Rocky Mountain Oysters History and Recipe

Anything that walks, swims, crawls, or flies can be eaten.  It just takes an open mind and a willing stomach.  Of course, there are some people who will eat anything.  


What are Rocky Mountain oysters?  They are also known as prairie oysters, Montana tendergroins, cowboy caviar, swinging beef, and calf fries – are true Western delicacies. They are that part of the bull that is removed in his youth so that he may thereby be more tractable, grow meatier, and behave less masculine.  When the calves are branded, the testicles are cut off and thrown in a bucket of water.  They are then peeled, washed, rolled in flour and pepper, and fried in a pan.

They are considered to be quite a delicacy.  Like other organ meats, testicles may be cooked in a variety of ways – deep-fried whole, cut into broad, thin slices, or marinated.  At roundups in the old West, cowboys and ranch hands tossed the meat on a hot iron stove.  When the calf fries exploded, they were done?


Rocky Mountain Oysters

Photos by Fran Shelton of Beaverton, Oregon taken at the Barney Prines Steakhouse and Saloon Restaurant in Prineville, Oregon.


Eating animal genitalia dates back to ancient Roman times, when it was believed that eating a healthy animal’s organ might correct some ailment in the corresponding human organ of the male person eating it.  Because of this belief, the practice continues to the present day, especially in Asia, where animal genitalia are considered an aphrodisiac.

The rugged folks of the Rocky Mountain region are not squeamish.  Testicle festivals are held every spring and fall in Montana.  These festivals can be very rowdy and may not be the best place to bring your children.  If you can not get to a festival, many restaurants and bars in Montana, Idaho, and Kansas serve Rocky Mountain oysters all year long and with less fanfare.




Rocky Mountain Oysters Recipe:
Prep Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Rocky Mountain Oyster History, Rocky Mountain Oyster Recipe
  • 2 pounds calf testicles*
  • 2 cups beer
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups flour, all-purpose
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Vegetable oil**
  • 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
  1. With a very sharp knife, split the tough skin-like muscle that surrounds each testicle.  Remove the skin (you can remove the skin easily if the testicles are frozen, then peel while thawing).  Either leave whole or slice each testicle into approximately 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick ovals.  

  2. Rocky Mtn OystersPlace slices in a large pan or blow with enough beer to cover them; cover and let sit 2 hours.

  3. In a shallow bowl, combine eggs, flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper to make a wet flour dredge or closer to a batter consistency.

  4. Remove testicles from beer; drain and dredge thoroughly in the wet flour dredge.

  5. In a large, deep pot, heat oil to 375 degrees F.  Deep fry 3 minutes or until golden brown (will rise to the surface when done).  Drain on paper towels.

  6. Serve warm with your favorite hot pepper sauce.

Recipe Notes

* Be sure to ask your butcher for calf testicles, not bull testicles.  Calf testicles are the size of a walnut and are much more tender than the larger bull testicles.

** Use enough vegetable oil to fill your frying container halfway to the top to allow for bubbling up and splattering and to completely cover calf testicles while frying.


Food History    Mid-West Plains Beef Recipes   

Comments and Reviews

9 Responses to “Rocky Mountain Oysters History and Recipe”

  1. Cheryl

    Review your recipe. You DONT mix the eggs with the flour mixture. You dip the oysters in the beaten eggs, THEN dredge in the flour mixture.

    • Ball buster

      Cheryl is wrong. Maybe too many nuts in her mouth. You definitely want to add eggs to flour mixture

    • Whats Cooking America

      The eggs are mixed into the flour to make more of a wet dredge or batter.

  2. charles mcquay

    she is right dip meat in egg batter drege crackers frie in light oil they are good bull nuts to big tough edible but not good like calf fries

  3. Pam

    How long can you freeze unprepared testicles? And what is the best technique? Thank.

  4. Tim coble

    Question, What kind of veg.. Oil
    Is best for deep frying.

  5. Diana

    Where I grew up in Missouri, they ate pig testicles and called them that.

  6. Clarence

    DIana…We do pork fries where I’m at in Kansas too. Personal preference and availability I guess. We could get beef, pork or lamb where we get our supply. We deep fry with a VERY basic flour mixture (Crunchy Dip) coating without the eggs or beer. We do 100lbs each April and November.


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