Chopped Liver

Creamy, rich chopped liver is a traditional Jewish dishes that brings back fond food memories for many families. The history of chopped liver goes back to Medieval Germany, where Jews bred and raised geese as the poultry of choice. The first Jewish chopped liver recipes were actually made from goose liver. Eventually Eastern European Jews began using chicken and beef livers; these recipes came across the ocean with immigrants to Ellis Island in the late 1800′s. The East Coast deli culture is closely tied to these early Eastern European Jewish immigrants. To this day, you can still order chopped liver in any New York Jewish deli (any deli worth visiting, that is!). Today, chopped liver is often served as an appetizer for Jewish holiday gatherings like Passover.

My chopped liver recipe uses schmaltz and gribenes in the mix. Schmaltz, aka rendered chicken fat, is the most traditional oil for chopped liver. You can use olive oil or vegetable oil instead, but in my (humble) opinion schmaltz is the way to go. Gribenes are the crispy cracklings created during the schmaltz collecting process. I add gribenes to the chopped liver for extra flavor, because that’s the way I was taught to make it. If you keep kosher, you will need to kosher the chicken livers prior to preparing them. For instructions on how to kosher liver, consult your Rabbi, or check with one of the leading kosher authorities. Star-K provides instructions here:

Star-K: How to Kosher Liver

I’m not gonna lie—this recipe is full of fat and cholesterol. You might want to have your cardiologist on speed dial before enjoying. I make no apologies for this. Some Jewish dishes are meant to be enjoyed sparingly. Everything in moderation, including moderation. L’chaim!

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Chopped Liver

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb chicken livers
  • 1/4 cup schmaltz, divided
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 5 hardboiled eggs, peeled and diced (divided)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup gribenes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

You will also need

  • skillet, food processor
Servings: 3-4 cups of chopped liver (about 16 appetizer portions)
Kosher Key: Meat - please see note about koshering livers
  • Pour 2 tbsp schmaltz or oil into a skillet and heat over medium. Put half of the chicken livers into the skillet and fry them for about 3 minutes on each side (6 minutes total). Livers should be firm and browned on the outside while slightly pink on the inside. They will continue to cook internally after you remove them from the skillet; don’t overcook them, or they’ll turn dry. Season the livers generously with salt and pepper as they are cooking. When they are brown and firm, pour the livers into a medium-size mixing bowl along with the leftover schmaltz/oil from the pan. Put another 2 tbsp of schmaltz/oil into the skillet, heat it, and fry the remaining livers repeating the same process as above. Add the livers and leftover schmaltz/oil from the pan into the mixing bowl.
  • *Note: If you plan to kosher your chicken livers by broiling them, you only need to sauté them in the skillet for about 1 minute on each side. Koshering the livers cooks them, so there is no need to sauté them for a long period of time. Be careful not to overcook or burn the livers, or they will become dry.
  • The skillet should now be seasoned with schmaltz or oil, so you don't need to grease the pan again. Fry the chopped onion in the skillet over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until golden. Add the fried onion to the mixing bowl, along with 4 of the diced hard boiled eggs and the ½ cup of gribenes (optional). Season all ingredients generously with salt and pepper.
  • Fit your food processor with a metal blade. Place all ingredients into the processor and pulse for about 30 seconds, stirring once halfway through processing, until a roughly textured paste forms. Taste the chopped liver. Add salt or pepper to taste, if desired, and pulse for a few more seconds to blend. Let mixture return to room temperature.
  • Chill the chopped liver for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Garnish with remaining diced hardboiled egg and minced parsley. Serve as an appetizer with crackers, or on rye bread as a sandwich. If you want to make this dish gluten free, serve on GF bread or rice crackers. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Comments (63)Post a Comment

  1. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Schmaltz and gribenes are unbelievably unhealthy. Most Jewish cooks stopped using them years ago — including my grandmother! Making the chopped liver with canola oil and lots of fried onion yields a DELICIOUS and healthy result!

    1. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
      Everything is good in moderation.Their is no away you can change the old taste of jewish food with all this americanized new recipes.I love my mom[let her rest in peace] and her old world recipes and i will not change them.Schmaltz is good for you,its better than than other foods that the most of american jews eat it restaurants like pork.

