Beef Cheeks

So what are beef cheeks? You know how some people say that if you don’t want to know the answer to a question.. don’t ask? Well, beef cheeks are just that – cheeks from cows’ heads. Or would that be faces?

Surprisingly, the other day at the grocery store, I came across beef cheeks, and I’d never cooked them before. I’ve had them at restaurants – I think most often as an hors d’oeuvre. So it was time to try them out as a main course.

They’re a very tough piece of meat, so braising was the only way to go. So here’s what I did.

Wine-Braised Beef Cheeks

Beef cheeks, about 3 pounds
1 bottle of good red wine – you’ll be using it in the braising liquid
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely sliced
A few bay leaves
Sprig of rosemary
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons paprika paste
Salt, to taste

Place the cheeks in a large, non-reactive bowl. add the wine, onion, rosemary, and garlic. Then cover everything with the bottle of wine. Refrigerate overnight, for at least 12 hours.


The next day, remove the cheeks and lay them on paper towels to dry. Pour the marinade through a sieve and set it aside; discard the onion and other goodies.


Heat some oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Cut up the cheeks into workable pieces, then season them on both sides with salt and pepper. Brown the cheeks, about 2 minutes on both sides, without crowding them.


Set the browned cheeks on a plate, and continue with the remaining pieces. Then lower the heat to medium and add the onion, celery, and carrot. Saute the vegetables for 5 minutes.


Stir in the garlic and saute for just a minute. Then add the remaining marinade, and the beef broth. Reduce the mixture by about half.


When the liquid has reduced, stir in the tomato paste and the paprika paste.


Return the cheeks to the pot, including any liquid that might have accumulated on the plate, and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce the heat, and simmer the cheeks for about 2 1/2 hours. Turn the pieces over about halfway through the cooking time – especially if they’re not completely submerged in the liquid.


Remove the lid from the pot, and let everything cool down. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, remove the cheeks and slice them thinly. You can strain the liquid in the pot to remove the aromatics, but I left them as is. Place the cheek slices in the liquid and heat slowly until heated through. Taste the liquid and add salt, if necessary.

I served the cheek slices on top of cheesy polenta, topped with some of the braising liquid. Alternatively, you could also strain the braising liquid and make more of a gravy with it, but I preferred a more rustic presentation.


If you need a recipe for making polenta, which are also grits (they’re both cornmeal), there’s a recipe pumpkin polenta and one called double corn grits that would both be good with the cheeks.

The combination was really fantastic. And I enjoyed beef cheeks as a main course. They’re almost like beef tongue, but much softer. They were also very inexpensive.


By Published On: December 28th, 201341 Comments on Beef Cheeks

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. The Editor December 28, 2013 at 9:08 AM - Reply

    Thanks for sharing. I would have never guessed where beef cheeks came from :-)

    Does this piece of meat require any extra tenderizing?

    • chef mimi December 28, 2013 at 9:11 AM - Reply

      Hahaha! No, the braising does all the work! Happy new year!

      • The Editor December 28, 2013 at 9:26 AM

        Well I may give these a try then…Happy New Year to you too!

      • chef mimi December 28, 2013 at 9:28 AM

        After the time braising, they’re tender, although in a beef cheek sort of way… Thanks!

  2. Joanne Bruno (@joanneeatswell) December 28, 2013 at 9:10 AM - Reply

    This looks like a great preparation for this cut of meat!

    • chef mimi December 28, 2013 at 9:11 AM - Reply

      Thank you! It’s like a nice rich stew… with a twist!

  3. Our Growing Paynes December 28, 2013 at 9:25 AM - Reply

    Never heard of paprika paste! Wonder if I can find it round here. Beef cheeks and tongue are on my list to experiment with and this is a great recipe.

  4. Conor Bofin December 28, 2013 at 10:11 AM - Reply

    Very nice Mimi. I haven’t cooked them before. Another one to try.

    • chef mimi December 28, 2013 at 3:13 PM - Reply

      I prefer tongue to cheeks, but they’re both inexpensive and pretty wonderful! Happy New Year Conor!

  5. acrusteaten December 28, 2013 at 11:20 AM - Reply

    That looks divine!

    • chef mimi December 29, 2013 at 9:42 AM - Reply

      Thank you! A very hearty dish!

      • acrusteaten December 29, 2013 at 9:43 AM

        I have been wanting to try them myself. They always look so delicious!

