Liver Mush – DIY Make it Your Own Self

three types of north carolina liver mushLiver mush (aka liver pudding) has been my favorite breakfast meat since I was a child.

Few of my childhood friends seemed to know what it was, so I realized then it was not eaten by all southerners.

What a shame, but they don’t know what they don’t know.

When I went to college I learned it was hard to find liver mush in stores outside of the Piedmont section of North Carolina.

And after I moved away from the South, I used to freeze liver mush and bring it back on the plane (despite the warning to never freeze liver mush; it gets a little crumbly, but tastes the same).

Everyone with an open mind that I shared liver mush with, liked it. I even had a roommate that stole my liver mush.

Most commented that “It doesn’t taste that much like liver”. No, because it is diluted with cornmeal.

Government Screws up Ice Cream Party and Liver Mush

But since the Federal Government mandated a large percentage of our gasoline be diluted with ethanol (most of which comes from corn), all of my favorite makers of liver mush started using flour (unintended consequences – but that is another story) to reduce costs.

I tasted the difference immediately and though I wouldn’t say I don’t like it, I prefer the taste and the texture with 100% cornmeal. Plus, for anyone worried about or trying to avoid gluten, 100% cornmeal is the way to go.

DIY Liver Mush

cooking elk liver mush in black skillet

DIY elk liver mush cooking in black skillet

So, I no longer challenge the TSA agents and their dogs with 10 to 20 frozen 1 lb blocks of “C4” as I checked in with my frozen liver mush in my bags. We make our own liver mush now.

Our first attempt was a spur of the moment thing Sonia made with a turkey liver (Yes, my New Jersey girl loves liver mush). It was a very small batch, but it was good.

Traditional liver mush is made with pork livers and pork fat, but we have made liver mush with livers from elk, venison, beef, chicken, turkey and pork and we have used pork fat, beef fat and bacon drippings.

egg and elk liver mush for breakfast

Egg and elk liver mush for breakfast

I put this in the Hunting Section because I don’t want to start a food/recipe section. But hunting and fishing and food obviously go together. This is an excellent way to make use of elk and venison livers.

Making your own liver mush goes right along with making your own sausage (see basic sausage, smoked kielbasa and Corned Elk and Smoked Pastrami Recipes.

When I get an elk or a mule deer, I usually have one fresh liver and onions meal, then turn the rest of the liver into liver mush. That is proof that God loves us.

How to Eat Liver Mush

Liver mush is a fully cooked preparation that must be stored in the frig. Most is eaten heated and served for breakfast.

Some like it just warmed up, others like it crispy on the outside. I like either way.

It is also good cold or heated on a sandwich (mustard, not mayo and certainly not ketchup).

Since I like sweet/savory combinations like ham and pineapple, I combine liver mush and bread or biscuit with jam or preserves.

Ingredients for Homemade DIY Liver Mush

  • 1 fresh hog liver
  • 1 ½ lbs fresh fat pork
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Sage
  • Red pepper

Obviously, size of pork livers may vary. If the average pork liver is 3.7 lbs, then the ration of liver to cornmeal is 1.85 lbs liver per cup of cornmeal.

Since pork livers are not easy to find where I live in the Inter-mountain West, I usually make batches with one or two pounds of chicken or beef livers. I use between 3/4 and 1 cup of corn meal for two pounds of liver.

Notice the fat/lard ratio to liver; 3.7 lbs of liver to 1.75 pounds of fat. Yes, lots of calories. You can cut the amount of fat, but it will not be traditional and it will not hold together as well either. I say use the full fat for authenticity and flavor, but you can’t sit on the couch all day.

Preparation: Cook liver and fat until tender.

Remove the liver from the broth and grind/mash it up (I pulse it a few times in the Food Processor).

Add corn meal to the broth (stir) and add salt, sage and peppers to taste.

Cook until corn meal is done (stir constantly).

Mix liver back into cornmeal, then pour (or dip) into mold and let cool.