    2. Canola oil is actually less healthy than Schmaltz, especially if the Canola is GM and the only way to guarantee that is if it is organic. Canola oil hydrogenates much more readily (which is carcinogenic) than Schmalz, which is more suitable to frying. I think you should trust traditional wisdom rather than corporate marketing. Plus it tastes better!!

    3. I agree with Victoria and Eric. Neither the liver, nor the eggs, nor the schmaltz is unhealthful. It’s the carbohydrates in the bread/crackers on which you spread the chopped liver that is the unhealthful bit. I think I’ll use celery.

    4. The whole saturated-fat-causes-heart-disease hypothesis has been largely discredited. According to the World Health Organization in 2010, Intake of SFA [saturated fatty acids] was not significantly associated with CHD (coronary heart disease) mortality… SFA intake was not significantly associated with CHD events (e.g., heart attacks). In the same year, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a meta-analysis of 21 studies that looked at the effects of saturated fat consumption on coronary artery disease. The conclusion? A meta-analysis of prospective epidemiologic studies showed that there is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of CHD or CVD (coronary vascular disease).

      So enjoy your chopped liver the way grandma made it. It’s full of healthy fat, vitamins, and nutrients. Just avoid having it with bread.

    5. Canola oil(rapeseed oil) is absolutely terrible for you. It is processed and refined, and creates inflammation. Schmaltz is the way to go.

  2. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Yum! Thank you for posting the RIGHT way to make chop liver. My wife tried it a few times with vegetable oil but it’s not nearly as good without the schmaltz. Bubbe knows best! Our family serves it as a treat a few times a year, why compromise?

  3. It’s like you read my mind! My BF has been asking me to make chopped liver for him. I can’t say liver is really my thing, but I’ve tried a few of your recipes and my BF loves them, so I’ll give this a shot! Wish me luck.

  4. I add Mayo to my chopped liver and it gives it a creamy texture. Anytime I’m asked to bring something it’s always my chopped liver. I made 8 lbs. for my friends sons Bar Mitzvah and there was none left.

    1. Elaine- I also add the waspy-addition of mayo. Not to the chopped liver but slathered on bread under the CL. Yummy!

      Eating CL right at this moment :D

  5. You’re making me hungry! Liver is an acquired taste. I personally love it, always loved it since I was a kid. Our aunt used to make it on Passover. Spread some on matzo, what memories.

  6. how appropriate that i was just pointed towards your site, and i find you posted about chopped liver on my birthday! its “beshert”!

  7. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I live in South Carolina, I want to know where I can find Schmaltz and gribenes or what would be a good substitute. Being here is living without alot of everyday ingredients. I hope to ask enough times that the stores will start having a more diverse supply of foods. I love to cook and enjoy cooking many different ways. Thank you for being on Facebook where I found you. What a wonderful time I have had reading.

    1. Bee Jay, you make schmaltz and gribenes by tearing the skin off a raw chicken and pulling off the fat. Then cook the fat and skin in a skillet with salt and pepper until the fat renders off the chicken (schmaltz) and the skin gets golden brown (gribenes). Take the gribenes out of the pan and let them blot on paper towels.

      Voilà! You have Jewish chicharrones. Sorry this is a couple of years late.

    2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
      Buy a roasted chicken from the supermarket. There will be a bunch of great chicken fat at the bottom of the container. You can peel off some of the chicken skin and fry it up and make delish gribnes.

    3. i too am in south carolina and render my own chickens for the schmaltz and the gribness (my grandkids call them chicken crispies)… if you are near charleston, you can get schmalz at Trader joe s

  8. I wouldn’t go to the trouble of making this without the schmaltz and gribenes. I’m not Jewish but I believe in authenticity. I don’t believe it would taste nearly as good with substitutes, and I only make it for a holiday. It’s always for a group, and no one eats very much of it. I don’t seldom eat ice cream for the same reason, but I feel it’s part of living.

  9. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    My mom always insisted on chopping by hand her chopped liver. (After all, it is called chopped liver, not food processor liver.) It makes for an entirely different texture and I think changes the taste. Of course, she was still making gefilte fish when she was in her 80s and insisted that it also be chopped by hand. By then I was the chopper and it took literally hours of chopping. But liver is much less chopping time. Give it a try….

