HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Fried chicken in Crisco

I told my husband to buy the smallest container of Crisco but he bought the largest one. Now I am looking for a way to use it. Fried chicken sounds good. Does it yield better result than using canola oil?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. Monica, my neighbor (who fries chicken every week) will not use anything *but* Crisco for frying chicken. She says it makes for the crispiest chicken.

      Her chicken is damn good.

      2 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        What's your neighbor's secret of great tasting chicken other than using Crisco?

        1. re: Monica

          Monica, I just got around to asking her last night. I'm sorry for the late reply. She says she puts the chicken in whole mix and beaten egg (mixed) instead of buttermilk before the flour mixture. She was coy about the rest. :-)

      2. Work it into a dry yellow or white cake mix and it makes an excellent cobbler toping. You can definatly tell the difference when a breaded item is fried in a solid shortening compared to oil. Much better.

        1. Sadly, yes it does yield a better result.

          IIRC, when Alton Brown did the "Fry Hard II" episode on Good Eats, he recommended using vegetable shortening. I've tried it. He's right, those refined, hydrogenated fats make excellent fried chicken.

          9 Replies
            1. re: jmckee

              Sadly probably because those hydrogenated fats are so nasty for your body. Lard is actually healthier than Crisco...but it is definitely true that Crisco yields the best results in some foods ...results that can't be topped by using other forms of fat.

              I'm of the belief that there's nothing wrong with using Crisco for some things, occasionally. It's just not something to use every day.

                1. re: The Professor

                  *shrug* I don't fry chicken every day. Maybe twice a year. And if the frying medium is hot enough, and you don't crowd the chicken, very little of it is absorbed.

                  1. re: jmckee

                    If done right, almost none is absorbed. It's all about the temperature.
                    And Crisco really is the best fat in which to fry chicken.

                    1. re: The Professor

                      Not really true, unfortunately.

                      The flabby, greasy texture you get from batter that's under-fried is not actually more oil on the chicken, but water that hasn't evaporated. Ironically, well-crisped crusts absorb more oil but feel less greasy.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        I think there are more factors, such as whether the oil was hot enough when the food was put in to immediately begin the evaporation process of the moisture in/on the food, and also whether the food was removed from the oil at the right time (just as the water supply in/on the food becomes depleted).

                        Basically, the way I understand it is that the oil/moisture door only swings one way at a time, and if the moisture is exiting, the oil can't enter.

                        Someone more knowledgeable than me should chime in so that I don't keep talking. ;-/

                        1. re: sandylc

                          For the most part, you're right. My point was that limp greasy-seeming fried food typically retains less oil than crispy fried food, and also that higher oil temperature will get you more oil absorbed into food, not less.

                          Depending on what you're frying, oil does not have to be hot when food is added. Nor does it have to be at full temperature throughout the cooking process (people mess this up with chicken all the time, cranking the heat when the chicken is added even though you get better results by letting the heat recover slowly). The amount of oil absorbed depends on how violently you cook off excess moisture (i.e. the temperature of the oil), the kind of batter or coating you use. To a lesser extent, it also matters how long you let the food cook in oil after the excess moisture has been evaporated, but oil is absorbed into the crust more or less immediately as water is evaporated.

                          For a more detailed description of how oil is absorbed in frying, check out this link:

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            Thank you for this information Cowboyardee. Specifically, "well-crisped crusts absorb more oil but feel less greasy" and the cookingscienceguy link.

                            Although I confess, in this context, ignorance was bliss

            2. Baked goods - let me know if you want recipes for any of these

              Blonde Brownies - uses 2/3 C.

              Ethel's Sugar cookies (for cutouts) - uses 3/4 C. - variations - chocolate pinwheels, jam-filled "traffic lights"

              Danish Pastry Apple Bars - uses 1 C

              9 Replies
              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                I actually bought it to make 'crusty cream cheese frosting' for my carrot cake which makes a pretty and neat looking cake.
                Dnish pastry apple bars sound good. Please do share your recipe, thanks!

