Beef Liver with Fig, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Compote [or the ultimate beef liver recipe]

If my previous Beef Liver recipe made me a believer, this new one just made me an real fan.

I simply can’t believe that I, as in “moi”, was sitting there, eating liver, and actually going “OMG YUM” with each and every bite.

And I’m not exaggerating in the least. This was genuinely, incredibly yummy.

Beef Liver with Figs and Caramelized Onion | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

You see, when cooked right, beef liver is unbelievably tender and moist and juicy and almost velvety! It’s got a texture that’s simply unrivaled by any other cut of meat. So really, the trick is to cook it at very high temperature for a very short amount of time. The interior HAS to remain a little bit on the pink side.

Cook it too much and it becomes real tough and grainy, like shoe leather. Not what I’d call yummy.

Even the flavor seems to be affected when you cook it for too long…

No wonder, as a kid, I would be served liver with TONS of ketchup on the side (which I also happen to hate, by the way, so needless to say liver has never been a winner in my book!) 

Beef Liver with Figs and Caramelized Onion | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

But now that I am learning how to prepare nature’s most potent superfood the proper way, I’m really learning to enjoy it.

I say learning because, having despised liver all my life, my brain still wants to voice its opinion and goes “Ewwww, but it’s LIVER!” every time I think about having it, which always leads to this big argument between us where I have to convince it that we really do like it after all.

Rough, I know.

But with a little coaxing, I know that I’ll eventually get it to put its guard down and forget all about its old beliefs and misconceptions on liver.

Our brains are highly adaptable little things, you know. Nothing a little bit of “reprogramming” won’t fix!

Beef Liver with Figs and Caramelized Onion | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

I know now that organ meats, and especially liver, are extremely nutrient dense foods that truly deserve to be made a little bit of room on our dining plate a few times a week.

I’m not sure I’m quite there yet, but I sure intend on eating liver way more often than I used to (which was never, so that’s not hard to beat!)

With recipes such as this one, it will be a lot easier for me to get there.

Beef Liver with Fig, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Compote

Yield: Serves 2-3

NF based on 1 of 3 servings

Beef Liver with Fig, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Compote


  • 375g beef liver, sliced
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp arrowroot flour
  • ½ tsp Himalayan or unrefined sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 slices pastured bacon, cut crosswise into ½" pieces
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 200g mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 dried figs, chopped
  • ¼ tsp Himalayan or unrefined sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. In a non-reactive sealable container, marinate the beef liver in lemon juice for at least 8 hours (or up to 24 hours). Yes, that’s in the refrigerator!
  2. In a cold, large heavy skillet (cast iron preferred) set over medium heat, cook the bacon until nice and crispy.
  3. While the bacon is cooking, rinse the beef liver slices under running water and pat them dry.
  4. In a shallow bowl or plate, combine the arrowroot flour, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with a whisk until very well combined.
  5. Dredge the liver slices in the arrowroot mixture and shake well to remove any excess. Set aside in a plate until bacon is done cooking.
  6. When bacon is nice and crispy, remove it to a plate with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Pour the bacon fat into a small bowl but leave about 2 tablespoons in the pan. Put the skillet back over high heat.
  7. When the pan is really nice an hot, add the liver slices and sear for about 45 seconds to a minute per side, just long enough for them to get a beautiful dark brown and crispy exterior. You might have to work in batches, depending on the size of your skillet.
  8. Remove the liver to a plate, cover loosely to keep it warm while you work on the onion compote. Put your pan back over the heat source and lower heat to medium-high; add about half the remaining bacon fat and throw the sliced onions right in.
  9. Let the onions caramelize for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the onions have taken a nice golden coloration, add the remaining bacon fat and the sliced mushrooms. Continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, until the mushrooms become soft and slightly golden.
  10. Add figs, vinegar and water and cook for another minute or so, until liquid is completely evaporated.
  11. Stir in fresh sage, kill the heat and place liver slices on top of the onion compote. Cover loosely and let sit for about 5 minutes just to warm up the liver and allow all the flavours to mingle happily.
  12. Serve immediately , sprinkled with crispy bacon.


