Fried Lambs’ Brains

Follow this easy and straight-forward recipe for golden and crispy Fried Lambs’ Brains.

fried lambs brains

When the folks at Cathay Pacific asked me to cook, style and photograph fried lambs’ brains for an upcoming edition of Discovery, their in-flight magazine, I was somewhat nervous. And that was before they disclosed that the accompanying article would be written by Umberto Bombana, the head chef at 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana, the only Italian restaurant outside of Italy to hold 3 Michelin stars.

So not only had I agreed to cook something I had never cooked or eaten before, I had to prepare and style the dish based on something a 3 star Michelin chef considered to be his favourite dish. Sure! Easy peasy!

fried lambs brains

Before I accepted the assignment, I had to make some calls to ensure that I could source lambs’ brains in Zurich. The two main butchers in Zurich city quickly and bluntly declined my request to place a special order for lambs’ brains. Brains are very difficult, they both said, although they couldn’t explain in clear terms what the difficulty was.

My last and final option, which in hindsight should have been my first call, was the butcher I visit nearly every Friday at the farmers’ markets at Bürkliplatz. Perhaps it was my poor German which made him feel sorry for this foreigner who sounded quite desperate to buy a part of an animal which most Swiss would not want to see or eat (I asked for Lammgehirn when it is actually called Lammhirn). Or perhaps he was simply surprised to receive such an unusual order. But I was instantly relieved when he confirmed that he could provide me with some lambs’ brains, except that he could not guarantee how many because that depended on how many lambs would be slaughtered in the coming week. So not only was he the butcher, he was also the farmer.

There is much comfort in knowing the source of the meat which you are eating, as well as buying from farmers and butchers who take pride in their work and produce. And for farmers, in particular, it must be reassuring when the whole part of the animal can be used, that nothing goes to waste.

fried lambs brains

I can’t say that it was easy to handle the raw lambs’ brains, but I got on with the job and I am rather proud of the outcome. In my mind, I felt that it was no different to cooking any other part of the animal, so I pretended that I was cooking chicken nuggets.

And to be honest, the process of cooking lambs’ brains is not so different, except that you have to soak the brains first in a lot of water to extract the blood (sorry for the gory details but I have spared you the step-by-step photos!!), and then poach them in boiling water to cook the brains and make them firm enough to deep-fry. Once they have been poached, you simply dip them in beaten egg and coat them in flour, before immersing them in hot oil to become golden and crispy on the outside.

roman fried artichokes

In his article, Chef Umberto Bombana writes about how his favourite fried lambs’ brains is served with Roman-Style Fried Artichokes. Of course, Cathay Pacific wanted me to include artichokes in the photo, and so this photo shoot was actually comprised on two entirely new dishes for me. Thankfully, the Roman-Style Fried Artichokes was relatively easy to prepare, and you can read about that recipe in my post here.

If you have tried eating fried lambs’ brains before, I would love to hear from you in the comments below!

If you are flying with Cathay Pacific or Cathay Dragon this month (June 2017), you can read the article and find my photo in their in-flight magazine, Discovery. If you are not flying, you can view the full article here or on the Discovery website.

fried lambs brains

fried lambs brains

Fried Lambs’ Brains

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4.8 from 8 reviews

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4-6

Follow this easy and straight-forward recipe for golden and crispy Fried Lambs’ Brains.


  • 6 lambs’ brains
  • sea salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 23 cups plain flour seasoned with salt & pepper
  • vegetable oil for deep-frying


  1. Soak the lambs’ brains in a large bowl of cold water for 1-2 hours to remove the excess blood.
  2. Carefully separate the lobes by removing the white central cortex in the middle.
  3. Bring a large pot of water to the boil and season it with some sea salt.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to carefully poach the brains in the simmering water for 3-5 minutes. You don’t want to cook it completely, but just long enough for the brains to firm up and become easier to handle.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to remove the brains to a plate lined with kitchen paper and allow to cool.
  6. Fill a large pan with enough vegetable oil for deep-frying (about 5cm or 2 inch depth) and heat to about 180°C (350°F).
  7. Dip the poached brains in the beaten egg and lightly coat with some flour.
  8. Deep-fry the brains in batches for about 5 minutes each, or until they turn lovely and golden.
  9. Drain on some kitchen paper and sprinkle over some sea salt flakes.
  10. Serve immediately.


  • Serving Size: 6
  • Calories: 261

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  1. How interesting and what a great write-up on this. I would never have imagined I would say that lamb’s brains looked so good! But this does look so good 🙂

    • Eat, Little Bird 9 June 2017

      Thanks, Patty! I had to make the brains look good for the magazine, so I’m glad you think I succeeded on this point 😉

  2. Lisa | Garlic & Zest 9 June 2017

    I’m an adventurous eater, so this looks and sounds amazing to me. My family isn’t shy with offal, but I confess I’ve never had lambs brains before. Now I need to try!

