Chitterlings are a holiday staple in Southern households! In this easy stovetop chitterlings recipe, I show you how to properly clean and cook delicious spicy chitlins at home.
In my house, holidays are all about family. When I was a young girl, we had huge holiday potlucks. Our menus included holiday hams, whole roasted turkeys, collard greens, cakes and desserts, and a big ol’ pot of holiday chitterlings! Each of the cooks in my family has their own twist when it comes to chitterlings recipes—no one makes their chitlins the same way! However, they all have one thing in common… we all like to make our chitlins SPICY.
The most important part of a chitterlings recipe is the cleaning process. Unlike the other women in my family, I hate the cleaning process! Now that they’re selling pre-cleaned chitterlings these days, that’s all I buy. However, even the super clean chitterlings have an odor. But don’t y’all worry—I will walk you through the soaking and cleaning process and share exactly how I cook chitterlings on the stovetop.
Let’s jump on into this Soul Food chitlins recipe!
What Are Chitterlings?
There’s really no way around it. Chitterlings, sometimes spelled chitlins or chittlins, are pig intestines. Yep—you read that right (although, if you’ve landed on this recipe, chances are y’all already knew that!). Chitterlings are almost always made with pork intestines but can come from other animals like cows or lamb.
Like most true Soul Food dishes, chitterlings have roots in Civil War-era enslaved families. The chitlins were discarded by enslavers as the unwanted parts of the pig (along with the pig’s feet, ears, snout, etc.). To not be wasteful, enslaved households would cook the scraps, creating their own delicious recipes to feed their families.
However, cooking pig intestines didn’t start in North America. Globally, cultures have been cooking intestines for hundreds of years—most notably, Haggis (from Scotland) and Chinchulín (from Latin America).
How to Clean & Cook Chitterlings: Video Tutorial
Watch my quick step-by-step video tutorial showing how I carefully clean, prep, and cook chitterlings. Below, I walk you through all the steps in my chitterlings recipe more in-depth, including the ingredients and recipe variations.
Ingredients for Stovetop Chitterlings
So, what do you need to make chitlins delicious? I keep my chitterlings recipe simple. As I said before, we like spicy in this household, but if that’s not your vibe, feel free to omit the spicy ingredients! As always, you can find a complete list of ingredients and measurements in the recipe card below.
Here’s what you need to make tender, tasty stovetop chitterlings:
- Pre-Cleaned Chitterlings: I promise you that buying pre-cleaned will make your life so much easier! For this recipe, I only use about 4 lbs. of chitterlings.
- Vegetables: I use onions and bell pepper in this recipe. You can use yellow onion, white onions, or any color bell peppers you have on hand.
- Seasonings & Spices: this is where you can customize your chitterlings recipe to your liking! For mine, I keep it simple with red pepper flakes for spice. I also add a bit of fresh minced garlic.
- Jalapeno Peppers: my mother loved jalapenos in her chitlins, so I include some chopped jalapenos in my recipes.
- Red Wine Vinegar: helps mellow out the chitterlings during cooking.
- Chicken Broth: I prefer cooking my chitterlings in chicken broth and water for added flavor.
- Water, Apple Cider Vinegar, & Potatoes: the three things you need to clean the chitlins properly.
Where to Buy Chitterlings
Chitterlings aren’t as hard to find as you may think! You can usually find some pre-cleaned chitlins at your local grocery store. In addition, they’re available at nationwide stores like Walmart and Kroger. Aunt Bessie’s Pork Chitterlings are a very popular brand of pre-washed chitterlings and are available in many stores.
How to Clean Chitterlings
The cleaning process is incredibly important! Even though most store-bought chitterlings come pre-cleaned these days, it’s still a good idea to give them a good cleaning to be sure there’s no foreign matter. No one wants sick dinner guests, y’all! So here’s how to properly clean chitterlings:
- Prep and sanitize your workstation. This includes your sink, countertop, cutting board, and utensils—anything that will come into contact with the chitlins.
- Fill the sink with cool water and soak the chitlins. Then, break them apart, and make sure they’re all loose and hanging out in that cool water.
- To help get rid of the smell, use whole potatoes. This trick was taught to me by an old Southern lady. Simply put 2 or 3 whole russet potatoes (cleaned and unpeeled) into the sink with the chitterlings while they soak. You’ll also add apple cider vinegar at this time.
- Check and prep the chitlins while they soak. Even though they’re pre-cleaned, we want to inspect each one to make sure. I don’t like any membranes or extra fat on my chitlins, so I remove any I see.
- Let the chitterlings soak for 1-2 hours. Feel free to drain the dirty water, give them a rinse, and refill it with fresh water throughout the process.
Can you eat chitterlings without cleaning them?
Unless you have an iron stomach, I highly recommend thoroughly cleaning chitterlings before eating. Whether you bought pre-cooked chitterlings, pre-washed, or good old-fashioned raw chitterlings, the CDC recommends taking precautions and following proper food safety steps.
Do you put bleach in chitterlings?
No, do not put bleach IN the chitterlings! However, you should use a mixture of 1 tablespoon bleach to 1 gallon of water to clean anywhere chitterlings have touched after you’ve finished prepping them. That means your countertops and your sink—the sides of your sink, around the edges, even the handles and faucet.
