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Ultimate Beef & Liver Chili

Affiliate Disclosure | in Recipes | by | with 131 Comments

Ultimate Beef and Liver Chili

Ounce For Ounce, Liver Is The Most Nutrient Dense Food We Know Of

It’s chock full of – hang on, I am not going to quote stats today . . . how about a story instead?

Alrighty then, weird science story it is! Back in the 1950’s Dr. Benjamin K. Ershoff selected three groups of rats for a feeding experiment. The first group was fed a basic diet fortified with 11 vitamins. Group 2 received the same ration along with b-complex vitamins. Group 3 also ate the same diet, but instead of b-vitamins they were supplemented with powdered liver.

After several weeks, the animals were placed one by one into a drum of cold water from which they could not climb out. They literally were forced to sink or swim. Rats in the first group swam for an average 13.3 minutes before giving up. The second group, which had the added fortifications of B vitamins, swam for an average of 13.4 minutes. Of the last group of rats, the ones receiving liver, three swam for 63, 83 and 87 minutes. The other nine rats in this group were still swimming vigorously at the end of two hours when the test was terminated. Something in the liver had prevented them from becoming exhausted. To this day scientists have not been able to pin a label on this anti-fatigue factor.

The Liver Files

Okay, Discussions About 1950’s Ethics Aside . . .

I don’t know a mama who couldn’t use an anti-fatigue boost. Unfortunately, most people (including me) don’t enjoy the taste of liver. Fortunately for us, there IS a way to get your family to eat liver and  like it!

Just last night I whipped up a batch to photograph for today’s post and – even though he knows there ALWAYS is – Daddypotamus asked if there was liver in the chili. Yep, really. And oh, I forgot to mention that it’s actually good, too!

Bon appetit, ya’ll!

Ultimate Beef and Liver Chili

Ultimate Beef & Liver Chili


  • 2 pounds grass-fed ground beef (where to buy grass-fed ground beef)
  • 1/2 – 1 pound chicken livers* (where to buy pastured chicken livers)
  • 2-3 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs coconut oil or tallow
  • 8 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped or 25 oz. peeled diced tomatoes ( Lucini brand comes in glass jars instead of BPA-lined cans)
  • 1 cup bone broth or water
  • 4 tbs chili powder
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp unrefined sea salt (you’ll probably want to add more, but if you happen to use stewed tomatoes or broth that has salt added this is a good place to start)
  • 2 lemons or 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups dried black beans, optional

* Beef liver can be substituted but it will need to be finely minced before it is sauteed with the onions/garlic. Also, I recommend using no more than 1/2 pound as beef liver has a very strong taste.

Instructions for the night before:

  1. Trim chicken livers (To do this remove any white, stringy portions with your fingers or a knife)
  2. Place livers in a medium bowl and cover with water
  3. Squeeze in the juice of 2 lemons or 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and place in fridge for at least 8-12 hours. This will neutralize some of the strong flavor of the liver
  4. Place beans in a bowl and cover liberally with water – they will expand to more than double their current size. Add 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar and allow to soak overnight.

The next day:

To make the beans:

  1. Rinse beans and place in a pot. Cover with a few inches of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer until tender.

To make the chili:

  1.  Warm oil/tallow over medium heat.
  2. Add onions, garlic and liver, mincing liver as finely as possible while you sautee. When the onions are soft and the liver resembles a coarse paste(about 10 minutes), add ground beef and saute until brown.
  3. Once the ground beef is browned, add the tomatoes and spices. If needed, pour in enough water/broth so that the meat is fully submerged.
  4. Bring chili to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for an hour.
  5. Enjoy!

Do you love this recipe?

Then you’ll also probably like these recipes for Chicken Liver Pâté with Bacon and Bayou Dirty Rice.

Photo credit: Zsuzsanna Kilian

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131 Responses to Ultimate Beef & Liver Chili

  1. Ruth Fix says:

    I can’t see part of the recipe on the left (bottom) bc the like social media bar is in the way. Any way to remedy?

  2. Think Offal is Awful? Sneak it into your food! | The Coconut Mama says:

    […] 4) Ultimate Beef & Liver Chili  – MommyPotamus […]

  3. May says:

    Looks yummy 😀 I just bought some liver today for making danish liver mouse!
    Found a recipe at my mother in laws and suddendly i started craving liver soo bad.
    I really have to start serving more liver for my son, unfortunatly my hubby won’t touch it..

  4. Leah says:

    This was the perfect way to use up the way-too-many livers that I thawed to make your dirty rice recipe! The heat was perfect for my husband, but I had to add a little hot sauce 😉

  5. Noel Jensen says:

    I just made this recipe for the family tonight. (I followed it as closely as I follow anything.) I made it with beef liver and added three stalks of celery, a handful of cremini mushrooms. One comment was, “This was the best chili I have ever eaten!” I don’t usually gush like that, but I’d say that I don’t ever have to look for another chili recipe.

