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Fried Chicken Help Please!

I made fried chicken for the first time last night, using Paula Deen's recipe (from her website, the Grandma Paul version). The oil was hot enough, the chicken pieces not too big, and I cooked them for the time listed on the recipe, removing them from the oil when they were brown and crispy.

When my husband and I cut into the pieces, some of the bigger ones were underdone/pink at the bone. Yuck!

How can you tell when fried chicken is cooked all the way through? None of the recipes I consulted could tell me.

Help, Chowhounds!

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  1. I don't know if there is a special trick to tell. What I usually do is take out a piece from the oil and cut into the meatiest part, checking to see that it is cooked through.

    1. A couple tips:

      1. Make sure chicken is at room temperature before frying, it cooks more thoroughly that way.

      2. If the outside of the chicken cooks before the inside, place the chicken on a rack on a pan in a hot oven (400 degrees) for several minutes, until cooked through. In addition to cooking the chicken, it also repels grease from it as well.

      1 Reply
      1. re: TrishUntrapped

        yes, I use a thermometer, take it out just before done, and toss it in the 350 degree oven on a rack to dry it off a bit. Works beautifully.

      2. As the other posters have said, there is no way to tell just by looking at the chicken to tell if it's fully cooked. The only way to tell is cutting the chicken open or preferably use a thermometer.

        1. I'm not familiar with Paula Deen's recipe, but if it calls for deep frying, the way to tell if it's done or not is simple: if it floats, it's done.

          1. Keep trying the recipe. I don’t know any magic ways to tell you it is done. But, keep practicing and you will learn to read the signs; the way it smells, the way it sounds, the amount of time it takes, the way it looks. If you remember about how long you cooked it the first time then extend the time on your next try. Soon, you’ll get it so it will come out the way you like it.

            I’m not a fan of cutting it open as soon as it comes out of the oil. It needs time to rest so the juices distribute evenly through the muscle. The cooking oil and heat are pushing in and the water is pushing out trying to escape. The meat gets tight and needs to relax. But, I know sometimes you just have to do it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: EvZE

              I agree with you that it should rest, and the reason not to cut it open along with what you said, is that is will keep cooking. Best to let it rest.

              Gosh all this talk about fried chicken.... too bad I've planned for shrimp curry tonight.

              1. The fail-safe way to tell is what alanbarnes suggests -- i.e. to use a thermometer. After you've dropped in your first few pieces of chicken, the oil temp will drop to about 335, and after about 10 minutes or so (depending on size of fryer, chicken pieces, etc.) the temp should rise back up to about 365. Once it reaches that temp, the chicken is done.

                Ok, if you don't have a thermometer, then there are auditory and visual cues you can use to determine when your chicken is finished cooking:

                1. Auditory. After it's been frying, the chicken will give off moisture. At first, the oil will hiss and sizzle like mad before settling down to a steady boil. As the chicken cooks and gives up moisture, the sizzling will slow down. There’ll be a noticeable drop in volume when the chicken’s done.

                2. Visual. When the chicken is done, it'll float to the top.

                Some other notes:

                - Use small to medium size pieces of chicken
                - Don't crowd your fryer, it'll tend to drop the oil temp too fast and too much.

                1. Experience is a great teacher.....Until you gain experience suggest you invest in a good instant read thermometer......I like Breast meat at 160*,,,,Thigh meat in the 180* Range...
                  After while you just know'..It's done!

                  1. I agree with all of the others. I would like to add that white meat should be fried with white and dark with dark. They take different times to cook through. If you are going to cut in to check, if the juices are clear and not pink the chicken is done. Perversely on some chicken, even when it is over cooked it will still be be pink close to the bone or joint. It is not you, it is that particular chicken.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: Candy

                      This may come as a shock to some, but Chinese seem to prefer chicken thighs a bit pink near the bone. Its a sign that you haven't overcooked the chicken. If it bothers you, put the chicken in a slow oven after frying until it is overcooked. A lot depends on your cooking technique. Deep v. pan fried, battered v. dusted, etc. Just don't overcook duck breast.

