You will love this old-fashioned liver and onions with bacon elevated with a sumptuous gravy. This classic dish which is rich in iron and bursting with flavor, will stir up some fond memories of dinners at your grandma's. The recipe also includes a bonus oven method, in case you are not a fan of pan-frying.
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reasons to love this fried beef liver and onions and recipe
There are so many reasons to love this recipe!
- hearty & nourishing: packed with essential nutrients like iron and vitamins, this dish is both delicious and good for you.
- nostalgic charm: a classic recipe that brings back memories of comforting home-cooked meals, just like your grandma used to make!
- rich flavor profile: The delectable gravy elevates the dish, melding with the liver's robust flavor and the sweetness of the onions.
- simple ingredients, stellar results: made with everyday ingredients, yet the outcome is a showstopper of a meal.
This segment is a summary of the ingredients you will need to make old-fashioned liver and onions, as well as possible substitutions, if any. You will find the detailed ingredient list in the recipe card provided below.
- liver - I like to use beef liver for this old-fashioned liver recipe, but you can also use pork or veal liver. I would say use veal liver if you are a beginner.
- fruit and vegetables - large onion(s) and an apple.
- bacon - feel free to use regular or turkey bacon.
- cooking oil.
- spices and seasoning- salt, black pepper, and onion powder (not pictured), plus some ground garlic and ginger powder.
- all-purpose flour - regular flour, (arrowroot, or tapioca flour for paleo). Use a mixture of almond flour and parmesan cheese and a 1:1 ratio to keep this recipe keto.
- dairy - milk, butter, clarified butter or margarine for use in making the gravy (not pictured).
- vegetable or chicken stock.
how to make old-fashioned liver and onions
Anyone can learn how to make fried liver. It is really very easy and doesn't require any pro cooking skills plus, you can make your liver by pan-frying it, or cooking it in the oven!
The segment below gives a summary of how to cook beef liver with onions. You will find the detailed instructions in the recipe card provided at the bottom of this page.
method 1: pan-fry the liver
- Rinse liver to remove excess blood and pat dry; remove any membranes to prevent the liver from turning tough and chewy, and optionally soak in milk for 30 minutes.
- Slice apple and onion; set aside.
- Cut liver into 1-inch thick pieces.
- Combine flour, garlic powder, and ginger powder in a bowl; dust liver in mixture, shaking off excess.
- In a skillet on medium-high heat, sauté onions and apple till browned; set aside.
- Crisp bacon and set aside.
- Brown liver slices in the skillet on each side. Layer on a plate with bacon, onions, and apples, cover to keep warm.
- Layer on a plate with bacon, onions, and apples, cover to keep warm.
- Prepare and pour gravy over the liver and fixings (see the recipe card for how to make the gravy). Season, serve, and enjoy!
TIP: use a fork to make a few holes on the surface of the aluminum foil so it does not get soggy, when making the sauce.
method 2: cook liver in the oven
Wondering how you can cook liver in the oven? Well, I have to say this is also very simple. Okay, truth be told, it does take slightly longer than the frying method. But on the other hand, you don't have to do much, once the liver is in the oven!
This is a summary of how to make liver in the oven. The detailed steps have been provided in the recipe card below.
- Rinse liver, remove membranes, and optionally soak in milk for a milder flavor.
- Slice apple and onion; cut liver into 1-inch thick pieces.
- Dredge liver slices in a flour mixture and set aside.
- In a skillet, sauté onions and apples; set half aside. Fry bacon till crisp.
- Brown liver slices in the skillet, then layer in a casserole dish: onions/apples, liver, remaining onions/apples, and bacon.
- Drizzle with gravy, cover, and bake at 365° F (180° C) for 20 minutes. Season and serve.
In addition to some delicious gravy, this dish goes perfectly with mashed potatoes, or cauliflower mash as a low carb option. Other ways to serve it that you can try include:-
- Green beans: serve it with our air fryer green beans! The crispness of green beans complements the rich flavors of liver and gravy. Drizzle a bit of melted butter for added flavor.
- Rice dishes: a bed of fluffy pilau rice soaks up the gravy and pairs wonderfully with the savory taste of liver.
- Buttered noodles: Simple and classic, buttered noodles offer a neutral side that's a sure winner with liver and onions.
- Roasted root vegetables: everything from our air fryer roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, turnips, and more!
- Creamed spinach or a tasty side salad.
tips to making the best old-fashioned liver and onions
- To prevent the liver from turning chewy, make sure to remove the tough, outside membrane.
- You can soak the liver in almond milk, instead of regular dairy milk. You can also use lemon juice to remove the smell of liver, instead of using milk.
- Herbs such as parsley, thyme, sage and tarragon go well with liver and onions so feel free to use them if you like. You can also substitute the spices with your favorite seasonings.
- Make this recipe special-diet friendly: make paleo and gluten-free liver and onions by using a gluten-free blend such as tapioca flour or arrowroot flour. Additionally, use a suitable cooking oil (such as coconut or avocado oil), if on a special diet such as keto and paleo. or a Keto or low-carb alternative, use a mixture of almond flour and parmesan cheese.
refrigeration and freezing
Store your liver and onions in suitable airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 days. Liver tastes best when consumed fresh but if you really have to freeze, then freeze your leftovers in a suitable, properly labeled, airtight container (bearing a description and best-by date). Consume frozen liver within 3 months.
frequently asked questions
· Texture and Color: Veal liver, being from a younger animal, often has a smoother texture and a lighter color compared to beef liver. The beef liver, due to its age, can sometimes be grainier and deeper in hue.
