What are Gizzards?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

Gizzards are secondary stomachs used by birds to grind their food before digestion. Because birds don't have teeth, they must fill this stomach with small stones to achieve the same goal. The organ contains a very tough inner membrane, surrounded by a muscular pouch which provides the grinding action. Gizzards are part of the group of foods called offal, which also includes beef tripe, chitlins (pork intestines), and hearts.

Fried chicken gizzards.
Fried chicken gizzards.

While many people may recoil at the thought of eating bird stomachs, gizzards are actually a popular food item around the world. They may be poached, boiled, ground, or even deep fried. The turkey gizzard is also included in the collection of neckbones, heart, and liver known as giblets. These giblets are often used to make a stock or broth for dressings and soups. The gizzards alone can also be added to soup stocks for additional flavor.

Plate of raw chicken gizzards.
Plate of raw chicken gizzards.

Deep fried chicken gizzards are commonly served in the southeastern region of the United States. They are usually available in bulk at local grocery store meat departments, along with other organ and offal meats such as chicken livers and souse. The organs are washed to remove any impurities, then heavily dredged in seasoned flour. They are deep-fried at a very high heat for several minutes until done. Chicken gizzards are often served with a honey mustard or barbecue sauce.

Cooked chitlins.
Cooked chitlins.

The taste and texture of fried gizzards can be difficult to describe. They are definitely chewy, since they are primarily a membrane more than a muscle. The muscle tissue itself has a subtle flavor similar to chicken liver. Chicken livers and gizzards are often prepared together, but not seasoned identically. Gizzards are usually seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic salt, while livers are generously coated with Cajun spices and seasoned salt.

Gizzards may be seasoned with salt and pepper.
Gizzards may be seasoned with salt and pepper.

Gizzards are a popular food item among poorer countries because they are usually in high supply and are very affordable. Grocery stores usually pack chicken or turkey gizzards in bulk containers and offer them for sale by the pound or kilogram.

Gizzards are commonly served with mustard.
Gizzards are commonly served with mustard.
Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick

A regular wiseGEEK contributor, Michael enjoys doing research in order to satisfy his wide-ranging curiosity about a variety of arcane topics. Before becoming a professional writer, Michael worked as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.

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Discussion Comments


I just defrosted chicken giblets. Having not thought twice, I fried the hearts, livers, kidneys and what I thought was a stomach, in a pan. After eating everything and leaving the "stomach" for last since it was my favorite. I was severely put off by the weird "crunchy" texture, It's so firm it feels like biting into a really dense sponge. It's the first time I ate it and I don't think I like it.


Just had a smoked turkey gizzard from Warren's Meats in Hays, KS. and it was tasty and rich in flavor. Must have been one happy turkey. Try it sometime. It reminded me of jerky, but that usually is for beef or deer.


@olittlewood: I would say using gizzards as a flavoring agent for broth is a good idea in general, since they're usually included with the whole turkey anyway and do contain a significant amount of flavor. If the thought of using chicken "stomachs" bothers you, make sure she removes them from the finished broth before serving. The other ingredients contained in that packet (neck, liver, heart) can impart flavors of their own, but may not mesh well with certain broth recipes. Livers can impart an unwanted bitterness, for example.

If using the gizzards for broth flavoring is completely off the menu, then you might be able to use chicken bouillon cubes or chicken seasoning packs from ramen noodle boxes to boost the flavor of the broth.


Harold's Chicken is a popular chicken place in Chicago. The best yet is the one in Homewood, IL and thye have great gizzards.


One Thanksgiving Eve i had cooked the giblets and now they are on my cutting board cooling a little so that i can chop them up to put into my stuffing.

Just then, my husband walked into the kitchen. Upon looking at the giblets he pointed to the gizzard and said "I know what everything is but one. He pointed to the gizzard and says, "That's not what i think it is, is it?" I said, "Yep. That's the turkeys testicles." Lord i laughed so hard!

He said, "You cooked them, too? You are not going to put them in the stuffing are you?" "Sure." i said, still laughing! He said, "Oh no you are not, you throw them out side for the dogs".

I threw them out and down the driveway they bounced. He says, "Oh my God!" and shut the door.

To this day i have never told him what they really are. That's my laughing secret! I just had to share this story with you.


i made some yesterday in the slow cooker and man they melted in my mouth. So loving my chicken stomachs (lol) with brown rice and gravy with vegetables. so freaking good.


The Swinging Doors in Spokane, Wa. has the best gizzards I have ever had in my life. They call them "Oven Broasted Gizzards". They are fried, baked, and roasted. Unlike most gizzards they are more tender and really easy to eat.


Spinx gas stations in upstate SC have pretty good livers and gizzards fast and cheap.


Golden Chicks have excellent gizzards. Don't know if they are in Beaumont, Texas but they are here in Mineola, Texas.


To anon, you could try KFC. Here in SC they offer a liver and gizzard dinner.


Where can you find already prepared Chicken Gizzards in Beaumont, Tx or the surrounding area?


do these really add that much to a broth? my mom always uses them to make broth to add to the drippings when making gravy for turkey. is there another way to impart the flavor without using the gizzards?

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