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Crispy Spiced Chicken Livers

Posted Jan 25 2012 10:13pm
Jan 8, 2012 Posted by on Jan 8, 2012 in Blog, Meats/Eggs, Recipes | 49 comments

I was a weird kid. Aside from roller skating to the library (in blue-and-yellow sneaker skates and an orange terrycloth bathrobe worn over jeans) and forcing my brother to play “Library” with me, I also distinctly remember voluntarily ordering beef liver with onions for dinner at my dad’s diner. I was also a crazy for chicken liver paté on toast and ordered it whenever it appeared on a menu.

Then I became a surly teenager and was sent to Weight Watchers summer camp where they forced us to eat liver once a week as part of the weight-loss plan. The culinary skills of the cooks at camp didn’t stand up to my dad’s line cooks, and I developed an aversion to liver that lasted for years. But now, after sampling some luscious charcuterie plates and eating our legendary dinner at Animal last summer, I’m falling in love with chicken livers again. For the first time, I experimented with coconut flour as a “breading,” and it worked great — especially when seasoned with aromatic spices and lightly pan-fried in coconut oil to form a lovely, crisp crust. This is a recipe I developed for my awesome gig this month as Featured Chef at US Wellness Meats; check out my Q&A on the U.S. Wellness Meats site.

I know you might not be all that keen on chicken livers, but if you’re the least bit curious or amenable to trying them, I recommend this recipe as a good gateway dish. The spices add just a little zing to complement the rich flavor of the livers, and let’s be honest: just about everything tastes great fried in a little dino-chow-friendly fat.

Prep 10 min | Cook 15 min | Serves 2-4

1 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken livers (US Wellness sells lovely free range.)
2/3 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon coarse (granulated) garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cloves
2-4 tablespoons coconut oil
garnish: fresh lemon and chopped fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, or mint)

Cut chicken livers into 2-inch pieces and pat dry with paper towels.

In a small bowl, mix flour, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and cloves with a fork until blended. Pour the seasoned flour into a large ziplock bag, add the chicken livers, and shake gently until coated evenly.

In a large saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil over medium-high until hot, about 3 minutes. Add about half the chicken livers in a single layer — try to arrange them so they don’t touch. Allow the bottom to brown well and form a crisp crust, about 3-5 minutes. Using tongs, flip the livers, and brown the other side. Set aside to drain on paper towels while you cook the second batch. You may need to add more coconut oil to the pan.

Place the livers on a serving plate and garnish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs.

These taste their crispy best if you eat them immediately, but since I’m the only person in the house who likes chicken livers, I had a lot to eat as leftovers. They were really tasty re-heated, just not as crisp. I had them three days in a row for breakfast, with a side of leafy greens sautéed with chunks of roasted butternut squash. It was luscious and kept me energized all morning.

  1. I bought a bunch of organ meats a couple of days ago and I was sitting here just now wondering what to make for dinner when this post popped up in my feed reader. Talk about impecable timing! Thanks!

  2. Mel says:

    Awesome! If you try it, please let me know how you like it. So far, I’m the only that’s eaten this recipe because Dave really, really didn’t want to try them.

  3. Tim Huntley says:

    YUM! This makes me crave chicken liver right this second.

    I also love chicken hearts split in two, sauteed, and drizzled with texas pete.

  4. Debbie H says:

    I grew up eating chicken livers — they were what my Mom used to make liver and onions. Your recipe sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to try it! Like you, I’ll be the only one here eating them, which is fine with me! :-)

  5. Kelsey says:

    My dad makes chicken livers wrapped in bacon twice a year when we go camping. It’s always the hor’derve hit of the night. This recipe sounds delish!

  6. Gaby says:

    I’m a liver freak, too. My granny made a delicious blended liver soup for me when I was very little, I’ve always liked beef liver & onions and I love pate. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Featured Chef at US Wellness Meats! Awesome. I subscribe to Wellness Meats and I saw your name in their newsletter. :)

  8. Elena says:

    Oh,this recipe sounds delisious!I am also looking for some ideas on what to serve to a company of Paleo friends. Something like small bites. I am new to Paleo. Any help ? Thank you.

  9. Made ‘em. Verdict: awesome! Thanks for the recipe. Now, if only I knew what to do with these chicken hearts, pork kidneys and beef liver… ;)

    • Bev says:

      Chicken hearts are yummy chopped, fried and tossed into an omelet for breakfast. Especially with jalapeno. Beef liver would work well treated this way too, I think. I am fond of liver with breakfast, it really does give you energy all day. I often dip it in egg yolk like I used to do with toast.

    • Mel says:

      Hooray! I have a beef liver in my freezer and need to find a good idea for what to do with it. I’ll let you know if I come up with anything good!

  10. P says:

    I saw a big package of chicken livers for cheap at my supermarket yesterday and wanted to buy them, but had no idea what to do with them! I’ll definitely be dropping by again today, can’t wait to try this!