    • Heather says:

      Yayayayay! Thank you for this comment, Noel! Of course I’m always thrilled when people like my recipes, but nothing makes me happier than when a truly nutrient-dense dish like this one is a hit. You just made my night!

  6. Mama's Ultimate Chuckwagon Chili | Nourishing Joy says:

    […] as a added benefit, the liver will give mama an anti-fatigue boost. […]

  7. Ann says:

    Thank you Heather for the yummy recipe! We tried this tonight and the family agreed it was good for repeats.

  8. Chelsea Abendroth says:

    I made your liver chili from your book Nourished Baby! The first time I made it I didn’t tell that it was liver. My husband unknowingly said it was the best chili he ever had. He even requests it if I wait too long to make it. He went to the farmer’s market last week just to get the liver so I would make it!

    • Heather says:

      I love, love, LOVE this comment Chelsea! THANK YOU for stopping by to let me know how it turned out!

      • Chelsea Abendroth says:

        UPDATE: Still a family favorite! This has become my go to meal when my 21 month old daughter goes on a food strike. I can always count on her to gobble down 2 or 3 bowls even if she hasn’t eaten in a few days. Thank you Heather!

  9. 5 Ways To Stretch Protein – The Real Food Way | Modern Alternative Kitchen says:

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  10. The Utimate Real Food Guide To Super Bowl Parties « The Mommypotamus says:

    […] up is my ultimate beef and liver chili. Now, before you automatically skip on to the next one read […]

  11. Eats and Reads: February 4-10 « Storms Stories says:

    […] Dinner: Chili served over sweet potatoes, Fish fingers and potato wedges, Pasta shells w/meat sauce, Shrimp curry and soaked garlic naan, leftovers, Soaked homemade pizza and fruit, leftovers […]

  12. Sarah says:

    Do you think I could do this in the slow-cooker? Thanks!

    • Heather says:

      In my experience, ground beef doesn’t do all that well in a slow cooker unless it’s been browned first. You could give it a try, but I’m not sure what the cooking time would be. Sorry I can’t be more helpful!

  13. Debra @ Sweet Kisses and Dirty Dishes says:

    Going to try this tomorrow. I am hoping to be able to like it! I need some of that energy, and my midwife really wants me to eat liver… BLACH! My husband will eat liver if it is served with sauerkraut because it helps with the strong flavor of the liver (he LOVES sauerkraut).

  14. Eats and Reads: March 25-31 | Storms Stories says:

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  16. Daniela says:

    Heather, I have to tell you that my husband had 3 bowls of this chill after I made it yesterday for the first time! He loves it! He even asked if he could have some chill leftovers tonight for dinner! SUCCESS! Thank you for posting this recipe :)

  17. Squeaky says:

    I actually really liked liver as a kid, but haven’t had it in a gazillion years! I was at the bagel shop the other day and on a whim ordered the liver bagel! Boy, it was good. I came home and googled “liver chili” and found your site, which I am loving. I actually went and bought some chicken livers today (it grossed me out!!), and am defrosting some nice organic beef to try this out in the next few days. I would love to get my 2 year old eating organ meat, he has hypo-mineralization on his top teeth and they are in bad shape. I would like to save as many of them as I can, he still needs them for a few more years!

    • Squeaky says:

      Ok, I have been making my chili with liver for over a month now, at least 5 times. Everyone loves it. I was in a hurry to decide what to make for supper tonight and so I made chili my own pre liver way. No one touched it! The 6 year old cried that it was too spicey and ran away, the toddler that usually eats 2 bowls had a couple of bites, and my husband said “this cornbread is really good” the chicken livers add such a delicious richness that mellows out any spiceyness and generally totally rocks. Some “secret ingredient chili” with a poached egg for breakfast folks me up until after 2 pm. I hope you read this compliment and some naysayers are convinced to give it a try.

      • Heather says:

        Oh my goodness, I almost missed this because giveaway entry comments are pouring in, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Thank you for making my day, Squeaky!

  18. Sarah says:

    Is it really 4 tbsp chilli powder?? I’m making one now and it’s very hot lol!

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  20. Brinly says:

    I made this tonight and most of my picky eaters ate it up! I added a can of black beans bc I was running low on beef. I also minced the liver and soaked w lemon for about 15 min, bc I didn’t have time to soak whole overnight. Ended up w a bit too much lemon in the end, but it still did the job. No comments about funny tastes or textures! Next time, I might sauté and purée some veggies like carrots or some kind of squash, just to cut the acidity of tomato and lemon. I’m a chili newbie, though, so this was a good recipe for me! Thanks!

  21. Nicole says:

    Going to try this recipe in my house this week! Have you ever done this chili with beans in addition to the ground beef and liver? I’m going to attempt it for some extra (extra!) protein while pregnant! Thanks for sharing!

  22. 10 Superfoods Worth Eating - The Sprouting Seed says:

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  23. Katie says:

    Despite some otherwise great recipes I am really struggling to get more liver in my (and my family’s) diet. I’ve accepted that at least for now, we cannot eat it straight but minced up and ‘hidden’ in stuff. This is a great recipe to help us get there!