· Nutritional Differences: While both veal and beef livers are nutrient-dense, offering a rich supply of vitamins and minerals, the veal liver often contains slightly less fat and fewer calories per serving than beef liver.
· Taste and Smell: Veal liver, derived from younger animals, typically boasts a milder smell and taste than its beef counterpart. One reason for this is that the veal liver has processed fewer toxins in its shorter lifespan compared to the mature beef liver.
· Price Point: Owing to its tender texture and milder flavor, veal or calf's liver tends to command a higher price than beef liver.
For this old-fashioned liver and onions recipe, you can opt for calf, beef, or even pig liver.
I have a personal preference for beef because it's what I savored growing up. But, as always, choose what resonates best with your palate.
· To fry the liver without flour, begin by patting it dry. You can sprinkle on some seasonings like black pepper or garlic powder, but hold off on the salt for now—it can draw out too much moisture and prevent the liver from developing a nice crust.
· Pour about a third of a cup of oil into a pan and heat it over medium. Once hot, add the liver slices, frying each side for 2-3 minutes or until they turn a rich brown. After frying, transfer the liver to a plate and season with salt.
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Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe
- 1 lb beef liver (or veal, calf, or pork liver as preferred) about 500 g
- ½ cup milk (optional - see notes)
- 2 yellow onions large
- 4 rashers bacon (poultry bacon will also do fine)
- ⅓ cup olive oil (or preferred cooking oil)
- ⅓ cup flour (all-purpose, arrowroot or tapioca flour)
- 1 apple
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tsp ginger powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon butter or clarified butter or margarine
- 2 tablespoon flour (arrowroot for paleo or all-purpose)
- 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground onion (onion powder)
- ½ teaspoon salt (or more, to taste)
Old fashioned liver and onions - frying method
- Place the liver in a colander and rinse it under running water to remove excess blood. Pat dry with a kitchen towel.
- Remove any tough membrane from the liver's surface. Optionally, soak the liver in milk for about 30 minutes to reduce the strong liver smell.
- Next, slice the apple and onions and set them aside for later.
- Slice the liver into servable pieces, each about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick.
- Add the flour, garlic powder, and ginger powder to a bowl and stir to combine (see notes below). Do not add salt at this point, as this will drain the moisture from the liver and make your liver dry.⅓ cup flour, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon ginger powder
- Dust the liver pieces with the flour mixture making sure to shake off excess flour.
- On medium-high heat, drizzle the oil in a skillet. Sauté onions and apple until slightly browned, then set aside.2 yellow onions, 4 rashers bacon, ⅓ cup olive oil, 1 apple, 1 lb beef liver (or veal, calf, or pork liver as preferred)
- Crisp the bacon on both sides and also set this aside.
- Brown the dusted liver for 3-5 minutes per side, or until properly browned.
- Once fried, transfer the liver to a plate, layer with bacon, onions, and apples. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm, then proceed to make the sauce.
- Prepare the gravy as per the method described below. To serve, place the fried beef liver, onions, bacon, and apples on a serving plate. Season with salt and generously drizzle the gravy on top. Enjoy your old-fashioned liver and onions with a side dish of your choice!½ teaspoon salt
How to cook liver in the oven
- Rinse the liver under running water, removing any visible membrane from its surface. Optionally, you can soakthe liver in milk for 30 minutes to reduce its strong flavor.
- Slice the apple and onion, settingthem aside. Cut the liver into serving pieces, approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick.
- In a bowl, combine flour, garlic powder, and ginger powder. Dust the liver slices in this flour mixture, ensuring each piece is well-coated. Gently tap off any excess flour. Refrain from adding salt now to prevent the liver from drying out.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions and apples until they turn translucent and gain a slightly browned hue. Transfer half of this mix to a casserole dish, reserving the other half. In the same skillet, fry the bacon until crisp, approximately a minute per side. Set aside.
- Proceed to fry the sliced liver for about 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Transfer the liver to the casserole dish so that you now have onions and apples at the bottom, the liver in the middle, and finally, the remaining onions and apples. Lay the bacon on top, drizzle with gravy (see gravy instructions below), cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes at 365° F (approximately 180° C). Once done, season with salt, then serve.
- Melt butter under low heat. Add in the flour, black pepper, onion powder, garlic, and ginger powder then use a whisk to stir. Continue stirring until it turns brown (for about 3-5 minutes).2 tablespoon butter or clarified butter, 2 tablespoon flour, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ teaspoon ginger powder
- Once browned, add the stock and allow to simmer for a further 2 minutes.1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
- Continue whisking until thick then serve with the fried liver or drizzle on top of the casserole dish to bake.
- To prevent the liver from turning chewy, make sure to remove the tough, outside membrane.
- The soaking of the liver in milk is optional, and you can use non-dairy milk such as almond milk.
- Feel free to add your favorite herbs or seasonings to the flour coating.
- Make paleo and gluten-free liver and onions by using a gluten-free blend such as tapioca flour or arrowroot flour. For a Keto or low-carb alternative, use a mixture of almond flour and parmesan cheese.
- Add more stock if you prefer a lighter and thinner sauce or gravy.
- Store your liver and onions in suitable airtight containers in the fridge for up to 2 days. Liver tastes best when consumed fresh but if you really have to freeze, then freeze your leftovers in a suitable, properly labeled, airtight container (bearing a description and best-by date). Consume frozen liver within 3 months.