Chicken livers are an acquired taste for many people. It wasn’t something I grew up eating, except for the occasional liver pate at a party. My dad loved liver, so my mom made calves liver with bacon and onions for him only once a year. She did not like the smell of liver while it was cooking. I found the smell oddly intriguing but never got to taste it.
In my late 20s, I attended the wedding of close friends who had family members who kept kosher households. The appetizers at the reception were placed on 2 different tables. One table had lots of interesting food items that were mostly kosher approved animal proteins, cured salmon, pates, vegetables, hummus, pickles, and fruit. There was no dairy, pork, or shellfish. The other table was for the non-kosher guests. It had pork based cured meats, shrimp with cocktail sauce, a variety of cheeses and breads, vegetables with dairy based dips, and fruit.
I was beyond excited about sampling the chicken liver pate with the petit cornichon pickles and the legume-based dips. Wow! This food was rich, creamy, fatty from the chicken schmaltz, aromatic from olive oil drizzled over the hummus, and tangy from the pickled vegetables and cured fish. It teased my unfamiliar taste buds. My friend, the groom, came over and asked me why I was spending so much time at the kosher appetizer table. I was caught! The food was new and exciting to me and I simply could not get enough of it.
I promised myself that I would go home and learn how to cook chicken livers. I was still quite young, so I was on a pretty tight budget. I cannot tell you how happy I was to discover that a 16-ounce tub of fresh chicken livers was less than $2.00 at the market in my neighborhood. I was fortunate to have been living in an ethnically diverse metropolis that stocked all kinds of interesting foods.
Grilling Chicken Livers
If you haven’t tried chicken livers, you might enjoy this recipe for chicken livers that are grilled on a George Foreman contact grill. They take only minutes to cook, and there is no odor if you place the grill under your range hood with the exhaust fan on.
Note. I’ve added a bonus recipe at the bottom of this post – Bacon Wrapped Grilled Chicken Livers.
One thing I really like about using a contact grill for chicken livers is that there is no splatter or popping. Chicken livers have a good amount of moisture. When cooked in a skillet, they will pop and splatter oil or fat all over. The closed lid of the grill ensures that the fat drips away into the tray.
I grilled the livers directly on the grill plates, but you certainly can skewer them and fit a lot more on the grill at once. A specialty of Italian and Greek cuisines is marinated chicken livers grilled on skewers. If cooking these over a charcoal or gas grill, be sure to soak the wood skewers in water for at least an hour before placing the livers on them and grilling.
Grilled Chicken Livers with Herbs (Paleo, Keto, Gluten-Free)
- 8 ounces fresh chicken livers
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 2 TBS fresh lemon juice
- 2 tsps dried oregano
- 1-1/2 tsps dried basil
- 1-1/2 tsps garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- Lemon wedges for serving
Total time:25 min – Prep time:20 min – Cook time:5 min – Serves:2 people
1. Place the chicken livers in a colander and rinse them under cold running water. Pat them dry with paper towels. Cut the livers in half between the two lobes. Trim any white tissue, veins, and dark spots from the livers. Discard these.
2. Zest a lemon, enough for 1/2 teaspoon into a medium bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice from the zested lemon, oregano, basil, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Whisk together until well combined.
3. Add the chicken liver pieces to the bowl and coat completely with the marinade. Set the bowl aside for 15 minutes, or even longer.
4. Preheat your Foreman Contact Grill on high for 5 minutes with the top closed. Place the drip tray at the base of the grill.
5. Place the livers in a single layer on the grill and close the top. Grill for 3 minutes. Open the grill and flip the livers over. Close the top and grill for another 2 to 3 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165°F when checked with a digital meat thermometer. Repeat the process if your grill is too small to fit the livers in a single layer. You can also grill the livers on wood or metal skewers for a tidy presentation.
6. Serve the chicken livers with wedges of lemon.
What to Serve with Grilled Chicken Livers?
This recipe is of Mediterranean origins. I like to serve these grilled livers with skewered and grilled regional vegetables, such as zucchini, eggplant, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions. Cut the vegetables so that they are all the same size. Place them on soaked skewers and marinate in olive oil and herbs. Grill the vegetables on the Foreman Grill prior to grilling the chicken livers and set aside. These are fine at room temperature.
This combination of livers and vegetables is really nice served over soft, creamy polenta or cauliflower puree, if you are Paleo. You could also add a seasonal green salad of arugula, fennel, basil, and orange segments, lightly dressed with olive oil, lemon, salt, and pepper.
A deep, dry, and fruity red wine, such as Montepulciano or Borolo pairs nicely with grilled chicken livers.
Nutrition of Grilled Chicken Livers
Chicken livers are a fairly lean source of protein. A serving of these grilled chicken livers is approximately 250 calories with 20 grams of protein. These have only 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 sugars, and 19 grams of fat. The majority of the fat is unsaturated.
Bonus Recipe – Bacon Wrapped Grilled Chicken Livers
- 6 whole chicken livers cleaned and cut into 4 equal pieces
- 1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari
- 3 TBS brown sugar
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 12 pieces of thinly sliced bacon, cut in half
Total time: 1 hour 18 min – Prep time: 10 min + marinating for 1 hour – Cook time: 8 min – Serves: 6 people
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and pepper. Add the liver quarters to the bowl and toss to coat well. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
2. Remove the livers from the refrigerator and allow them to sit in the marinade at room temperature for 15 minutes.
3. Wrap each liver piece with the bacon and pierce with a toothpick to hold the bacon around the livers.
4. Preheat your GF grill for 5 minutes with the top closed. Place the wrapped livers on the grill and cook with the top closed for approximately 7 to 10 minutes until the bacon is crisped and the livers are cooked through.
5. Serve the livers on the toothpicks as hors d’oeuvres or party snacks.