10 Kitchen Gadgets That Will Make Frying Chicken So Much Easier
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10 Kitchen Gadgets That Will Make Frying Chicken So Much Easier

Aug 13, 2023

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Chicken can be served in many forms, but one of its tastiest is fried. Nothing says "comfort food" like a plate of fried chicken, crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside. There are plenty of ways of frying chicken, and slight variations in technique affect the taste and texture. For instance, double-frying is seen in the Korean style of fried chicken, according to America's Test Kitchen. This results in an extra crispy exterior. There are numerous other methods of frying this bird, as well, some more dangerous than others.

When frying chicken, plethora of things can go very right or very wrong, from the breading cooking quicker than the meat inside to too much oil spitting out from your pot or pan or the chicken coming out too greasy. These mistakes happen, but you can correct them the next time around. From preparing the chicken properly before and after breading to making sure your oil and pan are just right, there are plenty of ways to avoid a frying catastrophe. Not only this, but a number of kitchen tools and gadgets can help you get the job done much more easily.

Typically, in a store-bought knife set there is a pair of kitchen scissors included, used for everything from trimming up a handful of fresh herbs to cutting up ingredients that are a bit bulky in a cooking pan, according to CNET. Their usefulness can also be applied to your process of making fried chicken, in ways you might not expect.

Another model of kitchen scissors are poultry scissors, which are specifically designed to cut whole birds such as chickens or turkeys. The curved blades allow you to go around bones and tender areas to make your preferred cuts (via Food & Nutrition Magazine). For making a dish like buttermilk fried chicken, this allows you to start with either a whole chicken and break it down into parts, or start with cheaper cuts of chicken like leg quarters and break them into thighs and drumsticks. A pair of poultry scissors will allow more precision than a knife as well.

When it comes to specific pairs of poultry scissors, look for one with blunt blade tips, as the sharp ends will tear too much of the meat. You can find a pair on Amazon for less than $20.

While preparing to make fried chicken, there are measures you can take to make the dish not only easier but also tastier. One of these is brining your chicken pieces. Brining chicken is important — the protein structures within the meat break down with the addition of salt, allowing more moisture to stay within the meat. When cooking pieces, this means that your chicken will retain the moisture it takes in from a marinade and stay juicy after being deep-fried at high heat.

No matter the method by which you decide to brine your chicken (dry-brine for crispier skin, wet-brine for more juicier, flavorful meat), a great way to keep yourself organized and your kitchen safe from cross contamination is by using brining containers. Brining containers should be food safe, as items like garbage bags and plastic buckets or containers that are not food grade contain chemicals that can contaminate the food, according to Rouxbe. The containers should also be sealable to prevent any airborne bacteria from getting into the food.

The types of containers vary in terms of materials, from glass and stainless steel to ceramic, as well as size. Popular among restaurants are larger food-grade containers that are storable in the fridge and also come in varying sizes. Brining containers will be helpful in both wet- and dry-brining situations, particularly with wet to hold all the water and meat together.

These food containers are also great to use for marinating chicken in buttermilk before frying. If interested you can buy a large, lid-clad food container from Amazon for $24.

A key part of frying chicken is battering up the meat, typically in stages. Though it might seem fairly straightforward, there are ways of going about the dredging that produce the best results. For example, marinating the chicken pieces in buttermilk helps create a juicer piece of fried chicken and also aids in the breading process, according to WebstaurantStore. The added step of soaking the meat and then dredging it in flour ensures the breading will stick to the meat and remain crispy outside and juicy inside.

A great way to make this dredging process go by smoothly is to have designated pans used for each stage, including flour, egg or buttermilk, and crumb coating. A pan for each will make going from stage to stage much simpler and give you enough of a raised edge to avoid large messes. Large pans with raised edges will even give you room to mix in ingredients, as each aspect of the breading method should have additional seasonings in order to seal in flavor (via Blue Jean Chef).

A matching set of pans allows you to arrange them close together to prevent large messes, as well as interlock in order to save space in your kitchen. You can purchase a set of stainless steel pans on Amazon for $22.99.

Similar to how a salty brine affects the protein structure of chicken, the process of tenderizing meat also affects how it retains flavor and ultimately how it cooks. According to Dalstrong Inc., using a tenderizer on a piece of meat or poultry involves puncturing the meat to create holes in the tissues. These tools typically have small metal spikes that, when impacting a piece of meat, pierce the exterior deep into the center. This method of handling the meat before cooking is multipurpose — it can make otherwise sturdy, tough-texture cuts of meat more tender, flatten down a large piece to decrease or even out cooking time, and allow for deeper flavor penetration from seasonings and marinades.

Regarding fried chicken recipes, tenderizing the poultry works best on thicker cuts of meat, mainly chicken breasts, which are known for being prone to overcooking or having a tougher internal texture. One of the best ways of getting a cut like chicken breast to cook more evenly without overdoing it is by tenderizing via pounding with a mallet or meat tenderizer. Pounding breaks down the dense fibers in the chicken, which helps to speed up cooking time (via Bradley Smoker Inc).

Chicken katsu is a great recipe to try out tenderizing your chicken before frying. To help fry your tougher cuts of chicken quicker and easier, you can find meat tenderizers available on Amazon for $9.99.

Keeping track of temperature is easily as important as the ingredients that go into your fried chicken. Knowing what heat levels to achieve in both the frying oil and the cooked chicken will not only give you the ideal crispiness you want but also ensure that what you're eating has actually been cooked to perfection. Luckily, there are several types of thermometers available to help you every step of the way.

