Don’t Be Heartless – Why You Should Be Eating Heart

1 June 2020
Raw Hearts

Many will scoff at the thought of eating heart… a tradition of our ancestors that’s long been forgotten. But this nutritious and tasty meat deserves better.

In this post, discover nutritional benefits and simple ways of getting heart into your diet.

Our heart is a pump that slogs away, never resting for a moment from the first beat – 22 days after conception – until the grim reaper bears his scythe.

Pumping blood first to the lungs to be oxygenated then out to our peripheries… if it were to halt for any amount of time, we would suffer potentially life-threatening consequences.

As a result of this relentless work, the heart is the leanest muscle meat that we can eat, leaner than any fillet steak you’ll pay top dollar for, yet heart is one of the cheapest meats you’ll find.

This leanness limits the cooking options somewhat, but this shouldn’t scare you off in any way. It’s either low and slow or hot and fast… anything in between is just rubber.


Nutritional Benefits of Heart

Being a lean meat, it offers a generous portion of protein, but there’s far more that this meat can offer.

It’s an incredibly rich source of vitamin B12 with a 100g portion giving us nearly 400% of our RDA.

Vitamin B12 is the controversial vitamin in the vegan argument being that it’s not available in any amount from plant food. To maintain robust health whilst eating a vegan diet, B12 has to be supplemented or obtained from fortified foods.

B12 plays many important roles in the body which I won’t go into here, but our bodies store this vitamin in our liver and will hold enough reserves to keep us going for up to 5 years.

So, a new vegan – with no B12 intake – may not see any negative effects for some years, but it’ll eventually catch up with them. Fortunately, with plenty of fortified food options, it shouldn’t be a problem in getting plenty of B12 on a vegan diet.

For us meat-eaters, B12 is abundant in most meats and dairy.

Other minerals found in abundance in heart are iron, riboflavin, selenium, choline and niacin, all of which serve important roles for maintaining good health.

It’s clear that getting some heart into our diets will give our bodies a massive nutrient boost delivered in a bio-available package that our body is perfectly engineered to absorb.

Edible hearts come from the usual animals such as cow/ox, pig, lamb, chicken and duck.


The Heart of an Ox

Sliced ox heart

The ox heart is a sight to be seen, the size and weight of a bowling ball with dark red dense meat and hard white marbled fat on the surface.

If the heart in its whole form puts you off, then ask your butcher to cut it into slices, say, 2cm thick.

Trim the outer fat and sear it in a hot pan of butter or lard or any other animal fat you have lying about.

On a medium to high heat, brown for a couple of minutes on each side leaving the middle red. Devour on its own or with a béarnaise sauce, or mustard or perhaps a homemade horseradish sauce.

Don’t expect a ribeye texture here, the fibres of heart are dense and free of fat so it has more bite than a traditional steak, but has a beefy flavour none the less.

The texture may take some getting used to as it’s not like any other food we eat, but give it a chance, you’ll soon find you’re craving your next heart steak.

When cooking low and slow, due to the dense nature of heart, it doesn’t break down like other muscle meat with long cooking.

For a simple option, I add chunks into my stews along with muscle meat and kidney.

I prepare my stews in a pressure cooker, a magical cooking utensil saving many hours of cooking. Throw everything in – with either water or bone broth – and you’ll have a gorgeous stew within a couple of hours.

In the oven, braise for around 4 hours at 160 degrees C until the muscle meat falls apart easily with a fork.

Heart will come out still firm to the bite but yummy and provides a contrast of textures between the melting muscle and soft spongy kidney.


Lambs and Pigs Hearts

Baked Lambs Hearts

I’ll be honest and confess that I’ve only tried lambs hearts in one form. Stuffed with lambs mince, wrapped in streaky bacon and baked for a couple of hours or so in some red wine that can be made into a sauce at the end.

My recipe was loosely based on this. I highly recommend this rich and sumptuous dish. A textural delight of crispy bacon, firm but not tough heart flesh and soft mince complemented with a velvety sauce.

As with ox heart, lambs hearts can be flash-fried too. Either cut into small pieces or butterfly and brown on the outside leaving the middle pink.

I’ve yet to try pigs hearts although – at time of writing – I have 3 sitting in the freezer ready for my next hearty adventure. They’re around the same size as lambs hearts – perhaps slightly bigger – and can be treated in the same way. I will likely try something similar to this recipe in the near future.

Chicken and Ducks Hearts

cooked chicken hearts

The dainty chicken and duck hearts are inferior when it comes to size but not when we’re talking taste…

…A perfect bite-sized treat. Slice in half and sauté in some butter – or any other animal fat you have – for a couple of minutes and enjoy them on their own, or – for a twist – wrap them in bacon… a perfect appetizer.


Other Options

There’s always the option of eating heart raw, there are some that take their heart this way. If you’ve got the stomach for it, give it a go.

I will say that if you are tempted, I would suggest making sure you know exactly where your meat’s come from and is of high quality.

I highly recommend sourcing your meat from a Pasture For Life certified butcher.

Also, personally, I would steer clear of raw poultry.

For those of us who prefer their food cooked, there are many more recipes to explore. Try searching on Google or – as in my case – DuckDuckGo.



The heart is another highly nutritious and neglected meat. It’s a travesty that the hardest working organ in the body gets wasted and disregarded.

The heart should be celebrated… for its constant beating has provided life… so its rested state should go on to provide us with a tasty, nutritious and hearty meal…

…It’s the least it deserves.

If you want to find out more about the nutritional power of organ meats, then take a squint at my post about the mighty liver here.


Have a nutritious day!


There you have it! Just a reminder that I’m no doctor, dietitian or any other profession for that matter. I’m simply a bearer of information for you to do what you want with; question it, research it, erase it from your mind, you are in charge of you.

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