Chicken gizzards are essentially chicken stomachs, which means they get a lot of the delicious and nutritional benefits of offal, or organ meats. If you’re looking to add a new protein source to your diet, gizzards are a great choice because they offer a lot of nutritional value without too much of the musky and metallic taste associated with organ meats.
Chicken gizzard nutrition facts
A one-cup (145 gram) serving of simmered chicken gizzards has:
- 223 calories
- 44.1 grams of protein
- 3.9 grams of fat
- 0 grams of carbs
- 0 grams of sugar
- 26% DV of iron
- 22% DV of phosphorus
- 2% DV of calcium
- 4% DV of sodium
- 58% DV of zinc
- 27% DV of copper
- 23% DV of riboflavin
- 63% DV of vitamin B12
- 28% DV of niacin
- 179% DV of cholesterol
And many other vitamins and minerals [*].
8 health benefits of chicken gizzards
Here are 8 benefits you can get from eating chicken gizzards.
1. Its high protein keeps you full
One cup of gizzards has 44.1g of protein or 88% of your DV [*]. For keeping protein counts high to build muscle and extending the feeling of satiety, chicken gizzards are a great choice.
2. Iron and B12 may help with fatigue
When changing diets or dealing with anemia, not getting enough iron and B12 may lead to fatigue. Chicken gizzards provide plenty of both, and iron supports brain function, healthy muscles, and the immune system. B12 also helps with converting the food we eat into energy [*][*].
3. Zinc supports your immune system
The zinc in chicken gizzards supports a healthy immune system and fights infections, along with contributing to wound healing, skin integrity, and DNA/RNA synthesis [*].
4. Niacin improves cholesterol levels
There’s a lot of niacin (also known as Vitamin B3) in chicken gizzards, which helps metabolize macronutrients and improve cholesterol health. It also supports a lot of other functions and areas, including the heart, skin, and the production of neurotransmitters [*].
5. Its riboflavin helps with energy production
Riboflavin, similar to niacin, helps convert macronutrients into energy. It also reduces oxidative stress and fights free radicals with antioxidants.
Keep in mind, because riboflavin is soluble in water, about twice as much riboflavin content is lost in cooking water when boiling gizzards than other methods. So consider doing a buttermilk soak and then sauteing instead of boiling if you are prioritizing riboflavin [*].
6. Phosphorus keeps your bones strong
Phosphorus is a critical mineral responsible for making and keeping bones strong. It also helps keep the kidneys functioning and maintain a good pH balance in the body [*].
7. The collagen in gizzards keeps your skin healthy
Gizzards are full of collagen, which is the protein found in connective tissues, bones, and skin. When we eat collagen, it helps our skin and the general health of our joints [*].
8. Its versatility helps in the kitchen
If you are trying to add more organ meats to your diet, chicken gizzards are a great option because of the sheer number of ways you can make them. From simmering to sauteing to boiling, to frying — to recipes from rich culinary traditions including Korean, Chinese, and Cajun, there is no shortage of ways you can keep your consumption of gizzards varied and exciting.
5 nutritional downsides of eating chicken gizzards
And here are 5 potential nutritional downsides of eating chicken gizzards:
1. More cholesterol than other poultry cuts
Even with its niacin content, chicken gizzards have more cholesterol than other cuts of poultry. If you have high cholesterol or are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, consider eating gizzards in moderation [*].
2. Moderate levels of purine
Chicken gizzards contain moderate levels of purines, which are substances that break down into uric acid in the body. High levels of uric acid can contribute to gout or kidney stone formation in people — especially if you have a history of gout or kidney problems [*].
3. Chicken gizzards are usually fried
Frying food has a worse rep than it should have, but the reality is that most fried food is cooked in low-quality vegetable oils that add significant calories and unhealthy fats to a dish. And then you have to dip them in a sauce, right? There’s nothing wrong with eating fried gizzards, but if you’re trying to be healthy, skip the fry and opt for an air-fry or sauteed version instead.
4. Can be high in sodium
Similarly, depending on how it’s made chicken gizzards can be seasoned with a lot of sodium-filled ingredients like rubs, extra salt, and/or salty sauces. If you have sodium sensitivity, consider moderating your intake or opting for lower-sodium chicken gizzard recipes.
5. Bad sourcing leads to antibiotic consumption
Lower-quality chicken may come from farms where antibiotics are used to prioritize growth and resist disease arising from dirty conditions. This can contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, making it harder to treat infections in both the chickens and humans that eat that meat.
Where to buy healthy chicken gizzards
In addition to antibiotic consumption, the quality of the chicken feed also impacts the nutritional value and taste of the chicken. If chickens are fed low-quality grain their entire lives, the meat’s taste and nutritional value pales in comparison to pasture-raised chickens who consume a lot of natural food sources like bugs and other bits picked up from pecking around a pasture.
For example, pasture-raised chicken meat tends to be higher in iron, higher in Omega 3, have a lower Omega 6:3 ratio, and be higher in antioxidants. Pasture-raised eggs also have higher Omega 3s, a lower Omega 6:3 ratio, increased vitamin D, and more antioxidants [*].
Order chicken gizzards from small farmers who prioritize taste and health over profit.
How to add chicken gizzards to your diet
Chicken gizzards are easy to prepare and eat. The cleaning and tenderizing that sometimes turns people off is simple and takes barely any time. Cutting gristle and fat takes just a few minutes, and then tenderizing just involves a buttermilk soak or slow simmer while you prepare other ingredients. Once you do it once, you won’t think it’s difficult at all!
A few of the most common chicken gizzard dishes include:
- Sauteed chicken gizzards over rice
- Chicken gizzard gravy over rice
- Chicken gizzard stew
- Chicken gizzard tacos
- Fried chicken gizzards and creamy ranch
- Sunagimo (Japanese chicken gizzards)
For a more detailed breakdown of all the delicious ways you can add chicken gizzards to your diet, check out these chicken gizzard recipes.
The bottom line on chicken gizzards
Chicken gizzards are a protein-packed, mineral-packed, and generally nutritious type of organ meat. The majority of nutritional downsides come from the way chicken gizzards are typically prepared and sourced, which usually includes cheap gizzards fried in a lot of oil.
But that doesn’t mean you have to eat cheap, fried gizzards! There are so many delicious ways to tap into the amazing nutrition of chicken gizzards without the downsides, so pick up some pasture-raised chicken and get cooking!
Nathan Phelps owns and writes for Crafted Copy, a boutique copywriting shop that finds the perfect words for interesting products. He is also an ethical foodie, outdoors-aficionado, and hails from Nashville, TN. He splits his time between helping sustainable businesses find new customers and managing his ever-increasing list of hobbies, which include playing guitar, baking bread, and creating board games.