Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy – Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe

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Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy is a simple recipe that transforms beef liver into a tasty dinner. It is a dish that was on the dinner table back in the day, and this Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe tastes just like Mom or Grandma made it back in the day.

Liver and onions is about as old fashioned as meals come. It’s not often eaten nowadays, but if you grew up eating it, you probably have an acquired taste for it.

I’m guessing your mom or grandma made it for you growing up because back in the day, nothing went to waste. My Grandma was of the era of the Great Depression when you had to use up every bit of food you had. Once you’ve survived that, being frugal tends to stick, and that means using every part of the beef, including the liver.

Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy

Making beef liver and onions is quite simple. I’ve been looking for a recipe for quite some time. My dear friend Rachel (who’s only in her thirties, by the way) loves beef liver with onions. I actually thought she was kinda crazy for some time, but she kept insisting.

So once I finally found step by step instructions for how to fry beef liver with onions in a 1920 Good Housekeeping’s Book of Recipes and Household Discoveries, I set out to conquer this old fashioned recipe.

It turns out, Rachel was right. The flavors of the slow cooked onions and bacon grease, combined with pan gravy really mask the liver flavors of the beef.

Ingredient List for Simple Beef Liver and Onions

Beef Liver, cut thin

Bacon Grease (vegetable oil or butter work too)

Onions

Salt

Black Pepper

Flour

Water

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Tips for Fried Beef Liver

  • Make sure skin and veins are removed.
  • Order the liver sliced thin.
  • Soak the liver in milk for 2 hours to remove some of the metallic, bitter flavors.
  • Use bacon grease to fry up the liver for the best flavor.
  • Don’t skimp on the onions. They will help mask the gamey flavor of the liver.
  • Over-cooking the liver results in a tough beef liver. Fry the liver rapidly.
  • Make a pan-gravy from the bits leftover in the pan.
  • Use crumbled bacon as a garnish.

How to Fry Beef Liver

  1. Slice onions thin. Fry in bacon grease in a hot skillet until soft. Remove onions and set aside.
  2. Combine flour, salt and pepper. Dust thin-sliced beef liver.
  3. Fry rapidly in leftover bacon grease (add some vegetable oil if needed) until brown.
  4. Flip, add onions over top of the liver.  Finish frying second side.
  5. Remove to a hot platter.
  6. Add a little bit of the remaining flour to the grease leftover in the pan, whisk.
  7. To the flour, add 1/4 cup hot water, whisking until a gravy forms.
  8. Pour over vintage beef liver and onions on the platter.
  9. Serve with mashed potatoes, if desired.

For the full recipe steps and ingredient amounts for vintage beef liver and onions, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post. 

Notes About How to Cook Liver and Onions

  • Be sure the beef liver is sliced thin.  This makes it more palatable.
  • Optional step: if you’ve got extra time, soak the liver in milk for a couple hours to remove bitter flavors.
  • I highly recommend using bacon grease for this dish; however, vegetable oil or butter will work too.
  • Fry the beef liver rapidly so that it doesn’t get over cooked.
  • Don’t skimp on the onions!
  • The gravy step is optional, but highly recommended.
  • Check out our Amazon store for our favorite kitchen picks.

What do I do with beef liver?

So you have a bunch of packages of beef liver in your freezer from your freezer beef. What in the world are you supposed to do with all that beef liver?

  1. Fry it up with a bunch of onions and bacon grease to make beef liver and onions.
  2. Boil it, cut into small pieces, and treat your dog to a snack.
  3. Put raw liver in a food processor and pulverize. Freeze it in ice cube trays. Each time you fry up ground beef, add a couple frozen cubes of beef liver to add vitamins to your ground beef. It doesn’t affect the flavor, and your family will never know.

Recipes Grandma Would Make

Grandma’s Macaroni with Tomatoes Recipe

Old Fashioned Macaroni and Tomatoes takes you back to your childhood.  With a just a few simple ingredients such as canned tomatoes, elbow macaroni, sugar, salt and butter, you can recreate Grandma's Macaroni with Tomatoes Recipe.

Old Fashioned Pickled Beets 

Try Grandma's Old Fashioned Pickled Beets Recipe.  This is a small batch pickled beets recipe made for the refrigerator.  Make these once, and they are sure to be in your summer rotation of garden vegetable recipes.

Pinto Bean Pancakes

Old Fashioned Pinto Bean Patties are an economical meal from the past.  Pinto Bean Pancakes use leftover beans, onions, egg, flour, salt and pepper and are fried until golden brown. Learn how to make bean cakes with these easy directions.  

Leftover Mashed Potato Cakes 

Five ingredients is all it takes to make Granny's Leftover Mashed Potato Cakes. Using a base of your favorite leftover real mashed potatoes, you can easily make this economical side dish that the whole family will love.

Favorite Main Dishes

Liver and Onions not your thing but you need ideas for an easy main dish? We love an easy protein made on the stove top or in the oven.

Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy - Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe

Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy is a simple recipe that transforms beef liver into a tasty dinner. Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe tastes just like Mom or Grandma made it back in the day.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Entree, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beef liver and onions, beef liver and onions with gravy, beef liver with onions, how to fry beef liver, how to fry liver, liver and onions, old fashioned liver and onions
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Barbara

Ingredients

  • 3 Tablespoons bacon grease (butter or vegetable oil work too)
  • 3 small onions
  • 3/4 to 1 pound beef liver, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 cup hot water

Instructions

  • Slice onions thin.
    Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy is a simple recipe that transforms beef liver into a tasty dinner. Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe tastes just like Mom or Grandma made it back in the day.
  • Heat bacon grease in a large skillet. Fry until soft in the grease. Remove from pan and set aside.
    Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy is a simple recipe that transforms beef liver into a tasty dinner. Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe tastes just like Mom or Grandma made it back in the day.
  • Combine flour, salt and pepper.
    Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy is a simple recipe that transforms beef liver into a tasty dinner. Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe tastes just like Mom or Grandma made it back in the day.
  • Dust beef liver in flour mixture.
    Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy is a simple recipe that transforms beef liver into a tasty dinner. Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe tastes just like Mom or Grandma made it back in the day.
  • Fry dusted liver in remaining bacon grease (if dry add a little bit of vegetable oil first).
  • Once the bottom is golden brown, flip. Add the onions back on top and brown the second side.
    Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy is a simple recipe that transforms beef liver into a tasty dinner. Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe tastes just like Mom or Grandma made it back in the day.
  • Remove to hot platter.
  • Optional: add a little bit of leftover flour to the drippings (no more than a tablespoon of flour), whisk. Add hot water, and whisk and heat until pan gravy forms.
    Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy is a simple recipe that transforms beef liver into a tasty dinner. Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe tastes just like Mom or Grandma made it back in the day.
  • Pour over liver and onions on platter, and serve!
    Beef Liver and Onions with Gravy is a simple recipe that transforms beef liver into a tasty dinner. Old Fashioned Liver and Onions Recipe tastes just like Mom or Grandma made it back in the day.

Notes

  • Be sure the beef liver is sliced thin.  This makes it more palatable.
  • Optional step: if you've got extra time, soak the liver in milk for a couple hours to remove bitter flavors.
  • I highly recommend using bacon grease for this dish; however, vegetable oil or butter will work too.
  • Fry the beef liver rapidly so that it doesn't get over cooked.
  • Don't skimp on the onions!
  • The gravy step is optional, but highly recommended.
  • Serve with Potato Pancakes!

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