    1. My mom[may she rest in peace] did this same way and it was the best gefilte fish and chopped liver,i still remember the taste.Thank you for the memories!

  10. Chicken livers need to be broiled to kosher them. After cleaning the livers (excess fat, etc…), I then put them into a colander and sprinkle with salt and let them drain for about 1/2 hour. I then put them under the broiler for a few minutes on each side, until slightly pink in the middle.

  11. This recipe is very similar to the recipe my in husband’s family. Bubbe used to make chopped liver for every possible occasion, and while my husband was not raised Jewish, much of his maternal side is. Prior to marrying, I had little to no exposure to Jewish cooking and yet I now prepare the chopped liver for the holidays! I was told Bubbe never wrote down any recipes/measurements, so with the help of my husband’s aunt (since Bubbe is no longer with us), I finally arrived at the “right” mix. We use a combination of both beef and chicken livers (broiled) with schmaltz, onion & hard-boiled eggs. I grind the ingredients in my KitchenAid with the grinder attachment to get the perfect consistency that Bubbe achieved using a handheld grinder. I love your website and love reading about your culinary adventures!

  12. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    And now for the best part of this story: according to the latest nutritional experts (MD/PhDs), this wonderful food actually IS healthy for you. If you must replace the chicken fat with oil, use extra virgin olive oil- do not use canola or corn or any other kind as the omega-3/omega-6 ratios in them are very unhealthy. The high incidence of heart disease found today is due to the use of vegetable oils, white sugar, and white flour. Think about it- since the government and margarine companies have been telling us to switch to a low fat diet, the incidence of heart disease has continued to climb! Why? Because the vegetable oils they have brainwashed us into using are actually worse for us. Organic, free-range chickens (and their livers) are healthy sources of complete proteins. Make a batch, invite family or friends over, and enjoy this wonderful food that your grandmothers used to make. (and for what it’s worth, my mother and grandmother hand-chopped!)

  13. Oh yeah, Tori…this is the real thing…thanks for sharing…my grandmothers are both “kvelling” from above!!!

  14. this chopped chicken liver recipe is banging, seriously, the best I’ve had, maybe that’s because I made it, but I just followed this recipe (and the one for schmaltz and gribenes) and I am golden, I wanna share this chopped liver with everyone. I made brioche to put this on, not kosher, I know, but so good. Thanks Shiksa.

  15. Hello, i add csat (a little) ground cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg to my chopped liver. You may want to try this also. Thanks and ciao, Taylor

    P.S. i also chop my liver by hand

  16. As a widower I have reentered the social scene. I place a high value on ladies who do chopped liver like my bubbe used to make. Your recipe is right on! Zeit gezundt!

  17. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I’ve been reading some of the recipes here and was particularly interested in the “chopped liver”. Especially the term “gribenes” and its description. It reminded me that we have a similar thing in Switzerland where I come from (although I now live in New Zealand). My grand-mother used to make “taillé au greubons” which is a confection of scone-like dough with little crispy bits of fat-rendering left-overs. Those greubons were bought from the butcher when hard economic times dictated that nothing should be wasted. Unfortunately, here ends the similarity of gribenes and greubons as the latter is from the rendered fat of pigs. But since cooking is all about adapting, I can just imagine how tasty and delicious this “taillé” would be if greubons were replaced with gribenes! To finish, a quote from a NZ Tv cook: recipes are like kisses, they are nothing until you share them.

  18. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I have been looking for low-carb/high-fat recipes, and this one looks really tasty. Read Gary Taubes’ Why We Get Fat, and you will understand the science and politics of nutrition. Then you can enjoy chopped liver with schmaltz guilt-free.

  19. So glad that someone commented on the politics of nutrition!!
    We were misled to believe that saturated fat and organ meats are bad for us, when in actuality, they are the very foods that our bodies thrive on!
    There is more and more research showing now that vegetable oils (corn, soy) and canola oils are actually extremely dangerous oils to be cooking with- they lead to inflammation in the body and can cause auto immune diseases, heart disease and allergies…… definitely stick with the schmaltz! your body will thank you!

