Why It Works
- Grilling the chicken livers gives you the best flavor, but broiling is easier and faster. We let you choose which method to use.
- Exactly how much you cook the onion will determine the sweetness of the chopped liver.
- We think schmaltz is the only real choice for chopped liver, but you can use a neutral vegetable oil if you wish.
Chopped liver contains only a few ingredients, so for the best version, you have to be thoughtful about each one. This recipe gives you options for how to proceed to get the results you want. (With just a little opinion sprinkled in along the way because, let's be honest—not all of the options are equally good.)
- 1 pound (454g) chicken livers
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup (60ml) schmaltz, plus more as needed (see note)
- 1 large (8-ounce; 225g) yellow onion, finely minced
- 3 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled
- 1/4 cup gribenes (browned, crispy bits of fat and onion left over from making schmaltz), finely minced (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Additional minced gribenes and hard-boiled egg, for garnish (optional)
- Matzo or other crackers, for serving
If Using a Grill for the Livers: Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over half of coal grate. Alternatively, set all the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill, and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Proceed to step 3.
If Using a Broiler for the Livers: Preheat broiler and move oven rack to highest position. Oil a slotted broiler pan, or a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet.
Using a paring knife, clean livers well of any fat, green spots, or large veins. Season all over with kosher salt. If using a grill, grill livers over high heat, turning frequently, until they are very lightly charred in spots and only the last traces of pink remain in their centers. If using the broiler, arrange livers on the prepared broiler pan or wire rack and broil, turning frequently, until exteriors are well browned and only the last traces of pink remain in the centers. (If you are unsure about whether the livers are done, cut them open to check.) Remove from oven or grill and set aside.
In a medium stainless steel or cast iron skillet, heat schmaltz or other fat over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until desired doneness is reached. For less sweet onions, with some texture remaining, cook until softened but not browned, about 3 minutes; for sweeter onions that are very soft, cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes. (Lower the heat at any point to prevent burning.) If you wish, you can remove half the onion when it is softened, then continue cooking the other half until browned, for the best of both worlds.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine cooked livers with eggs and pulse, scraping down the sides if needed, until a rough, crumbly paste forms; try not to over-process into a smooth paste.
Scrape minced liver and egg mixture into a mixing bowl. Scrape in cooked onion, along with all of the cooking fat. Add minced gribenes, if using. Stir until thoroughly combined, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go.
Add as much extra schmaltz as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach desired consistency. Exactly how much this is will depend on several variables, including your personal preference, though we recommend that chopped liver be spreadable and moist, not dry and crumbly.
Refrigerate chopped liver in an airtight container, with plastic pressed directly against its surface to prevent it from discoloring, for up to 5 days. Allow to come to room temperature before serving. Garnish, if desired, with additional minced hard-boiled egg and gribenes, along with matzo or crackers on the side. We find that chopped liver tastes better after an overnight rest.
Schmaltz (rendered chicken fat flavored with onions) is by far the superior choice of cooking fat in this recipe, but if you don't have the time to make it, you can use a neutral vegetable oil instead.
This recipe uses cooking methods that align with kosher practices (such as grilling or broiling the livers), but the recipe itself is not guaranteed to comply with all kosher laws; check with an expert if you have any concerns.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Chopped liver is best after an overnight rest and can be kept refrigerated for up to 5 days. Avoid freezing chopped liver, as that can ruin its consistency. Always keep plastic pressed directly against the surface of the chopped liver when storing it, since it can discolor and darken when exposed to air for prolonged periods.