Skillful frying results in crisp and flavorful chicken, but that hot oil can be a terribly inhospitable environment for a tender bird. Breading or battering the chicken pieces first protects the skin and meat from the oil’s intense heat, with the added benefit of providing a crisp, golden coating that’s both tasty and eye-pleasing. A batch of your favorite pancake batter, either scratch-made or from a mix, is a quick and easy option.
Things You'll Need
Mix the pancake batter from your favorite recipe or from the instructions on your favorite brand of mix.
Cut up your chicken or chicken pieces, and pat them dry with clean paper towels. Large breasts cook more quickly and evenly cut in half, and legs and wings should be separated at the joint into smaller pieces.
Pour 3/4 inch of vegetable oil into a broad, deep skillet. Heat the oil on medium-high on the stove top until it reaches 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit on your frying thermometer.
Season the chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper, then dredge them lightly in flour or dry pancake mix. Shake off the excess, then dip each piece into the batter. Transfer the chicken to your skillet, using tongs to keep your fingers away from the hot fat. The oil temperature will drop to 300 or 325 F, an appropriate temperature for the chicken to cook gently.
Cook the chicken for 7 to 8 minutes, until the batter turns crisp and golden. Flip the chicken with the tongs and allow it to cook for another 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. Monitor the temperature of your oil, and turn down the heat if it goes above 325 F.
Remove one piece of chicken and insert a meat or instant-read thermometer into the thickest portion to ensure that the chicken’s interior reached a food safe temperature of 165 F. Return it to the pan for a few more minutes if necessary.
Drain the chicken pieces on several thicknesses of paper towel for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.
Don’t crowd the skillet. It’s best to cook large quantities in smaller batches, if necessary. Keep your chicken warm in a preheated 200 F oven until all the pieces are cooked.
Any chicken parts, from breasts to wings to backs, can be battered and fried. Cooking time varies with the size and thickness of each piece.
Use a spatter screen to minimize the mess at your stove, and the risk of being burnt by flying fat.
References and ResourcesJoy of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition; Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, et al.
ThermoWorks: Three Temperature Tips to Creating the Perfect Batch of Fried Chicken
U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: Chicken From Farm to Table