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How do I Cook Chitlins?

Anna T.
Anna T.

Chitlins, which are also frequently referred to as chitterlings, must be cleaned thoroughly before they are prepared. You should remove the raw chitlin pieces from the container and wash them, removing all fat and debris from each piece. Your chitlins should be boiled in a tall stockpot after they are cleaned, which will cook them and also help to ensure that any lingering bacteria cooks away. For seasoning, you can add bay leaf, celery, or anything else you can think of to the pot that might add some flavor. After boiling for slightly longer than an hour, you can serve your chitterlings over rice or with your favorite condiments.

Dangerous bacteria, including salmonella, E. coli, and yersinia, are of particular concern when preparing and eating chitlins because chitterlings are actually pig intestines. There is reason to be concerned about bacteria when any type of raw meat is handled, but the intestines of an animal usually contain more bacteria than other parts of the body. After cleaning chitterlings in your kitchen, you should thoroughly wash your hands with soap and wipe down your counter tops with some type of disinfecting spray. If there are children in your home, you should try to keep them out of the kitchen until after you have cooked the chitlins and disinfected your kitchen because the bacteria is typically much more dangerous for a child to come in contact with than an adult.

Cooked chitlins.
Cooked chitlins.

Animal intestines are often considered delicacies in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe, but chitterlings became popular in the rural southern areas of the United States. Many people in the south eat chitlins, but they tend to be most common among the African American community and are considered to be a type of soul food, which is a term commonly used to describe African American cuisine. There are currently a few different festivals held in the United States that celebrate chitterlings, including a festival in South Carolina that has been going on yearly since 1966.

Pig intestines are known as chitlins.
Pig intestines are known as chitlins.

The fact that chitlins are actually pig intestines means that they normally smell extremely unpleasant while they are being cooked. For this reason, many people choose to cook them outdoors. Cooking chitlins outdoors might also be a good idea because there may be less chance of leaving harmful bacteria behind in the home. Even though the initial odor of chitlins is typically considered foul, the smell normally goes away once they are cooked through.

Discussion Comments


Wow, I enjoy eating chitlins and was hoping to cook some in my own home, but after reading this article I am much more concerned about germs. It sounds like I will have to disinfect my whole kitchen in order to be safe.

Does anyone have any tips for an easier and more sanitary way to do this?


My mom used to cook chitlins all the time when I was a kid. It was a big process and the whole house would smell like them for days after.

The worst part is that I have never liked chitlins, never liked them at all. My mom would just about have to force them down my throat to get me to eat them. She loved them so they showed up on the table all the time, but once I moved out of her house I swore I would never eat another one again. I've stuck to that promise.

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    • Cooked chitlins.
      By: happytotakephoto
      Cooked chitlins.
    • Pig intestines are known as chitlins.
      By: il-fede
      Pig intestines are known as chitlins.