Chitterlings Recipe

Chitterlings, often colloquially known as “chitlins,” are a traditional soul food dish made from the small intestines of a pig. Preparing chitterlings is a labor-intensive process, reflecting a deep-rooted history in Southern American and African American cuisine. This dish is particularly popular during special occasions and holidays, especially within these communities.

The preparation of chitterlings starts with thorough cleaning, which is the most critical step. Given that chitterlings are the intestines, they must be meticulously cleaned to remove any impurities and residue. This process involves several rinses and sometimes soaking in a solution, such as vinegar and water, to help in the cleaning process. Some cooks also turn the intestines inside out to ensure thorough cleaning.

Once cleaned, the chitterlings are then boiled. They are often simmered for several hours in a large pot filled with water. Seasonings are key to this dish; garlic, onions, bay leaves, and a variety of peppers are commonly used to infuse the chitterlings with flavor during the long simmering process. Some cooks add other aromatic ingredients like bell peppers or celery, and a generous amount of salt and pepper is typically included. The long cooking time not only imparts flavor but also tenderizes the chitterlings, which can be quite tough if not cooked properly.

After boiling, the chitterlings are often finished by frying or baking. This step adds a desirable texture to the outside while keeping the inside tender. Frying them in a pan until they are slightly crispy on the outside is a popular method, enhancing the dish’s overall texture and flavor.

Chitterlings are traditionally served as a main dish, often accompanied by sides that complement their rich and distinctive flavor. Common pairings include collard greens, cornbread, and potatoes. The dish is also frequently enjoyed with hot sauce or vinegar to add an extra kick of flavor.

Eating chitterlings is not just about the food itself but also about the cultural and historical significance. The dish represents resourcefulness and survival, stemming from a time when enslaved Africans in America were often left with less desirable cuts of meat. Over time, these ingredients were transformed into cherished culinary traditions, with chitterlings being a prime example.

Despite their popularity, chitterlings are an acquired taste, given their distinct flavor and aroma. The cooking process can also be off-putting to some, but for those who appreciate them, chitterlings are a cherished and flavorful link to cultural heritage and culinary history.

Here’s a detailed recipe for preparing Chitterlings (Chitlins):


  • 10 lbs of raw chitterlings
  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional: Red pepper flakes or hot sauce for additional spice

Cleaning the Chitterlings

  1. Thorough Cleaning: Begin by thoroughly rinsing the chitterlings in cold water. It’s important to remove any debris or residue. Turn them inside out to ensure a thorough cleaning.
  2. Soaking: Soak the chitterlings in a mixture of cold water and white vinegar for about an hour. This helps to further clean and remove any lingering odors.
  3. Final Rinse: Rinse the chitterlings several times in clean water until the water runs clear.

Cooking the Chitterlings

  1. Boiling: Place the cleaned chitterlings in a large pot. Fill the pot with enough water to cover them. Add the chopped onions, minced garlic, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes or hot sauce if desired.
  2. Simmering: Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Let the chitterlings simmer for about 2-3 hours. The simmering process is crucial for tenderizing the chitterlings and infusing them with flavor.
  3. Checking Doneness: The chitterlings are done when they are tender. Be sure to check the tenderness periodically.

Finishing Touches

  1. Optional Frying: For added texture, some people prefer to fry the boiled chitterlings briefly in a pan until they are slightly crispy on the outside.
  2. Serving: Serve the chitterlings hot. They are traditionally accompanied by side dishes like collard greens, cornbread, and potatoes. Hot sauce or vinegar can also be served on the side for those who prefer an extra kick.


  • Safety and Cleanliness: When handling and cleaning chitterlings, it’s important to maintain a clean working area. Ensure to wash your hands and sanitize any surfaces or utensils used.
  • Cooking Time: The cooking time can vary based on the quantity and your texture preference. Some prefer their chitterlings very tender, which might require additional cooking time.
  • Flavor Variations: Feel free to adjust the seasonings and aromatics according to your preference. Some cooks also add bell peppers or celery for extra flavor.

Enjoy your homemade chitterlings, a dish rich in cultural history and savory flavors!

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