    Thank youuuuu!

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  25. Kelly says:

    Would this work just as well without soaking in lemon juice before?? Could I just puree the liver in the food processor with some onions? I am going to try this tonight because I took some livers out of the freezer and I have no idea what to do with them! Thanks for the recipe and I hope it turns out! My family does not like the strong taste of liver, but they will eat it.


    • Heather says:

      You can, but the lemon juice helps mellow the flavor of the liver :)

    • Squeaky says:

      I have been making this for a year now, I don’t even bother soaking the liver anymore. Chicken liver is so mild anyhow, and I can never remember to do everything. Buy a lemon, soak beans, cook beans, soak liver, defrost meat….. its too much for my little brain!

  26. Nicole says:

    I just made this and followed the directions exactly, except that I added two cans of kidney beans and used beef liver. I pureed it in the food processor into sort of a, um, sludge, and then sauteed it with the onions and garlic. I was nervous about the smell and texture, but once everything else was in there it seemed perfectly normal. My 13 month old could not eat it fast enough! And once I convinced my 5 year old to take a bite, he was excited to eat a bowl. I’m so psyched that this was a hit! Thanks!

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  29. afracooking says:

    Great post – and very covincing argument :-) who could disagree with a rat :-) But joking aside this really is one of the most original chili recipes I have seen for a long time!

  30. Joel A. says:

    I need to try this recipe. Looks delicious. I’m a liver fan.

  31. tereza crump aka mytreasuredcreations says:

    I like to sautee big batches of ground meat with onions, garlic and spices and freeze into portions. Yesterday I pureed some chicken livers and added to the ground meat as I sauteed it. I have been feeling tired and read about adding liver to the menu. I love liver but my family doesn’t. So I thought of adding it to their favorite meat and letting them reap the benefits without knowing of it at all.

    This morning I made an egg casserole (just beaten eggs and whatever toppings we like and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or so) and added the cooked ground meat/ liver and cheese. It was gobbled down and nobody noticed anything. I labeled my containers Power meat ragu, so I know they have the powerful ingredient in them. :)

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  34. Pamela says:

    I have tried this recipe and it is delicious. My partner and daughter couldn’t tell there was liver in there. I’ve also tried it with beef heart and it delicious as well. I have a question about the beans. Is there a reason the beans are not cooked together with the chili?

  35. The Forgotten Nutrient For Keeping You Toned - The Sprouting Seed says:

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  36. Gia Lyons says:

    So excited to try this recipe out as my lovely daughter did not inherit my family’s gusto for eating, so each bite needs to count. While I think the recipe itself is good, my disappointment was that it was too spicy for my little one. I started with an almost empty jar of chili powder and had to purchase a new jar to make the the 4T needed for the recipe. I will admit that I have never had great success with spice mixture in chili recipes. When I make chili I usually purchase the “kits” from the grocery store and they have always done right by me. They also come with a separate package of cayenne to add as much heat as preferred. When it comes to baby, I add none, and add heat to my own bowl.

    Can you recommend a chili powder with little or no heat?

    • Heather says:

      Hi Gia, I’m sorry it was too spicy for your little one! Depending on seasonal factors the same type of chili pepper can vary in the amount of “heat” it produces, so perhaps your batch was a bit more spicy than average. I’m not aware of a milder pepper that is commonly available, but you might try cutting the chili powder in half next time and adding more to taste.

  37. Paleo Roundup: Easy Ways to Eat Liver - Grass Fed Girl, LLC says:

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  38. Lisa says:

    This sounds delicious! I can’t find liver at my local grocery store and the only liver my farmers market has is pork. Is pork liver alright too? I’ve never had it before so I don’t know much about the dos and don’ts of different kinds of livers!

  39. Allie says:

    I’m really excited to try this because I’ve been wanting to incorporate more organ meats but I’m squeamish about the taste. I’m making it right now!

    I wanted to point out that you don’t mention when to put the beans in…

    Also, there are only 11 minutes left on the timer and it looks really liquidy. I pulled out some liquid but even now it really just looks like beef swimming in broth. It’s not thick. Did I miss something? The beef wasnt “submerged” with just the tomatoes so I added some broth to submerge it but that seemed like a lot of liquid.

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  42. Melissa says:

    This was a great recipe! I was really brave and used venison liver, heart & muscle meat. I really didn’t expect it to turn out well, but my 7 year old loved it!

  43. Jennifer says:

    I just made this for my family and we all thought it was wonderful. You couldn’t taste the liver at all! We used a whole pound of liver, ground turkey instead of beef and used canned kidney beans. I served it over mashed cauliflower. I will definitely be making this again!

  44. Barb laidlaw says:

    Hi just found this recipe and have never cooked beef liver before… mince it do I have to cook it first or mince it raw and then add it to the recipe and cook same as the chicken liver recipe? Thanks for your help!

  45. KimS says:

    I have been making this Chili recipe Gaps style….Instead of putting beans in it I bake a large butternut squash and add it. It is really good. Our favorite chili recipe! Thank you Heather for posting it

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