Alternative Ingredients and Notes:

  • Use any kind of liver – we have used beef, elk, venison, turkey and chicken livers
  • You can cook liver and cornmeal at the same time – but harder to get broth:cornmeal ratio right
  • Since grits is always 4:1 (water:grits), we use this same ratio for the broth:cornmeal ratio
  • Sonia made liver mush with grits because we didn’t have cornmeal (a little coarse, but still good)
  • You can try to skimp on the fat, but you will be disappointed
  • We have used beef fat, pork fat and bacon drippings

Origins of Liver Mush – Everything You Wanted to Know, but Were Afraid to Ask

The Piedmont section of North Carolina was settled by German immigrants. Many began to move south from Pennsylvania as land there became harder to find by the late 1740s.

My ancestors were mostly German that settled between the Yadkin and Pee Dee Rivers of North Carolina about the same time and place as Daniel Boone. In fact, my father found evidence during an ancestry search that one of our ancestors had a son that married one of Daniel Boone’s daughters.

As with all immigrants, they brought their traditional foods with them. German immigrants brought a food they called “panhaus”.

Panhaus is similar to scrapple and to liver mush and liver pudding. In America, the Panhaus recipe was adapted to used cornmeal, specifically cornmeal mush which was an American staple.

The name liver mush makes sense. Scrapple refers to the process of scraping the pot that was used to cook pork after slaughtering and butchering. The broth from the pot is used to make Panhaus, Scrapple and Liver mush.

Panhaus (aka ponhaws, pannhas or panhoss) is from the Westfall and Rheinland regions. It includes pork, bacon and/or beef “bits” cooked with salt, pepper, spices and flour into a slurry.

The slurry is cooled (not gelled) and then blood is added to the mixture. The slurry is then forced into sausage skins and is known by a variety of names; Blutwurst (blood sausage), Hackfleisch (ground meat (without the skin like a pudding) or Leberwurst (liverwurst).

It is eaten cold or cooked and served with grilled onions, potatoes (like potato salad) and or sauerkraut.

I learned that German immigrants in Texas make panhaus with oatmeal. This is starting to sound very similar to the famous Scottish haggis.

Years ago, I ran into a guy from Alabama that after tasting liver mush for the first time said “That the same thing as that fancy French Pâté”.

I’ve had other friends say “I hate liver, but I like that liver mush”.

Give it a try.

Notes on other Similar German Sausages

Much of the following information and recipes came from a lost source on the web. I found this information years ago, while researching liver mush recipes, but can no longer find the original website. If anyone knows where this information came from, please let me know and I will give credit where credit is due. I think it is too valuable to be lost so I include it here.


Panhaus was traditionally very similar to head cheese, but now has been modified a bit. My mom uses a bit of black pepper as the seasoning and it is fried crispy outside, soft on the inside and eaten WITHOUT any other additions. This is a meat product not fried corn mush!


In northern Germany, one of the local specialties is “Knipp”, which is quite similar to scrapple, and is made from oatmeal, pork belly, pork offal, beef liver, and broth and is seasoned with salt, pepper, and allspice.

Knipp is made from oat groats, pork head, pork belly, pork rind, liver and broth and seasoned with salt, allspice and pepper. Knipp is usually sold in roughly 30 cm long and 10-15 cm thick sausages as a Stange (stick) or Rolle (roll). The smoked sausage is sold and consumed having been roasted, either just with bread, or with roast or boiled potatoes and gherkins, sweet and sour pumpkin, apple sauce (Apfelmus) and beetroot or even cold or hot on wholemeal bread.

Sometimes crispy, fried slices of Beutelwurst are served with Knipp; this dish is known in Low Saxon as Knipp un Büddelwust.

In the Lüneburg Heath, Knipp is made with Heidschnucke meat and is known as Heidjer Knipp.

Calenberger Pfannenschlag is a type of Knipp sausage made by mixing meat with grains (Grützwurst) related to Pinkel which comes from the Bremen and Lower Saxony regions of Germany.

In Oldenburg, Knipp is called Hackgrütze.


In the Lüneburger Heide, “Heidschnucke” mutton or lamb is used in place of the pork.


In North Hessen, a similar local specialty is “Weckewerk”, which may also be prepared with soaked stale white bread and seasoned with marjoram, garlic, onion, and caraway seeds. Usual accompaniments are steamed, boiled or fried potatoes, beets, and pickles.