  20. In reply to Annmarie regarding oils and autoimmune disease.
    I have avoided cooking with animal fats all my life except on the odd occasion. I suffer from psoratic arthritis which is an autoimmune disease so it makes me wonder after reading her blog, you think you are doing the right thing but who knows. I will be making chopped liver with a vegetable fat which is made with the flavour of rendered chicken fat, exactly the same flavour. Do you have it in the U.S.? In uk you can get it in most kosher supermarkets.

  21. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    If you use an electric hob, you have to set it on high, not medium. I used olive oil and waited for ages on medium , but absolutely nothing happened until I turned the heat up to high. Also I only used 2 eggs and no gribenes. I chopped the liver and onions with a curved knife in a shallow bowl and added a few drops of tabasco and some freshly ground black pepper while I was mixing – I never use salt so this gave it just enough seasoning. I chopped the eggs separately and just stirred them into the mix before pressing everything into a terrine mould to rest in the fridge overnight. The finished product was very excellent. Thank you very much for your recipe – even though I changed it a little.

  22. No, Victoria Meyer, canola is not a GM product but is the result of good, old fashioned plant breeding in Manitoba, Canada. What is this prejudice against canola? It is one of the most healthful and environmentally friendly of all the oil crops.

  23. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Alas no schmaltz on hand however just happen to have some rendered duck fat that will HAVE to step in for me today. I’ve been dying for my grandmothers chopped liver. Btw your body makes most of your cholesterol. What you consume comes in second. Blame or thank your genes! Yummy fat in moderation.

  24. Loved your recipe. Hard time finding shmaltz. Had to render it myself. Schmatz really makes a big difference!

  25. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Great recipe!! I’ve been trying to work liver into my diet more, and this recipe not only gets healthy liver into me, but it also reminds me of my childhood!! Thank you so much!

  26. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    A Jew went to Asia and made this for his friends. They suggested adding ginger and hot pepper. The Jew refused, thinking that this Asian twist would be an abomination of tradition. Then the Jew finally gave in. . . . place a large spoonful of schmaltz in the pan with fresh, shredded hot pepper and ginger. Press / mash the peppers and ginger into the oil while heating, then infuse this into your finished chopped liver. It’s an outta-this-world-amazing Asian twist to our traditional chopped liver.

  27. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Years ago when I was working as a nurse on Long Island, I had this wonderful Jewish lady as one of my patients. Each year after Passover, she would always bring me some chopped chicken livers for me to enjoy. Now I can make my own! Thanks!

  28. This is THE BEST chopped liver recipe that I have ever found or tried. Perfect, delicate seasoning. I double it and use 3lbs, and it goes fast at family get-togethers! Thank you so much for sharing-

  29. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Out of respect of those that weren’t able to make it here to the US, for one reason or another, make this tasty treat the way our great grandparents made it. Full-fat and full-flavor. There’s a reason they lived well into their 90s. Moderation was only one facet of that.

    Thank you for your recipe!!!

  30. Just finished making my chopped liver [schmaltz & gribenes too] per your recipe [my kitchen looks like I cooked 5 courses for 200 people... LOL].

    Turned out very well, although, tomorrow, after it rests I’m sure it will taste … deeper, wider, more complex.

    Tori, thank you so much for the recipe, it’s going in with all my recipes [grandma's, mom's, dad's... a best of the best collection, if you will].

    Cheers!

  31. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I married a lovely jewish princess at a small Midwestern private school in 87,i was a townie and the first time meeting the family they loved me prepping and helping with the most delicious food..this is the truest recipe to the chopped liver I made that weekend …and have made every Christmas since..alas the marriage didn’t last but my love affair with jewish food has..mazeltov

  32. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I agree… you must use schmaltz. But the best way to add the hard-boiled eggs is to push them through a fine mesh sieve,just like my beloved grandmother taught me. It’s a lot of work, but worth the effort. Just make sure that the eggs are at room temperature and it will be easier. Yum!

    1. Funny… my dad taught us to use a cheese grater on hard-boiled eggs. I’ll have to try the fine mesh method. Grandma knows best. About time to make more anyway.

    1. Hi Sarah– not on the site, however I think this would work with an equivalent weight of beef liver– just chop into smaller pieces before frying.

