How do you make extra crispy fried chicken?

Fried chicken recipe without buttermilk or eggs


To be specific, frying it twice.

This method, which I learned from studying the works of the great J.

Kenji Lopez-Alt, is a brilliant way of not only ensuring that your fried chicken is extra-crispy while remaining moist inside, it paradoxically enables you to serve it more quickly.

,It takes a bit of extra preparation, but it works.

I did it last night, and I learned a few things in the process.

I should have taken photos, but I didnu2019t.

,The only pieces of kit you will need are a wok and an instant-read digital kitchen thermometer.

Possibly, two of the latter.

But I managed with one.

,Oh, and a kitchen spider, if possible.

,,First thing you need to do is marinade that chicken.

,Buttermilk is the best thing to use for this purpose.

Cut your chicken up the usual way, or use whatever bits youu2019re using.

I used an entire chicken, cut into ten pieces (four breast pieces, two drumsticks, two thighs, two entire wing sections with the drumette still attached to the flat.

),Why do we marinade chicken?Marinading the chicken in salted, flavoured buttermilk will ensure that the chicken remains moist throughout two spells in the fryer.

It will also tenderise the meat a bit.

,I use my usual spice rub, a combination of smoked paprika, oregano, garlic powder, freshly ground black pepper and a good tablespoonful of kosher salt.

Itu2019s worth making a lot of this and storing it, because youu2019ll need it in your dredge.

,So, take a cup of buttermilk, break an egg into it, add a couple of tablespoonfuls of your spice mix, whisk to disperse it, and immerse your chicken pieces in it.

Mix it all around so it all gets coated, decant into a ziplock bag and fridge it at least overnight.

I started marinading my chicken on Thursday evening and cooked it on Saturday, so that was two nights.

,Kenji adds some flour to his marinade.

I did too, just a spoonful.

It makes the marinade thicker and cling to the chicken better.

,,Right, so everyoneu2019s expecting fried chicken for dinner.

,Unless you have a giant vessel for frying chicken in, youu2019re going to be cooking that chicken in batches, and the first frying is the one where youu2019re actually going to be cooking the chicken, which means that you canu2019t rush things.

,So, you will be cooking this chicken the afternoon of the day that you want to eat it in the evening.

Trust me.

This will work.

,You need to make your dredge.

I had some very strong white bread flour and also some rice flour.

I used about 2/3 former and 1/3 latter.

,Why didnu2019t you use all wheat flour?Because of gluten.

,If I had only used the strong white bread flour, the crust could have become uncomfortably hard, because of gluten development.

,Rice flour doesnu2019t have gluten, and makes for a less tough but more brittle crust.

So it tempered the amount of gluten that could develop in the crust.

,I wouldnu2019t use all rice flour, because with no gluten, the crust wouldnu2019t be tough enough to protect the chicken in the hot oil.

,Why do we need a crust at all?Because if we just fried the chicken without any dredge, the skin and flesh would dry out and it would be tough, stringy and nasty.

The crust will form a protective coating, inside which the chicken will cook.

,,Now, next thing is to heat your oil.

Get up to 425F.

I used Fahrenheit because although Iu2019m normally a Celsius guy, Kenjiu2019s recipe was in Fahrenheit.

I also used a wok, because a wok is actually a sensible device for deep-frying: its flared sides makes it less likely to boil over.

,This is where you need to be vigilant.

,Take your pieces of chicken out of the marinade and, one by one, dip them in the dredge until covered, shake off excess flour, and place them in your 425F oil.

,Why do we shake off excess flour? Donu2019t we want it to be crispy?Yeah, but excess flour will fall to the bottom of your cooking vessel and may burn, leading to bitter flavours.

,Iu2019ve heard that itu2019s a good idea to let the chicken rest in the dredge?Yeah, no.

Whatu2019ll happen is that the flour will hydrate too much, gluten development will happen, and your crust could become chewy.

Go from marinade to dredge straight to the oil.

,Donu2019t crowd the pan too much.

Iu2019ve seen Kenji in a video place almost a whole cut-up chicken in his wok, but he had more oil than me and heu2019s, like, an actual chef with chef skills.