                1. re: Monica

                  Danish Pastry Apple Bars (recipe from a co-worker 1976)

                  400 degrees, 60 minutes, Frost while warm

                  2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
                  1 tsp. salt
                  1 Cup lard or shortening
                  1 egg yolk, plus enough milk to make 2/3 C with egg yolk

                  1 Cup crushed corn flakes

                  8 - 10 medium apples pared, cored and thinly sliced
                  1 cup sugar
                  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

                  1 egg white


                  1 Tblspoon water
                  1 Cup powdered sugar
                  1/2 tsp. vanilla

                  Cut shortening into flour and salt. Add milk and egg yolk mixture, blend with fork. Roll half of the dough to fill jelly-roll pan (10 1/2 x 15 1/2 rimmed cookie sheet). Crust will be very thin. Sprinkle this bottom crust with crushed corn flakes.
                  Peel & slice apples and place over crust and flakes.
                  Sprinkle with sugar & cinnamon.
                  Roll out other half of dough (will be very thin) and place on top.
                  Pinch edges to seal top and bottom crusts.
                  Beat egg white stiff and brush over crust.

                  Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 60 minutes or until done.
                  While bars are still warm, pour frosting mixture over warm crust

                    1. re: MidwesternerTT

                      Thank you, I will try this. I think I am going to use 1/2 cup of Crisco and 1/2 cup of butter for that butter flavor.

                  1. re: MidwesternerTT

                    MidwesternerTT, I would love to have your sugar cookies recipe. My granddaughter asked me for a good sugar cookie recipe, and I had to tell her I did not have one. So, I would love to share yours with her.

                    1. re: Wtg2Retire

                      Wtg2Retire - Here's a two-fer -- My own favorite one, "Rich Sugar Cookies" that I've made since I was 10 and by choice became the family's cookie-baker. And also the one mentioned that uses Crisco and is perfect for cutout cookies.

                      Rich Sugar Cookies
                      375 degrees 10-14 minutes
                      Makes about 4 dozen
                      1 Cup sugar
                      1 Cup margarine or butter, softened
                      1 egg
                      1 teaspoon vanilla
                      2 ½ Cup flour
                      ½ teaspoon soda
                      ¼ teaspoon salt

                      Sugar (about ¼ c in a small dish) to dip cookie stamp/glass in.
                      Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

                      Cream margarine & sugar. Add egg & vanilla. Add flour, soda & salt. Mix well. Form into 1 inch balls Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten with star-pattern glass dipped in sugar (or a cookie stamp, or fork). Dough also can be rolled out and cut with cookie cutters. Bake 10-14 minutes until barely tan on edges - watch closely those last few minutes, since cookies can go from done to overdone in 1 minute. Cool on wire racks

                      Ethels Sugar Cookies for Cutouts - No Dairy

                      Great flavor and texture for a cutout sugar cookie

                      Makes about 4 dozen. Wait to preheat oven - dough must chill 1 hour.
                      400 degrees, 6 - 8 minutes

                      3/4 C. shortening - or combo w/ part butter (Butter Flavor Crisco recommended)
                      1 C. sugar
                      2 eggs
                      1/2 tsp. vanilla (for variation can also use lemon flavoring)
                      2 1/2 C. Gold Medal flour (recipe was on their bag...)
                      1 tsp. baking powder
                      1 tsp. salt

                      Mix well shortening, sugar, eggs and flavoring. Blend flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in. Chill at least 1 hour.

                      Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough to 1/8 inch thick on floured board. Cut with 3-inch cookie cutter. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake 6 - 8 minutes.

                      1. re: MidwesternerTT

                        Thank you so very much, Midwesterner. With cookie season coming up, these will be very handy to have on hand.

                        1. re: MidwesternerTT

                          My mom's "secret" was always to use half butter and half crisco in the toll house cookies- it makes them taller/thicker and they don't spread as much when baking

                          1. re: MidwesternerTT

                            Midwesterner: can your 1st cookie recipe be used in a cookie press/spritzer? I'm to receive my new Oxo cookie press today, and I've read that not all sugar cookie recipes will work for spritzing.