  33. If kosher-ness is not a concern. Bacon fat in place of schmaltz is a very nice substitution. Liver and bacon is a classic flavor combination.

    1. ive made it that way also in a pinch i think you are right. but the looks my mother gave me werent good

  34. my grandmother died several years ago and i now live in florida with my son. i have tried to recreate her recipe but it was always missing something. my grandmother wrote nothing down so i was always going by what she showed me. thank you so much i made this recipe the other day and it was the gribenes that were missing from my memory. it brought me back and allowed me to share with my son real chopped liver. thank you thank you!!!!!!!

  35. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    My maternal grandmother, Anna, grew up living on her Uncles’ estate in France and they were one of the few Jewish families in that part of Provence for many years. She learned the best of REAL French cooking as well as the most amazing Kosher recipes imaginable.

    Her chopped liver was legendary in both NYC and in LA where I later settled. Friends would literally BEG her to make a batch so they could have a pint of half-pint of it. I remember her arthritic hands cleaning the raw livers over a special ceramic bowel she used ONLY for that purpose, when she was in her 90s! When she was no longer to live in her own home, she came to live with my family and was with us the final few years of her life. What a blessing to us all that experience was! I also remember the livers being broiled on a special grate in the old commercial stove we had in the house in LA., and finally the livers being lightly cooked in butter, adding in the chopped cooked onion, eggs, and the gribenes (which I had almost forgotten until finding your recipe online.)

    I went to our local Kosher butcher and got enough chicken livers (about 4- 5 lbs) to make a batch, and tried using your recipe.

    Much to my delight, it was/is as near to my grandmothers as I have ever been able to get! I did use my Grandmothers ancient cast iron skillet (the big one is 13 inches across, weighs a ton, and tends to scare off female users for some reason) and the real schmaltz and gribenes that I actually made myself – thanks to your kind reference and recipes for them both. (As a precaution however, I will admit that I did order a jar of rendered frozen schmaltz from my butcher, just in case I screwed up the rendering process or burnt the heck out of it in my haste.) Fortunately neither happened and I got the fresh schmaltz and the gribenes made before I started the Chopped Liver recipe.

    The butcher did send the extra kosher chicken skin and fat trimmings at my request and charged me like $2.00 per pound for doing so. I can hardly complain at that price.

    Thank you SO MUCH for this recipe! It is indeed a classic. And to those tempted to use oils or other substitutes for the schmaltz and gribenes – do not do so! You will still have a decent batch of Chopped Liver of course, but not anywhere near the real flavor you can achieve using the “real” ingredients. If you are worried about the fat and cholesterol – just eat a little less of it. The real thing is too good to be avoided – even if it means a smaller portion.

    BTW: of course in grandma’s day, a food processor at home was unheard of. I can remember her putting the cooked ingredients thru a hand-cranked food mill and I got to help by cranking it while she spooned the ingredients into it. The food processor does as good, if not a better job, with the only warning being to NOT over-process the Chopped Liver. It is supposed to be a bit grainy and have a course texture. Remember, IT is supposed to be CHOPPED LIVER, not pate’ In the days before food mills and food processors, the old fashioned way of chopping it was to do so by hand using a large knife on a large marble cutting board. When I was young, I can remember grandma’s hands literally flying as she would chop and dice not only this but most other things by hand, as well.

    An added caveat: Use the sharp blade in the Cuisinart and use only the “pulse” button. Open the lid to check frequently for texture as you scrape the sides of the bowl down to insure it all gets chopped. Remember you can always chop it finer if required. But once it is too fine, there is no going back… while you could still serve it (no loss of flavor of course) to family — you might hesitate to serve over-processed Chopped Liver to guests who know what it is supposed to look like! If you have the newer largest Cussinart Food Processor, it will handle a 14 cup portion at one time. You can easily do a 4-5lb batch in one bowel. If you have the smaller models, break the recipe up into two or three batches so it will process/chop evenly and correctly. Take your time. This one is a KEEPER, I promise you!

    Thanks again for this marvelous recipe! You have brought back memories and a food staple at our house. One that I thought were gone forever after my grandmother passed on some twenty years ago now…

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