Sautéed Calf’s Liver

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Editor's Note: A truly special occasion calls for a truly special meal! This recipe by the famed Julia Child is one that will be suitable for just about any milestone event. This Sautéed Calf’s Liver recipe is actually easy to make and will be a change up from your usual go-to dinner options. While you can serve this calf's liver recipe with an assortment of your favorite side dishes, consider branching out a bit and trying Child's own recipe for Braised Rice: Risotto to include in the menu. Two variations on this classic recipe included following the recipe's instructions below.

Here is the master recipe for a simple sauté of calf’s liver, which cooks hardly more than a minute on each side. Overcooked liver is gray, dry, and disappointing—perfectly sautéed, it is a rosy pink when you cut into it.


Cooking MethodSauteeing



Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

Recipe CourseMain Course

Five Ingredients or LessYes


Taste and TextureMeaty, Savory


  • 4 slices or about 1 pound top-quality calf's liver sliced ½ inch thick
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup or so flour in a plate
  • 3 tablespoons clarified butter, or butter and light olive oil or peanut oil
  • Equipment
  • A heavy 10-inch frying pan, no-stick recommended


  1. Sautéing: ​The moment before sautéing, season the liver on both sides with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour, shaking off excess. Set the frying pan over high heat and film with 1/16 inch of clarified butter or butter and oil. When very hot, lay in the liver and sauté 1 minute on each side.

  2. When is it done? It should be barely springy when pressed with your finger, and a deep pinky red when you cut into a piece. Serve as is, or try one of the suggestions that follow.

Variation: Calf's Liver and Bacon

Cook 2 slices of bacon per person and keep warm on a plate lined with paper towels. Pour the bacon fat into a small bowl, wipe the pan clean, and spoon in clear bacon fat. Use that rather than butter for sautéing, to give the liver a special flavor. Serve the bacon with the liver.

Variation: Sautéed Calf's Liver with Wine and Mustard Sauce (for Four Servings)

Mustard Sauce:
1 tablespoon Dijon-type prepared mustard
1/4 cup beef or chicken stock
1/4 cup dry white French vermouth

Ingredients for Sautéed Calf's Liver:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot or scallion
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

  1. Whisk the mustard, stock, and vermouth in a small bowl.

  2. Sauté the liver and remove to hot plates or a hot platter.

  3. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add the tablespoon of butter, and sauté the shallot or scallion in the pan for a moment; blend in the mustard mixture and simmer a moment or two, until the sauce has thickened lightly.

  4. Swirl in the parsley, spoon the sauce over the liver, and serve.


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