In The Kitchen Ingredient Guides

What Are Chicken Gizzards and How Should I Use Them?

Chicken gizzards are dark and meaty, with many delightful culinary possibilities and a surprisingly high nutritional content.

Fried Chicken Gizzards on a platter.
Alison Bickel

A chicken’s gizzard is a small organ that helps it digest food—far from glamorous, yes, but gizzards are valued in cuisines around the world. They cost less per pound than most any other cut of chicken, don’t take a lot of prep, taste like dark meat squared, and are packed with good nutrition.

Here’s all you need to know get some gizzards in your life.

Summary

  • A chicken gizzard is an organ the chicken uses to help digest food.
  • Each chicken has one gizzard, but you can buy chicken gizzards in bulk.
  • Chicken gizzards can be fried, sautéed, broiled, boiled, or braised.
Chicken Gizzards
Alison Bickel

Gizzards vs. Giblets

Gizzards are part of the bits and pieces collectively referred to as “giblets," along with the heart, liver, and kidneys.

When you buy a whole chicken or turkey, there will be one gizzard in the giblet bag. You can chop it into small pieces and use it in giblet gravy. Some people brown them and add them to giblet stuffing.

If you want lots of gizzards, you’ll need to buy them outright.

Other Gizzard Varieties

  • Turkey gizzards: It's not terribly common to find turkey gizzards for sale. The only time a home cook may encounter one is when he or she is preparing to roast a whole turkey. Turkey gizzards are about 1 to 2 times larger than chicken gizzards and can be prepared the same way.
  • Waterfowl gizzards: It’s also unlikely anyone but hunters or those who raise poultry will encounter duck or goose gizzards. They can be larger than chicken gizzards (in some case much larger), though you can prepare them the same way.

What Do Chicken Gizzards Taste Like?

Gizzards have the flavor of chicken’s dark meat—wings, thighs, and legs—but a little more intense. Their texture can be chewy; for tender gizzards, braise or parboil them.

Chicken Gizzards
Alison Bickel

Where to Buy Chicken Gizzards

Buy gizzards in the grocery store in the meat section, where you’ll find them with the poultry. They are usually prepackaged on shrink-wrapped Styrofoam trays in amounts of a pound or so. Look at their best-by date and select the freshest ones available.

International markets are also a good place to find gizzards. Some of those gizzards may have come from birds butchered in the store—if so, you may need to clean them yourself, so ask.

If you have a specialty butcher that breaks down chickens themselves, they may sell gizzards, but you’ll likely need to ask or put in a special request.

How to Clean and Cook Gizzards

Chickens don’t have teeth and, like other animals we consume as poultry (turkeys, ducks), they rely on the gizzard to break down food. As a result, you’ll likely find small pebbles and grit inside a gizzard.

Most packaged gizzards you’ll find at the grocery store have already been halved and cleaned for you. If not, you’ll need to clean the gizzard yourself. Here’s how to do that.

Though gizzards take a little more love and attention than more familiar cuts of chicken, they are not difficult to cook, although they can be tough. If you’re going to grill, broil, or fry them, boil them in water first to help tenderize them.

Gizzards can also be braised or sautéed. I like to cure them in salt and spices and make them into confit using a sous vide machine.

Chicken Gizzards
Alison Bickel

How to Store Gizzards

Refrigerate gizzards as you would any other cut of chicken, at 40°F or below. Their original packaging is best. Place them in a leakproof bag to prevent liquids from coming into contact with other foods. Use them in 1-2 days. 

Gizzards also freeze well. Place them in a zip-top bag, press out any air, and seal. They are best used within 4 months to prevent freezer burn.

Chicken Gizzard Recipes

Chicken gizzards are inexpensive and fun to experiment with. There are a lot of ways to prepare them, but because they are tough, they need to be cooked in a way that’ll tenderize them.

In American Southeast and other regions of the African American Diaspora, gizzards are often breaded and fried. Some recipes for dirty rice, like this one from Beyond the Bayou, include minced gizzards along with chicken livers.

If you have just one gizzard from a buying whole chicken, mince the gizzard and add it to a long-simmered sauce like Bolognese.

Gizzards Nutrition and Benefits 

Gizzards are low in fat and saturated fat; they’re a budget-friendly source of lean protein. However, they are high in cholesterol, so maybe don’t put a giant plate of gizzards on your weekly meal rotation.

Even so, they are high in iron and zinc, so when you do enjoy them, they are far from empty calories.