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Timber 2 Table - Garlic Lovers’ Fried Wild Turkey Gizzards

Save the gizzards from your wild turkey to cook and serve in this traditional Korean-style appetizer loaded with garlic

Garlic Lovers’ Fried Wild Turkey Gizzards

30 Min

Prep Time

20 Min

Cook Time





Korean chicken gizzards or dak dong jib are a popular appetizer intended to be consumed with a beer or other drinks before a main meal. This recipe is based on one that Realtree copy editor and successful turkey hunter Donna Ng, who is Chinese American, loves to make with chicken gizzards and suggested would transfer well to wild turkey. She was right—this turned out to be one of my favorite all-time turkey gizzard dishes.

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In Korea, this dish is traditionally served as an appetizer alongside a cold beer or other drink.

Don’t save your turkey gizzards? If you’ve ever enjoyed chicken gizzards, fried or otherwise, you probably should. They don’t have the heavy iron flavor of liver. They’re more like rich and flavorful dark meat from a chicken or a pheasant. I realize that not everyone gets to kill enough turkeys each year to make a gizzard meal, but ask your hunting buddies to save theirs. I bet you’ll have plenty in no time.

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Try this garlic-loaded dish once and you’ll be asking your hunting buddies to save every turkey gizzard they get.

If you’re going to save and cook your turkey gizzards, you need to know a little about what they do and how to clean them. Turkeys, like all birds, don’t have teeth. That makes grinding up seeds and other foods they consume tough. Enter the gizzard, a small, muscular organ. Think of the gizzard as a grinder. Turkeys consume small stones that lodge inside the gizzard. When the bird eats, they swallow their food whole. That food first stops inside the gizzard where strong muscles move the food around with the stones, grinding it into smaller pieces before it continues to their two-part stomach. The grinding action breaks down the hard seeds to the point that the stomach can extract the nutrients the turkey needs.

To clean the gizzard, follow this step-by-step guide. Once you have the gizzard cleaned and trimmed up, you are left with pure muscle, no different than the legs or thighs of the bird. Because it’s a muscle that sees near constant use, the texture is a little chewy, but just like chicken gizzards, that texture and flavor are what make people love them.

For this recipe, trim and clean four to five gizzards.

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Trim away any fat or connective tissue from the gizzards, leaving only the meat.

Cut the meat up into smaller bite-sized bits. Rinse well in lightly salted water, a few times, until the water remains clear.

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Cut the gizzards into bite-sized pieces, then rinse well in salted water.

Add the trimmed gizzards to a bowl and pour over the milk. The milk both tenderizes and flavors the gizzards. Set the bowl aside and allow them to marinate in the milk for a minimum of 30 minutes.

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Soak the cleaned gizzards in milk to tenderize.

While the gizzards soak, it’s time to peel the garlic. Slice each clove in half lengthwise. Yes, this seems like a lot of garlic, but it works. Trust the process.

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Peel and halve the garlic cloves.

When you’re ready to cook, pour the milk off the gizzards and rinse with cold, salted water. Drain, then pat dry with paper towels. Add the lard (better flavor) or oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil starts to shimmer and smoke, add the gizzards. Some liquid will cook out, but just keep cooking, stirring regularly, until the liquid evaporates and the gizzards start to brown. Season the gizzards with garlic powder, onion powder, and ¾ teaspoon salt.

Add the garlic cloves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic softens and starts to char. Season with additional salt, black pepper, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. If you don’t care for spicy food, you can eliminate the red pepper flakes and replace them with sweet paprika for flavor. Check for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if needed.

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Fry until the gizzards are cooked through and the garlic is soft, sweet, and lightly caramelized.

Once the garlic has cooked through and the gizzards are done, serve as an appetizer with a cold drink of choice.


Meat from 4-5 turkey gizzards, cleaned

1 tablespoon salt for soaking and rinsing gizzards

3 cups milk

20-25 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)

½ teaspoon sesame oil

3 tablespoons lard or oil for frying

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