Everything You Need To Know About Cooking Fried Chicken

You can end cooking bad fried chicken with these tips and tricks.

IMAGE Aldwin Aspillera

There's nothing sadder than eating what should be a fantastic fried chicken plate. You know what we mean when it's a #chickensad meal: the chicken skin isn't golden brown and it's not crisp, the skin is super tasty but the meat itself is dry and flavorless, and worst of all, you are obligated to eat it because you cooked it yourself.

 

There are many ways to cook fried chicken but the bottom line is that it needs to be done right, despite it being a basic recipe. In reality, cooking a simple fried chicken recipe isn't difficult but in its simplicity is where mistakes can happen and can ruin an otherwise good recipe. 

If you are not willing to eat not-so-good fried chicken meal, then you need to arm yourself with all the fried chicken cooking tips and tricks you can get to achieve fried chicken perfection. 

Learn all you need to know about cooking great fried chicken with these tips and tricks: 

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Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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1 Use the whole chicken.  

The biggest mistake people make when cooking fried chicken is not using the whole bird. While it's easy to head towards the already pre-cut chicken pieces, you don't get the same variety as you would if you were to mix and match the chicken parts. You get both dark meat (wings, legs, thighs) as well as the white meat (breast). Each cut cooks differently and each one will taste different, too but all will be delicious if you follow these tips listed here.  

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Actually, you need to learn to prepare a whole chicken yourself! It can take as little as a few minutes of prep time once you get the hang of it! 

2 Use a dry brine. 

When someone says "brine", the first thing that comes to mind is the wet version. A wet brine is a liquid that's been saturated with salt, sugar, and other seasonings. A chicken, or its parts, is submerged in the flavorful liquid, and it can be in this brine for as short as a few hours to days. This results in some of the moistest chicken pieces you will ever cook. 

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What some people may not know is that there another kind of brine that you are probably already doing but don't know you are: the dry brine. A dry brine is basically rubbing the chicken all over - including inside the cavity and if able, under the skin - with the seasoning mix which includes salt, pepper, sugar, and any other spices and herbs you may want. You'll still leave the chicken to "marinate" in this rubbed-in flavorful mixture in the refrigerator until the skin is dry and the seasonings dissolved and absorbed as much as possible. 

The benefit of a dry brine is it's more efficient. It's easier to do since there's no heating, cooling, and placing in a big enough container to contain both the water and the bird or its parts. With a dry brine, all you really need is to make the salt, sugar, and pepper mixture (plus any extras as desired), and this is just simply sprinkled and then rubbed in. You then leave the chicken exposed in the refrigerator to dry the skin for the crispiest skin you'll ever cook. Meanwhile, a wet brine yields super moist chicken but can't guarantee crispy skin without a coating of breading since the skin has been soaked in brine. 

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Either brine method you choose, you will get a flavorful chicken. 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana

3 Coat it right, if you want. 

Once the brine is determined, you have a choice to make: are you rolling it in some kind of breading or leaving it plain? 

You can definitely leave it plain, especially if you used a dry brine for the chicken pieces. A dry brine is best for an uncoated, no breading fried chicken but if you're going to bread it, you have a few more choices to make. You can use normal breadcrumbs, Panko breadcrumbs, a flour-mixture coating, or you can use a batter that will crisp up. Whichever crispy coating you choose, the next step is just as integral as the preparation of the chicken. 

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Is your oil hot enough?
Photo by Wikimedia Commons. Takeaway.

4 Treat the oil properly. 

Now that you have brined and coated (or not coated) your chicken properly, time to cook it. The most important thing about cooking the chicken is how hot your oil is but there are a few things to keep in mind as well:

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  • Use the right pot or pan, both of which need to be deep enough to submerge the chicken pieces without the oil overflowing.
  • Use the right kind of oil, the kind that has a high enough smoke point for deep frying so it should be able to reach 350 degrees F or 175 degrees C without smoking.  

Get these two things right and you're halfway ready to deep-frying mastery.   

 

Photo by Bianca Laxamana
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5 Treat the fried chicken right.  

Once your chicken and your oil are ready, add the two together. Your chicken will be deep frying in oil and once you know each chicken piece is cooked through and has become golden brown and delicious, you need to have a rack to place the cooked chicken on. Many recipes will say to place the freshly fried chicken on paper towels but our problem with that method is the fact that freshly cooked chicken is still piping hot. Piping hot means condensation and condensation means soggy breading and skin. 

Avoid sogginess by using a rack over a tray which has been lined with paper towels. These towels will catch any excess oil that will drip from the chicken, and while the chickens are elevated from the towels, the soggy skin situation will be avoided. 

There is nothing about the fried chicken that isn't doable! In fact, that's probably the main other reason why fried chicken is so popular: it's delicious and easy to cook. It's also easy to mess up but if you keep these tips and tricks in mind plus all the other fried chicken frying advice that we know, you will master how to cook the perfect fried chicken dinner easily. 

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