*This reheats surprisingly well in the microwave. To be honest, I was expecting the worse and thought for sure that the microwave would turn the meat into shoe leather, but not at all. After 2 minutes on high, the meat was nice and warm and retained all of its tenderness.

Beef Liver with Figs and Caramelized Onion | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

The Fig, Bacon and Caramelized Onion Compote, just waiting for the liver…

Beef Liver with Figs and Caramelized Onion | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Come on, you brain. Does this look good or what? 

(I think it’s working, I got a nod…)

Beef Liver with Figs and Caramelized Onion | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Served with the onion compote and crispy bacon, with a side of asparagus and butternut squash. 

Beef Liver with Figs and Caramelized Onion | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Look at how nice and slightly pink still. 

So tender and juicy!  

The Whole30 Program

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  1. says

    This recipe looks so tasty. I am actually a huge lover of liver and figs. However, it never came to my mind to combine them in one meal. I am looking forward to cooking this.

    Thank you for inspiration!

  2. says

    Oh YUM!

    I love liver, especially when there is bacon in there somewhere. We don’t eat beef liver all that much, mostly because I found a vendor at the farmers market that sells elk liver. And that is even better than beef liver! I will definitely be trying this recipe next time I cook some liver.

  3. Sharon says

    .looks good. What would be a good replacement for the dried figs? I always have dates, cherries, raisins on hand. thanks.

    • says

      Out of the three, I would definitely choose the dates, but I would add them at the very last minute, else, they will just “melt” and disappear in the sauce. If you have apricots, those would be a great choice!

  4. says

    The only time I had liver was in Venice (Italy) and it was delicious. There, they cook it cut in strips with onions, parsley and white wine and served over polenta: sooo good!
    Yours looks just as good…well, even better. I would love to give a try but I don’t have a trusted butcher here in NYC and with liver I want it to be only TOP QUALITY (which is true for all meat but even more so with liver).
    Maybe I’ll order some online from one of those grass-fed farms you always talk about ;)

    • says

      You were in Venice? Lucky!!! That would be one place that I certainly hope to visit one day.

      And I totally hear you on organ meat having to be of top quality! Which of course, mine is… so if you can’t have any shipped over to you, feel free to ship yourself over to Montreal and I will be more than happy to prepare some for you.

      Mind you… after you’ve had some of the authentic Italian stuff, I’m not sure I’d even dare. Talk about pressure! And white wine HAS to pair so well with liver. Hmmm. White wine IS paleo, isn’t it? I feel a little treat coming this foodie’s way after her Whole30 is over. White wine and fresh peaches would simply take this dish over the top.

  5. Carole says

    Lovely work, Sonia! Would you be happy to link it in to the current Food on Friday over at Carole’s Chatter which is creating a collection of recipes using offal? This is the link . I do hope to see you there. Cheers

  6. Beth says

    When you say sliced…can you please give me an idea of the size/shape/number of slices this weight of liver would yield to work properly with your cooking instructions? I’ve never addressed myself to a whole beef liver before. Thank you!

    • says

      You can buy beef liver already sliced up, Beth, which is probably a lot easier. Typically, beef liver is sliced fairly thin, like 1/4″ thick. I believe I had about 6 slices when I made that particular recipe. Hope this helps!

  7. Lisa says

    Excellent recipe! But what I cannot quite understand is how come someone that calls themselves The Healthy Foodie would then annihilate a beautiful and nutrient dense food source by heating it up in a microwave?! Where is the ‘health’ part in a microwave? Sacrilege!

  8. NewfoundLiverEater says

    I don’t normally comment on blogs, but I just made your recipe and I’m a changed man. Thank you so much!!!
    I’ve been trying for a long time now to work liver into my diet, but couldn’t ever stomach it. Your recipe finally allowed me to enjoy a meal including liver!

  9. Max says

    Is it possible to substitute a different type of flour instead of arrowroot flour to have the same effect? I’ve had to spend a lot of money on coconut flour, almond flour, chia seed powder, psyllium husk powder, etc and so it would be nice to use the almond flour or coconut flour instead for such a small amount. Thoughts?