How to Cook Chitterlings on the Stovetop
Now that your chitterlings are good and clean, it’s time to get into cooking! From here on out, the process is pretty dang easy. Here’s a quick overview of how to cook chitterlings on the stovetop. You can print out these steps using the recipe card at the bottom of the post and watch my video on YouTube for a visual tutorial!
- Add the cleaned and prepped chitterlings to a large pot. At this time, I also use kitchen scissors to cut the chitlins into small pieces—about 1–2-inch pieces.
- Add the vegetables and seasonings. Ideally, you will have chopped and prepped your veggies while the chitlins are soaking. We use onion, green bell pepper, jalapeno peppers, minced garlic, and red pepper flakes.
- Next, add the liquids—red wine vinegar, chicken broth, and water. I use one part water to one part chicken broth. You’ll want to make sure you’re using enough water and broth just to cover the chitterlings in the pot.
- Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once it’s boiling, turn it down to medium, medium-high heat to maintain a constant simmer. Let the chitterlings cook for about 3 and ½ hours until tender. They should easily pull apart when pulled with a fork.
That’s how you cook chitterlings, y’all! For some, chitlins might be an acquired taste, but when done right, they’re tender and tasty and pair perfectly with many other Southern and Soul Food dishes as part of a larger meal.
Chitterlings Recipe Variations & FAQs
Now, my recipe might be a bit different than your family’s recipe—and that’s perfectly fine! The beauty of this chitterlings recipe is that it can be customized to your liking. Now, do I think the Cousin Rosie way is the best way? You know I do! But it’s definitely not the only way. Here are some popular chitlins recipe variations you might like to try.
Can I make this chitterlings recipe in a crockpot?
You sure can! I even have a similar slow cooker chitterlings recipe posted. It has mostly the same ingredients, plus slow cooker cooking times.
What are the best seasonings for chitterlings?
The best seasonings for chitterlings are your favorite seasonings! Some families—like mine—prefer spicy chitterlings, so we use red pepper flakes and jalapenos. But there are plenty of other seasoning options.
- Kick up the heat even more with cayenne pepper and serve the chitterlings with a vinegary hot sauce.
- Use the basics like salt, black pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to season the chitterlings.
- Herbs like thyme and bay leaves are great additions. Toss the herbs into the broth while the chitterlings cook and absorb those fresh, earthy flavors.
- Use a seasoning blend like my Down by the Bayou Cajun seasoning or Creole Lady seasoning from Rosamae Seasonings.
What other vegetables can you use in chitterlings?
If you want more flavors, add more vegetables to your chitlins! Use green onions, leeks, celery, or carrots. You could add different hot peppers if you like the spice or add tomatoes to make it more of a stew.
How to Make Ahead & Store Leftovers
If you’re working with raw chitterlings, it’s easy to clean and prep them ahead of time. Just make sure you don’t store raw chitterlings for longer than two days, or else they’ll go bad. You can also freeze cleaned raw chitterlings for up to two months!
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Like many Southern recipes, chitterlings taste even better the next day, when they’ve had time to absorb all the delicious flavors from the broth.
What to Serve with Chitterlings
I always serve my chitterlings with potato salad, collard greens, and cornbread, but this recipe goes well with just about any Southern dish. Serve alongside turnip greens, pinto beans, or with green beans and potatoes. Of course, they pair well with fried chicken or smoked turkey!
Cooking chitterlings doesn’t have to be a scary thought! With the right ingredients, a good technique, and some patients, you can turn chitlins into a tender, flavorful dish that’s a staple in many Southern households. Whether you’re cooking for the holidays, large family gatherings, or just making them for dinner, chitterlings are a delicacy worth trying!
If you made this recipe and loved it, or if you have any questions about my recipe, leave a comment down below! As always, don’t forget to follow along with all things Rosie and I Heart Recipes by following me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and check out all my cookbooks! I just released a brand new cookbook, Super Soul Food with Cousin Rosie, with many recipes you can’t find anywhere else.
Stovetop Chitterlings Recipe
How to Clean Chitterlings:
- Sanitize your work area including your countertop, sink, cutting board, and any other areas where you will be working with the chitterlings.
- Fill the sink with cool water and soak the chitterlings. Break them up using your hands.
- Add potatoes (to remove the smell) and apple cider vinegar to the cool water. Let the chitterlings soak for 1-2 hours.
- While the chitterlings are soaking, closely inspect each one. Make sure there's no gunk, remove excess fat and membranes, and make sure they're extra clean.
- Repeat the rinse/soaking process 1-2 more times if desired. Each time, drain the dirty water, rinse the chitterlings, and soak with more cold water and vinegar until the soaking water is clear.
How to Cook Chitterlings
- Then cut chitterlings into 1-2 inch pieces using a knife or scissors. Add the cut chitterlings to a large pot.
- Add your bell peppers, onion, crushed red peppers, jalapenos, and garlic to the pot.
- Pour in the chicken broth, water, and red wine vinegar. Add enough liquid to just cover the chitterlings.
- Cover the pot, and place the pot on the stove over high heat. Bring the chitterlings to a boil.
- Once they maintain a rolling boil, let the pot boil for about 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to medium/medium-high heat to maintain a summer.
- Let the chitterlings cook over medium heat for 3 1/2 hours or until tender.
- Be sure to stir periodically! To test if they're done, pull apart a chitterling with a fork. If they're done, they'll pull apart easily.