This video explains the all-important chemistry frying.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated May 13, 2019
science behind fried chicken
Credit: SherSor / Getty Images

Most fried chicken recipes will focus on things like how to choose the perfect blend of eleven herbs and spices. But though constructing a delicious batter is obviously important, all the spices in the world won’t save your chicken if you cook it incorrectly. So for its unique fried chicken cooking tutorial, the American Chemical Society’s Reactions YouTube channel decided to take a different approach, breaking down the nitty-gritty of the science behind deep-frying a bird to its utmost deliciousness.

From this perspective, the chicken actually plays a bit of a secondary role to the oil, which is where all the chemical reaction magic happens. While everyone else is worried about what farm you sourced your bird from, Reactions discusses some equally important but often glossed over specifics like choosing the right oil, keeping it at the right temperature, and making sure that oil isn’t so old that it will ruin your flavors. Believe it or not, just as a fine wine can be ruined by off flavors, old frying oil can also contain volatile compounds that can prevent you from reaching fried chicken perfection. Yes, you aren’t a true fried chicken connoisseur until you can turn up your nose at a poorly fried thigh by saying you caught a whiff of aldehyde.

Not to say that eating fried chicken has to be that deep. Half the fun of fried chicken is that you can just get down and dirty with it, grabbing each new bite with grease-covered fingers. But that’s also part of Reactions’ video’s charm: It’s actually quite amazing to think about how much chemistry goes into turning battered meat that’s been thrown into hot oil into one of the most delicious things a human can eat. Man, just think of how much additional chemistry must go into Buffalo sauce??