                      1. re: OldTimer

                        "but Chinese seem to prefer chicken thighs a bit pink near the bone."

                        I do too!

                      2. re: Candy

                        I've only fried chicken twice, and both times it's been a pretty shallow fry - about an inch or so of lard etc., and I've found that cooking 8-10 minutes on each side, depending on how much it browns, has been just right for moist, but cooked, chicken. What I still have a huge difficulty with is keeping the temperature relatively steady. I heat the fat to 335 degrees on medium high, so that when I add the chicken, I can increase the heat a bit to make up for the decrease in temperature. However, this last time, I'd say the temperature varied between about 315 and 355. Any tips on how to deal with this issue better?

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Miss Ruth...IMO 335* is way to cool to start chicken....I will not drop chicken until the oil is at least 365* ---- I shoot for 365* to 375* ---- I want minimal loss with a quick recovery back to frying temperature...In the 355* to 365* range...


                          1. re: Uncle Bob

                            Thank you - I will try that next time. I think the recipe I used came from an Edna Lewis book.

                            1. re: MMRuth

                              You're more than welcome....I believe you will be pleased with results of the higher frying temperatures...Less greasy, soggy, etc. The higher temperatures will give you a lighter, and crispier product.....

                              Have Fun & Enjoy!

                              1. re: Uncle Bob

                                Do you use peanut oil -- or what?

                                1. re: walker

                                  Not normally for Chicken....I use Peanut for fish. For Chicken Canola...sometimes Corn.

                                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                                    I've had fishy smells from Canola so have stopped using it; my Southern side of the family always fried chicken in Crisco, then, later on, they used Crisco oil. I'm trying to work up courage to fry chicken, never really learned from them how they did it. I worry about grease splattering all over -- I have a splatter screen -- do you use one?

                                    1. re: walker

                                      If you don't like Canola -- Suggest you try Crisco Brand Vegetable (Soybean) oil or perhaps their Corn or Peanut oils.....

                                      I do not use a splatter screen...I use a rather deep cast iron fryer that helps somewhat with splattering.........

                                      Have Fun!

                                      1. re: walker

                                        I used a Le Creuset Dutch Oven, and also used my splatter screen. The recipe I use calls for a pound of lard, some cut up Virginia Ham and some butter. You simmer them together for about 40 minutes, and then remove the ham and proceed. I haven't had that much lard, so I used Crisco, the butter, a little bit of leaf lard that I had on hand, and the ham.

                                        1. re: walker


                                          This is my go-to fried chicken recipe. It is adapted from the California Culinary Academy, and was featured on a PBS cooking show eons ago. It is pan fried in a cast iron skillet. Not totally immersed in a deep fryer. The oil comes up halfway on the chicken. This is called a shallow fry, as opposed to a deep fry.

                                          The secret to the seasoning I think is the salt and pepper. The cayenne gives it just the right kick without making it spicy (of course more can be added to make it spicy). The crispiness is helped by the baking powder I think.

                                          My only note about this excellent recipe is I have a heavy hand when it comes to dipping and I usually double the amount of seasoned flour I use. I also sometimes have to add a little more buttermilk for the double coat. If you have a light hand, you'll be fine.

                                          Buttermilk Pan-Fried Chicken


                                          1 chicken (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut into eight pieces (Pieces should be small)
                                          1 cup buttermilk

                                          Seasoned flour:
                                          2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
                                          2 teaspoons ground black pepper
                                          2 teaspoons salt
                                          1 teaspoon dried garlic
                                          1 teaspoon dried onion powder
                                          1 teaspoon baking powder
                                          1 cup all purpose flour

                                          For frying:
                                          2 cups peanut or other oil, or Crisco


