The Best Oil For Frying Chicken, According To Thomas Keller

Fried chicken has been a staple in American cuisine for hundreds of years, per BBC. Though some version of it likely existed as far back as the 17th century in the American South, it wasn't until 1824 that Mary Randolph wrote the recipe that most historians accept as the first published documentation of the dish. Her fried chicken was dredged in flour, hit with a pinch of salt, then fried until crispy in lard.

Though it's still possible to cook with lard, it's more common nowadays for the bubbling bath that transforms your chicken's coating from wet batter to crispy coating to be filled with oil. There are many different types of cooking oil, each of which has a list of pros and cons pertaining to its viability when frying food. However, if you're Thomas Keller, only one oil will suffice when you're making the most craveable, crunchiest fried chicken. 

Why peanut oil is the perfect choice for fried chicken

Per MasterClass, Chef Thomas Keller suggests that you use peanut oil when frying chicken. Arguably, the most important advantage peanut oil enjoys over its fellow cooking oils is its high smoke point. Oklahoma State University tells us an oil's smoke point is the temperature it can withstand before it begins to break down, and subsequently, smoke. Extra virgin olive oil, for example, has a smoke point of 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Peanut oil, on the other hand, doesn't start to smoke until around 450 degrees. Oklahoma State University notes that using high-temperature oils when frying produces the best results, as it allows the exterior of your chicken to get nice and crunchy while keeping the oil from seeping into the meat.

Additionally, peanut oil's flavor makes it the perfect frying medium. The Peanut Institute explains that peanut oil has a mild flavor. It also has a fascinating perk that sets it apart from other oils. Peanut oil doesn't take on the taste of the food it cooks, which means that you can cook your crispy chicken alongside other fried foods without experiencing flavor cross-contamination.

Peanut oil's health benefits and broad popularity

Though you obviously don't want to make a habit out of chugging cooking oil, peanut oil actually has a few noteworthy health benefits. Per Healthline, peanut oil contains 11% of your day's vitamin E, which is a powerful, immune-boosting antioxidant, in a single tablespoon. The polyunsaturated fats in peanut oil have also been linked to positive blood sugar reductions.

Certain restaurant chains have hopped on the peanut oil train. Chick-fil-A Senior Culinary Lead Jodie Worrell explains that every piece of chicken that has been used in one of the chain's renowned sandwiches was fried in peanut oil (via Chick-fil-A). She goes on to praise peanut oil's performance in the fryer in relation to other oils.

The prevalence of peanut allergies might make you reticent about frying chicken in peanut oil. However, the peanut oil that is most often used in frying is refined, which means that it underwent a process that stripped away its allergen proteins, according to Managing Peanut Allergies.