Smoked chicken gizzards off the grill are always in my arsenal, despite only one member of my family enjoying these tasty morsels … Muah!
I grew up in a household that at a ton of chicken … every part of the chicken. My mother was a fan of chicken livers, my father loved the chicken back, but I was a huge fan of chicken gizzards.
Fried chicken gizzards was my introduction to giblets, and I was hooked from the beginning. The flavor was outstanding, but the chew is what got me … and that ‘chew’ is 99 percent the reason others push these gems to the side.
An inexpensive cut, I had ample opportunity to play with these cuts over the fire, and I was determined to perfect a great smoked chicken gizzards recipe off the grill.
In the Deep South, you’ll almost always find chicken gizzards served fried. But I don’t stop there … I like smoked chicken gizzards, and you will soon find out why.
OK, here’s the nasty.
Chickens take in food with their beaks, by pecking feed, grains, insects, and other foods into their mouths. This food then travels down the esophagus, with the help of a little saliva and digestive enzymes.
From here it makes its way to the crop, which is basically a storage compartment at the base of the esophagus where food can be stored for up to 12 hours.
Finally, the food trickles from the crop down to the gizzard, where the food is physically ground up. Refer to the illustration above to see where the gizzard is located within the digestive tract.
So there you have it — a chicken gizzard is basically the stomach of the chicken. It’s made of muscular walls that contract. The gizzard is aided by gritty, sand-like particles that help to grind the food so that it may pass to the small intestine, where nutrients are absorbed.
So, why don’t chickens have teeth? They don’t need them! The gizzard does all the work.
Chicken aren’t the only animals with gizzards. Gizzards are found in the digestive tract of many animals, including crocodiles, alligators, birds, earthworms, some fish, and some crustaceans.
Because they’re all muscle, gizzards tend to be quite chewy, and taste like dark-meat chicken.
Despite their small size, gizzards are packed with protein, and low in fat, making them one of the healthiest parts of the chicken.
Did you know?
Gizzards are always giblets. But giblets are not always gizzards.
The term giblets simply refers to a group of miscellaneous chicken parts, including the gizzard, the heart, the kidneys, the neck, and the liver — all of which can be grilled or smoked for some mighty fine grub.
How to prep chicken gizzards
If you grabbed some gizzards from the butcher or meat market, you may have to clean them yourself. Start by cutting the gizzard in half lengthwise. Wash the sediment away using your fingers and cold water. Once the gizzard is clean, peel away the yellow lining.
Gizzards do best when cooked low and slow, with moist heat. Because they are already a dense and chewy muscle, cooking them on high heat will only cause them to toughen up even more.
Fried vs. Smoked Gizzards
There are two types of people who eat gizzards, and their preferences are very different. For one, there are those who like a succulent, fork-tender gizzard that has been boiled down before a deep-fry in peanut oil.
The other type are those who like to chew … those who like a bit more bite to their morsels. Instead of boiling the gizzards first, these chewy gizzards are soaked in buttermilk, and is broken down with the acid and creates a different type of tenderness.
In the Deep South, you’ll almost always find chicken gizzards served fried. But I don’t stop there … I like smoked chicken gizzards, and they are fantastic. Here are two recipes that will allow you to decide which you like best.
Smoked Chicken Gizzards
We are never ones to shy away from throwing a pile of chicken gizzards and hearts on the grate, especially during tailgating season. They aren’t anything great to look at but the flavor intensity more than makes up for it.
Grillax Smoked Gizzards
We approach our gizzards with the reverse sear method so at the end, when we add some sweet sauce, we get those edges of crispy goodness. Oh-weeeee, is it good!
- 2 pounds cleaned, soaked gizzards
- Avec Tous Spice “The Spicy Blend”
- Rinse gizzards with cold water. Add gizzards to a bowl and cover completely with buttermilk.
- After a milk soak of about 2 hours, arrange in a baking dish. Sprinkle with Avec Tous on both sides. Let stand for one hour on the counter.
- Heat your grill or smoker to 225 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Use hickory chips for smoking in a smoker box or directly onto indirect coals in your grill.
- If available, place seasoned gizzards on a wire mesh rack in case your grates are too wide for these little morsels. Smoke over indirect heat for one to two hours or until internal temperature reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Serve immediately with a sweet barbecue sauce and rice.
Gas Station Gizzards
Although doing them at home is fine and dandy, there’s just something about the unique flavor of gas station gizzards that are just too good to refuse.
Here’s our take on these quick-rip fried morsels.
Grillax Fried Gizzards
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken gizzards
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup whole milk plus two tablespoons for mixing with egg
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground filé
- Peanut oil for frying
Time to fry
- Clean the chicken gizzards as needed.
- Heat a large pot of salted water to a simmer and add the gizzards. Simmer one hour to tenderize.
- Remove gizzards, add gizzards and one cup of milk to a sealable plastic bag. Let sit in the refrigerator for one hour.
- Mix flour and seasonings in a large bowl.
- Beat one egg with two tablespoons of milk in a separate bowl.
- Drain the gizzards from the milk and lightly dredge in the flour mixture until all gizzards are coated.
- Place the coated gizzards in the egg mixture, and then back into the flour mixture for one more coating. This will be thick.
- Fry chicken gizzards in peanut oil at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown, about five minutes.
- Remove from oil and drain on a wire rack or paper towels, then serve with your favorite hot sauce or preferred dipping sauce.