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How to get crispy chicken skin?

I have a new ceramic "beer can style" chicken roaster. It is easy to use, creates very moist & flavorful meat, but I cannot get the skin nicely browned & crisp. I've tried dry rubs (as recommended with the instructions) and a light brush of olive oil on the skin. Roasting at 350 with the meat thermometer in place. Great chicken, but miss the crispy skin. Any recs?

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  1. In the Chinese kitchen, we thoroughly dry poultry before roasting. That's how the crispy skin is achieved. Don't use a dry rub. Use salt & pepper and a little olive oil if you must. Hang that chicken in front of a fan put on low for about 4 hours prior to cooking, then roast -- at 400 -- and I guarantee you that you'll have the crispiest-skinned chicken you've ever tasted.

    2 Replies
    1. re: shaogo

      Of course, it would greatly help if you have a walk in refrigerated room where you can plug in a fan while the chicken hangs for 4 hours; hanging a supermarket chicken at room temperature in a home kitchen for 4 hours is something that would rub American sanitation sensibilities the wrong way (yes, I understand the idea is that cooking will kill whatever blooms in those 4 hours, but....)

      1. re: Karl S

        Best way, IMO, to achieve this effect is to put the bird or pieces on a rack, over paper towels on a sheet pan, uncovered in the fridge, for at least a few hours. Air chilling, and dry brining, where you slather the skin with kosher salt, will dry it out and it comes out beautifully browned and crisp, every time. I do this all the time with whole birds and pieces. Also helps to cook on convection, which will circulate hot air around the food and help it to brown nicely.

    2. I have to agree with Shaogo. Any wet saute will make the chicken skin less crispy. Salt will further improve the crispiness. You want the outer surface of the skin dry. Although oiling the chicken surface very slightly help, just no water.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        I addition to the good recommendations above, sometimes you can sort of separate the skin from the meat with your fingers - leaving the skin intact, of course, but finding a way underneath at the top of the breast or near the thigh.

      2. Here is the new Crispy Roast Chicken recipe from America's Test Kitchen: http://www.americastestkitchentv.com/...

        and here is the article explaining the science of their technique: http://www.americastestkitchentv.com/...

        If these links don't work, go to the site and register for free - which is NOT the same thing as a free 14-day trial membership. Then under episodes look for the current season's show on chicken soup and crispy chicken.

        1. The simplest way to get crispy skin on a roasted chicken is to use high heat. I just dry the chicken, salt and pepper and put it on a rack in a 450 degrees preheated oven. No extra oil or fat and no basting. For a 3 1/2 pound chicken, figure about 50 minutes. Using a 'beer can style' chicken roasted will make it even crispier. Low temperatures just makes the chicken steam.

          1. Air drying it as shaogo suggests would definitely do the trick.

            Another method is to use a baking powder, salt and pepper mix. First, cut some slits on the back of the chicken, then stick your fingers into the slits and loosen the skin from the skin. Now cover the chicken with the baking powder, salt and pepper mixture. Then stick the entire chicken, uncovered, in the fridge for 24 hours. Roast as usual. You should have a really nice crispy skin, plus a pretty darn tasty chicken.

            6 Replies
            1. re: ipsedixit

              Hmm - interesting. What does the backing powder actually do?

              1. re: rudeboy

                Ipsedixit is synopsizing the ATK recipe which I previously linked to upthread, along with a link to the scientific explanation.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Greygarious - thanks for the link.

                  For those of you who don't want to sign up, here's a paraphrased version:

                  Crisping Chicken Skin
                  from the Episode: Chicken Classics, Reinvented

                  Baking powder and table salt will draw moisture from the skin of the chicken, helping the skin to dry out.

                  Baking powder is composed of an alkali (sodium bicarbonate) and an acid (monocalcium phosphate). As the baking powder absorbs the moisture from the skin, the acid and alkali will react. This breaks down the proteins within the skin. The alkaline baking soda and broken-down proteins will undergo browning reactions faster, thus creating a browner, more flavorful skin.

                2. re: rudeboy

                  I had to laugh at myself. My sick mind envisions squeezing a lemon all over the cooked baking-soda chicken. And the chicken explodes!

                  1. re: shaogo

                    No. What you need to do is inject the baking soda underneath the skin and then put chopping up lemon bits inside the chicken. As the chicken is baked, the acetic acid (a volatile compound) will evaporate from the lemon and interact with the baking soda and then BOOOOOM! Ha ha ha.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      Then what you'll need to do is clean the oven, kitchen walls and ceiling and order in.

              2. Ad Hoc has a recipe for crispy braised chicken thighes. The chicken is braised but then finished under the broiler for a few minutes. I don't know if that would be workable with a whole chicken on a chicken roaster.

                We are definitely planning to try this recipe. And maybe will try this technique to finish asian braised chicken thighes from All About Braising.

                1. High heat, a well dried chicken and salt. These results produce perfect crispy skinned chicken for me every time. Do cook a bird that isn't injected with a sodium solution as this means that there is less water that will evaporate out of the bird. I use Thomas Keller's recipe from epicurious.com and it works incredibly well!


                  1. I get really crispy skin by doing a dry salt cure a day or two ahead of cooking. Salt and pepper the bird liberally and place uncovered in the fridge for 24+ hours. 2-3 days works well too. The salt will pull out the moisture in the skin and it will shrink and tighten up around the bird. When roasted or grilled the skin will be very crisp and flavorful.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Thanks to all for the great tips. Dry skin, salt & a higher temp. Got it. I'm really intrigued by the baking power trick. Thanks again.