Buckwheat (Buchweizen) is commonly used in Germany in the preparation of some of the items described above.


Scrapple is typically made of hog offal, such as the head, heart, liver, and other scraps, which are boiled with any bones attached (often the entire head), to make a broth. Once cooked, bones and fat are discarded, the meat is reserved, and (dry) cornmeal is boiled in the broth to make a mush. The meat, finely minced, is returned, and seasonings, typically sage, thyme, savory, black pepper and others are added.

The mush is formed into loaves and allowed to cool thoroughly until set. The proportions and seasoning are very much a matter of the region and the cook’s taste.

In Texas with the influx of a large German contingent of immigrants, the use of Panhaus is largely found in German based communities like New Braunfels and surrounding areas. With modern chilling and packaging procedures, Pannaus is to be found in many community grocery stores and meat markets, particularly those with old fashioned meat butchering capabilities.


Braunschweiger or Leberwurst (anglicized as liverwurst) or Pasztetowa (Polish) is usually made from pig or calf livers in Europe from the Netherlands east to Russia and from Bulgaria north to Finland.

Each region is know for specific distinctions in the recipe (actually protected as


Many people believe pudding began its life as the French (boudin); meaning “guts” and another meaning “to swell.” And Larousse defines “boudiner” as “to stuff.”

Any of them could be right, in fact, all three make sense to us, especially together: stuff a gut and cook it, and it will swell.

Such are the shared ancestral characteristics of “boudin” (both “noir” and “blanc”), Black Pudding, White Pudding, Blood Pudding or “Blutwurst”, and what Robert Burns calls the “great chieftain of the pudding race,” Haggis.

Suet Pudding

Suet Pudding – A suet pudding may be boiled, steamed, or baked; it may be tied loosely in a cloth or packed into a pudding-basin; it may be a solid, doughy mass or a thin pastry envelope filled with meat or fruit. It is an acquired taste, perhaps (and we have acquired it all too easily). Worse, we have adopted the traditional practice of slicing leftover pudding and frying it in butter, and we regret to inform you that it is very good indeed.

In fact, all of these various types of liver sausage are very similar to pâté and terrines except that the French make Foie gras (French meaning fat liver) from extraordinarily fat livers created by force feeding geese or ducks. So liver mush is just a simpler, more humane version of Foie gras.

Bon appetit!

More Liver Mush Recipes

Ingredients for Liver Mush

  • 1 cup grits, harina or cornmeal
  • 4 cups cold water
  • lard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼-½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 lbs pork liver, sliced
  • 4 eggs
  • sage, salt, pepper, cayenne to taste


  • Melt lard or shortening in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat
  • Season liver with salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Sauté liver in lard or shortening until done through
  • Remove liver from pan, drain and cool
  • Place cooked liver in food processor and finely grind
  • In a large sauce pan bring 4 cups water to a rapid boil
  • Add 1 tsp salt, ¼-½ tsp ground black pepper and grits/harina/cornmeal
  • Cook until grits/meal mush is very stiff
  • Add eggs, cayenne pepper and sage to taste and ground cooked liver and mix well

Another Basic Liver Pudding Recipe


  • 1 lb. pork liver
  • 1 large thick pork chop with bone
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • red pepper flakes


  • Trim pork liver of all membrane, fat, veins, etc.
  • Leave fat on pork chop
  • Simmer pork liver and pork chop in water until both are fork tender
  • Reserve cooking liquid
  • Cut liver and meat from pork chop into 1″ cubes and put both through the coarse blade of food grinder (food processors don’t create the proper texture)
  • Put through grinder a second or third time until mixture is as smooth as you like
  • Put ground liver/pork mixture in large mixing bowl and season to taste with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes
  • Moisten mixture with some of the reserved cooking liquid
  • Press finished mixture into lightly oiled glass loaf pan, cover surface with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 24 hours for flavors to blend
  • Slice to serve. May be kept refrigerated 4-5 days

Liver Pudding Recipe

Ingredients :

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup raw rice
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Butter or margarine
  • 1 ½ cup milk
  • 1 lb. raw liver, minced
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1/2 cup seedless raisins
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs


