What Does Liver Taste Like?

While liver tends to get a bad rap, most of us have never even eaten it. We just ‘know’ that it tastes horrible. However, the stereotype of hating liver might be only that.

When cooked properly, liver has an earthy flavor that is somewhat sweet. The liver of grass-fed beef can be even milder with a silky smooth texture. However, the way the liver is cooked and the animal it comes from can all affect the taste and texture.

When people complain about how terrible liver is, it’s likely they’ve eaten liver that has not been well prepared. If overcooked, liver is dry, tough to eat, and fairly bitter. 

What Alters the Flavor of Liver

Liver from different animals will have different flavors and textures. The age of the animal and its diet will contribute heavily to its taste.

Animal Age

Similar to lamb, the age of the animal will affect the taste. An older animal will have a gamier taste than if the animal is younger. If the animal is younger the taste will typically be milder.

Types of Animal

Putting aside the diet of the animal momentarily, the livers of animals overall taste somewhat differently. The gamiest tasting liver belongs to beef, then calf, then pork, and finally chicken. After that duck and rabbit liver are around the same strength in gamey flavor.

However, the strongest gamey flavors come from the diet of the animals. Wild game animals will have a stronger flavor due to their varied diets. Generally, animals that eat other animals are gamier, grass and vegetation are milder and those that eat grains are sweeter.

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Eating Raw Liver

Eating raw liver is gaining in popularity. While you shouldn’t do it unless you know where it’s come from and how it’s been prepared, it’s another option.

Raw liver has a metallic sort of copper taste. Its texture is soft and tender with a slight jelly-like consistency.

Liver Pate

Liver pate is a fairly popular meal made with ground pork liver, lard, and spices. The flavor is dependent on the spices but is often flavored with onions and pepper. Depending on how fine the pork is ground the texture can be smooth or somewhat coarse.

Generally, this is eaten cold and spread onto slices of bread or sandwiches.


When cooked properly, liver has a lovely buttery texture that is creamy and soft. However, when overcooked, it’s dry, tough, and mealy. If you want to enjoy your liver, cook it properly.

In Summary

Liver has a reputation as a food people turn up their noses at. However, when cooked properly, liver can be earthy and sweet, with a buttery, creamy texture.

If you think the gamiest of the liver may be too much, look for liver from a younger animal that has been grain-fed. These will be milder, sweeter, and less gamey.