                    2. Jfood makes ~50-75 roasted chickens a year.

                      425 degrees for ~40 minutes for a 4# bird. Make sure it is dry or a little evoo and then some seasonings.

                      If he has the time he uses the Zuni recipe for a chicken that will blow your doors away (as long as you temper the smoke effect).

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: jfood

                        Any specific prep, jfood? Or just make sure it is as dry as you can reasonably get it? I usually put mine in the fridge for a few hours prior to cooking.

                        For the record, I find it funny how much people fret about something as simple as a roasted chicken.

                        1. re: BigE

                          Enthusiastic endorsements of so many different methods proves that there are many routes to a good roast chicken. Yet, being able to produce one on demand is the "interview" in many a professional kitchen. I recall seeing TV programs in which Jacques Pepin and others spoke about not hiring applicants for chef/cook positions
                          until evaluating their finished roasted chickens. The executive chefs make this their test because they believe it is "not easy".

                          1. re: greygarious

                            I'm not saying it is easy, by any means. But a little due diligence in terms of prep (drying the bird) and monitoring the temp (knowing the weight, using a good thermo) should make the cooking time/temp all but a given.

                            This is the type of meal that every house hold in America should be used to cooking, but that is a completely different debate saved for the Michael Pollan's of the world.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              Ah the French...they sure can make things difficult...love those guys.

                              If there are s many routes to a perfect end product that it is, by definition, easier than if there is only one route.

                              The tough part is understanding that each bird is different, a 3# bird will cook differently that a 5#'er. Cook a 7# "sunday roaster" at 425 degrees and it will look more like a crow than a chicken by the time the meat arrives at 170 degrees. Once you gainthat nowledge then the degree of difficulty gets much less.

                              At this point, after 100's of chickens, jfood can almost look at it on the way into the oven and predict within 2 minutes when it will be ready. Getting that veal chop to 140 degrees on the outdoor grill in the winter is a much tougher putt.

                              1. re: jfood

                                jfood...can you expound upon your third paragraph above (understanding how to treat different sizes of birds)? This is exactly what I've been trying to perfect as well. I've got crispy skin down, but the part that continually stumps me is how long it actually takes to cook, what temp is should be when bringing it out of the oven and how much that temp will rise upon resting.

                                I typically use Thomas Keller's method, at 450. But his recipe calls for 50 or so minutes, for a three pound bird. My birds are usually anywhere from 3.5 to 5 pounds. And often, I'll take the temp, pull it out, let it rest and then go to cut into it, and juices are still running pink. I hesitate to ever make this dish for guests, because I never quite know when it'll be making an appearance. So any tipsp you've learned over your many, many roasted chickens would be greatly appreciated.

                                1. re: EmilyE

                                  Jfood normally takes chickens out of the oven at ~185 degrees (when mrs jfood is not around closer to 180) registered straight into the breast but avoiding the bone. Before he turns the oven off he cuts a little hole near where the thigh and drumstick meet for the red versus clear test.

                                  If it is not ready he returns for 3-minute intervals. A bird that is 2.5 minutes overcooked when you are shooting for 185 will not have much of a difference.

                                  BTW, he uses 425 degrees

                                  Hope that helps

                            2. re: BigE

                              If non-Zuni, after the 3PM what are we having for dinner discussion.

                              1 - Unwrap the chicken (jfood uses Bell & Evans)
                              2 - Remove the baggie
                              3 - wipe inside and out withpaper towels
                              4 - rub a little evoo all over
                              5 - season
                              6 - onto vertical contraction
                              7 - into oven

                              jfood is a pretty simple chicken maker

                              1. re: jfood

                                vertical contractions?
                                sounds more OB/GYN than GOOD EATS.
                                On a related note: Judy Rodger's Zuni Cafe Cookbook is outstanding.

                          2. This is not too different than what anyone else has said, but..

                            Dry the chicken! 4 hours in front of a fan sounds great, but I tend to simply pat it with a paper towel and let it sit on a counter for 30 minutes or so to air dry as it comes to room temperature.

                            Rub it with olive oil. Massaging oil into the skin when it's dry will help crisp it. You can season with salt, pepper, herbs, etc at this point too.

                            Up the heat! 350 is pretty low. If you want a slower cooked chicken, you can still cook halfway at lower temp than go to 425 for the last 15 minutes or so.

                            If it's not crisping, add more oil and heat. Towards the end of my cooking time, I like to get into my roasting pan with a small spoon or basting brush and get up a bit of the chicken fat that has cooked off. I'll use this to baste the skin a bit right at the end of cooking, and also increase heat a bit. It really helps to crisp up the skin at the end.

                            1. What works for me is having a very dry chicken; blotting and storing it (perhaps while dry brining) in the fridge overnight will help make it crisp up well. In addition to roasting at 450, I brush the chicken with melted butter; this crisps up better than other fats, IME, and the milk solids in the butter brown more. Since I'm so in love with crispy skin, I butterfly the chicken and lay it flat so ever inch of skin is crispy when done, not just the top and sides.

                              1. Turn the heat up. Dry it off, air dry in the fridge and when your ready, brush a little vegetable oil, and salt and pepper liberally. I use 450 and love the way my roast chickens come out. I don't know about your particular stand, but it seems like you're getting heat ciruclation, just not hot enough. Now thinking about it, at 450 you're most likely to have a royal mess in your oven with it standing like that....lemon juice and lime juice are great for crisping up the skin too. Don't be afraid to up the heat, it works.