Kidneys, The Most Underrated Ingredient

Kidneys, The Most Underrated Ingredient

Which  Kidneys Are Best for Cooking

It depends on what type of dish you are cooking, for quick cook  recipes you would choose the most tenderest of the kidney’s. Just the same way as when you are cooking steak for example. The most tender cut is the fillet steak that needs a quick short sharp cooking method.
For longer cooking techniques you would use a more robust more mature kidney, just as you would use braising steak for a long cook. The longer cooking process such a stew imparts such a rich depth of flavour.

Types Of Kidneys Young And Old

The reason some kidney’s are more tender than others is due to the age of the animal in the first place. As the name suggests, Calves, veal and lambs kidney’s are all from animals from a young age. The muscle has not been overworked so it leaves the meat very tender and velvet like. 

Ox, beef and pig kidneys come from much older animals so the texture and taste is firmer and stronger. Do remember there isn’t exactly a best type of kidney, only the best for a particular style of cooking. It the exactly  the same with other types of offal such as the different types of liver

Calves’ kidneys or veal kidneys

Calves’ kidneys (aka veal kidneys) are the . They are the most tender and have the best flavour of all. Needless to say, they are also the most expensive. One of the reasons they are the most expensive is due to their small size and the expensive way they are fed. Veal (young diary male calves) are fed on a diet of milk supplement. Great for quick cooking methods.

Having been fed a milk based diet this makes the veal much light in colour. Sometimes refried to as rose veal as well. Another great selling point of veal kidney’s is the mild flavour of the kidney itself. Some recipes recommend that you pre soak your offal in milk to reduce the bitterness (iron) from the meat before cooking. Well in this instance as the veal has already had a milk based diet there is no need. I highly recommend that if you haven’t tried kidneys before you start with the veal kidneys as they are very mild in flavour.

Lambs’ kidneys

Lambs’ kidneys are relatively easy to come by. They aren’t quite as tender  as calves’ kidneys, but they are a very good substitute. The added benefit is that they have a stronger flavour the the veal kidneys. They pack a little more punch in depth of flavour and complexity of taste.

Lambs kidney’s are great offal cuts for quick cooking methods

Variations For The Kidney Sauce

If you like the idea of adding a little cream to your final creation then there are many flavours you could use. You could use a nice sherry to cook the kidney in but one of my favourites is using marsala wine for the sauce. You could also use brandy or if you want to make it really distinctive you could use Calvados brandy.

Ox kidneys, beef kidneys, and pig kidneys

Ox or beef kidneys (an ox is simply a castrated bull) and pig kidney are tougher – ok for steak and kidney pie – and they have a rather strong flavour.

Buying kidneys

Kidneys deteriorate faster than any other type of offal. They are best bought whole from a good butcher, and eaten the same day you’ve bought them. Don’t keep them longer than a day in the fridge.

How to cook kidneys

Get rid of the bitterness with salt

In order to avoid any bitterness of ox, beef and pig kidneys, the recommendation is to either salt the kidneys for about half an hour and then rinse; or to soak for a couple of hours in salted water (a couple of teaspoons of salt to 4 cups/1 litre water; or to soak them in buttermilk (easy enough to make with milk and lemon juice). It’s not necessary to soak calf or lamb kidneys, but it’s not a bad idea to salt then, rinse, and dry. Today this isn’t always necessay.

Grill or fry calves’ or lambs’ kidneys; braise or stew ox and pig kidney

Calves’ and lambs’ kidneys can be cooked quickly by grilling or frying. It’s very important not to overcook these kidneys otherwise they become tough. Ox and pig kidney need to be sliced and braised or stewed in a liquid for longer cooking time, as, for example, in a steak and kidney pie.

Ideas for dishes using kidneys

Grilled calves’ kidneys are particularly good served on toast with Patum Peperium (Gentleman’s Relish) butter (mix the Patum Peperium into the butter in a ratio of about 1 teaspoon to 3 teaspoons of butter); or with parsley butter (mix about half a packet of butter with half a generous bunch of chopped parsley and a couple of teaspoons of lemon juice). Ask the butcher to supply the kidneys wrapped their own natural blanket of suet. You can use whatever suet remains to make some suet pastry.

Method for cooking kidneys

  1. get rid of the bitterness by salting as described above. Sprinkle each half of kidney with pepper
  2. fry with a little natural suet or some butter – about three minutes on each side, but be careful NOT TO OVERCOOK
  3. the kidneys should be brown on the outside and pink on the inside
  4. serve with the Patum Peperium (if you don’t have any just mash in an anchovy fillet) butter or the parsley butter

Kidney As Street Food

All over the world people eat kidney and probably more so than s in the UK. Many places serve kidney as a street food. Simply spicing the kidney, perhaps cayenne pepper and a little salt, then simply grill it over an open flame until cooked. Then its just placed in some flat bread and then you eat. It would great with a little Turkish red cabbage salad served with it.

Lamb Kidney Nutrition

Lamb kidney is an excellent source of protein, iron, and vitamin B12 among other vital nutrients. Here’s a closer look at its macronutrient and micronutrient profiles. 

Lamb Kidney Macronutrients

TOTAL FAT2.9 grams
TRANS FAT0.0 grams
CHOLESTEROL337 milligrams
SODIUM156 milligrams
POTASSIUM277 milligrams
NET CARBS0.8 grams
SUGAR0 grams
PROTEIN15.7 grams


Lamb kidney is fairly low in fat, especially when compared to popular cuts of muscle meat like lamb chops. 

The fat in lamb kidney is a nice blend of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. 

All of these fats play an important role in basic metabolic processes and can optimize the fatty acid composition of your cells.

Kidney fat is  high in both omega 3’s, and the beneficial saturated fat called stearic acid. 


Kidney is a great source of complete protein. Just 3 ounces contains 15.7 grams of protein — almost enough to maximize protein synthesis. The protein in kidney contains all 9 essential amino acids. This means it’s more effective gram-for-gram than plant proteins.


Lamb kidney contains a very small amount of carbohydrates. Fresh kidney may contain slightly more than the .8 grams per 100 grams listed. Even then, kidney is low enough in carbs to perfectly complement a keto/carnivore diet.

lambs kidneys cooked with mushrooms and smoked paprika, cayenne pepper. With a side serving of rainbow chard on a black plate

Cayenne Kidneys

Get ready to add some fiery kick to your taste buds with this delicious kidney dish infused with the bold flavors of cayenne pepper and smoked paprika
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine British
Servings 1
Calories 220 kcal



  • 2 Lamb kidneys Quartered and cleaned
  • 85 grams Sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp Oil for cooking
  • 1 knob butter for cooking
  • Season to taste with salt & pepper


  • heat the frying pan and add the oil
  • once the pan is warm add the 85 grams Sliced mushrooms , cook for around 2 minutes then add 1 knob butter cook for a further minute. season to taste
  • remove the mushrooms from the pan into a clean bowl
  • turn up the heat on the empty pan and add more oil
  • Now add 2 Lamb kidneys and immediately add 1 tsp Smoked paprika paprika, and 1 tsp Cayenne pepper.
  • cook on a high heat for around 3 minutes ensuring that you keep them moving in the pan so they do not burn. (cook for longer if you prefer well done)
  • Now add back the mushrooms back into the pan and heat for 30 to 40 seconds


Serving: 1gCalories: 220kcalCarbohydrates: 3gProtein: 25gFat: 10gSodium: 80mgFiber: 1gVitamin A: 2828IUVitamin C: 37mgIron: 5mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Kidneys also cook great skewered and then cooked in a pizza oven

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