                                          1. Place chicken in a shallow pan and cover with the buttermilk, turning to coat all sides.
                                          2. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 to 10 hours or overnight.
                                          3. To prepare seasoned flour, combine the spices, baking powder, salt and flour in a bowl large enough to dip the chicken (I use a glass pie pan).
                                          4. Heat the oil/shortening in a deep sided, cast iron pan (or other heavy pan suitable for frying), over medium heat to 325 to 340 degrees.
                                          5. Remove chicken from the buttermilk, shaking off excess milk. Reserve the buttermilk. Roll the chicken in seasoned flour and dip a second time in the buttermilk, shake off excess buttermilk and roll pieces again in the seasoned flour. Set aside on a cooling rack to dry a little.
                                          6. When oil is hot, carefully lower chicken pieces into the hot oil with a pair of tongs. The oil should cover no more than one half of the chicken.
                                          7. Cover the pan and fry for 8 to 10 minutes. Lift off cover, turn the chicken over using the tongs and continue to fry, uncovered, for 25 minutes longer or until cooked. Pierce the chicken with a fork to test doneness. When the juices run clear the chicken is done.
                                          8. Remove the chicken from the oil and drain on a paper towel before serving, OR to keep chicken warm and repel grease, place on a rack on a baking pan and place in hot oven for a few minutes.

                                          1. re: TrishUntrapped

                                            Much thanks for all the above comments/help.

                                2. re: Uncle Bob

                                  I agree with you on temperature. I keep a probe thermometer in the pan at all times and adjust the heat as needed.

                                  I grew up with fried chicken on Sunday and learned at my mother's side. I don't fry it every week for the 2 of us, but every month or two the urge hits. Frying chicken my have been one of the first things i learned to make.

                            2. A "secret" I learned from an experienced fried chicken preparer was to cover the fryer so the steam stays in, and to use an electric fry pan to keep the temperature controled. I don't know if this is reproducible, but It seemed to work for me.

                              1. White meat, as in the breast and wings, takes about 20 mins, and the rest 40 to 45 depending on the thickness. Pink at the bone for dark meat is normal, bloody with blood in the juices, that is undercooked. But pink, is normal and just about perfect.

                                I don't use her recipe, which I would imagine has more to do with the seasonings/batter than anything else. I would like to make sure that you have your oil good and hot, and about a third up the pan. I use vegetable oil, don't use olive oil, or much anything else, other than canola, or peanut. Make sure to skim the bits out, or they will taint the oil, and make it bitter. You can also take a knife, and stick it into the meat, then touch it. I use my bottom lip, but I won't advise you to that, you might get burned.

                                If its good and hot, it's done, if its cool, keep cooking. Keep an eye that it doesn't get the batter too dark. You can always zap it in the mw to cook it all the way through...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  Can I just respond to myself? When it comes to frying chicken, like I said before you will need to have the oil good and hot. To make sure that you can get the oil to nice hot temp,( I have never used a thermometer to test the oil rather I use the water droplet method) or a piece of bread. One thing for certain, get a deep cast iron pan. It can take the heat that's needed to fry for long periods of time, and cast iron just does wonders with fried chicken.

                                  Maintaining the heat is difficult at first, because your adding cold chicken to the hot oil. Even though it looks like your pan can handle just one more piece of chicken, don't add it. It's best to let the chicken have room, it will make the chicken fry better, and the oil temp won't drop so low, that it then has time to be absorbed into the chicken. I usually limit it to 5 pieces at the most.

                                2. Remember, if you want to make pan gravy, you must fry the chicken in solid shortening. My parents always used Crisco solid, but my aunt used butter (the real thing). Hers was the best fried chicken in the world. All of them just put salt and pepper on it, then flour, then fried it in a heavy cast-iron skillet. My mother always said you have to put alot of salt on chicken since it doesn't have much taste.

                                  A Japanese version of fried chicken, called Oba-chan's Chicken,, won the National Chicken Cooking Contest in 1978. The lady who entered it is a Japanese lady married to an American soldier stationed at Ft Benning, GA at the time, so she represented GA.