  11. katetastrophee says:

    I haven’t had chicken livers in ages. I might just have to give this one a whirl. When I was a kid, my mom made the best fried chicken ever and she would fry up the liver, heart and gizzards. I used to fight my dad over gizzards. Such a tough, chewy, ookie thing to eat. I totally loved it. I think eating gizzards is the reason I had TMJ as an adult. Oh, and my dad used to also feed me cannibal sandwiches. What are those you ask? Raw hamburger on saltines topped with raw diced white onion. Apparently, he thought we were cows.

    • Mel says:

      Cannibal Sandwiches! I love it! And that sounds really good, actually. We ate a lot of raw kibbeh when I was a kid… raw lamb with mint and cracke wheat, slathered on pita bread. Same concept, different execution. YUM!

  12. leah b says:

    anyone tried subbing almond flour for the coconut yet? I’m intolerant, but would LOVE to try these. I’ll give ‘em a go and let you know how they turn out.

    • Mel says:

      Leah, you can absolutely use almond flour. I tried both and a blend — they all worked, I just liked the texture of the coconut flour the best. You might need a little more oil with the almond flour so it doesn’t stick to the pan.

  13. Lydia says:

    As a fellow liver-lover, this recipe totally made my day. I can’t wait to try it! Thank you.

  14. Mel, my family will not try organ meat, either. Had to make my own little been & kidney pies and freeze them for lunches because no one else will try them. I have been thinking about liver–I like beef liver but have never cooked it myself. Been looking at chicken livers, wondering…lately… I’m going to have to try this one. I am definately curious, and they look like good little protein snacks. Next, you’ll have to give up your liver pate recipe because some of my non-organ-meat-eating clan will apparently eat that (and I have never liked pate, funny huh?)

  15. Jamie says:

    Mel, thanks for this. My hubby has been bugging me to try liver (my parents scarred me for life – I’m from the midwest lol) and this sounds like it will be a good gateway.

  16. [...] Tegenwoordig braad ik hele kippen en grote stukken vlees, ben ik fan van bacon en is mijn maaltijd niet compleet zonder een deel van iets wat ooit rondhuppelde in een wei. Waarom dan geen lever? In de trein zag ik vanmorgen een recept: [...]

  17. Elena says:

    Melissa, may be you can post in future some ideas as what to serve at a Paleo party. Small bites, not a sit-down dinner. It will be greatly appreciated. I am not as gifted a cook as you are (sigh ). Thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Elena, I did respond to your question above… but in case you missed it…

      There might be some ideas in this post that you like:

      If not, shoot me an email and I’ll see what else I can recommend.

  18. Susie says:

    Wow these look good! These are going on Pinterest (and into my tummy) ASAP! :)

  19. Emilie says:

    Mel, these were really yummy! The lemon juice gives it that extra little bit of awesome and that’s what really made it for me :)

  20. Tina says:

    Oh, yum, I am definitely going to try this. My mom used to sautee them in butter and green onion and serve them on Ritz crackers. Cooking them this way will give a little of that crispy texture. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      I have to admit: Ritz crackers and green onions with livers sounds really, REALLY good.

      Must not eat Ritz.
      Must not eat Ritz.
      Must not eat Ritz.

  21. Nikki says:

    Hmmm, what would be a good sub out for the coconut flour and coconut oil that wouldn’t wreck the flavor?
    Though I love it, I can’t have coconut of any kind, I am elephant-man, swollen, can’t-breathe, epi-pen or die allergic. :(

    • Mel says:

      Sorry to hear about the coconut!

      Replace the coconut flour with an equal amount of almond flour.

      Replace the coconut oil with either clarified butter/ghee or another paleo-approved cooking oil, but not olive oil because you need high heat and olive oil oxidizes at high temps.

      Hope this helps!

  22. shannah says:

    How do you keep from popping?!? I’m throwing off fire crackers in my kitchen!!!

  23. Renee says:

    Thank you so much for this! My husband has been dying for chopped liver but wondering how he would eat it without crackers. I bought a pound of chicken liver at Whole Foods today and made the recipe as an appetizer for our Whole30 potluck tonight – best $2.50 I’ve ever spent. I’ll be getting these on a regular basis – the breakfast idea sounds amazing. I forgot the lemon at the end, so I’ll have to try them again soon.

    • Mel says:

      YAY! So glad you and yours enjoyed this recipe.

      I’ve been thinking… chopped chicken livers would be really good spread on slices of Granny Smith apple with some chopped scallions on top… or spread on red pepper wedges with chopped chives. Right?! Also… I bet cucumber slices would be lovely, too.

  24. Robin says:

    My mother used to make fry liver and onions with brown gravy, either over rice or mashed potatoes. Yum, yum, yum! So glad you posted this recipe. Going to try and make the gravy with some mashed cauliflower of some sort…we’ll see how that turns out :)

  25. These are awesome! Lemon really makes them complete! But holy cow did these buggers make a mess of my kitchen, snapping and popping grease all over the place. I sustained more than a couple of grease burns.

  26. keturah says:

    nom nom nom..i cannot wait to make these. Thanks Mel!

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