until falling apart tender then chopped and spooned atop soft corn or flour tortillas. Classic and authentic.
David Leite
Servings4 servings
Calories915 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time4 hours 15 minutes
Total Time4 hours 30 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 6 cups cold water
  • One (2 3/4 pound) beef tongue, rinsed
  • 2 banana leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 small bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 25 small corn or flour tortillas, warmed
  • Store-bought or homemade salsa, (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  • Place a wire rack in a roasting pan and then dump the salt and water in the pan. Wrap the beef tongue in banana leaves and place it on the rack over the water. Cover the entire pan with foil, slide it into the oven, and let it cook until the beef is fork tender, about 4 hours. You’ll want to check the water level every 1 1/2 hours, adding additional water if needed.
  • Remove the beef tongue from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the banana leaves and then peel off the outer layer of beef tongue and discard it as well. Coarsely chop the remaining beef tongue. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed.
  • Divvy the meat among the tortillas. Top each taco with onion and cilantro, slather with salsa, if desired, and devour immediately.
Hugo Ortega's Street Food of Mexico Cookbook

Adapted From

Hugo Ortega’s Street Food of Mexico

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 915 kcalCarbohydrates: 20 gProtein: 57 gFat: 65 gSaturated Fat: 25 gMonounsaturated Fat: 28 gTrans Fat: 4 gCholesterol: 221 mgSodium: 3992 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 2 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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Recipe © 2012 Hugo Ortega. Photo © 2012 Penny de los Santos. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

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These beef tongue tacos are delicious! I’d never made tongue before. Let’s just say I often order tongue tacos, but I’ve always been afraid of cooking tongue at home. The tongue was easy to find—I placed a special order from my local butcher and they cleaned up the two tongues for me.

Beef tongue tacos are my favorite at the taco stand. This recipe delivers very authentic fare that’s really easy to do and just takes a little (mostly unattended) time. Definitely a keeper. I got the tongue as well as the banana leaves at an Asian market. The recipe worked just fine. I used only a part of the tongue to make 6 tacos for 2 persons. I used the rest for a tongue ragout.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I’m in the process of making now and as a little confused and cleaning the tongue. I was unsure if I skin it clean or boil and peel or cook and then disregard skin

    1. Elijah, very good question, by “cleaned” we simply mean rinsed and patted dry. I’ll clarify that in the instructions. So you’ll skin it after cooking. Trust us, it will come off much more easily afterwards.

  2. Hi! This looks amazing, is there an alternative for the banana leaves? Unfortunately the only grocery store within 30 miles of me doe’s no time carry banana leaves!

  3. 5 stars
    Moose tongue tacos are hard to beat! There’s a place down the road that makes, them. I was surprised and very pleased. I adore tongue. Beefiest beef there is…or moosiest moose?

    1. Why does this not surprise me coming from you, lovely lady?! Moosiest moose. Definitely. Always grateful to you for enlightening us…