  • Bring water to boil, add salt and gradually pour in the rice
  • Cook, covered over low heat for 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed
  • Cool slightly
  • Brown onion in 1 tablespoon butter
  • Add milk, liver, onion, molasses, spices and raisins to the rice
  • Mix in egg
  • Pour into well-greased casserole
  • Sprinkle with bread crumbs and dot with butter
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until firm
  • Serve with lingonberry or cranberry sauce or jam and melted butter to pour over
  • 4-6 servings


  1. Wow, wow, wow. I am so happy to have found this page with its wealth of information. I’m also a huge fan of liver pudding and have also committed the sacrilege of freezing it for transport to the hinterlands (most recently was in exile outside the South for 5 years). I’m from Wilmington but now live on a farm in the Piedmont with my partner, descended from Scots immigrants down from PA around the same time as your German forebears (to western portions of the Triangle). His grandmom used to make liver pudding but we did not have a recipe.

    We just acquired a hunk of grassfed beef liver from a neighbor and were wondering if livers other than pork would be good for homemade liver pudding, so besides all of the history and recipes, the info that we can use any kind of liver is priceless. Additional incentive to slay our pesky deer invaders!

    Thanks again for including all of the fascinating background info and details.

  2. James Bearhawk says

    Would like to know which raisin, regular or golden, is best for the last receipe for liver pudding?

    Great information here for pudding as my wife is dieing to eat some 😉

    Thank you!

  3. Michael Pruitt says

    Glad to find this article. Been on the search for a good recipe. I’ve tried making it a couple times using chicken livers, bacon, and cornmeal. Second attempt was better than the first but still very wet. It’ll set up and slice but it’s prone to falling apart in the pan. A flour dredge helps.

    • Funny you should mention chicken livers. Not traditional, but I am making a batch today with chicken and beef livers. Livermush has been on my mind since I harvested an elk last month, but fresh elk liver was used for the best liver and onions I ever had.

      I’ve had the same problem with chicken livers of getting the right cornmeal balance so it’s not too wet. I have been using pork lard instead of bacon.

      I assume you mean flour dredge before frying up for breakfast?

      One of my criticisms of my previous favorite livermush brands is they have switched to using flour. It tastes different and I don’t think it tastes as good as their old recipes with 100% corn meal. I also know folks that have stopped eating it because it is no longer gluten free.

      When I make a batch that is too watery, I simply fry it up inside muffing rings to hold it together until the excess water is cooked away.

      • Thanks! I was wondering what to do with mine. it tastes good, but is more like liver pudding. I will try the muffin rings… and also serve as liver pate at party with onions and capers..

  4. Larry Cline says

    Thank you for posting these recipes (except for the one with raisins; that’s just wrong!) I grew up in central North Carolina, and have also had run-ins with TSA suspicious of my packages of a gray putty-like substance.

    Almost every recipe I have been able to find online begins with “one hog liver,” making no mention of what that might weigh in a world of sliced prepackaged liver. This is the first site I’ve seen that gives me a good starting point of a 3.7-pound average.

    Thanks, I know what I’ll be having for breakfast soon!

    • Ha… different yes, wrong is in the “taste buds of the beholder”… You have to at least try it before you can reject it… My favorite way to eat liver mush has always been on toast with jam… love the sweet and savory mix.
      Of Course you grew up in Central NC (as did I)… the Piedmont is the heart of liver mush country.
      The hardest part of making your own liver mush is getting the consistency right between the cornmeal, liver and fat.
      Let me know how your first batch turns out.

  5. Brandon G says

    Thank you for posting this. I left NC and had no idea its wasn’t found outside of the holler. Gotta make my own! Thank you so much.

  6. I’m so glad to have found your recipe! I grew up in Morganton, NC, but have been gone since 1980! Any trip back home isn’t complete with out a few meals with Livermush, and at least a pound or two packed in dry ice to get home to Tx. I tried the recipe with beef liver a month ago, but couldn’t do it. I’ve never liked the taste, thought the flavor profile was right on! It hit me today to try an Asian market and sure enough found pork liver! Super inexpensive too! Much less than beef liver so I was grateful for that.
    I ended up with two loaves using 1.4lb of liver, 1lb of pork shoulder, ended up with 3 cups of broth at the end, so used between 2/3 and 3/4 cup of corn meal. It’s cooling now, but flavor seems spot on!! I need to play with the liver/shoulder ratio, as I think the shoulder is a bit heavy. Can’t wait to slice it and fry it up with some eggs in the morning!

