Having that golden brown and crispy chicken, not the dark burnt and grainy chicken, or the light-looking undercooked chicken; but golden brown looking and crispy to crunch chicken is the goal when in the game of frying chicken. The art of frying chicken does not always have a perfect result. It involves series of cooking processes.
Many things can go wrong in the process if care is not taken, resulting in unevenly cooked chicken that lacks flavor, or that comes out soggy and leaden. Achieving a perfect piece of well-fried chicken is all about skill and oil temperature. So the type of oil you use in frying matters a lot as it affects both the meat and the temperature.
The best oil for frying chicken is the oil that has a high smoke point or burning point. This refers to the point or the temperature at which the oil starts producing smoke and stops shimmering or looking clear in the pan when it is heated. Different oils have different smoke point range.
Some have a smoke point as low as 325 F, while some can be as high as 520 F. So a good oil for frying chicken should have a smoke point range that is higher than that of the temperature required to get the chicken properly cooked. Even with a high smoke point, some oils, such as walnut oil, are expensive for frying chicken.
So it is a better economical choice to stick with a neutral oil with a high smoke point such as Vegetable shortening, lard, canola oil, or peanut oil as good choices for frying chicken. But you can still go ahead and choose other oils, depending on what you want to achieve.
List of the smoke point of some popular cooking oils from the highest to the lowest:
|Refined Avocado Oil has a smoke point of||520ºF|
|Rice Bran Oil||490ºF|
|Rice Bran Oil||490ºF|
|Refined or Light Olive Oil||465ºF|
|Ghee or Clarified Butter||450ºF|
|Refined Coconut Oil||450ºF|
|Refined Sesame Oil||410ºF|
|Vegetable Oil||400ºF – 450ºF|
|Unrefined or Virgin Avocado Oil||375ºF|
|Chicken Fat or Schmaltz||375ºF|
|Pork Fat or Lard||370ºF|
|Unrefined Sesame Oil||350ºF|
|Extra Virgin or Unrefined Coconut Oil||350ºF|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||325-375ºF|
What is the oil temperature for frying chicken?
You should know the oil temperature is very important when frying if you want to achieve the right fried chicken look and texture, inside and out – brown and crispy. The temperature of oil for frying chicken comes within the range of 350°F to 375°F.
At that temperature range, the oil is hot enough to get your chicken cooked properly down to the inside. If the heat is too high or too low, the chicken texture will be affected. Very high-temperature oil in the pan will cause the exterior to cook too fast, giving you a chicken that has a dark, browned exterior but is still raw and uncooked inside.
While low temperature increases the time required for the chicken to fry, making it soak up more oil and become over-dense, oily, and of course not crispy. To make sure that your oil’s temperature remains steady at around 350° Fahrenheit, keep an instant-read kitchen thermometer nearby so you can continually monitor the oil’s temperature.
Remember, maintaining that fairly high temperature of around 350° Fahrenheit or more is not a feat that can be achieved by every oil without scorching. So be temperature selective when choosing frying oils.
Oil Temperature for Frying Wings
An oil temperature of 350° Fahrenheit is ideal for frying chicken breasts and drumsticks, the fleshy chicken parts, as this ensures the exterior does not get burnt when the inside is not yet properly cooked. But for chicken wings, they are smaller with lesser meat on them so the higher temperature can get heat inside and outside easily. You should fry your chicken wings at 375° Fahrenheit so you can get a crispy crust but a juicy interior.
How about French fries? Check out this post to learn more
What to know about oils for frying
Oils come from seeds and nuts and are extracted from them through a pressing process. Each seed or nut gives out its unique oil which has its chemical composition, which determines how it behaves; like how thick it is, how much heat it can accommodate, how it tastes, and other characteristics. One very important characteristic to look out for about any oil when it comes to frying is the smoke point, also known as the burning point.
Smoke oil is not always a problem as oils can produce smoke at different times, like when stir while frying for instance. The smoke point here refers to the temperature at which the oil starts breaking down. When oils break down, they can release chemicals that give food an undesirable burnt or bitter flavor, as well as free radicals that can harm the body. This means oils are not just one fit-all substance. Some oils are better suited for salads and not chicken. So make sure the oil you choose is suitable for what you want to cook.
How do I pan-fry chicken without burning it?
Maybe in a bid to make your chicken crust crispy, you have been having a semi burnt fried chicken instead. Well, try soaking it in buttermilk at least overnight before frying, it will come in handy. Aside from that, here are some tips to help you achieve it without burning your chicken.
