How to Cook Beef Sweetbreads

by Joshua McCarron

Sweetbreads come from the thyroid area of the animal.

Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images

Sweetbreads may sound like desserts, but they are actually organ meat most often taken from sheep or cows. Sweetbreads come from the thyroid area of the animal, near the top of the chest and trachea. Beef sweetbreads are taken from calves, or “veal,” because they are much more tender and have a more delicate flavor than those of their older counterparts. The inside of beef sweetbreads are rich and creamy. Preparing beef sweetbreads is not overly complicated, and may be accomplished through a few different methods.


Add 1 tsp. or so of salt to a medium mixing bowl of water and soak the sweetbreads for two to three hours. Change the water about every 20 minutes.

Blanch the sweetbreads by adding them to a pot of boiling water for seven to 10 minutes.

Rinse the meat under cold water or place in ice water to cool.

Remove any skin, fat or veins that are visible with a fork or small paring knife.

Cooking Methods

Grill the sweetbreads. Lightly oil the grates of your barbecue and place the beef sweetbreads directly on the grill under medium heat. Cook for five to seven minutes, turning the pieces a few times to brown both sides evenly, advises the Epicurious website.

Sauté the sweetbreads. Slice the sweetbreads diagonally into small medallions and sauté them in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook for three to five minutes, turning frequently until they are lightly browned on both sides.

Braise the sweetbreads on the stovetop. Slice the sweetbreads and cook over high heat in a skillet for one or two minutes, then cover with wine or broth. Braise the sweetbreads over low heat for 25 to 30 minutes.


  • Cut sweetbreads into smaller pieces and slide them onto skewers as kebabs for a different presentation.

Photo Credits

  • Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Joshua McCarron has been writing both online and offline since 1995. He has been employed as a copywriter since 2005 and in that position has written numerous blogs, online articles, websites, sales letters and news releases. McCarron graduated from York University in Toronto with a bachelor's degree in English.