  7. Larry W Cline says

    Thanks for posting the amounts you used, Julie. If you grew up with livermush in Morganton, I know I can trust the taste you’re looking for (I was in Lenoir.) When you ge the liver/shoulder ratio tweaked out, please post that too.

    Smart to look at an Asian grocery for the liver; I always had trouble finding it when I was in Texas. You look for “liver” on the H.E.B. website, and all you get is beef liver and 21 kinds of cat food!

  8. Matthew Clark says

    I will be trying one of these recipes soon as I miss liver mush and we only are able to get Neese brand in South Carolina. I enjoy it, but I know it could be better. My mothers family made and sold sausage and liver mush years ago in the Charlotte area. The company was called Jameson’s and it was fantastic. They continued to make it for the family once the sausage plant closed, but I have not had it in years. Looking forward to experimenting

  9. Looks like you are a North Cackalackian who’s adapted to Utah like me. I miss my liver mush too and have been trying to figure out how to get it here. Ate my share of Jenkins’ when I was back in NC at Thanksgiving. I bought some braunschweiger last week and it ain’t the same. I think I’ll mix with cornmeal and pork fat and mold it up and see how it goes when I fry it up. A lot of other great recipes here to try too! Happy to find this site.

  10. Awesome. Thanks for this!

  11. Anita Nielsen says

    What amounts of spices are used in the livermush?

    • I don’t usually measure everything, but I usually go light on the salt (can always add later) and heavy on the peppers.
      A general rule of thumb seems to be about 1 – 1½ tsp salt per lb of meat. About half tsp per lb of black or red pepper. Start with a Tablespoon of sage per lb.

  12. Linda Hyder says

    Do you use all-purpose cornmeal or self rising? Does it matter if it’s self rising or not. I’ve looked and read alot of recipes but none have told me which one. I was really thinking it was probably all-purpose.

    • My cornmeal doesn’t mention self rising or not. I think you are confusing cornmeal mix, which can be self rising. Just use plain cornmeal…
      The big question is should you use white cornmeal or yellow? I use what I can get but traditional Southern cooks would only use white cornmeal.

  13. Darla Bright says

    Do you have a step by step on how to make a beef liver mush?

    • Cook liver and fat.
      Grind or blend liver in food processor or blender until smooth.
      Put back in pot and add cornmeal and broth and spices.
      Cook until cornmeal done.
      Pour into pan.
      The trick is getting the amount of broth to cornmeal correct.
      Don’t want it too think or too thin… just enough to set up.

  14. Harry Bryant says

    I’ve spent my whole life in NC. I love livermush and liver pudding. The one time I tried to cook venison liver, I cooked it like a steak. It didn’t go over well with the me or my wife. But I still love liver, and I can’t stand discarding it. So I’ve been saving it from the past few whitetails because I know there’s gotta be a recipe that’ll make it delicious.

    I’ve looked for venison livermush recipes before, and I guess I was typing the wrong thing into google or maybe this is a new article. I think this is the recipe that’ll make saving those livers worth it. I have 4 in my freezer right now. Thank you.

  15. We’re from northwestern Ohio, large German communities settled about 200 years ago and some butchers would sell liver pudding. The last place I found it was in winesburg OH, in the north east portion of central Ohio. When the old lady died her son’s quit because city folk drove out to become the customer base. We always fried it, put it on toast with grape jelly or apple butter…..yum! Thank you so much for posting this and God bless you!

  16. Jennifer S says

    Thank you for sharing! Born and raised in NC. My SiL has alpha gal (she is allergic to red meat and the fat from red meat animals- it’s from a tick bite 😬; she fortunately can still have dairy products and use leather products). I was thinking of using butter in place of the “fat” and using chicken livers. I’d love to try rendered duck fat but can’t find it anywhere local. Any thoughts? 🤔

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