- Before putting your chicken in the oil, make sure the temperature of the oil is at 350° Fahrenheit at least. This will make the inside and the outside of the chicken start getting heat at the same time and as evenly as possible.
- Make sure the oil is enough. If you are deep-frying, be sure to use plenty of oil that will completely cover the chicken. And If you are pan-frying, make sure you have enough oil in your pan to come halfway up the side of it.
- Do not put too many chicken pieces in the pan at the same time. Do not crowd your pan. Putting too many chicken pieces in the pan, especially too quickly, will lower the temperature of your oil and cause the chicken to soak up the oil. Then in a bid to achieve a crispy finish you might overcook and burn it.
- If the pieces of chicken you are to fry are very big, by the time it gets cooked properly down to the inside, the outside will likely be burnt. To finish the cooking in an oven for about 25-35 minutes after frying for 10 minutes or 5 minutes on each side. That way it will be crispy on the outside and properly cooked.
How long do you fry chicken in oil?
Maintaining a steady temperature of 350° – 375° Fahrenheit, you can get well-fried pieces of chicken within 12 – 15 minutes of frying. This time, however, varies, depending on what part is been fried and the temperature of the oil. It will take about 10 minutes to fry chicken wings since they are less meaty and 12 – 15 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.
For a chicken to be well fried, the instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken should register 165° Fahrenheit.
Why isn’t my fried chicken crispy?
Many factors cause your chicken not to come out crispy. They include the following:
- A low oil temperature can make your chicken not come out crispy. A low oil temperature means low heat cooking. So it will take a longer time than usual for the chicken to cook and since the chicken sits in the oil longer and the exterior does not get dry faster, it tends to soak up more oil and become over-dense, oily, and of course not crispy.
- Chilled chicken, when fried will likely not be crispy even if you have the right oil temperature. Transferring the chicken directly from the fridge to the frying pan is not a good idea. Allow your chicken to be at room temperature for up to 30 minutes before frying, as very cold chicken would reduce the temperature of the cooking oil, which could affect your cooking time and also will be unevenly cooked as the ice would not allow the heat to spread evenly at first. So if you want a crispy chicken, let your chicken rest a bit.
- Setting your chicken on paper towels to drain out excess oil is a common mistake that will leave your chicken soggy and not crispy. laying the freshly fried chicken on top of paper towels, this will create steam. The moisture from this steam will soften that nice crispy crust you worked so hard to attain on your fried chicken. The proper way to do this is to place your already fried chicken on a wire cooling rack placed above the paper towels. This way, the excess oil can drip down and be absorbed by the paper towels without affecting the chicken.
- Make sure that your oil’s temperature remains steady at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Always keep an instant-read kitchen thermometer nearby so you can continually monitor the oil’s temperature.
You can make your chicken crispy by doing the following:
- A nice, long soak in an acidic mixture such as buttermilk can be the difference between a lackluster, dry texture and moist, juicy chicken. Soaking your chicken for several hours in buttermilk will make your chicken very tender for frying, hence very crispy. The acid contained in buttermilk helps in breaking down the cartilage in the meat, making the meat more tender and moist. It might seem a bit too extra, but the added time is worth the unique added flavor.
- Breading or coating your chicken in flour before frying is the key to crispy fried chicken’s success. It hardens with the skin to form the crispy fried chicken crust and also helps to seal in the moisture so that your finished chicken will be juicy.
Should you cover chicken when frying?
Covering the chicken when frying can be good and at the same time can be bad. It is all a matter of timing. Covering the chicken keeps the heat locked in and even, and this helps the chicken cook thoroughly. But if you cover it all through the frying process, you might end up with what seems like a boiled chicken – not crispy. Cover only for the first half of cooking time and then uncover it for the second half.
Is it OK to fry chicken without flour?
Yes, it is perfectly okay to fry chicken without flour. If you have the skills, you can still achieve the same crispy finish. But it is never the same as when flour is used. Using flours coats and makes the outer layer of the chicken crispy, while the inside remains soft and juicy. A similar result can be achieved by coating the chicken with egg and breadcrumbs too.
Can you fry with extra virgin olive oil?
Extra-virgin olive oil sure is tasty and you can also use it to fry your chicken too. But it is really expensive, even more than normal olive oil. Considering the volume that will be required for frying chicken, it seems like a waste of money, since other neutral oils are way cheaper and have a high smoke point.