    • Eat, Little Bird 9 June 2017

      Hi Lisa, I wish you were here to help us finish the brains after the photo shoot! I grew up eating offal but I rarely prepare it myself these days, unless you count Chicken Liver Pâté 😉 If you see some fresh lambs’ brains at the butcher, you now have a recipe 🙂

  3. Diana 9 June 2017

    I’ve never seen something like this before. But this dish looks absolutely beautiful!

  4. KC @ G-Free Foodie 9 June 2017

    You made this sound easy enough for me to try it!

    • Eat, Little Bird 9 June 2017

      Actually, it’s a pretty easy and straightforward recipe! Well, that’s once you can manage handling the raw brains 😉

  5. Shashi at Savory Spin 9 June 2017

    I haven’t had lamb’s brains since I was a kid – my mom made them like scrambled eggs almost – this looks like a tasty and delicious way to enjoy them.

  6. Cecilia Abotomey 23 June 2017

    We ate a lot of lambs brains when we were children. It always amused us when mum asked the butcher if he had any brains! She prepared them in a similar way, although she would flour, egg and breadcrumb them, then shallow fry them and serve them with bacon. My grandmother would meticulously remove the membrane covering the brains before she crumbed them but I don’t recall my mum going to the trouble. My family are NOT adventurous eaters and this would be a step too far for them.

    • Eat, Little Bird 28 July 2017

      Hi Cecilia,
      It’s so wonderful to read how your family prepared lamb brains. I initially wanted to use breadcrumbs in this recipe for the extra crunch and texture, until I read that the dish Chef Bombana ate in Rome only used eggs and flour.

      I don’t recall reading anything about removing the membranes when I was researching recipes for lambs brains, and I’m glad because I’m not sure I could have handled the raw brains for so long! Ha ha 😉

      My husband is an adventurous eater and grew up eating a lot of offal. I can eat liver (preferably in a pâté!) and that’s about it … I think one has to grow up eating brains and similar organs, otherwise it’s a difficult taste and texture to acquire. But I had fun recreating this recipe and trying something new and out of my comfort zone!

  7. Vahid 22 July 2017

    In our culture(Afghanistan) we only eat the brains (lamp, beef/calf) that is cooked inside the skull. And i have always wanted to try a brain only dish.

    So today I made the above and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. I made it in two batches one as described above witch was a bit bland for my taste. The second batch I added a bit of seasoning (seasoning salt, red chili pepper and garlic powder) to the flour and for me that made the difference. Next time I’m thinking to poach it in some stock instead to add a bit more flavor.

    Thank you for the recipe.

    • Eat, Little Bird 28 July 2017

      Hi Vahid,
      Thanks so much for your feedback. I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe and made some changes to suit your tastes. In my recipe above, I tried to replicate how the dish is cooked in Italy. But when I was researching recipes, I did notice that different countries had different ways of making this recipe, and I’m quite sure I came across a recipe where the brains were first poached in a stock flavoured with various herbs and seasonings. But I definitely like your idea of adding seasonings to the flour, much like how one would make fried chicken. This would definitely add a lot of flavour to the recipe! Many thanks again for trying this recipe and letting me know how it went 🙂

  8. Paul Johanson 19 January 2018

    Dear Vahid, here is a link for a poaching stock. this you will find is much spicier.

  9. Paul Johanson 20 January 2018

    I thought you might like to try Sweetbreads, similar to brains but I think tastier, here is a link sweetbreads-recipes. They also come from beef.

  10. Julia 16 April 2018

    I can’t wait to try it out! Good idea! Looks very tasty! Thanks for the recipe!

  11. Rosemary 6 May 2018

    When I was young mother regularly cooked lambs brains this way and we had the extras mixed with walnuts in sandwiches for school lunch. Delicious but I feared friends asking what I was eating.

    • Eat, Little Bird 7 May 2018

      Oh what a lovely and funny memory! I remember comparing school lunches when I was younger. I never had anything adventurous like brains in my sandwich, but my mother often packed me a Vietnamese lunch which looked nothing like what my school friends were eating 😉

  12. Danielle 21 August 2018

    Hey there!! My husband and I tried fried lambs brain in Italy a couple years ago, and I feel like there was some kind of sauce served with it, but neither of us can remember! Is there a sauce you’d recommend to accompany the lambs brains?

  13. Raymond Berksza 3 April 2019

    Extra Virgin olive oil should be used instead of just any vegetable oil to get the true Italian flavor of these yummy treats. A light shake of black pepper and very little salt is all you need before serving.

    • Eat, Little Bird 8 April 2019

      You are probably right about using olive oil, although I find it difficult for deep frying because of its smoking point. But you are perhaps spot on in terms of flavour! Hope you enjoyed this recipe.

