In Honor of National Fried Chicken Day, Our Best Fried Chicken Tips

Celebrate National Fried Chicken Day the right way. 

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Photo: Susan Rice Covington

Today marks National Fried Chicken Day, which means you have finally have an excuse to clear off the kitchen counter and cook up this iconic American dish. While not your typical weeknight dinner meal—it tends to be a messy enterprise—the crispy, succulent chicken breasts and thighs that you get in the end are an instant, guaranteed crowd pleaser. You have to make sure you do it right, though. Delicious fried chicken isn’t just a simple matter of flour-battered chicken cooked in oil—oh no, there is finesse required to prepare fried chicken right. Luckily, Food & Wine has the best fried chicken recipes you need to make dinner a hit. To get you started, here are our ten best tips and tricks for cooking fried chicken perfectly.

Fry it twice

Marcus Samuelsson cures his fried chicken in buttermilk and coconut, but his secret to perfecting this dish is to fry it twice in a cast iron pan, once on high heat and then on low.

Use Crisco

The key to classic southern fried chicken is frying it with vegetable shortening—in particular, Crisco.

Or try frying in duck fat

For a more decadent twist on fried chicken, chef Ludo Lefebvre recommends frying the chicken in duck fat, which he says adds another layer of flavor to the meat.

Cook it sous vide first

The salt in the sous vide bag turns into a brine, which soaks into the chicken as it cooks. Once it’s done, you simply fry the flour and buttermilk-battered chicken for three minutes.

Go for the dark meat

Marcus Samuelsson and Hugh Acheson agree: If you’re going to make fried chicken use bone-in, dark meat. It’s much juicier.

Add dried limes

Andrew Zimmern’s fried chicken recipe includes one zesty secret: He seasons his dredge of flour and buttermilk with dried lime, which he says transforms this dish from "ordinary" to "remarkable."

Bake the chicken first

To get extra crispy fried chicken skin, Tyler Florence first bakes the chicken in the oven for two and a half hours, then fries it.

For extra crunch, use a cornstarch dredge

Alternatively, Shaun Doty, of Atlanta’s Bantam + Biddy (famous for its chicken), uses a cornstarch dredge to achieve a crunchy outer crust.

For a sweet flavor, brine in whole milk

Dave Arnold prefers to brine his chicken in whole milk, salt, and sugar for four hours before frying, which results in sweet, juicy fried chicken.

Brine overnight, then marinate

If you’ve got some extra time, follow the Thomas Keller method and soak your chicken overnight in a lemony brine.

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