                      2. Yes Yes Yes.

                        And try it in pie dough.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                          The "new" Crisco does make fine pie dough, but the dough is softer than I would like. Use a light touch and refrigerate the dough (worked into a ball and wrapped in waxed paper or clear wrap) before rolling.

                          It is my understanding that the new Crisco does not have hydrogenated fat. The old Crisco did, as did corn oil margarine which I used for years to make excellent pie crust.

                          1. re: sueatmo

                            Got scared a bit..because it was my understanding that new Crisco doesn't have hydrogenated fat. I'd never use margarine(I freaked out after hearing that chemical structure of margarine is very close to plastic!) ...

                            1. re: Monica

                              I use half butter, half Crisco for pie dough. You can scoop out the proper amount for a pie dough, break up into pebble-like pieces, and freeze in Ziploc bags until you're ready to bake.

                              1. re: Monica

                                Not to defend margarine because its disgusting but most things are a molecule or two away from plastic.

                                Here's the Snopes explanation of the margerine/plastic myth: http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/b...

                                1. re: C. Hamster

                                  Not sure why margarine is disgusting. I made wonderful baked goods with Fleischmanns and later Mazola for years. It made wonderful piecrust.

                                  We now know that solidified fat is probably hydrogenated, and therefore not healthy. But the baked products it produced were good, if you used good quality stuff.

                          2. Crisco makes AWESOME fried chicken!

                            1. well, you guys know what I am having this weekend.

                              1. Oh yes- and add some bacon grease for the absolute best fried chicken ever.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: EWSflash

                                  Ditto the added bacon fat, with an added dash of peanut oil for ooomff. When done frying and the oil has slightly cooled, strain it and save it in a container in your fridge until next time - it can be recycled a few times before becoming too dark to use.

                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                    in my fridge, i've got a container of saved bacon fat and a tub of duck fat too. haha..looks like I am going to have fried chicken fried in crisco, bacon fat, duck fat and peanut oil too.

                                  2. Also, french fries. and you can save it in the fridge to re-use. I know people who have done that frying chicken, but I have not. Only frying potatoes and onions.

                                    1. I fried chicken in crisco with a large spoonful of bacon fat...made sure the temp was at around 350..i 'marniated' my chicken thighs in buttermilk and salt overnight...fried them in my 12 inch Lodge skillet and I wasn't happy with the result. They were burnt outside and raw inside. I had to put them back to the oven to finish the chicken. People were waiting for dinner and it was a bit of disaster. I consider myself a decent cook and this was one of the most disasterous cooking events for me. I didn't think they tasted that great either. I will definitely stick with Popeyes chicken next time. and oh my, all the greasy mess I made.

                                      15 Replies
                                      1. re: Monica

                                        The Alton Brown recipe says 325 degrees for the fat, and 10 minutes per side for cooking time.

                                        Other recipes call for fat at 350 initially, but reduce heat to "medium" immediately after adding the chicken and 12 minutes per side.

                                        1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                          I let the tempt rise to 350 and when I added chicken pieces to the pan, the temp fell to about 250..and then went up to somewhere between 300 and 320.....i fried them about 10 -13 min each side.....burn outside and bloody inside...i think my problem was that I used rather large pieces of chicken thighs from Costco...I should have used smaller pieces..if I were going to use large pieces, I should have deep fried..not pan fried.

                                          1. re: Monica

                                            I know I'm late with this response but you should have heated your Crisco to 375F. then when you added the chicken, it would have dropped to 350F which is where you want the temp to stay consistent at (I learned this years ago after working at restaurants). The up & down with the temperature is where you went wrong. Next time you want to give it a go and you want to use large pieces of chicken, put no more than 4-5 pieces at a time depending on your skillet size.

                                            That said, my mother & grandmother never deep fried chicken; they always shallow fried in a cast iron skillet. My grandmother always used a combination of lard & Crisco which made for the most sublime chicken you could ever want to eat. It's not a matter of you using large pieces of chicken that your frying didn't work.

                                            Consistent oil temperature and NOT crowding the pan is what works.

                                            1. re: Cherylptw

                                              i honestly don't think 375 would have made much difference. I cooked maybe 3 pieces of chicken in 12 inch lodge skillet.

