Yes to Yummy

Crispy Sweetbreads (gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo)

May 18, 2013 Leave your thoughts Print this page

When I was maybe 10 or 11, I went out to dinner with my family and saw “sweetbreads” on the menu. Being the carb-o-holic I was, I decided to order them. Sugary pieces of bread…what could be bad?

Upon putting in my request with the waiter, my parents explained to me that sweetbreads were not an appetizer version of a dessert: they were in fact something completely different. I immediately opted for something else instead…because I did not want to eat a thymus gland.

Last month while in Florida with my mom, I again saw sweetbreads on the menu. This time, I ordered them, and they were fantastic.

After seeing The Domestic Man post about his lamb sweetbreads, I knew it was time to try cooking these guys myself. Both the butchers and my parents seemed to doubt my abilities, but my attempt proved to be very successful.

Honestly, there’s nothing much to it but to do it. You don’t need very many ingredients or fancy equipment; you just need a good couple of hours to cook. My recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s in How to Cook Everything.


First, you’re going to need about a pound of, well, sweetbreads. You’ll probably want to get them at a butcher or US Wellness Meats.

Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Once it’s vigorously bubbling, turn the heat down slightly and stir in 1/2 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Gently drop the sweetbreads in and cook for 10 minutes.


Drain the sweetbreads and run under cold water until cool to the touch, about 7 minutes. If you see any loose pieces of membrane, peel them off—it’s not a big deal if you don’t get every piece.

Dry the sweetbreads off with a paper towel, then transfer to a clean plate. Place another plate on top of the sweetbreads, and weigh it down with a bunch of cans. (I used five 14.5 ounce cans of coconut milk.) Transfer to the fridge for 1 to 3 hours.


When you’re ready to cook, cut the sweetbreads into 1/2-inch slices. Toss in 3/4 cup of arrowroot flour, making sure to shake off any excess coating.

Heat 1/4 cup of duck fat over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Once hot, add half the sweetbreads and fry until golden brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Every couple of minutes, sprinkle with a little bit of salt.


Flip over and fry until golden brown on the other side, about 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer the sweetbreads to a paper towel-lined plate, and add the rest to the pan, adding more fat if necessary. Follow the same steps for the second batch.

When all of the sweetbreads have been cooked, pour in 1/2 cup of wine wine to the hot pan. Let bubble for 3 to 4 minutes, then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.

Drizzle a little sauce and a drop of lemon juice atop each sweetbread to serve.


To accompany these crunchy bits of goodness, I made a simple parsnip puree and sweet potato chips.

Have you ever tried sweetbreads? Am I crazy for trying them? Leave me a comment on Facebook and let me know!

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