Giblets are a Great Source of Vitamins and Nutrients
by Evan DeMarco on Dec 20, 2022
Depending on who’s in charge of holiday dinners at your home, chances are you’ve come into contact with giblets recently. Giblets—the livers, gizzards and hearts in poultry—are a surprisingly great source of vitamins and other nutrients.
Many people use giblets to enhance the flavor of their gravy, whether for turkey, chicken, duck or goose. Even if you’re not planning on making gravy the next time you roast a chicken, don’t toss the giblets. They’re packed with nutritional value and flavor, making them one of your meal’s MVPs.
What are giblets?
The term “giblets” typically refers to poultry hearts, gizzards (a stomach muscle used to digest plant fiber and seeds), livers and necks. They’re usually included in the cavity of a whole bird, sometimes loose and sometimes in a bag of their own. When you cook a whole bird, make sure to reach inside the cavity to find the giblets first.
Sometimes poultry producers include other parts of the bird with the giblets. Wing tips and even feet can be used along with the other giblets to enhance flavor and provide additional nutrition. Not only will they enhance your meal, but using giblets is a great way to avoid wasting perfectly good animal proteins.
Why eat giblets?
In gravy or cooked on their own, giblets offer a number of benefits:
- Protein: Giblets are packed with protein. One cup of chopped giblets has about 40 grams of protein, making them perfect for athletes and those who want to improve their performance. However, getting plenty of protein is important for everyone. It’s the key to good organ function, can improve your muscle mass and mood and even help you lose weight. Protein supports bone health, cognition and helps maintain normal blood sugar levels. If you’re trying to boost your protein intake, get those giblets.
- Vitamin A: Organ meat in general is full of vitamin A. Vitamin A is important for eye and skin health, neurological function, your immune system and inflammation control. It may even help ward off cancer, especially breast, prostate, lung, skin and bladder cancers. Adding giblets (or organ meats in general) to your meals will boost your A levels.
- CoQ10: CoQ10 is a coenzyme necessary to protect cells from free radical damage. It also helps your cells generate energy. When you lack CoQ10, you’re more susceptible to nutrient deficiencies, chronic diseases and other health issues. Fortunately, organ meats—especially livers and hearts—are a great source of CoQ10.
- B vitamins: Giblets, and liver especially, are full of B vitamins. Chicken livers have more than double the recommended daily intake for vitamin B12 per serving. Liver in particular also has vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, folate and pantothenic acid.
- Pet-friendly: If you’re not into the idea of eating giblets, there’s no reason to let them go to waste. Your pets—especially cats and dogs—can reap the nutritional benefits, too. Giblets are great for pet heart health, muscles, energy, joint health and even brain function. Fido says to tell you thanks in advance.
Where to get and how to eat giblets
Most whole poultry is sold with giblets inside, but if you’re trying to get more organ meat in your diet, buying multiple birds is inefficient. Most butchers are happy to sell you bags of giblets on their own. Alternatively, you may be able to find a butcher who sells hearts, livers or kidneys by the pound. Look for butchers who advertise offal.
Once you’ve got your giblet supply, there’s plenty you can do with it. The most popular use is in gravy: after you make and brown a roux, you can add chopped giblet pieces to the roux and broth mixture. This deepens the meat flavor, and provides a satisfying bit of extra protein and texture in the gravy.
Giblets are also good in stuffing. You can sauté them in a pan and add them to the bread and vegetable mixture, just like you might add sausage or smoked oysters. This is especially great for people who might not eat liver on its own, but have no objection to meaty bits in stuffing dishes.
For an elegant (but not exactly healthy) treat, use livers to make a pate. The meat is browned, then finely chopped and blended with other ingredients, like heavy cream, to create a rich and intensely-flavored spread.
Of course, some people love to eat giblets on their own. If that’s your preference, you can feel good knowing you’re getting plenty of nutrients with less filler. Whether you cook your giblets in separate dishes, feed them to Fido or add them to your gravy, don’t miss out on this nutritious treat.