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Perfect Fried Chicken Livers

Learn all the tips and tricks for making crispy, tender fried chicken livers, what side dishes to serve them with, as well as dipping sauce ideas!

a closeup overhead shot of a plate of fried chicken livers with a dish of chipotle dipping sauce

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I grew up eating liver. Beef liver, chicken liver, my mom put it all on the dinner table. It wasn’t as frequent when my sisters were younger, since I was the only kid in the family who loved it. But once they were older and not home as often for dinner, fried liver showed up much more frequently.

Fried liver and onions was the most common dish she served, and I was thrilled every time she made it. It’s strange for a kid to love liver – many adults aren’t even fans – but I couldn’t get enough. Between that and oyster stew, my mom and I really bonded over our love of good food. This all went down in Wisconsin, but lucky for me, my mom spent a lot of time in the southern states growing up, which is likely where she learned this chicken liver recipe.

I still remember the first time she made this recipe. It was liver but even better and I immediately knew that I would love fried chicken livers just like she did. This is a woman who knows how to cook chicken liver, and the result is always tender and pan fried to perfection. These are the BEST southern fried chicken livers and you just can’t get any better than this!

There aren’t many places in my area that I can get good fried chicken livers, despite living in Virginia. Cracker Barrel has them, but since we really only make a stop there when we’re on the road, that really isn’t an option for us. I’ve been told that KFC used to have them but that they stopped carrying them a while ago.

Thankfully there’s one joint near me, Johnny Ray’s Sultry Soul Food, that makes them and they’re quite good! I usually make my own but give Johnny Ray’s a try if you’re in the area and you love chicken livers.

an overhead shot of a plate of fried chicken livers with a dish of chipotle dipping sauce, on a tan tablecloth

Do fried chicken livers have carbs?

Chicken livers have no carbs, so they’re a great choice for anyone watching the amount of carbs they consume. Where it gets tricky is when the breading is added for fried chicken livers. Almost all traditional breading used for frying is high in carbs, so use an alternative if you want to keep the carb count low.

The breading I use for keto fried chicken is Whey Protein Isolate, which works shockingly well as a low-carb breading. Replace it for the flour and skip the breadcrumbs in this recipe, and you can enjoy fried chicken livers even on a low-carb or keto diet.

closeup side view of a plate of fried chicken livers sprinkled with parsley on a tan tablecloth

Can fried chicken livers be frozen?

Before cooking, chicken livers can be frozen for up to two months. Thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or first thing in the morning if you’re cooking them later that day. Technically, you can freeze fried chicken livers after they’ve been cooked, but the texture changes after being frozen and for that reason I don’t advise it. They’ll keep a few days in the refrigerator, which is what I do recommend.

Can fried chicken livers be reheated?

Honestly, I like them cold out of the fridge. If you want to try reheating them, put them on an oven-safe wire rack over a sheet pan, and reheat at 350F for about 8-10 minutes. Take them out as soon as they’re hot or they could end up tough.

closeup of fried chicken livers sprinkled with fresh parsley

Ingredients you’ll need

  • 1 pound chicken livers
  • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk (can also use regular milk)
  • 1 cup flour (more if you’re not using breadcrumbs)
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (optional)
  • Avocado, canola, or peanut oil
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

How to make fried chicken livers

The process is pretty simple: soak the chicken livers in buttermilk and dredge them in flour. Put them back in the buttermilk, then back in the flour OR dredge them the second time with panko breadcrumbs. Let them sit for 10 minutes or so to allow the breading to “stick”, then fry them until they’re golden brown and just cooked through. Place them on a wire rack, season with salt and pepper, then enjoy them alone or with your favorite dipping sauce.

an overhead shot of a plate of fried chicken livers with a dish of chipotle dipping sauce, on a tan tablecloth

How to make air fryer chicken livers

The process to make chicken livers in an air fryer is the same for frying them, at least in terms of soaking them in buttermilk, breading them, then letting them sit before “frying”. After that, you’ll need to spray them with cooking spray. Cook them at 390F for 10 minutes or until they’re golden brown, crispy, and cooked completely through. Be sure to flip them halfway through baking time so they get crispy on all sides.

