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Taco de Molleja: Sweetbread Recipe

Taco de Molleja, also known as sweetbread tacos, is a popular dish in South Texas and Northern Mexico. It is made with sweetbreads, which are not a bread, but a cut of meat. “Sweetbread” is the culinary name for the thymus gland or the pancreas of calves and lamb. In this dish, the meat is typically served in warm tortillas topped with pico de gallo and sour cream. 

While they are not as popular in the United States as in Latin America, there are still many taquerias that serve them in Mexico. Taco de Molleja is considered somewhat of a delicacy or gourmet food in many cuisines around the world.

Due to difficulty at times in sourcing this cut of meat, finding a local butcher may be your best option. Also note that due to the highly perishable nature of the meat that the meat should be marinated on the day of purchase.

About this Recipe

Taco de Molleja is not your typical taco that you might find at every street corner or fast-food joint. This culinary delight is a gourmet experience that combines the earthy flavors of molleja (sweetbreads) with the vibrant and tangy notes of Mexican spices and salsas. This dish is an excellent way to delve into the richness of Mexican gastronomy.

Taco de Molleja Recipe Background

As discussed previously, “Sweetbread” is the culinary name for the thymus gland or the pancreas of calves and lambs. Despite the name, sweetbreads are neither sweet nor a type of bread. The term “sweet” in this context refers to the sweet, rich flavor of the organ, while “bread” comes from the Old English word “bræd,” meaning flesh or meat.

Why Make this Recipe?

  1. Authenticity: If you’re a fan of genuine Mexican cuisine, this recipe will take you on a trip straight to its roots.
  2. Nutritional Value: Sweetbreads are rich in protein and nutrients like Vitamin B12, phosphorus, and zinc. That said, they are also high in cholesterol and should be consumed in moderation, particularly by individuals who are monitoring their cholesterol levels..
  3. Culinary Skills: This dish is a great way to show off your cooking prowess. It’s not your everyday taco, and your guests will know it.
  4. Affordability: Despite its gourmet label, the ingredients are relatively cheap and easy to source.


  • Mollejas (sweetbreads) – 1 lb
  • Corn tortillas – 8
  • Onion – 1, finely chopped
  • Garlic cloves – 3, minced
  • Lime – 1, cut into wedges
  • Cilantro – ½ bunch, chopped
  • Salt – to taste
  • Ground black pepper – to taste

For the Salsa:

  • Tomatoes – 2, diced
  • Jalapeños – 2, deseeded and chopped
  • Garlic – 1 clove
  • Lime juice – 1 tablespoon

Steps to Prepare


Begin by soaking the mollejas in water, preferably with a bit of vinegar or lemon juice, for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. This helps to purge them of any impurities.

  • After soaking, rinse them thoroughly and remove any excess fat or membrane.
  • Boil them for a few minutes in salted water until they firm up a bit, making them easier to handle and grill.
  • Prepare a marinade using olive oil, minced garlic, lemon juice, and your chosen herbs and spices.
  • Coat the mollejas in the marinade and let them sit for at least an hour, or even better, overnight.
  • Preheat your grill to a medium-high heat.
  • Place the mollejas on the grill and cook for about 4-6 minutes on each side, depending on their size and thickness.
  • You want them to be nicely browned on the outside while remaining tender on the inside.
  • Once they are grilled to your liking, remove them from the grill and let them rest for a few minutes.
  • Slice them into bite-sized pieces, and optionally sprinkle with a bit more fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
  • Serve with your choice of side dishes, like grilled vegetables or a fresh salad.

Prepare the Salsa:

  • Combine all the salsa ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Season with salt and lime juice.

Assemble the Tacos:

  • Warm the corn tortillas on a griddle.
  • Place a generous amount of mollejas on each tortilla.
  • Top with chopped onions, cilantro, and a dollop of salsa.
  • Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Tips for the Perfect Taco de Molleja

  1. Quality of Mollejas: Make sure to source your mollejas from a reliable butcher to ensure they are fresh.
  2. Marination Time: The longer you marinate, the more flavorful your mollejas will be.
  3. Tortilla Choice: Opt for homemade or high-quality store-bought corn tortillas for the best experience.


Taco de Molleja is a dish that captures the essence of Mexican culture and tradition. Its mix of flavors and textures makes it a must-try for anyone interested in the complexities of Mexican cuisine. So the next time you’re thinking of tacos, go beyond the usual and try your hand at making some authentic Taco de Mollejas. Your palate will thank you!

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