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Fried Chicken Crust Help

My favorite kind of fried chicken has a real thick, crunchy crust - not the delicate flour-dredged variety, but the kind that you can pull right off the chicken and eat all by itself. The kind you always see on pictures of fried chicken, but so rarely get in reality. It seems like every fried chicken recipe I see only calls for flour, but I know there's got to be something more to the crust that I'm after. What's the secret?

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  1. Joe's mom always used corned flakes. Winston-Salem, NC. Back then I didn't eat meat, so I never tried them, but they were beautiful.

    1. I think you are supposed to dredge them twice to acheive that crust. are you letting the chicken marinate in buttermilk? also, aren't you supposed to dredge them in flour then egg then back in flour? or am I thinking of some other deep fried concoction?

      1. For one whole chicken, I usually use 1 c. flour, 1 c. panko, 1-2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1 tsp. cayenne if I want some heat. Lately I've been adding a little garlic powder and pinch of sugar as well. Panko is key. I also soak in buttermilk for at least a few hours to overnight.

        1. the buttermilk soak gives you the coating that absorbs more dredging mixture.
          (It also does incredible delicious things to the meat)
          I put in some cornstarch with the flour for crunch, and salt/pepper/sage for flavor

          I never use egg for fried chicken coating
          chick pea flour also works, but the texture is waaay dense.

          1. We did a buttermilk and spice soak, then dredged in a spice and flour mixture. It made a coating you could eat alone.

            1. I use the method outlined in Epicurious' Deviled Fried Chicken, where you let the buttermilk soaked chicken rest in the seasoned flour for well over an hour (turning occassionally), and that gives a good crust.

              1. The secret is double dipping.

                Your flour mixture, your egg mixture, then flour again.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Oh Robin

                  As long as you don't violate the Costanza rule :)

                2. A friend of mine who made great fried chicken used to throw some baking powder in her flour. It's was thick and puffy. I don't know, maybe it was baking soda...I can't remember

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mrsmegawatt

                    Baking powder is what I use, but I don't use enough to make puffy, just crunchy. A little dab'll do ya.


                  2. I marinate the chicken in buttermilk for at least 4 hours. I spice up regular flour with some cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, ground ginger. I put the flour mixture in a big zip lock bag and then add a few pieces of the chicken at a time and shake a bit. I then place the floured chicken on a grate of some kind and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before frying in vegetable oil. I fry on med high till the crust is there..both sides, then I finish it in a 375 degree oven for about 25 minutes. It is moist and crusty every time. (Watch out for flying grease when you place the chicken in the HOT oil)

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: melly

                      Yes, it's important to let the coated chicken rest for a bit before frying so that the coating can adhere well and is less likely to slip off during frying. If I have the time, I try to let it rest on a rack in the fridge for at least an hour before frying. Also make sure to put it on a rack after frying so that it stays crispy.

                      Thanks for sharing your technique on finishing in oven. I saw Ina Garten do that recently w/ her chicken and will try that next time. I've tried countless times to fry til done, but it's so difficult for the crust to not burn before the meat is ready. Everytime I think I have it down, the next time is different...Other thoughts out there on finishing in the oven?

                      1. re: Carb Lover

                        I agree that the coated chicken needs to rest to dry so that it and the egg (or milk) adhere to the chicken. Once it has rested 15 minutes or so, I toss back into flour to coat any spots that are still moist, and then rest another 10-15 minutes.
                        I don't care for double dipping. I would go straight from the buttermilk to the flour. Add a little rice flour makes the coating very crispy, too.

                    2. A double crust and hot oil!

                      1. I think I combine a lot of what others are saying. Soak in buttermilk for a while (I try for at least an hour), dredge in seasoned flour, buttermilk again, seasoned flour again, then REST for an hour or so. I've found that if I don't let the chicken rest, the crust tends to separate from the chicken in the oil.

                        Also, don't immerse your chicken fully in the oil...use just enough oil so your chicken is a little over half submerged. That way, the steam has somewhere to go, at least for the first half of frying. If you immerse the chicken, your crust starts to form all over, but the steam from the meat gets trapped by the crust and will loosen it and/or make it soggy.

                        1. I buy whole fryers, cut them up, wash them, dry the pieces thoroughly and salt the cut pieces before I dredge them in the flour and spice mixture. I use a heavy cast iron pan and heat the oil up to high, place the chicken in, and then turn in down to medium high to cook (to lessen the impact of the cold chicken lowering the oil's heat). I get chicken with a thick golden crust every time. But, I am getting a bit ahead of myself...