  6. Shanna Koenigsdorf Ward December 28, 2013 at 11:32 AM - Reply

    How interesting! They look divine. I have never cooked our ate them. Something to try soon – along with cow tongue, which I saw at the market recently. The braising process must tame the beef and make it tender (we don’t want a cheeky cheek!). :-) Shanna

  7. That other cook... December 28, 2013 at 12:07 PM - Reply

    show stopper.. I seriously had to click on this. Looks so delicious. I love your plating as well. Beautiful!

  8. anotherfoodieblogger December 28, 2013 at 1:10 PM - Reply

    This looks just delicious! I like the idea of the polenta too.

  9. viveka December 28, 2013 at 3:15 PM - Reply

    Have never eaten beef cheeks … but I’m not a big beefeater – we make a dish for Christmas using most of a pig head. Very interesting dish … first I thought you served it with girt – that I’m not so passionate about, but I love polenta. A Happy New Year to you and thanks for 2013.

    • chef mimi December 29, 2013 at 9:41 AM - Reply

      I would love to hear more about this pig head dish!!!
      It’s been a joy, although sometimes bittersweet as well, to read your blog. Here’s to a wonderful 2014 !

      • viveka December 29, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        I think the right word is jellied – as we eat as a cold cut. I will see if I can find a recipe. My grandma made it every Christmas.
        I know … I had my ups and downs this year – but that is life.
        Didn’t know that you read my blog .. thank you so much.

  10. eliotthecat December 28, 2013 at 8:26 PM - Reply

    One of the best meals I have ever had was beef cheeks at Michael Smith’s in KC. I’ve never even thought about looking for them in the meat market. Doh! Thanks for sharing this recipe. I will start looking.

    • chef mimi December 29, 2013 at 9:34 AM - Reply

      I found them at Walmart, of all places. The Mexicans must cook with them a lot. I found them next to tripe. Not trying to make a cultural/political statement, it’s just that that’s where I found the cheeks!

  11. ladyredspecs December 29, 2013 at 4:52 AM - Reply

    Beef cheeks are my favourite cut to braise. I just love that rich, melt in the mouth tenderness! Wonderful post, hopefully it will encourage more people to cook this undervalued cut!

    • chef mimi December 29, 2013 at 9:31 AM - Reply

      Aren’t they fabulous! And, inexpensive.

  12. hocuspocus13 December 29, 2013 at 9:45 AM - Reply

    Reblogged this on hocuspocus13.

    • chef mimi December 29, 2013 at 9:46 AM - Reply


      • hocuspocus13 December 29, 2013 at 12:34 PM

        your welcome, will put that recipe in my home menu journal, to try

        I also eat unusual things but you put it the best way, I’ll have to remember those words


  13. dedy oktavianus pardede December 29, 2013 at 9:50 AM - Reply

    wow, what a delicious and comforting dish…
    lovin it fork tender, i guess beef cheek or other secondary cut dish is rising up on professional and fancy restaurant nowdays…
    btw, i just had a 30 USD multiple courses lunch, one of the dish is sousvide beef cheeks, and it’s pretty damn good!

    • chef mimi December 29, 2013 at 9:52 AM - Reply

      Sous vide beef cheeks! I should have thought about that! I love my sous vide machine!

  14. belle.beckford December 29, 2013 at 12:28 PM - Reply

    This looks delightful. I’ve never seen beef cheeks in the supermarket before, but I should check it out. The recipe looks nice for other cuts too.

    • chef mimi December 29, 2013 at 12:43 PM - Reply

      This recipe really is just a braise – you’re right, it could easily be a stew like a beef bourguignon. Thanks for stopping by – I love your blog!

  15. Butter, Basil and Breadcrumbs December 29, 2013 at 4:37 PM - Reply

    You never cease to amaze. What a lovely dish. And the polenta? Perfect choice to go with the beef cheeks. It looks fabulous. <3

  16. apuginthekitchen December 30, 2013 at 6:17 PM - Reply

    Its been such a long time since I’ve had beef cheeks they are delicious, love that you served over polenta, that delicious rich sauce with the meat and creamy polenta sounds so good.

    • chef mimi December 31, 2013 at 8:05 AM - Reply

      It turned out to be a wonderful combination! Happy New Year Suzanne!

  17. The Editor January 31, 2014 at 3:00 PM - Reply

    I made these for my family last weekend and the braising made the meat easy to eat and cut just like you said.

    I couldn’t wait until my family finished eating so I could spring on them that they just ate “beef cheeks”. Well when I told them they all paused a minute, looked at each other and then said they didn’t care what the meat was they wanted more!

    I guess the joke was on me! :-)

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