Beef SweetBreads (Mollejas) on a Tortilla

Sweetbreads (Sweetbreads are the thymus (throat sweetbread) and the pancreas (heart or stomach sweetbread), especially of the calf and lamb (although beef and pork sweetbreads are also eaten), can be cooked just about any way you can think of. They also happen to be prized by gourmet chefs because of their velvety texture. When choosing Sweetbreads, be sure to pick the white, firm and plump ones.

Up until the time that America starting enjoying the luxury of large supermarkets (mid-1940s), people would butcher their own cattle to eat. Times were hard and money was scarce, absolutely nothing was wasted. This included all parts of the animal. Everything was eaten by the family. Now days, these foods are considered a delicacy.

I never knew what these were until I married and to be quite honest, they are not my cup of tea. I don’t eat them, however my whole family does, even the kiddos.  I should probably admit that I’ve never even tried them. I just don’t think I could stomach it, no pun intended.  I have been told that they are similar to a bacon taste when grilled.  I’ll have to take their word on it.

You can season to taste but we usually use salt and pepper. We grill them and slap them on a tortilla.

Have you had Sweetbreads before and if so, how do you prepare them?

Sweetbreads

Sweetbreads on grill

Sweetbreads on a Tortilla

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Comments

  1. 1


    Mary C. says

    Yes, I love sweetbreads….my mother used to make them often, the way she prepared them was fairly simple but a little time consuming. first you take them out of the package and rinse them good, then, put them into boiling salted water for a short period of time, depending on the size, but you dont cook them all the way thru, then remove them and rinse with cold water and when cool enough to handle you remove as much of the connective tissue as you can, then, I will slice them in half so they are not so thick (they will plump up and get thicker when you cook them), then I season them with Johnnys Pork and Chicken seasoning and some pepper(but you can use any seasoning that you like), dredge them in flour (no egg) and fry them up like chicken, I cook them well done and crispy on the outside (my mom used some bacon fat with the oil) they are fantastic, been eating them since i was a kid. they are not easy to find anymore (only 1 grocery store i know of here in Portland,OR) but if you call your butcher they can order them for you, but you have to buy a minimum amount, usually like 5 lbs, but i split them up and freeze some for later…..

  2. 2


    Deanna says

    I guess I am with you, have never tried them but don’t think I could stomach them either. Kind of like tongue…I just know I don’t like it! The grilled finished photo does look tasty though.

  3. 3


    Mike Oyama says

    I’m with you on this one. I can’t really stomach most organs.

  4. 4


    EBPitcher says

    My Momma would fix them like Mary C describes, except she’d slice them. I haven’t had them in forever.

  5. 5

    2 strict food rules I abide by. NO sweetbreads. And NO calf fries. That is all.

  6. 6


    Jimmie says

    I am with you on this one–never ate them & don’t plan to—Just some foods that I draw the line with–organs is one of them!!Tortillas are great but I’ll put something else in mine–

  7. 7


    Lori A. says

    Oh my…sweetbreads?! Is that what it’s really called?! Because it doesn’t look or sound anything like something sweet or bread. No thanks. :)

  8. 8


    whimsygirl says

    I have successfully avoided fixing calf fries for my DH (who was raised on ‘em) and thankfully he has not mentioned sweetbreads. Thank God.

  9. 9


    Pelaphus says

    I tried them for the first time tonight in a Romanian restaurant (I tend to be an adventurous eater when I’m at international / ethnic restaurants and 95% of the time will try anything, and will look to the most “exotic” or unusual entries on the menu first) and I was VERY surprised. The sweatbreads were served grilled. I did not know at the time that they were glands (which wouldn’t have stopped me; I do also like tongue, for example, especially at a deli counter), and unlike tongue, their texture is so similar to more common cuts of beef that you’d almost swear you had discovered a “new” type of steak. The average piece seems like a number of beef roudels connected by what looks to be fat but is (I assume) the inner membrane network holding the gland together. Some pieces are very meaty, some have a smoother texture not dissimilar to fat, most mix the meat and membrane evenly — but if served well (and mine was excellent) it goes down like some of the tastiest, tenderest beef you’ve ever had, with a surprising “melt in your mouth” ease. (The fatty-seeming smoothness of the membrane may sound off-putting, but because it actually ISN’T fat, it doesn’t have what I find to be beef fat’s unpleasant chewiness, and it’s as tender and tasty as the meaty portion.) Reading about the necessary preparation, I’ll concede that sweetbreads may be more trouble than they’re worth unless you’re in an eatery that serves them on order, but I’d assert that they’re not “organ-y” (i.e. too soft, too chewy, too smooth or anything else you’d associate with the like of stomach, tripe, tendon or intestine), but rather do engage the palate and the teeth as, quite literally, the beef delicacy they’re oft described to be.

  10. 10


    Suzanne says

    I also prepare them exactly like MaryC. They really are delicious this way. I really recommend them to try and as mentioned they are considered a gourmet food. I can find them in the meat specialty section at Walmart, but you can ask your meat counter butcher at your grocery store to order them for you. They are inexpensive and good. My kids eat them too. I am preparing them tonight with mashed potatoes and gravy and turnip greens.mmmm…mmmm…good!

  11. 11


    CHRISTINE says

    Im with you on that one i LOVE sweetbread. I was raised on this when i was a little girl till now and i love sweetbread . It is very hard to find, I agree they are very hard to find. Im in arizona ( west ) and i find them at the wallmart, very hard to find cause they have them off and on.

