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postheadericon Fried Chicken Livers

When I was a kid growing up in Schuylkill County in the Anthracite Coal Region, one of the rituals my family participated in was a weekly (or almost weekly) visit to a farmers’ market/”auction” to pick up fresh produce, baked goods, flea market finds and other items the household needed for daily life (like vacuum parts for the ancient Hoover or to drop off the “touch lamp” for repair…)  There are two markets that have been staples for generations in the area I grew up in, Renninger’s Market in Schuylkill Haven, Pa. and Hometown Farmers’ Market , Hometown, Pa.  Because my Dad, who owned a tractor-trailer and hauled coal to NYC and Philly, was on the road during the week, our “day out” was a trip to Renninger’s on Sunday afternoon.

Pop would circle and circle the dirt portion of the parking lot, kicking up a cloud of dust behind the Buick, looking for a convenient (translates into “close to an entrance door”) parking space to make shopping easier. Standard operating procedure was to buy “X” amount of goods and then Mom or Dad took the haul back to the car to drop the items off so we did not have to carry all the purchases around the entire market, juggling donuts or tomatoes while jostling our way through the crowd.

Sunday always yielded a major haul of lovely produce in season, and if you played your cards right and shopped close to closing time, the farmers often marked the stuff waaaay down so they did not have to haul it back to the farm or dispose of it. Our purchases varied slightly from week to week, but there was one thing I got almost every Sunday we were at Renninger’s – fried chicken livers! A stand at the market sold, among other things, fried chicken livers — and I LOVED them (Pop loved gizzards and hearts). Crispy and golden brown, different in flavor than beef liver, I ate them dipped in a tangy, yet smooth horseradish sauce the stand provided. They were addicting.

After Mom and Pop passed away in the late 80s, I found myself going to the market less, but I always got some fried chicken livers any time I visited. When I moved away from the Coal Region for awhile, I longed for the fried livers and realized I could make them myself. They are a very budget friendly dish, cook quickly, and bring back very fond memories for me of Sunday afternoons spent with my beloved parents.

Most supermarkets and butchers sell fresh chicken livers relatively cheaply. If you can only get them frozen, make sure to thaw them completely in the refrigerator before cooking. To clean and prep the livers for cooking, remove the fatty-looking string that connects the small and large lobes of a complete liver and trim any visible pieces of white connective tissue.  You might also want to trim any green discoloration, which results from (harmless) contact with bile during processing.  You do not need to try to remove every thread crossing through the piece. The goal is to obtain a solid medallion. You will end up with oyster-shaped pieces from half an inch to two inches long.

Chicken livers are high in water content, so when frying in hot oil, they will “pop”; a long-handled spatula or spoon and spatter screen should always be used. The spattering will not last long and will completely subside when the livers are done. As at all times in the kitchen, take your time, pay attention and use common sense!

Fried Chicken Livers

Fried Chicken Livers


  • Canola oil or shortening for frying
  • 1 pound chicken livers, trimmed
  • 1 cup buttermilk OR evaporated milk (NOT sweetened condensed milk)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • OR
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional - pinch cayenne


  1. Clean the livers, rinse in cold water, drain.
  2. Use a deep fryer OR pour oil into a large frying pan to a depth of 2 inches; heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375F degrees.
  3. Soak livers in buttermilk/evaporated milk for 5 minutes.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, pepper, seasoning salt (or garlic powder, and salt) or in a small dish.
  5. Drain livers; dredge each liver in flour mixture, shaking off excess flour; transfer to a plate.
  6. Fry livers in batches until golden brown, 3-4 minutes, covering pan with a splatter screen.
  7. Transfer cooked livers to a paper towel-lined plate.
  8. Serve with hot sauce, cream gravy or dipping sauce of your choice, if desired.

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