How to Cook Chicken Livers & Gizzards

Chicken livers add flavorful depth to a salad of mixed greens.
Chicken livers add flavorful depth to a salad of mixed greens. (Image: Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images)

With modern poultry processing and packing, the giblets, which include a chicken's liver and gizzard, get separated from the bird, trimmed and cleaned, and then either returned to a whole-bird package or placed in by-the-pound containers for retail sale. Look for giblets with clear color and firm texture. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight, or submerge an airtight container in cold water for about two hours per pound, changing the water every 30 minutes. Although liver is a food source of cholesterol, old-fashioned frying is a favorite way to prepare giblets. Update your frying method to cut added cholesterol by using unsaturated types of cooking oil.

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Paper towels
  • Cutting board
  • Flour
  • Seasonings
  • Medium bowl
  • Skillet
  • Oil
  • Buttermilk
  • Small bowl

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Trim each liver to remove membranes and the large central vein, if present. Rinse the livers under cold running water to remove any blood clots and residue. Gizzards are typically already split during processing with the inner lining, gall bladder and grit removed. The small, greenish gall bladder is located on the upper gizzard. Trim off any remaining gall bladder and lining membrane, and rinse the gizzards under cold running water to remove all grit. Drain the giblets on paper towels.

Slice the gizzards into 3/4-inch pieces on a cutting board. A gizzard is a muscular organ that is often tough. Cooking smaller pieces slightly longer than livers helps tenderize gizzards.

Mix together flour and your favorite herbs and seasonings in a medium bowl. Ground pepper, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, sage, marjoram or powdered dried chilies complement chicken giblets.

Preheat a skillet with 1/4 inch of oil to medium temperature -- the meat pieces should sizzle when added to the hot oil. Select an unsaturated oil that has a high flash point, such as sunflower or sesame oil, to achieve a golden brown color without scorching.

Dip the gizzard pieces into a small bowl of buttermilk and then dredge them in the seasoned flour. Place them in the skillet and simmer them in the oil for about three minutes, then turn them to brown the other side. Dip and dredge the livers and add them to the skillet when you turn the gizzards. Turn the livers and gizzards as necessary to brown all sides until the meats are tender.

Remove the giblets from the skillet and drain them on paper towels. Serve them fried as a main dish, or add them to chef salads for tasty crunch. Incorporate the pieces into casseroles at the last minute to retain their crispness, or serve them as nuggets with vegetables over a bed of rice or pasta.

Tips & Warnings

  • Experiment using different flours. For example, whole wheat flour adds a sweet, nutty flavor, while rice flour has a lighter consistency.
  • Simmer giblets, including the heart, in seasoned water with neck and back pieces to make flavorful broth. Gizzards should be tender after simmering for about 12 minutes.
  • Store raw fresh or thawed livers and gizzards for one to two days in the refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Refrigerate cooked leftovers immediately and consume them within 48 hours.


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