The frying oil itself is one of the most important aspects of many fried recipes to get right, from type and volume to overall temperature. In terms of the best oil temperature for fried chicken, preheating to at least 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit is essential, and, as the oil's temperature fluctuates with every new batch of chicken, it's best to keep it somewhere between 300 and 325 degrees. Anything higher than the initial preheat temperature will cook the breading too quickly or possibly burn it, which may result in you removing the pieces before the meat has cooked long enough. Too low and the breading will soak up the warm oil and end up tasting greasy. A candy thermometer is specialized to withstand high heat and is a great tool to use for monitoring oil temperature. You can find high-quality versions available on Amazon for $12.99.

According to ThermoWorks, the temperature that the cooked chicken needs to reach is 157 degrees, though, when resting after removal, the chicken's temperature should reach at least 165. A meat thermometer to use for this double-check is available on Amazon for $13.99.

An essential tool to use when making fried chicken is the spider strainer. This tool is used universally in high-heat cooking environments, particularly within Asian cuisine when removing food from hot oil or broth, according to Devour Asia. Most varieties are found with the same key features: a curved, sieve-like basket at the end of a handle. Size as well as the fineness of the basket vary. The typical advantage of using this type of tool is the size of the strainer's basket, which gives you the ability to scoop a large number of items from the hot oil or liquid in one swoop, or one larger item without any part of it breaking.

When it comes to fried chicken, the spider strainer is not only your ally but also your savior. The handle is long enough that you don't have to be super close to the pot or pan, saving your skin from getting burned by hot bursts of oil bubbles. You can also use the strainer during the preparation of your fried chicken. If you opt to put the dredging ingredients in large bowls, you can use the strainer to hold all of the chicken pieces at once and coat them in each layer of flour, egg and breading, as opposed to using your hands.

The possibilities of a spider strainer in the kitchen are endless, though it is bound to come in clutch while you fry chicken. You can purchase one for yourself from Amazon, with varying prices.

Another key element to alleviate the stress of frying chicken is having the perfect pan to cook it in. There are plenty of electric fryers or large pots designed specifically for this purpose, but they're typically meant for those who fry chicken more frequently and for a larger table of people or patrons. For at-home cooking, having one of these large pieces of equipment is a bit tedious, not to mention a waste of space. Instead, the best multipurpose piece of cookware to ensure a great plate of fried chicken is a large cast iron pan.

According to Consumer Reports, a cast iron pan is an indestructible powerhouse in the kitchen that can do so much in all aspects of cooking and baking. The key is that the cast iron itself is excellent at retaining heat, which we already know can be tricky to keep consistent when frying chicken. These pans will not only keep the heat of the oil consistent but also be able to do so for years to come. Because of this characteristic, these pans are a great tool for other cooking methods, from baking deep-dish pizzas to searing a large set of steaks that can be finished in the oven in the same pan.

These pans do require a little bit of extra attention when cleaning and seasoning, but if well cared for, they can last many years of use. You can find a large assortment of sizes and styles on Amazon.

Air fryers have had a booming impact on the kitchen appliance industry as another way of cooking unique recipes with ease and in less time. If you're looking for another great use for your air fryer, a great dish to try is fried chicken. Air fryers are typically large enough to cook pieces of meat in batches, which works extremely well in many fried chicken recipes. In fact, an air fryer is one of the best ways to get your chicken wings extra crispy.

That all being said, a good way to keep your air fryer in working order is to keep it clean. Food and grease are bound to leak down into the bottom of the machine. To get perfect air fried chicken, liners are recommended to use, as they help in more ways than keeping things clean. Many air fryer liners also include small precut holes that aid air circulation, meaning the meat will cook faster and more evenly, according to Something Swanky. The holes are small enough, though, to not let out much grease, which can clog the air fryer.

There are different types of liners you can find on Amazon, from silicon ones that are reusable to thin, disposable liners that come in bulk.

If you've gone with an air fryer as your go-to fried chicken device, there is still much that can go wrong, both before and during the cooking process. One key detail not to overlook is the use of oil, and what kind. Oil, regardless of method, is important to keep in mind, as the different types will affect flavor, according WebstaurantStore. Some of the best oils for frying chicken include vegetable shortening, lard, canola, and peanut oil.

Typically, with air-fried chicken, it's best to use a little bit of oil on larger, less fatty pieces like thighs and breasts in order to cook crispy, but in general, all pieces of chicken should have at least a light coating. However, too much oil lathered on the meat can result in a lot dripping down into the machine, causing smoke and making the chicken ultimately taste bad. A good way to ensure the right amount is used is to utilize an oil spritzer. A light enough coating of oil will cover the chicken without overdoing it.

An oil spritzer is ideal for air fryer use and can even be used with dishes that require a light addition of oil, including salad, pizza, and more. You can find one on Amazon for $9.99.

With all these tips and tricks to getting the perfect serving of fried chicken, there are still well-kept secrets that separate the good from the great. One point in particular that might be surprising: letting the chicken rest, similar to what is done with steaks and large pieces of prepared meat. As Chef Aaron Robins of Boneyard Bistro in Los Angeles tells Food & Wine, "Once you've hit 165 degrees, stop the heat and let it rest for a few minutes before cutting." Doing so lets the collagen in the meat thicken the juices and leaves you with great, juicy fried chicken.

Resting ties into other great expert ways of making fried chicken. For example, double-frying — frying once, resting, and then frying again just before eating — is a noted method of making restaurant-quality fried chicken. To help bring this method into your own process, it's best to utilize a set of wire drying racks to set the chicken onto once done frying. You could place the pieces on top of stacked paper towels, but these can soak up the dripping oil, which will then cause the crispy breading to become oily. Drying racks also allow air to cool the pieces from all sides.

Some wire racks come with their own individual pans to sit underneath to catch drippings, such as this set on Amazon. If not, though, you can simply use a baking sheet with paper towels for easier cleanup.