                                  Here is the recipe:

                                  Chicken pieces
                                  Beaten egg
                                  Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
                                  Oil for frying

                                  Soy sauce and sugar in equal proportions

                                  Dip the chicken pieces in beaten egg, then coat with Panko. Fry in hot oil. Just before the chicken is done, make the sauce by melting the sugar in the soy sauce. Remove the chicken pieces from the oil, then dip in the sauce, then put in the oven for a few minutes to crisp the chicken before serving.

                                  If you want to eat with chopsticks, cut the boneless chicken into 2 inch pieces before frying. The sauce is excellent over rice.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: RevImmigrant

                                    I fry chicken the Chinese way -- double fry. When the pieces start to get browned I lift them out with a large strainer and hold them above the hot oil for 30-40 seconds. The oil heats up and the heat from the outside of the chicken is allowed to penetrate the inside (without the outside cooking). Then I put the chicken back to finish cooking.

                                  2. I cut the breasts in half to make two pieces. It probably isn't necessary if you happen to find a small chicken, but so often these days the breasts are just too big to fry whole. I suppose you could fry them separately as some have suggested, but I find it easier to make them a reasonable size. I like a better proportion of meat to coating, anyway.

                                    1. Has anyone tried coconut oil as a frying oil with chicken?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: KimberH

                                        that's what I use because i believe it to be a healthier oil, but the smoke point is only 350 so you have to cook it lower temp. so i'm sure a lot of purists wouldn't like that. i'd also use lard as another alternative or tallow that has a much higher smoke point.

                                      2. Hi Everybody,

                                        Wow, thanks for all the replies! All of them are really helpful-- I've got my thermometer in hand, a whole bottle of peanut oil, my cast-iron dutch oven at the ready, and am prepared to fry a second time when we have company over this weekend (so it has to be right!).

                                        I'm liking that double-dip method that TrishUntrapped uses in her excellent recipe--I'm gonna try it Saturday. Also, does anyone have opinions about using a long buttermilk bath vs. dipping in egg? Thanks for the help, Hounds!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: sloepoke

                                          Fried chicken in my family is never battered or dipped. We just soak the pieces in buttermilk or brine, then put them a few at a time in a paper sack with half a cup or so of seasoned flour. Shake the bag to coat the chicken, shake the chicken to remove the excess flour, and fry. It's not the only way to fry chicken, but it's by far my favorite.

                                          1. re: sloepoke

                                            I always soak in buttermilk for fried chicken when time permits. I think it is much better. I also add lots of hot sauce to the buttermilk mixture.

                                            Cast iron as everyone has said I love but I do prefer vegetable oil vs canola. Just a personal preference.

                                            And no secret to know when it is done. I do buy a smaller chicken which is easier since I don't have a commercial fryer here. Also I don't use a thermometer in the chicken but if you feel comfortable with it by all means. But I do use one is the oil. Having the oil at the right temp is key.

                                            Not too much chicken at a time and room temp. NOT cold.

                                            1. re: sloepoke

                                              Skip the egg if you are going to coat use the butter milk. I use to be a double dipper as well but after eating the best fried chicken I've ever tasted at Gus's in Memphis I am beginning to think less is more. It's a thin coating of seasoned flour over what I believe to be dry brined chicken.

                                            2. I dip room temp chicken in half and half and dredge it in seasoned flour (flour, adobo, pepper, salt, cayenne) twice. Then I put it in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight. I fry it in a wok, outside, about 3/4 full of canola oil. Mostly, I just do legs and thighs. They are consistently juicy and crispy. Half and half makes the flour stick better and forms a thin, crispy crust.

                                              1. I grew up on a farm and we raised and butcherd our own chickens. They were never pink but when I got older and moved to the city it seems like they were always pink. Someone told me that because the factory chickens are electrocuted they don't bleed out causing the redness around the bone. Seems like a good story, don't know if it is true or not.
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