                                              1. re: Monica

                                                I do... the fact that your oil was at different temperatures IS the reason why it never cooked on the inside before it burned on the outside. Question: did you add that bacon fat? And if you did, was it strained fat only or did it have bacon crumb residue in it from frying the bacon. If so, it probably burned the grease. If not, I stand by the fluctuation of temperatures...Unless you didn't add enough grease in the pan to begin with; that will cause chicken to burn also

                                            2. re: Monica

                                              Most every fried chicken recipe I've ever followed (time and temp) has resulted in burned outsides and bloody insides. I finally lowered the temperature and took my time and am getting closer to being successful.

                                              Alton Brown is notorious with me for directing poor hapless souls into using too-high temperatures on their stoves. I'm not afraid of HI and I use it to sear, etc., but if I used it every time he has recommended it, my house would have burned down long ago!

                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                We've discussed this before, many times, but no one believes us. The secret, and we've proven this over and over again, is to avoid the dairy completely. No buttermilk dipping, dredging or brining. It adds less to the flavor than everyone thinks, does little to tenderize and all that milk sugar just burns.

                                                I could never get my chicken to come out right until I went back to how we used to do it when I was a kid and I worked at KFC. A thin milk wash which was more water than anything else, just to get a hint of brown.

                                                A simple brine is all you need, but if you insist on all that gloppy buttermilk, be sure to shake it all off before you go into the flour. You can certainly go with other acids to get that tenderizing effect and sour punchy flavor without the consequent burning. I don't find it necessary. First a salt and seasoning brine, then a quick dip into a very diluted milk wash, maybe a 25% milk concentration.

                                                Here we show you how:


                                                More on point, yes, Crisco is awesome. A solid shortening is all we used at KFC.

                                                  1. re: acgold7

                                                    Mama Dip's, a famous NC restaurant known for it's chicken, only brines the chicken then tosses in heavily salt-and-peppered flour (using a lot more than one would imagine was necessary) and fries. Nothing more. It's amazingly good chicken.

                                                    1. re: acgold7

                                                      I have honestly never heard that about putting dairy in fried chicken! Thanks for the video link - I will try your way next time. I am sure that it will trump the Bouchon recipe I did last month - while it technically turned out very well, the seasoning was just too much - it overshadowed the chicken entirely.

                                              2. re: Monica

                                                I will definitely stick with Popeyes chicken next time...

                                                I've been fortunate enough to have met a diverse group of home and professional cooks over the last 50 years. I've tried many different ethnic versions ....and fast food outlets over the years. One of the many beliefs out there is that home fried chicken is superior to fast food outlets. I would disagree. I've traveled the entire country and have been to places noted for their Signature House Special....it was very good, but let's get real...it's all very good, but it's just a seasoned coating on chicken.

                                                My motto is ....if you can't make it any better than what is available to be purchased in your neighborhood...don't bother.

                                                Popeye's is one of those things it's just easier to purchase and be satisfied without all the expense and mess you have noted.

                                                I agree completely.

                                                1. re: fourunder

                                                  I tend to agree as well, and my fried chicken was actually quite good. But my deep fryer takes only 6 pieces at a time, so it was 3-4 batches to get what I consider a decent quantity for dinner with guests and some leftovers (because I love leftover friend chicken!). Along with the marinating in buttermilk and breading, the entire process seemed to take half my day and left me extremely grateful for the ability to walk into to Popeye's and leave with a lot of chicken - even if mine was better, it was not *that much* better. Oh and my house doesn't get stinky either!

                                                  1. re: fourunder

                                                    Yeah, no more American style fried chicken for me at home.
                                                    I have successfully made fried chicken thigh meat Asian style at home and it was a success. I used boneless thigh meat, marinated it in soy sauce, garlic, ginger, mirin over night, dusted it with corn starch and fried it in dutch oven and it was really good. I made a big batch for international day and every single piece was gone. My husband always begs me to make it again but i hate the cleaning part of frying.

