What You Need to Know Before Making Fried Chicken

chicken on a plate

Everybody has reasons for why they love fried chicken. For some, it’s the act of biting into the crunchy and crispy golden-brown crust. Others live for the moist and delicious white meat marinated to herbed perfection. There is an intimate element to the messiness of eating fried chicken, which is why it’s a universally loved dish.

Fried chicken is closely associated with soul food, and many people save the dish for weekend brunches and special dinners. But there are many varieties of fried chicken, such as Buffalo wings, karaage from Japan, and Korean chicken in Singapore. Best of all, you can easily make some in your kitchen.

1. Use the entire chicken

Many people think and even advise that you can only use the drumstick, wing, or thigh part when making fried chicken. But you can use the entire bird to make fried chicken, including the neck and breast.

The breast has long been derided as dry and bland, which is why frying it is a great way to zhuzh things up. Do not fry an entire breast, though. Slice the part into pieces to ensure fast and even frying.

2. Fry at room temperature

One common mistake many people make when frying chicken is frying chicken straight from the fridge. Frying cold chicken will lower the temperature of the oil, leading to slower and uneven cooking. The coating will not be as crispy, too.

Take the meat out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking. You’ll know the meat is ready for cooking when it’s at room temperature. Don’t let it sit too long, though, as harmful bacteria might grow.

hand holding fried chicken

3. Never skip the breading

If you are health-conscious, you might be tempted to skip the breading to lower the calorie count. But without breading, your fried chicken will not get the crunchy and crispy golden-brown coating. And the absence of the coating will lead to dryer meat as well.

Breading is easy to make. All you need are flour, a few eggs, and buttermilk. The egg and buttermilk mixture is especially important because it ensures the meat is evenly coated. You can also add coat the meat with panko or cornmeal for added texture.

Season the meat at every step for flavor, as you will not be able to once it hits the hot oil. If you want a spicier mix, you can add some cayenne powder to the flour or a bit of Tabasco sauce to the egg and buttermilk mixture. Make sure to coat the meat in flour before dipping it in liquid.

4. Use the right oil

Some people think that frying chicken in olive oil makes it more unique and fancy, but what they will get is bitter meat. Olive oil has a low smoke point, and frying chicken requires a lot of heat. The high temperature alters the oil’s flavor profile, resulting in a bitter aftertaste.

When frying chicken, use oil with a high smoke point and neutral flavor profile, such as canola oil, peanut oil, and vegetable oil. For best results, use a thermometer to ensure the oil does not get above 350 degrees.

These pointers will help you make fried chicken in the comfort of your own home. Fried chicken is easy to make, and you don’t need to buy clunky machines like a deep fryer. All you need is a skillet or Dutch oven and some elbow grease, and you are good to go.

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