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What's the best fat for frying chicken?

Lard? Shortening? Veg oil or a combo or something else entirely?

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  1. Lard gives the best flavor, but your cardiologist might have other thoughts on the process.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Kelli2006

      ...unless your cardiologist is up to date on the most recent wisdom regarding saturated fats. If they are, they'll give you their blessing.

      1. re: scott123

        True although my understanding is that the shelf stable lards have transfats, so one should take care to keep that in mind.

    2. Peanut oil-high smoking point.

      2 Replies
      1. re: monku

        If you need to deep fry, please pay attention, as monku, has referred to, to the smoking point. What tastes good may be deleterious to your health, long term. Free radicals form for unstable oils, those that don't handle a high heat well.
        Due a google search on oils to get more information. Supposedly, refined avocado has one of the highest smoking points for vegetable oils, while some of the other well known veg oils have a slightly lower smoking point ... refined soy, corn, refined high oleic safflower and sunflower ... this is just a sample.

        No question about Lard resulting in tasty fried skin ... coconut oil is supposed to be good, too.

        The rule of thumb is that for very high heating, refined oils are better suited, for no or low heating, unrefined maintains the nutrients in oil more.

        If you want to stay superhealthy, explore various cook's recipes on simulating the "fry" texture and taste through baking the food.

        My favorite oil for stir frying is sesame oil (not the toasted sesame version). Oil used for deep frying really does affect the quality of the resulting dish. I shudder to think of restaurants that use cheap commercial oils that have been superheated during their production, resulting in a potentially harmful product.

        1. re: FelafelBoy

          If health and free radicals are a concern, all liquid oils are a poor choice. Solid saturated fats will always provide more stability than liquid less saturated ones. Artifically saturated trans fats (traditional shortening) are to be avoided, but, other than those, any saturated fat would make a healthy (and delicious) choice:

          Beef fat
          Palm oil
          Coconut oil

          Lard is an excellent choice, although I would probably seek out an unhydrogenated brand or possibly even render the pork fat myself.

      2. Conventially, lard is the best. However, duck fat combined with either clarified butter or lard will add huge flavor.

        1 Reply
        1. Throwing the diet out the window, mine would be, Lard!

          Peanut oil is my second, but that could be subject to an allergy alert concerning other family members. I would then substitute for a pure Canola oil, in that case.

          3rd (or 4th) is those better grades of solid vegetable shortenings.

          I am going to add a bit about the lard, as to me, it makes the best southern style or milk gravy if pan fried.

          1. Lard, lard, lard, oh Lordy, lard, lard, lard!

            Having said that brings into question what you mean by "best"!

            1. I've never done this myself, but the best fried chicken I've ever eaten is made by a friend of mine, a good ol' southern boy, who saves up bacon fat all year and has friends over for an annual fried chicken blowout. Amazing chicken.

              3 Replies
              1. re: JoanN

                My grandma's fried chicken, the benchmark as far as my taste is concerned, was done in Crisco with a big dollop of bacon grease. I used to do that, but now use lard instead. Lots of Mexican markets around here where they make their own. I have some duck fat, too, but I'm hoarding it for confit!

                1. re: JoanN

                  How does he save up the bacon fat? In the freezer? Is it cutting fat off bacon? or pouring off the oil that results from frying bacon? or something else?

                  1. re: orangewasabi

                    I'm almost positive it's the fat that results from frying bacon, but I honestly don't know how he stores it. I sort of assumed in the fridge since I seem to be able to keep lard in the fridge forever. I'll be speaking with him after the new year and I'll ask.

                  1. Lard tasts the best and your cardiologist will love it because if everyone uses lard he will be driving a Rolls instead of a mere Mercedes.

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: malibumike

                        I don't think so! My 96 year old grandpa lived out of a cast iron skillet and lard up till the time he went into the nursing home at 95. (macular degeneration, otherwise fit as a fiddle). There is where he didn't have much of a dietary choice and food lost its pizazz.

                        BTW- He never was on any heart or vascular system meds. Just smoked and ate rather sinful food by todays standards. Diets kill, as its first 3 letters represent. ;-)

                      2. Lard, followed by rice bran oil.

                        1. Lard or bacon grease will impart it's own personality on the dish - one you may not want. It depends on the kind of chicken recipe - "shake and bake" style chicken may do just fine with it.

                          Personally, I would recommend a neutral oil with a high smoking point. Grapeseed oil will do the trick - a 420 degree smoking point, and a very neutral flavor.

                          1. For flavor, my first choice would be natural lard (not the gross waxy partially-hydrogenated industrial product), second peanut oil.

                            Rice bran oil would probably be excellent, but it's awfully expensive.

                            1. I use safflower oil--pretty good

                              1. was thinking of trying the ad hoc fried chicken recipe with lard - but then i figured that ad hoc must have a good reason for using vegetable oil instead of lard...what do people think?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: vulber

                                  The original recipe calls for the use of peanut or, alternatively, canola oil, both of which have higher smoke points than lard. Also, a polyunsaturated oil will cling less to the surface of the of the chicken making it less greasy.

                                  I also suspect that if he had called for cooking the chicken in lard, the vast majority of people would have used a commercially available, partially hydrogenated product. If you're rendering your own pure lard, I see no reason not to use it. Just be very cautious when heating the lard. He calls for the oil to be heated to 340F. The smoke point of lard is 370F; the smoke point of peanut oil is 440F.

                                2. I'm curious to know why no one mentions chicken fat -- ?

                                  I've used Crisco the few times I've made fried chicken (an ordeal). I now have some real lard (rendered by *me*) and I'm flabbergasted at the difference it makes in pie crust. It would be hard for me to use enough of it to fry chicken, I'll be hoarding it for chicken pot pie.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: blue room

                                    My mother made fantastic fried chicken, but she pan-fried it in just an inch or so of peanut oil.

                                    1. re: blue room

                                      For pastries and pie crusts, lard is the best fat to use but isn't considered socially correct these days. People will give you funny stares at the supermarket if they see you pick up a block of lard from the store shelf.Even plain old butter can elicit dirty looks from some people. People have gone totally insane, worrying so much about what other people are eating. I save the dripping from the bacon and use it for other things and people look at me like I'm crazy. I also use tropical oils and animal fats like beef tallow, which have gotten a bad rep undeservedly when for decades we were told that hydrogenated oils containing trans-fats, which we now know damages your heart and arteries, were what was healthy for us. Never believe what a company in the food industry tells you is good for you. They are out to sell more product and if telling you that something is good when it is really bad makes you buy, then that is what they will tell you. And don't trust government regulators, either, because they are controlled by the industries they are intended to be regulating and are not looking out for the people like you think they are.