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How to cook chitterlings without the smell

Love chitterlings but hate the smell? You’re not alone. This Southern soul food delicacy made of pig intestines is very popular, particularly around the holiday season. But the intense odor is a known drawback. 

Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the smell of prepping and cooking chitlins. Read on for seven scent-removing strategies plus a recipe and instructions on breading and frying chitterlings. 

7 ways to reduce the smell of chitlins

Pot on stove for cooking chitterlings without the smell.
Source: Envato.

1. Soak and boil 

Start by mixing table salt into cold water. Soak the chitterlings in the salted water for an hour. This makes it easier to separate the chitterlings from the fat, which is the stinky part. 

Next, chop some onions. Add the onions, chitterlings, and salted water to a pot and boil the whole thing for 10 minutes. Drain off the water. Put the onions and chitterlings back into the pot and add fresh water. Boil again for 10 minutes. Drain and repeat one more time. In this last cycle, you can add garlic and any seasonings you like. At this point, the foul smell should be mostly gone and the chitterlings are ready for breading and frying. 

2. Cook with potatoes 

You can also minimize the chitterling smell by boiling them with potatoes, which can soak up the odor. 

Peel 2 or 3 medium potatoes and cut them in half. Boil the potatoes along with the Chitterlings. 

3. Garlic

Clean the chitterlings carefully to remove all visible dirt. Boil them once and drain the water. Then refill the pot with water and add 10 or 15 cloves of garlic. Boil again and drain.

4. Oranges 

Try slicing oranges and placing the slices on top of the lid of the pot while the chitterlings are cooking.

5. Lemon

Lemon and other citrus fruits have antimicrobial properties, which can reduce the foul smell of chitterlings.

Start by rinsing the chitlins with clean, cool water and placing them in a bowl. Then cut up or juice 4 lemons. Or measure 2 cups of prepared lemon juice. Add the lemon wedges or juice to the bowl with the chitterlings. Let them soak for 3 hours. The lemon will work its magic on the bacteria causing the odor. Then you can clean the chitterlings normally — and cook them without the stench.

6. Cilantro

This method works only with fresh cilantro, not dried.Chop a bunch of cilantro and place the choppings inside a cheesecloth pouch. Add the pouch to the pot of boiling chitterlings until the smell is absorbed. Toss the cheesecloth and cilantro when you’re done. 

7. Vinegar 

This is very similar to the lemon method. Soak clean chitterlings in white vinegar in a bowl for a few hours. 

Now let’s talk about how to prepare a delicious, mouth-watering spicy chitterlings recipe. And if you’re curious about the flavor, see: What do chitlins taste like?

Boiled Chitterlings Recipe


  • 4 lbs cleaned pork chitterlings
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 1 medium-sized chopped bell pepper
  • 2 tbsp of chopped jalapeno peppers
  • 1 tbsp of crushed red peppers
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoon of salt


  1. Fill a 6-quart pot with cold water and place the chitterlings inside it.
  2. Begin to boil it, season it with salt, crushed red peppers, jalapeños, and garlic, and then add the onion. Make sure that before adding seasonings, the water is boiling very well to prevent the chitterlings from becoming tough.
  3. Put the pot on the stove and cover the pot. Increase the level of heat and continue to boil it. Let it boil for about 10 minutes, then reduce it to a medium level.
  4. Continue to simmer over medium heat for 3 to 4 hours until chitterlings are tender.
  5. Serve with spaghetti or collard greens.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 789Total Fat: 46gSaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 320mgSodium: 940mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 83g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

To bread and fry chitterlings 

Once the chitterlings are cleaned and cooked, you can bread and fry them for more flavor. This is the most popular method of preparation. Here are the extra steps: 

  1. Gather your ingredients: 1 egg, 1 cup flour or cracker crumbs, and water.
  2. Beat the egg in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of water.
  3. Spread the flour or cracker crumbs on flat tray or piece of parchment paper.
  4. Add oil to a deep fryer or Dutch oven and heat it to 370°F (188°C).
  5. Using tongs, put the chitterlings, one at a time, into the egg mixture. Let the excess run off, then roll each piece in flour or crumbs.
  6. Add the chitterlings carefully into the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Make sure you fry them in batches to prevent the pan from being overcrowded.
  7. Drain the oil from the chitterlings on paper towels.
  8. Serve hot with hot sauce.

Cooking time for chitterlings

Preparing chitterlings takes time due to cleaning, prepping, and cooking. The table below outlines how long each of these steps will take. 

StepCooking time
Prepping and cleaning2 to 3 hours
Cooking3 to 4 hours
Frying15 to 20 minutes

For more information on timing, see: How long to cook chitterlings.

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