  12. 12


    brumie says

    I don’t understand how people can say they don’t like something they have never tried. Don’t knock it untill you try it

  13. 13


    Dave Siegele says

    I don’t get you people at all! Most of you have never tried them you have no clue what you are missing. I buy them by the case when I can find them as a matter a fact I am defrosting them for dinner for me and my neighbor tonight. Try them you will like them open you small minds and make some for dinner. I bet you if I served them to you as I do to most without telling them what they are you would go back for seconds and thirds.

    • 14


      mel says

      Need to try em on the grill bbq’d on a flour tortilla w lime or lemon juice and a bit of avocado…. my favorite bbq by far its a must try had when i was a kid is nothin like i ever tasted…. yummmm

  14. 15


    Dave Siegele says

    I don’t get you people at all! Most of you have never tried them you have no clue what you are missing. I buy them by the case when I can find them as a matter a fact I am defrosting them for dinner for me and my neighbor tonight. Try them you will like them open you small minds and make some for dinner. I bet you if I served them to you as I do to most without telling them what they are you would go back for seconds and thirds.

  15. 16


    Dave Siegele says

    I don’t get you people at all! Most of you have never tried them you have no clue what you are missing. I buy them by the case when I can find them as a matter a fact I am defrosting them for dinner for me and my neighbor tonight. Try them you will like them open you small minds and make some for dinner. I bet you if I served them to you as I do to most without telling them what they are you would go back for seconds and thirds.

  16. 17


    Juan says

    In Argentina any decent asado includes mollejas. Put in a bowl with juice of 1 lemon. Leave alone for about 30 minutes. Cook whole on a grill and when firm (cooked), slice as thin as possible and put back on the grill until slightly crisp. Add salt to taste. When serving put some lemon juice on them. Absolutely fantastic taste.

  17. 18


    Warren says

    If you will check I think you will find that we are talking about the thymus gland rather than the pancreas

  18. 19


    Suzanne says

    I agree with you warren…didn’t even notice that they were referred to as pancreas meat…they are not…they are a gland in the neck.

  19. 20

    Sweetbreads are the thymus (throat sweetbread) and the pancreas (heart or stomach sweetbread), especially of the calf and lamb (although beef and pork sweetbreads are also eaten).

  20. 21

    I will add to it….

  21. 22


    Suzanne says

    Just so I’m not confusing anyone, I am referring to the thymus gland in the neck as far as the recipe and preparation. I’ve not ever heard of using the others in the recipes mentioned. The photos above are of the thymus glands.

  22. 23


    Curt says

    Those of you that can get them are lucky. Can’t find them here in Northern Colorado. Those that haven’t tried them are missing out, those that won’t are missing out on a lot of things. Love them grilled. Have had the brand shown in the picture and the package had both types of sweetbreads in it.

  23. 24


    Dave Siegele says

    Just ask your butcher to order them they are not hard to find anywhere I bet they have them on hand in the freezer. I got a good laugh when my cooks all of latin backrounds shunned them then walked in the next week with them in Tacos they had no clue they were the same thing just chopped up.

  24. 25


    Bruce says

    May I suggest that anyone living where cattle are raised and butchered can find sweetbreads by contacting those that do the butchering. I get these parts for free as they are often discarded – livers, hearts, kidneys, cheeks, sweetbreads, tails, and bones. Mighty fine eatin’.

  25. 26


    Casper says

    I’m from Wisconsin and I was down in Lerado Texas for a few week’s. And I went to a friends house for a cook out.. I tried them for the first time.. Cooked over Mesquit wood, and had them on a Tortilla.. The best thing I’ve ever had.. Now back in Wisconsin.. Almost no Butcher has ever heard of the sweet breads, and none of them carry them, or know how to get them…. I’m hooked..

    • 27


      randy garcia says

      i was born and raised in TEXAS and at every cook out we had to have sweatbreads, moved to idaho for six years. i didnt think i could find them up there but of all places i found them under my nose.. wal-mart. look up and down the fresh meat dpt. if the dont have it they do special orders if you request it

    • 28


      joe yocham says

      you can get them at national beef packing co. kansas city missouri 64163

  26. 29


    joe yocham says

    i get mine from das butcher haus in green forest arkansas phone870-438-6594

  27. 30


    marvin says

    OMG! I love sweetbreads! We eat them often in south texas! I live in parker Colorado now and I just can’t find them here or in denver. Any ideas??

  28. 31


    Debra says

    I grew up in Utah and my Dad worked for a meat packing plant. I grew up loving sweetbreads and miss them terribly. My Dad would bring them home from the “plant” in big packages & then my Mom would put them in a pot and boil them for what seemed like hours!!! She would then put them in the refrigerator to congeal. While they were cold she would slice them into about 1/2 inch slices & then dip them in beaten egg & then in crushed soda cracker crumbs. She would then fry them in good old bacon grease!!! I can taste them just talking about them!!! They may sound gross….but oh not true!!! I would love to find them again & see if they still taste the same!!!

  29. 32


    Eddie says

    Sweetbreads are best enjoyed with some spicy Pico de gallo and sliced avocado. Chop the sweetbreads up and roll them with the Pico and avocados in a flour tortilla . That’s how we do it in south Texas :)