,Iu2019m not.

So cook the chicken in batches.

Itu2019s all going to cool down anyway, so no need to keep it hot.

,Hereu2019s where we need to be vigilant.

,You want to get the internal temperature of your chicken to get to 150F (thickest part of the breast) or 165F (thickest part of the leg), but you donu2019t want to do this by just frying the hell out of the thing.

,Why not?Because you will overcook the crust.

If you brown the crust too much, it could burn and, again, develop bitter flavours.

,The temperature of the oil will drop to about 300F.

Keep it around there by careful manipulation of the heat under your wok.

,Trust that the chicken will cook: the crust gets formed in the first moments itu2019s in the oil, and the chicken is cooking away inside.

In Kenjiu2019s book The Food Lab, he actually finishes this stage in the oven, but I couldnu2019t do that because my oven is broken (but not my hob.

) So I had to fry it.

This could take between 8u201315 minutes, depending on your chicken and how good you are at frying.

But itu2019ll take a while.

,Test the oil temperature with your thermometer, and periodically check the internal temp of the chicken.

Donu2019t worry that sticking the probe inside the chicken will lead to serious moisture loss; any such loss will be minimal, and the process later on will also help here.

If you can manage to keep using the same hole to test the temperature, do so, but donu2019t sweat it.

(Alternatively, get two thermometers: one for the oil, one for the chicken.

),When the chicken has reached the desired temperature, remove it from the oil, preferably with a spider:,Place it on a wire rack over a baking tray and let it cool down.

,Why use a spider? Why not tongs?Because tongs might break the crust.

,Oh, okay.


,When all your chicken is cooked to the right temperature, sit down and have a break.

,Donu2019t worry if the crust seems like itu2019s not extra-crispy yet.

Itu2019s not supposed to be.

In fact, itu2019s going to become less crispy before it gets more crispy.

,Because, once itu2019s cooled down sufficiently, youu2019re going to put it in the fridge.

You could leave it outside in the open, but passing insects might be attracted to it, and perhaps some passing family member might sneak a piece.

,Clean everything up and forget about your chicken for the moment, but keep your oil in the wok.

Whatu2019s the chicken doing in the fridge?That chicken is still steaming inside that crust for minutes after it comes out of the fryer.

And all that steam is going to make the crust soggy.

,Thatu2019s exactly what we want it to do! This is the genius of this method.

,As the chicken in the fridge cools down, the crust will absorb more moisture, but also, the chicken meat will also re-absorb a lot of the moisture.

,When muscle fibres are heated, they contract, and the chicken squeezes out moisture.

When they cool down, they relax, and the moisture stops being squeezed out, and goes back into the chicken.

,,When the time has come to make dinner, make whatever side dishes youu2019re making, and leave the chicken till last.

Because the last stage is very quick.

,When you initially fry the chicken, all those bubbles are the liquid in the crust boiling off.

When youu2019re finished, you have a dry and crispy crust; but as we have seen, letting the chicken sit around and cool down has made that crust flubby and non-crispy.

,But itu2019s also let the chicken rest, ensuring it will be moist and not dry.

,Our job now is simple: weu2019re going to fry that chicken one more time, both to heat it up and to drive all that unwanted moisture out of the crust a second time.

Heat your oil to 400F.

Insert your chicken and let each batch fry for just four minutes.

,You shouldnu2019t need to check the temperature of the chicken this time.

We did that the first time, to ensure that the chicken was properly cooked.

,This time, we already know itu2019s properly cooked, so weu2019re just getting it warm (on the inside) and extra-crispy (on the outside.

),Serve as soon as possible after cooking.

You should have moist chicken (the marinade ensured that) inside a highly satisfying crust (the second frying ensured that).

,If you seasoned the marinade and the dredge properly, this shouldnu2019t need salt and pepper.

,And you havenu2019t spend the last hour and a half of cooking anxiously monitoring the development of your fried chicken and keeping everyone waiting for it to appear.

,Youu2019ve been making all those easy side dishes, having a cold beverage, and relaxing.

,At least, I hope you have.

Happy eating.


Kenji Lopez-Alt, The Food Lab, W.