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frying chicken... dutch oven or cast-iron skillet?

It's my first time frying a chicken... I've lived in South Carolina for three years now and it's about time! I'm good for the recipe, but I want to know if I should use my 12 inch skillet or my 5qt round dutch oven. I'm a little scared of kitchen fires and thought the dutch oven would be better for keeping the oil in but I don't know if it's ok to deep fry in one. Any thoughts?

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  1. how deep is your skillet? I've never made fried chicken but I would imagine that a 3-4" deep frying pan would be ideal because you'd want to spread the chicken out evenly in the pan without stacking and would have to balance the needs for containing the oil and chicken while still being able to access the chicken for turning. I' probably have 1" of oil in the pan. I think a dutch oven would be too deep,

    1 Reply
    1. re: rtms

      What you are describing is commonly called a 'chicken fryer'


      is the Lodge preseasoned 5qt model. But if you look at the Lodge 'dutch ovens' (not their camp ovens) you'll see that the dimensions are similar. In fact the obvious difference is in the handle style. The lid of chicken fryer might also be domed a bit more.

    2. The question is really are you pan frying or deep frying? Use the skillet if you want to put about 3/4 in. of oil in, and fry maybe 4 or 5 pieces at once on one side, then flip and finish. Use the dutch if you want to fill it 1/2 full with oil -- quarts -- and throw 3 or 4 pieces into it to submerge to fry.

      1. You can certainly pan fry chicken in a dutch oven. I've done it. Indeed, with the dutch oven you'll get less mess than with a frying pan or even with the somewhat deeper chicken fryer, which is what I usually use.


        1. For deep frying chicken you want a deep container, so a dutch oven should do fine. Cooking chicken in a fry pan is not considered deep frying, though it will produce tasty results with less oil. With deep frying, I presume you know you want a thermometer to make sure the oil's hot enough to avoid really greasy stuff.. Either way, why not check out recipes on a place like Epicurious.or Food Network?

          1. When AB did fried chicken, he did it in a CI skillet with shortening I believe. He used the skillet and some oil deep enough to cover the pieces about half way. This way the chicken can rest on the bottom and develop some nice colour.
            I've done it both ways with great success.
            I guess what I'm saying, either should produce great chicken. The skillet will also be good to make gravy if you so choose though.


            1 Reply
            1. re: Davwud

              yes, ab's technique made logical sense. one of his better shows.

              my friend larose makes the best crispy, juicy fried chicken. she uses cast iron skillet and peanut oil.

            2. Cast iron skillet ... unless, of course, your dutch oven is cast iron. If that's the case it wouldn't make any difference.
              If you're afraid of kitchen fires, it might be a good idea to study the subject so that you'll be prepared when it happens. It's happened to just about every cook I know at some point in time and knowing how to respond without panicking is critically important.
              Here's a starting point:

              1. Your instincts are right about the potential for grease fires in the skillet. It's really too shallow for frying chicken.
                There's a deeper cast iron skillet called a "chicken fryer" that's about twice as deep as the regular skillet - about 3 1/2 inches vs. 2 inches.

                If you don't happen to have one, you're probably safer using the dutch oven and frying the chicken in batches.
                I use my chicken fryer as a substitute for a dutch oven about half the time anyway so I get a lot of use out of it.
                The regular skillet is fine for frying fish but for big pieces like chicken, the chance of splashing grease is a lot greater. If you've ever had a grease fire, you'll never take that risk again.

                1. If the dutch oven is cast iron,use it. Less spatter, and the chicken will fry just as well. oil should come up about halfway on the chicken and the pieces should not be crowded in the pan. best oil temp is right around 300.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chazzerking

                    My grandmother always used a big square electric skillet. Made some great fried chicken in that. Never saw her use it for anything else.

                  2. just by accident, and i love fried chicken, i used my wok. i have a huge cast iron wok by bodum and its perfect for frying chicken. also has a glass lid which i use when frying. i did not like the wok for my stir fries so now it has become my 'chicken fryer'. so i would use a deeper pan versus the shallow pan.

                    1. I make fried chicken every month or so in my Lodge cast iron skillet. It does actually get pretty messy, but I have a splatter guard which works fine for my purposes.