Turkey Liver & Onions - Iowa Wildlife Federation

Turkey Liver & Onions

Photography courtesy of Lowell Washburn, all rights reserved.


Turkey Hollow – Late last week: The arrow was launched and my New Year’s Day turkey dinner was in the bag. In prime condition, I was amazed – as always — at just how much fat the winter turkey was carrying. The bird’s gizzard, for example, was completely engulfed in a thick layer of bright yellow fat. But it was the turkey’s liver that I was most interested in. I could see no good reason to wait until New Year’s Day before enjoying this wild delicacy. In the matter of a couple of hours, this favored dish would go from the snowy woodland to my dinner plate. I am always puzzled why so many otherwise avid turkey hunters, in their entire lifetimes, have never grilled, fried, or baked so much as single liver from the birds they work so hard for. Maybe it’s time to reconsider the value [and ethic] of maximizing the utilization of the wild protein we harvest.


Liver – Not many people sitting on the fence on this one. Either you love it; or you hate it. I’m guessin’ that most of those who hate it do so because they’ve never had liver that was not horribly over cooked. Most people do not realize that liver doesn’t take on its distinctly familiar – and often disliked – flavor until it’s been taken beyond the point of no return. The reason a lot of people think ducks taste like liver is because they’ve never eaten either before it was completely destroyed – cooked to oblivion!! As is the case with other meats; there’s never a need to kill it twice.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m one of those folks who love liver dishes – IF – they’re properly prepared. One of my favorites is turkey liver. Upon bagging, plucking, and drawing the bird destined for the New Year’s Day table last week; there was no reason not enjoy an immediate on the spot “first entrée” which was, of course, turkey liver and onions.

My favorite cooking method is so quick and so simple that a ten-year-old would have no trouble preparing a meal with four-star flavor. All you need is a skillet, one medium onion, one turkey liver, a little salted butter, and a heat source – which includes anything from open fire wood coals to gas flame.

Turkey livers are bright in color and amazingly large — Huge, in fact. They are also rich. When combined with the onion, one turkey liver will feed one man who thinks he’s starving and two who don’t. From chopping block to kitchen table, the whole thing takes about twelve to fifteen minutes to prepare.


Step 1: Slice the onion and toss into a hot skillet [a nine-inch skillet is perfect] with enough butter to keep from sticking.

Step 2: While onion is sizzling, wash and slice liver lengthwise.

Step 3: As onion becomes translucent, move to side of skillet and add liver. Add pepper or other seasonings[optional]. Whether it’s venison, goose, or turkey; liver cooks fast—ultra fast. Once turkey liver hits the pan, cook for approx. one minute and turn. Next, gently mix liver with onions and cook for approx. one more minute. This is where you really need to pay attention. Blink twice and your dinner is ruined.

That’s all there is to it. Move to a warmed plate and you won’t believe your taste buds. Bon apatite!




Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top