Tips for making pan fried chicken livers

  • Use a splatter screen when you’re cooking chicken livers. Anytime I fry anything in a pan, even bacon, I use one to keep the oil that gets splattered onto my stove and counters to a minimum.
  • Pierce each chicken liver with a fork before breading. My mom swears this helps to keep the popping at bay when you’re frying them. I’ve never done it any other way, since mom knows how to cook chicken livers and who am I to deviate from her process?
  • Rinse your chicken livers in a colander, let the excess water drip off, then gently pat them dry on paper towels.
  • After rinsing and gently drying them, soak them in some buttermilk for at least 30 minutes. This will help cut that liver “bite” and enhance the flavor.
  • Fry the chicken livers that are the same size at the same time. I’ll usually do two batches: one with the smaller livers and another with any that are larger. You can also cut larger ones in half which helps, plus then you’ll have more to serve!
  • After breading your chicken livers, let them rest for 10 minutes or so. This will help the breading to stay put when you’re frying them.
  • Don’t overcrowd your pan! As with all frying, if you add too many to the pan at one time, they won’t get crispy. It’s not worth the small amount of time you’ll save to wind up with fried livers that aren’t perfectly golden brown and crispy.
  • Take care not to overcook them as they can get tough if they’re cooked too long. Pull them just when the breading on both sides is golden brown, which takes about 3-4 minutes per side. (Note: the USDA recommends that “poultry livers and other giblets should reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165° F (73.9 °C) as measured with a food thermometer”).
  • Use a rack to drain off any excess oil after they’ve been fried.
  • Immediately season them after they come out of the hot oil. I keep salt and pepper by the wire cooling rack so I don’t forget this step. It makes all the difference between just okay and amazing fried chicken livers.
  • Try adding a teaspoon of garlic powder to the flour before breading. I actually prefer them without it, but it’s a nice addition when I’m in the mood.
a closeup overhead shot of a plate of fried chicken livers with a dish of chipotle dipping sauce

What can you serve with chicken livers?

You can serve these either as an appetizer or a main dish. Here are some terrific side dishes for fried chicken livers:

Dipping sauces

I like my fried chicken livers dipped in mustard. Yes, I’m strange. But it’s good…try it! If mustard isn’t your thing, here are some other dipping sauce suggestions for fried chicken livers:

  • Ranch dressing
  • Barbecue sauce
  • White Gravy
  • Lemon Garlic Aioli: 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 tsp lemon zest, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, large pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chipotle Sauce: 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tbsp fresh lime juice, 1 tbsp adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers), 1/2 tsp minced garlic, a small pinch of coarse salt
  • Barbecue Ranch Sauce – 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup barbecue sauce, 1 tbsp ranch dip mix

Have you made these Fried Chicken Livers? If you share on social media, be sure to tag me @thewickednoodle on all social channels. I’d love to see your creation!

an overhead shot of a plate of fried chicken livers with a dish of chipotle dipping sauce, on a tan tablecloth

Fried Chicken Livers

Yield: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Crispy yet tender fried chicken livers. You either love them or you don't, but don't count them out until you give this recipe a try.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed and the large ones cut in half (try to get them roughly the same size if possible)
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, divided
  • 1 cup flour (more if you're not using breadcrumbs)
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (optional)
  • Cooking oil (Avocado, canola, or peanut oil)
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken livers in a colander and rinse them with water. Let them drain for a few minutes, then gently pat them dry with paper towels.
  2. Pour 1 cup of the buttermilk into a medium-sized bowl. Add the chicken livers and, using your hands, gently toss them to coat. Place them in the refrigerator for at 30 minutes and (preferably) up to one hour.
  3. Pour the remaining buttermilk, the flour and the panko breadcrumbs into three separate bowls or shallow dishes.
  4. Pierce each chicken liver gently with a fork.
  5. Dip a chicken liver into the buttermilk, then dredge it with flour. Dip it a second time in the buttermilk, then dredge it with the breadcrumbs (or in the flour a second time if not using breadcrumbs), taking care to coat it completely. Place each breaded chicken liver on a wire rack to dry. Let them sit for another 10 minutes after all of the chicken livers are breaded.
  6. Pour enough oil into a cast iron skillet that it comes about 1 inch up the sides. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches a temperature of 350F. Carefully drop the breaded chicken livers into the hot oil, just enough so that they aren't crowded. Fry them for about 3 minutes, or until they're nicely browned on the bottom, then flip them over and cook them for another 3-4 minutes on the other side. (Chicken livers should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165F).
  7. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a wire rack to allow any excess oil to drain off (put paper towels under the rack to help with cleanup). Immediately sprinkle them with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  8. Repeat the process with the remaining breaded chicken livers.
  9. Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 372Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 428mgSodium: 405mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 4gSugar: 4gProtein: 26g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

Kristy Bernardo
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callen

Sunday 27th of December 2020

We have enjoyed a very similar recipe for years and we would have chicken livers a lot more often except for their dreadful cholesterol. But, you only live once!

Kristy Bernardo

Tuesday 29th of December 2020

Ah yes, that pesky cholesterol! But I do agree with your philosophy. :) Have a great day!