Fried chicken is one of the ultimate comfort foods. It’s also one of the most iconic recipes in American cuisine.
It’s been served in restaurants and in homes all across the country since the early 1800s. Although the original recipe is believed to have originated in Scotland or West Africa.
There is something so comforting and delicious about the dish. Most notably the crispy and seasoned exterior and the juicy interior, which you get from deep frying the chicken in hot oil.
While always a popular dish fried chicken seems to be making a comeback. With the global fast food giants competing in fried chicken sandwich wars it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
It’s a great time to not only eat fried chicken when out but also to make your own! Take note though, if you do finding the right oil is a necessity. While there is no one right answer there are a variety of oils that can work to give you that desired result.
We’ll look at what you should look for in an oil and what to choose next time you decide to fry your own. We’ll also cover some tips to make sure your fried chicken comes out extra crispy and delicious.
What to look for in an oil
There are many different types of oil you can choose to fry in and since they vary in how you cook choosing the wrong one can defintily affect the flavor and texture of your chicken.
The three major considerations you want to factor: flavor transfer, smoke point, and the flavor of the oil.
- Flavor Transfer: Flavor transfer is when flavors from your foods stay in the oil and then transfer to the next batch of food that you’re frying. This can be beneficial in some situations where you want a seasoned oil but not for fried chicken. You want the taste of your chicken to come out and not fried fish or mozzarella sticks that were in last.
- Smoke Point: When oil reaches a certain temperature, it starts to smoke and turn rancid. However, this temperature ranges greatly by the type of oil. Deep frying chicken requires a high temperature, so you want to choose an oil that has a high smoke point. This will avoid it smoking so it does not have an affect the flavor of your chicken.
- Oil Flavor: Some types of oil have a strong flavor themselves and using them to fry can transfer to your food. You want to consider an oil that is flavorless to not interrupt the taste of the chicken.
Best Types of Oil To Fry Chicken
We went through all common oils and came up with the five best cooking oils for frying chicken that have high smoke points and neutral flavors.
1. Vegetable Shortening
- Smoke Point: 360 Degrees
- Benefits: If you want to make fried chicken like they used to back in the day, frying chicken in shortening is the best method. This solid fat melts as it heats, and it is a popular substitute for oil in the South.
- Smoke Point: 370 Degrees
- Benefits: Similar to vegetable shortening, lard is a great choice for frying chicken because it gives your chicken flavor and unparalleled crispy crust. It is also very popular in the South where fried chicken became so popular.
3. Peanut Oil
- Smoke Point: 450 Degrees
- Benefits: Peanut oil is one of the most affordable types of oil on the market. It also has a very high smoke point, making it ideal for frying chicken. Additionally, peanut oil prevents transferring flavor, which is excellent if you are serving multiple fried foods.
4. Canola Oil
- Smoke Point: 400 Degrees
- Benefits: With a high smoke point and neutral flavor, canola oil is a good option for frying chicken. As an added bonus, it has high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which makes it one of the healthier options.
5. Coconut Oil
- Smoke Point: 450 Degrees
- Benefits: Coconut oil has high levels of lauric acid and healthy fats, also making it a healthier option for deep frying. The oil is also odorless and flavorless, which protects the flavor of your chicken and prevents any unwanted flavors.
Oil Temperature for Frying Chicken
Ask anyone about fried foods and regulating the temperature is often mentioned as one of the most important aspects. Too cool and your chicken will turn out greasy, too hot and you’ll have a burn crust with a raw interior.
You should fry your chicken between 350° and 375° Fahrenheit. The oil temperature should never fall below 325°.
You also want to check the internal temperature of your friend chicken to make sure it has reached 165° to know it’s fully cooked.
Note that note all pieces of fried chicken cook in the same amount of time. Chicken wings are smaller and have less meat so they will cook faster than breasts or thighs. When cooking wings it’s best to set your oil to 375° to get you that crispy crust but juicy interior.
Tips for Frying Chicken
Lastly, here are some helpful tips when making your own fried chicken.
- Pat your chicken with a paper towel to dry it before tossing it in your breading to ensure a crispy texture after frying.
- Bring your chicken down to room temperature before breading and frying. If you fry straight from the fridge, your chicken will be too cold, which will reduce the temperature of your oil and result in an uneven fry.
- After frying, transfer your fried chicken to a wire rack for cooling. This is better than paper towels so the excess oil can drain away.
- Let the chicken rest after you fry it to let excess oil drain away and the crust to get even more crispy.
There are not many dishes as crowd pleasing than fried chicken. While it may seem easy to make, taking small considerations like type of oil can go a long way.
Keep this in mind next time you decide to make a batch and you’re bound to come out with some delicious, crisp, and perfectly cooked chicken.