                          To do this, I let the salted pieces of chicken sit on a plate for a few minutes, while I put a couple of cups of flour in a grocery store paper bag, add salt, freshly ground black pepper and cajun/old bay seasoning. I then place a few pieces of chicken in the paper bag,close it and shake vigorously. I pull out the pieces and shake off the excess flour--surprisingly a good amount of coating stays on the chicken (which I think is due to the amount of flour in the bag and the vigorous shake--and maybe the bit of moisture thats drawn to the surface by salting ). I only dredge the pieces that i am going to fry (the number depends on the size of the pan) and put in the hot oil immediately. Like ricepad, I only use enough oil to cover a bit above half the submerged chicken. I fry at medium high, uncovered with a oil splatter (like a mesh screen) guard for about 8-8.5 minutes each side. The cooked pieces I place on a rack that is covered wiith a couple of pieces of paper bag to soak up the oil (I find it works better than napkins). I have also had to deal with the crust cooking too much before the inside was completely done, but it tends to happen with larger pieces. I now just cut large pieces in half to deal with this issue.

                          Please not that the white meat and wings take a bit less time.

                          1. Doesn't anyone use bread crumbs?

                            1. I shake the chicken in a combo of flour and cornmeal after a buttermilk soak for a nice thick and crunchy crust. Chilling on a rack for an hour helps the crust to adhere once you put it in oil. Just keep the heat regulated so that it doesn't scorch before the inside is done.

                              I like the idea of finishing in the oven, so next time I will get the crust how I like it and not worry about doneness--just finish in the oven.

                              1. I use Alton Brown's method (just Google "good eats fried chicken").

                                Long buttermilk soak, spices applied, then dipped in flour.

                                Comes out plenty crisp; here's a photo of my last batch:

                                1. Today I made Pecan Crusted Oven Baked Fried Chicken -- and came out pretty crunchy even without frying it! I let the chicken sit is Fage 0% Yogurt for about an hour in the fridge before dredging in a combination of flour and toasted ground pecans. Also added some paprika, salt and pepper in the flour mixture.
                                  Here's a picture of the final outcome. It was quite delicious.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Jill Brazil

                                    That looks tasty! Can you provide a link to or paraphrase the recipe? Thanks.

                                  2. Here is my tried and true recipe. It is the bomb! I think one key is pan frying as opposed to deep frying. It calls for buttermilk...double dipping etc.... Just make sure not to use a huge chicken, smaller pieces are best.

                                    Buttermilk Pan Fried Chicken

                                    1 chicken cut into 8 pieces
                                    1 cup buttermilk

                                    Seasoned flour
                                    1 to 2 teaspoons granulated (dried) garlic
                                    2 teaspoons cayenne powder
                                    1 teaspoon onion powder
                                    1 teaspoon baking powder
                                    1 cup all purpose flour
                                    1/2 teaspoon salt
                                    1 teaspoon ground black pepper

                                    For pan frying: 2 cups solid vegetable shortening, or your oil of choice

                                    1. Place the chicken in a shallow pan and cover with the buttermilk, cover and refrigerate 8 to 10 hours or overnight.

                                    2. Mix seasoned flour ingredients together in a medium bowl. (I use a glass pie pan.)

                                    3. Heat shortening or oil in a deep-sided heavy pan over medium heat between 325 and 340 degrees.

                                    4. Remove chicken from buttermilk, shake off excess, reserving the buttermilk. Roll chicken in the flour and dip a second time into the buttermilk. Shake off excess buttermilk and roll again in seasoned flour. Set aside on cooling rack to dry while repeating with the other pieces.

                                    5. When oil is at the right temperature, lower the pieces into the hot oil carefully with tongs. The oil should cover no more than half the chicken. Make sure oil does not get too hot.

                                    6. Cover the pan and fry for 8 to 10 minutes. Lift off cover, turn the chicken over with the tongs and fry uncovered for 25 minutes longer or until cooked through. Drain on paper towels before serving.

                                    7. If making batches, chicken can be kept warm in oven.

                                    1. 2 Cups self rising flour-make sure its SELF RISING FLOUR
                                      1/4 cup Corn Starch-- this makes the crispy crust!

                                      Soak chicken overnight in beaten eggs,,a little water,and Franks hot sauce. Mix should be orange. But 1st, season chicken pieces with salt,pepper and garlic powder.

                                      When done soaking, dredge chicken in the flour,cornstarch and some pepper. Dip quickly again in egg mix, then in flour mix.

                                      Fry in 350 peanut oil. Turn often. 10-20 minutes depending on boneless or bone-in or dark/light pieces. Recipe from Paula Dean on Food Network