Avoid This Mistake To Keep Fried Chicken Breading In Place

We've all been there. Just when you think you've nailed the technique for making the perfect fried chicken, it all comes apart during that first, highly anticipated bite. As a beloved Southern homemade meal, the perfect fried chicken is well-seasoned, indulgent, and, most importantly — crispy. 

Fried chicken is one of the most popular foods in the United States (per Restaurant Clicks), and much of the buzz has to do with mystery recipes and undisclosed ingredients. In 1957, KFC introduced their beloved fried chicken bucket, branded by our favorite Colonel. However, KFC's top-secret recipe remains under wraps and has only been seen by a few sets of eyes. 

Fortunately, there are countless fried chicken recipes out there and when cooked correctly, this classic meal can complement pretty much anything. Pasta, sandwiches, loaded mashed potato bowls, pancakes, waffles – even a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. But this favorite can also prove challenging to prepare and a few missteps can ultimately ruin all your hard work. Between prepping, resting, dredging, dipping, and frying, fried chicken can be a laborious meal with many routes to error. Luckily, there are things you can do to avoid a fried chicken disaster — particularly when it comes to the breading.

How to keep that crispy breading intact

When cooking, the smallest choices can make the biggest differences. One of these is patting your chicken dry before dredging it. Missing this small but crucial step can cause the breading to fall apart and detach from the chicken, per Southern Living. Flour adheres to the chicken like a bandage and keeps the moisture at bay. Patting your chicken dry will allow the flour to stick better to the cutlets and reduce the chances of accidental steaming when deep frying. Excess moisture ultimately causes your breading to peel and fall off, so it's best to avoid it. The Stay At Home Chef also recommends rotating your chicken once during the frying process rather than multiple times. Otherwise, the breading can fall off due to disturbances.

Another tiny but essential step is allowing your chicken to sit at room temperature before cooking. According to Bon Appétit, dipping, dredging, and frying chicken that has been chilled can negatively adjust the temperature of your frying oil. In the end, this causes the breading to lack its signature crunch. It can also impact the way your chicken cooks. If not fried properly or evenly, food-borne illnesses can potentially be introduced. It is recommended to allow those drums, wings, thighs — or whatever your favorite part of the chicken is — to rest on the counter for half an hour before frying. 

Other ways to upgrade your fried chicken

Just like there are ways to save your fried chicken from a soggy demise, there are also ways to rescue it from burning. The first step in achieving a golden, perfectly fried cutlet is to watch the oil's temperature. Too hot, and your chicken will shrivel up into nothing. Well, maybe not literally, but it definitely won't be as juicy, tender, or pleasant as you intended it to be. The Modern Proper suggests frying only a few pieces together at a time at a consistent 325 degrees Fahrenheit with canola, vegetable, or grapeseed oil.

Adding a few spoonfuls of bacon fat to your frying oil is also super beneficial. This small addition can change the game for future frying ventures and make your hard-earned chicken extra smokey and savory. Southern Living recommends reserving a ¼ cup of bacon grease to mix with oil or other cooking fats, like clarified butter. Still, if your fried chicken breading lacks its desired crispiness, there are a few things you can do to level it up. 

According to Serious Eats, potato starch is a key ingredient throughout this process because it can hold its structure and tolerate high heat without burning. Just add it to your batter before placing the dredged chicken in the frying oil, and watch the magic unfold. Another trick (albeit less common) is rolling battered chicken in crushed ramen noodles. This can upgrade your fried chicken breading and give it the ultimate crunch.