                                                  2. re: Monica

                                                    good comments and advice here. I do both buttermilk and not-buttermilk brine overnight, depending if i have b'milk in the house @ time. Crisco and bacon-dripping for pan frying both chicken and fish (bream, red breast, cat-fish). Cook the hush puppies after the fish.

                                                    But the key to well-cooked seems to be _room-temperature_.
                                                    I had a major fight w/a friend over this issue - she's quite obsessed about bacteria/food safety and is convinced that allowing ingredients to come to room temp creates a serious health risk, even eggs, milk - anything protein.
                                                    She refused to eat chicken that was @ room temp before frying.

                                                    For me, room temp chicken cooked thoroughly all the way to the bone, crisped well (heat was med-high, then reduced to med.) and tasted great (over-night mild salt brine w/red pepper). I also cut breasts into 2 pieces and even thighs also if huge). I've found inexperienced cooks I've worked with try to cook whole legs (drumstick and thigh connected) and large breasts w/wing still attached. They are well intentioned but don't understand these pieces are too thick
                                                    and awkwardly sized to cook right. And these folks (many) lack some pretty basic skills: do not know how to cut up pieces to 'reasonable' size. I asked ? and the most common answer is that they bought a package of already cut up chicken and this is how the pieces came so they assumed it must be ok for any cooking. they were sort of willing to learn but had no knife skills much, and usually no decent knife.

                                                    The idea of trimming and sizing any ingredient yourself seemed wierd and hard - they assumed all that 'work' should be done in advance by somebody else. I guess its the 'convenience' mind-set
                                                    anybody else see this?

                                                    anyway - room temp chicken fries well.

                                                  3. Does Loretta Lynn count as a food authority on this subject? Because she swore by Crisco shortening . . . http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YLGKvr...

                                                    1. Stock up on Crisco now, because the FDA today is starting the process of banning outright all added transfats (which includes even transfats in trace levels) as no longer legally safe.

                                                      Or get used to rendering bacon or poultry fat, or using coconut or other vegetable oils that are solid at room temperature.

                                                      9 Replies
                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                        I just bought a gallon of liquid, and have most of a tub of solid from BJs. Going to put them in the safe right now.

                                                        1. re: coll

                                                          You may need to live in a state with a Stand You Ground law....

                                                        2. re: Karl S

                                                          Crisco has virtually no trans-fats, and hasn't for some time. It's legally allowed to say it has none, or "Zero grams per serving," but it can say this if it has less than half a gram per serving. It's almost entirely Soybean Oil with some Coconut and Palm Oils, admittedly Partially Hydrogenated, to keep it solid at room temp.

                                                          It'd be a 30-second tweak to alter the formula to conform to whatever the nanny-state FDA decrees because they've assumed we're too stupid to decide for ourselves what we choose to eat. It's not going away any time soon.

                                                          1. re: acgold7

                                                            <<<<they've assumed we're too stupid to decide for ourselves what we choose to eat. >>>>>

                                                            Clearly many people are - have you walked through a grocery store lately and seen what is being offered in the name of food?

                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                              +1 on that!
                                                              Though it is odd that they would ban trans-fat, yet refuse to require mandatory GMO labeling on food products.

                                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                                What's odd about that? GMO labeling is not something about which there is any scientific heath consensus in the US.

                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                  LOL. But most other countries have either banned the stuff or require labeling.
                                                                  Even if there is no clear consensus, there is plenty of _concern_ about GMO foods in the scientific community.

                                                                  My question is this: if there is no concern, why is the food industry spending millions of dollars to fight clear labeling of GMO containing foods? Environmental impacts have already been identified and some health concerns are beginning to surface.
                                                                  But all of that aside, it seems to me that those people who wish to avoid such foods should be able to make an informed choice.
                                                                  That is currently virtually impossible.

                                                                  1. re: The Professor

                                                                    Well, actually not "most other countries" have done this, but the EU and Australia and NZ and then some other jurisdictions whose food regulations are often more notional than real. Again, the science on transfats is much firmer and even so it takes the FDA this long; I can't see the FDA moving forwards on GMO labeling until there is a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate in favor of that step. State-level action is more likely, but as we can see it's difficult. I think the transfat debate is an interesting *contrast* to the GMO debate.