The Oil Swap You Need To Make For The Most Flavorful Fried Chicken

Fried chicken in the U.S. isn't just a meal — it's an obsession, an institution, and comfort food all rolled into one crispy package. According to The Seattle Times, quick-service purveyors of chicken sandwiches and tenders experienced a recent shortage largely due to America's demand for chicken. And a YouGovAmerica poll from the third quarter of 2022 found that fried chicken is popular among 80% of those surveyed, with a dislike rating of just 7%. While there's no denying its appeal to Americans, it should be said that fried chicken recipes span the globe, with each culture putting its own unique spin on the dish.

As a French chef, one might be surprised to learn that Ludo Lefebvre is a fried chicken aficionado. In addition to his tutelage via culinary luminaries like Guy Martin and Alain Passard, Lefebvre is also renowned for LudoBird, his first restaurant and the place where he perfected his legendary "fried chicken concept." A substantial part of that concept is replacing common frying oils with an unexpected source of fat.

A little help from a fine feathered friend

You wouldn't get very far in a fried chicken recipe without cooking fats like olive oil or lard. However, Lefebvre recommends forgoing the common selections in favor of duck fat for more robust flavors and enhanced textures. As described by Duckchar, cooking with duck fat is sure to create a crispy, crunchy coating. As for the flavor profile, it's perfect for bringing out the inherent flavors in a dish while also enhancing the richness of a recipe.

Wholey, a meat, poultry, and seafood supplier, explains that duck is most often found at fancy restaurants because it's more expensive to rear the bird using the same large-scale farming practices as chickens. When it comes to the manufacture of duck fat, Healthline explains it's derived from processing the meat of the animal. In terms of nutrition, duck fats have fewer saturated fats than other options, and are also higher in unsaturated fats. The combination of unique flavors and improved nutrition makes duck fat an essential aspect of creating unforgettable meals. Of course, there are plenty of other tips that can elevate your fried chicken technique even further.

Other tips to ensure exceptional fried chicken

One of the best things about fried chicken is that it's perfect for every occasion and season. While it's a staple of summer picnics and cookouts, it's also right at home during a relaxing family dinner over the winter months. Because it's so versatile, all home chefs should have a solid recipe in place to really wow their friends and family. In addition to getting crafty with your cooking fat, it helps to have a few additional tricks up your sleeve.

TODAY shares some excellent fried chicken hacks that will have your loved ones thinking you're a secret culinary master. Instead of placing the chicken on a paper towel to soak up excess grease, use a baking rack. Chicken tends to get soggy when left to linger on paper towels, but baking racks ensure optimum crispiness. When it comes to seasoning, think beyond just salt and pepper. Adding things like garlic powder and cayenne to flour when breading gives an extra kick to the dish. And to ensure peak juiciness, marinate the chicken for up to 48 hours before frying.