  10. suzy says

    how about substituting chicken livers…got some grass-fed from my butcher this morning!…i’m new to liver and don’t have the experience to understand the differences…

    (former west island girl)

  11. Joey says

    On my way to buy some liver and I had to find a recipe.
    Yours looks delicious: your writing style and pictures make me believe I can do it.

    Thanks for your recipe Sonia; I’ve book marked your site.

    Take care

    • says

      Thank you so much, Joey, that is so very nice of you to say. Happy to hear I’ve helped inspire you to give liver a try. Hope you like it (and keep in mind, it may very well take a few tries…)

      Keep me posted! :)

      • Joey says

        Okay; I’m posting back.:)
        The recipe came out grrreat. I definitely will be eating liver more often now. The only thing I didn’t have was the arrowroot and sage, but still very tasty.
        Your a genius Sonia.
        Thanks again

  12. says

    Sonia, this liver recipe looks amazing. I’m going to give it a go this week and hopefully it tastes as good as it looks.

    I’m loving the layout of your blog too. Do you mind me asking what plugin you are using for your recipes?

    • says

      Thanks Mike, hopefully you like the liver recipe as much as I did. Honestly, this is my all time favorite. Let me know how it worked for you if you end up trying it!

      As for the plugin, I use the very popular ZipList. Hope this helps!

  13. Roxann Giambone says

    Aware that organ meats have tremendous health benefits, i decided to buy liver.. i never liked it as a kid and i have never attempted to cook it before. I had to google liver recipes and although as an adult i will eat just about anything , I’m so happy I chose your recipe! Deeelicious!! Thank u thank u thank u

  14. Alex says

    Wow! This recipe came out delicious. This for sure will be my go-to recipe whenever I want to eat liver, which will be more often now. It still tasted like liver but it wasn’t as repulsive as some of the other recipes. Very tender and easy to eat I was truly impressed. I don’t know how you did it with such little arrowroot, though. I had to do 4x the amount suggested in the recipe for 2 pounds of liver. Also, I substituted the figs for date because I could not find that in any store nearby. All in all I was very satisfied with this recipe, thank you so much for making this available and continue to make amazing recipes!

    • says

      Thank you so very much Alex for this amazing feedback. There is no greater music to my ear than being told by someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy liver that they really liked my liver recipe. Going from “repulsive” to “tender and easy to eat” is no small compliment! You seriously just made my day! :D

      As for me using so little arrowroot, I make sure that my liver is really, really dry before I start dredging it, and then I shake and even dust the bejesus out of it. I really coat it as thinly as I possibly can… but using more isn’t necessarily a bad thing! :D

      Thanks again for making my day, Alex. You are a real gem, my friend! :)

  15. Azara says

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. Just curious if anything we can leave out and still come out decent. For example I never use balsamic vinegar which would go to waste after this.

  16. David Alexander says

    Is liver an acquired taste or are you just born with it? I’ve never really liked liver, but I’ve read how organ meats are supposed to be the best parts of the animal (health wise). So I figured I would give it a shot. The compote was absolutely delicious, but I just couldn’t get over the strong flavor of liver. This was the first recipe I’ve tried from this site, and I look forward to trying more.

    • says

      I never really cared for liver either, David, and to be honest, it took a few tries before I kinda started sorta liking it. I just kept at it and kept telling my brains that we had to like it. We had to. Now I actually crave the stuff. Matter of fact, I’ll be whipping up an Apple, Chestnut and Chicken Liver salad tomorrow. I just can’t wait!

      Glad you kind of almost liked this recipe and that it convinced you to try more of my stuff. I say you should give liver another go in a month or so… you might like it a little bit more then!

  17. UncleP says

    Greetings from Finland!

    I had some beef liver around, which I had bought after having had a bit of a cold for a while – can’t remember who exactly said it, but I was told liver was a good picker-upper – and after a while of googling, decided to go with this recipe. I can gladly attest that it was one of the best liver dishes I’ve had. I’d never figured to combine figs and liver before, for some reason. Mea culpa.

    Thanks for the recipe,
    Uncle P.

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