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How to Make Southern-Fried Chicken Livers

Incredible Southern-style fried chicken livers

Incredible Southern-style fried chicken livers

I've fried hundreds of chicken livers over the years and have learned a thing or two about how to make them taste delicious. They're one of my favorite foods.

And if you're reading this, I'm sure you love them, too.

I think the best ones are well-seasoned and in a super-crispy crust. The following recipe is for Southern-style fried chicken livers.


  • 1 pound chicken livers
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. dried sage
  • 2/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • vegetable oil for frying
Chicken livers frying in the skillet

Chicken livers frying in the skillet


  1. Pour the vegetable oil into your skillet to a depth of about one inch. Place over high heat until the oil is shimmering. I like to use a thermometer, and I wait until my oil has reached 360 degrees. This is the optimal temperature for frying.
  2. Meanwhile, put the livers in a colander and rinse thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Season the livers generously with salt, black pepper, sage and the red pepper flakes. (We like livers to have a spicy hot flavor. If you're sensitive to heat, then omit the red pepper flakes.)
  4. Pour the flour into a bag (I usually use a gallon freezer bag), then toss all of the livers in the flour. It's important to toss the livers in the flour first, before going on to the next step.
  5. As I remove them from the bag of flour, I place them on a cutting board, and then slice some livers into a few pieces. I do this because I like some larger and some smaller pieces of liver in a crunchy crust. The smaller liver pieces are usually about the size of the end of my thumb.
  6. Pour the buttermilk into a bowl, put the livers into the buttermilk, then back into the bag of flour. Toss to coat thoroughly. This "double-dipping"—livers into the flour, then into the buttermilk, then back into the flour—is what makes for a super-crispy crust.
  7. Lower the pieces of liver into the hot oil, then lower the stove temperature to medium-high. After the bottoms have turned medium brown, turn the liver and fry on the other side. This usually takes no more than about 2 or 3 minutes per side.
  8. Once they're crispy brown, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a platter lined with paper towels.
Buttermilk-battered chicken livers ready to fry

Buttermilk-battered chicken livers ready to fry

Freshly made southern chicken livers

Freshly made southern chicken livers

Final Thoughts

I always use a frying screen when I'm frying chicken livers. They tend to splatter oil, and you'll have a mess on your stove if you don't. The frying screen also prevents the hot oil from spattering onto your hands while you fry.

Questions & Answers

Question: How do you prevent chicken livers from popping when frying?

Answer: Because of the liquid in livers, it's nearly impossible to prevent them from popping while frying. Always use a frying screen.

I've noticed that if I shake my livers in flour before I dip them into the batter, the popping is lessened. I think the flour absorbs some of the liquid.

Question: What if I don't have buttermilk for this recipe for fried chicken livers?

Answer: You can make your own like this: to a cup of milk, add one tsp of lemon juice OR rice vinegar. Stir and leave to sit for 5 minutes. It won't look like buttermilk but will work great for this recipe.