More Glandular Goodness: Sweetbread Tacos

sweetbread blue corn tacos

There are few things that, when slapped between tortillas and christened with spicy condiments, fail to get me excited. Making it a shame that the vast majority of Mexican restaurants near us have such a limited spectrum of taco fillings. Not that I don’t enjoy carnitas, carne asada, fish or chicken tacos, I very definitely do, but that there is something of a tyranny inherent in this four-point agenda.

Recently, after our meaty dust-up with the Uruguyuan-style tablita parillada, we found ourselves with a surfeit of grilled sweetbreads (aka mollejas in Spanish, aka thymus glands in biology), and were looking for creative ways to use this most succulent of leftovers. Ever the slayers of convention, we sought to break this taco-based tyranny, and gently reheated our sweetbreads combining them with a crunchy, tangy salsa of radish, roasted corn and grape tomato, all wrapped in a blue corn tortilla for a dramatic finish.

sweetbread blue corn tacos

In this process, we learned that throughout the South-West USA and northern Mexico, taco stands offering sweetbreads (as well as other tasty fillings including tongue and tripe) are so common you just about fall over them at every corner. All of which made us feel slightly less original in our preparation, but no less enthusiastic about its merits. Indeed, it was reassuring to know that places still exist in this condensed and standardized world where you can be openly and brazenly glandular should the feeling so move you.

sweetbread blue corn tacos

Tacos de Mollejas (Sweetbread Tacos)) (serves 2)

  • 8oz cleaned and poached sweetbreads
  • 4-6 corn tortillas
  • 4 large red radishes, finely sliced into rings
  • 1/2 medium red onion
  • 6oz grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 ear yellow corn (sweet corn),boiled and roasted/grilled)
  • 3tbsp cilantro(coriander leaf), finely chopped
  • juice of 1-2 limes
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 3tbsp vegetable oil


  1. Pre-heat flat-top, griddle or heavy skillet to medium-high
  2. Grill corn cob on said hot surface until browned (but not blackened) on all sides. Allow corn to cool.
  3. When fully cooled, slice off kernels and, in a bowl, combine with radish, onion, tomato, cilantro and lime juice.
  4. Allow salsa to improve for at least half an hour or as long as overnight. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Gently grill/griddle your poached sweetbreads until nicely golden-brown on all sides. (10-12minutes). Squeeze lime juice over them and set aside.
  6. In a skillet or flat-top at medium high heat, add a teaspoon of oil and quickly soften enough tortillas (2-4) for first course (you’ll want seconds). Do not allow tortillas to “fry”, only to puff up a little and become pliable.
  7. Combine your sweetbreads, salsa and tortillas to make your tacos. Other possible condiments include guacamole, crema (sour cream), hot sauce, pickled onions, pickled carrots, sliced cabbage, pico de gallo, rajas, etc..
  8. Enjoy with a cold beer.

sweetbread blue corn tacos

25 thoughts on “More Glandular Goodness: Sweetbread Tacos

  1. I am totally enthusiastic about this! I love sweetbreads, and don’t get them nearly enough. I’ve had tongue tacos plenty.. how do the two compare in your estimation? Do you like one better?

    1. I guess it’s about texture – sweetbreads do’t have to be sliced as fine as tongue. they both have their own flavor but i think the sweetbreads were a nice “meaty” consistancy. i would say it would depend on my mood regarding which one i like better. but in a taco, the sweetbreads really stand up as the main ingredient…

      maybe we should take a poll? not sure how many would answer!

    1. yeah… that’s right, katiek. try it. you’ll love it.

      joan: you’re funny. you are totally not a neophyte foodie. you’re honest! seriously, it’s not like sweetbread taco’s are even close to the norm! but they are good.

      farida: good to see you back! thanks for the comment.

  2. I am all for glandular goodness
    delicious really, wish i was having that plateful for supper.
    But I am not and have a very dreary fridge and a rather neglected kitchen to boot.
    Rome is too hot and we are eating alot of icecream which is rather nice but not quite as nice as this.

  3. Don’t know if I’m courageous enough to go for sweetbread tacos. Haven’t been brave enough to order the tacos de lengua (tongue) at our local favorite Mexican restaurant, where they do everything well. But your photos and write-ups of your food make me want to be a little bolder! If not at home, then at least when dining out. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. ooh what a cheeky little idea – love it! I know what you mean about putting things in between tacos and adding condiments. Basically, that makes it a sandwich and I am totally obsessed with sandwiches so I am hearing you on this one.

  5. Never even tried sweetbreads, but they look awfully appetizing in your pictures. Nice idea!

    P.S. It’s a good sign when you have an awesome idea and then find out that someone else had the same awesome idea. I love when that happens… it makes me feel like I’m on the same wavelength with brilliance, and therefore not totally crazy 🙂

  6. I’ve never tried sweetbreads either, though I think it’s partly due to the limited variety we have on offer (here at least) in our markets. Just the “normal” usual sort of cuts of meat and fish. I wanted to try halibut cheeks too, but no one’s even heard of them in Hilo. Your photos are beautifully done.

    1. hi, claudia! i would try making friends with a butcher and a fish monger b/c even here in nyc i couldn’t get sweetbreads in a local market. if you can get veal chops at the butcher you can def. get sweetbreads. you may just need to talk to him/her and possibly give him the heads up that you’d buy them. same w/ the fish monger… you’ve got me inspired to ask him for halibut cheeks too!

  7. yeah girlfriend, u had me all the way til u say sweetbreads. not so much for my palate… everything else sounds great. i appreciate your vast openness to so many foods!

  8. I. Love. This.
    First, we are fans of sweetbreads and second, if you are curious, please go back in time to my post on Cinco de Mayo 2008, Oyster Taco with Aji Amarillo, I love tacos, and originality. I have not made a sweetbread taco but you can be sure I will. You guys rock!
    Oh, and you were right on with the Mushroom Agnolotti thanks for that endorsement!

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