  14. Roni 17 May 2019

    I went searching for crumbed brain recipes after going through my extensive recipe book (mostly country) collection and not finding one. My mum made these for dad and I (the only ones who would eat them along with tripe and white sauce) from when I was a child, and I can no longer ring her and ask how to make her dishes… I do remember she soaked them in cold water and removed every bit of the outer membrane and blood but was also sure milk was used in the cooking? Mum’s were definitely crumbed and shallow fried but I will try your recipe with just the flour and egg wash next time…. Also the lesser poaching time…. mine were definitely (over)cooked!.

    • Eat, Little Bird 22 May 2019

      Hi Roni,
      Thank you for your feedback! I think there are many different ways of cooking brain, and I recall reading lots of different recipes and methods when I was researching this topic. I think you could certainly poach the brains in milk and flavour it similar to the poaching liquid in this recipe. The milk might also help to keep the brains tender. And depending on how big the brains are, you also need to experiment with the cooking time so that they don’t overcook, especially if you will also fry them after. Thanks for popping by!

  15. Anthony James Redinger 12 June 2019

    I love lambs brains just fried with salt an pepper but would love to try some recipes

  16. Tasker Streete 21 April 2020

    In Australia 1979, my favorite on the Pub Menu was fried lambs brains. Loved them, but haven’t had them since. I’m going to start making special requests to the butchers.

    • Eat, Little Bird 30 April 2020

      They are indeed a delicacy! The butchers might only be too happy to provide the brains as they are not commonly sold these days. Enjoy!

  17. Bob Ferris 5 October 2021

    Do they have to be deep fried ? can they just be shallow fried ?

    • Eat, Little Bird 26 October 2021

      Hi Bob,
      I recommend deep-frying for this recipe, which will cook the lambs’ brains more quickly, leading to more tender results. Shallow frying generally takes longer and there is a risk of over-cooking the brains, which would lead to tougher results. Hope this helps!

  18. John k 17 November 2021

    I love my offal and in particular lambs brains. My recepie is very similar to the one displayed here. Sometimes I prefer them simply cooked in a pan with melted butter. Yum

  19. John Longcock 25 April 2022

    Barbaric and disgusting peasant food!

  20. Paul Older 7 May 2022

    The recipe worked well and looked very nice on the plate.
    I am not sure that it is not better with crunchy breadcrumbe.
    It is not necessary to par boil the brains first.

  21. Marion 31 August 2022

    Love lambs brains! Also like them done in an onion sauce but haven’t found a recipe yet. As a child my mother cooked it.
    In Australia, it’s difficult to get fresh brains, only frozen, but they still taste great if allowed to thaw for a day in the refrigerator.

  22. Aussie Maus 12 December 2022

    I have eaten Lamb Brain fritters sooo many times
    Also Sweetbread fritters

  23. Rick Jones 16 January 2023

    Learning to cook lamb’s brains in one of my cooking goals this year. I tried this recipe, and absolutely love it. I would only add two things:

    First, if you make a water/vinegar mixture that’s about 20% vinegar, the blood clears out quicker. Just rinse the brains when you’re done soaking,

    Second, the brains I get here in France have some gooey white stuff on the underside. I’ve tried several recipes now, and I would say that it’s important to remove that gooey white stuff.

    Anyway, excellent recipe. I was totally enamored of the result. Bravo!

  24. Lillian Carr 12 February 2023

    Yummy 😊❤️

  25. Andrew Ross 8 June 2023

    My Mum used to make this for my father and myself and she would also fry streaky bacon first to get some fat in the pan then fry off the brains and simply serve them with the bacon and finely chopped parsley. I always meant to get her to show me the process, but unfortunately she developed dementia and can no longer cook.

    • Eat, Little Bird 8 June 2023

      Hi Andrew,
      Your mother’s recipe sounds delicious! Anything cooked in bacon fat can only taste great 🙂

  26. Graham Macleod 7 April 2024

    Hi Thanh
    I eat Lamb’s brains regularly and they are delicious!!
    I do crumb them as this is how a lot of Australians have them,I don’t precook them though and just deep fry them after dipping in flour egg and milk.
    My Mother and my Wife used to pressure cook them first but I personally didn’t find this necessary.
    I highly recommend them as the taste is creamy and delicious.
    All the best,

    • Eat, Little Bird 8 April 2024

      Hi Graham,
      Thank you for your tips! That’s good to know that one can also skip the poaching step. Thanks for popping by!

  27. Val 9 April 2024

    Love lamb brains. A leftover from my childhood (I am an octogenarian) so that’s a long time ago. Whenever I am lucky enough to find a butcher who sells them I always buy them. Unfortunately they are mostly being exported to the Middle East. My grandchildren can’t believe we eat them along with tripe and lambs fry.

    • Eat, Little Bird 10 April 2024

      Hi Val,
      Yes, it is hard to buy lamb brains these days. The butcher tells me that they are difficult to extract and require time to do so, and if they are not so popular these days, the butchers almost don’t bother selling the brains anymore. It’s a shame! I’m a big believer in nose-to-tail eating.