Fried chicken is a delicious dish and is eaten worldwide. It is one of the tastiest and irresistible dishes and is known for its crunch and fantastic flavor.
You can fry chicken in many different ways, using many different oils. Some oils are better than others. With frying chicken, you need to use a lot of oil to coat all of the chicken.
You can fry all chicken parts, but breast, thighs, and wings are the most popular choices. Fried chicken pairs perfectly with delicious sauces such as blue cheese, hot buffalo, garlic, and parmesan.
In this article, we will talk about the seven best oils for frying chicken, the benefits of using these, and some detailed tips and tricks to fry up some delicious chicken.
Fried chicken originates from the South of North America, and the first use of the phrase is traced back to the 1830s. Through its origins in the United States, fried chicken has been traced back to parts of South America, West Africa, and even Scotland!
Fried chicken was prevalent in the American South, and used by African slaves to provide an economy and independence for the enslaved. It is a meaningful dish in Africa because of this fact. Fried chicken is known for its juicy and tender meat and crunchy exterior.
How To Choose The Best Oil For Frying Chicken
When choosing an oil for frying your chicken, there are different things you need to consider. For example, you do not want to use a mix of oils, or pure, rich oils such as olive oil.
The smoke point of olive oil is a lot lower than you need for frying chicken, so it will burn and smoke as soon as it reaches temperature.
You also need to refrain from using a mix of oil, as the smoking points and flavors may not mix, creating an odd taste and a lot of smoke.
The flavor is also important, as you want the flavor to complement the taste of your seasoned chicken, rather than the oil itself. It should complement your dish, and make your crispy chicken crunch! There’s nothing worse than greasy, soft chicken that should be crisp.
You may also wonder how cost-effective the dish may be for you. If you are using a more expensive oil such as coconut or avocado oil, you should think about how much of the oil you will need.
You need quite a lot of oil to fry chicken, as it needs to be completely submerged. The last thing you may want to think about is what equipment you are using to fry the chicken. We will go more into detail about this, but it is something to consider.
Rest assured, we will help you answer these questions. There’s nothing worse than a smoky kitchen and burnt chicken, but everyone’s done it! With this comprehensive list, you’ll never have to worry about a smoky kitchen again!
Vegetable oil is a term for any oil that is plant-based, such as canola, sunflower or rapeseed oil. Vegetable oil has a real neutral flavor, and is widely used for frying.
Oils such as olive oil will be very rich, and it will taste like olive oil. You need to pick an oil that will not overpower the chicken, and one that you cannot taste.
A drizzle of olive oil or walnut oil may be perfect in a salad, but you’re frying chicken. You do not want to have an oil that is fragrant, fruity, or nutty in any manner, as the chicken will remain how you deliciously prepared it.
The properties of the oil you choose are essential. The smoke point is when oil heats up and starts to burn, and smokes. This is never desirable and will genuinely ruin your dish.
It will cause your food to have a horrible burnt taste, and it will look bitty and brown, accompanied by a lot of smoke! Smoking oil occurs when the compounds within the oil break down from the high heat.
The smoke point of butter is 300F, which is inappropriate for frying chicken. The oil in the milkfat will burn and smoke instead of melt and bubble.
Flaxseed oil, lard, and olive oil also have lower smoke points, which are not helpful for frying. Oils such as avocado oil, refined coconut oil, and corn oil have high smoking points, making them an excellent choice for frying at high temperatures.
Oil is naturally expensive because it has to be drawn out of vegetables and plants. Canola oil is one of the least expensive oils, and sesame oil is one of the most expensive.
Using a less expensive oil will be more cost-effective for frying chicken because of the sheer amount of oil you need to use.
If you have a deep-fat fryer, you won’t need to read this part. Those who don’t have a fryer needs to be more creative and careful. You will need a deep pan or a deep frying pan that can hold at least 6-8 cups of oil.
A deep pan that can hold around 1.5/2 gallons would be perfect, as well as a wide pan that will hold 3 inches of oil. It is best to use something non-stick if you are using a frying pan and anything sturdy if you use a pot.
Also, use strictly metal utensils for deep frying unless it is heatproof. You do not want fried plastic in your pot!
Peanut oil is one of the best oils for frying chicken and is widely used. It has a deep, neutral flavor and a darker color. This color will add to the color of your fried chicken, and it will look truly mouthwatering.
Peanut oil is an excellent choice for frying chicken as there is no trans fat and it is nutritious. It will not cause your chicken to be greasy, and you can also reuse the oil to save money!
Peanut oil is one of the most commonly used oils for frying chicken primarily due to its top-tier smoke point. It is also responsible for fried chicken’s golden, dark, and crispy exterior.
Peanut oil has a smoke point of 450 F and a mild and neutral flavor. It comprises mostly fatty acids such as oleic acid, linoleic acid, and palmitic acid. Nuts are naturally high in fat, as is their oil.
How Is It Made?
Peanut oil is extracted by pressing or solvent extraction. Solvent extraction is expensive and is used in large-scale extraction quantities. This is why peanut oil may be more expensive than other oils.
Peanut oil has a mildly nutty yet neutral taste. It is perfect for chicken and fish. It does not taste as strong as peanuts.
- Peanut oil has a high smoke point, so there is no risk of smoking.
- Peanut oil is rich in vitamin E and is anti-inflammatory.
- There is no flavor transfer when using peanut oil to fry.
- It has one of the highest smoke points out of all oils.
- Highly refined versions of peanut oil have been found sometimes to contain hexane, a petroleum based byproduct from the extraction of the oil.
Canola oil is another excellent oil to use for frying chicken. It is vegetable oil, and is found in a type of rapeseed. Any vegetable oil is excellent for frying because it has a naturally neutral flavor, along with a cheap price tag.
Canola oil has high omega-3 and omega-6, which are healthy fatty acids. Obviously, no oil is “healthy,” but canola is one of the better oils for cholesterol.
You have probably seen many canola rapeseed fields, and they are most likely going to be extracted for oil. Over twenty-five million tonnes of canola oil are produced per year.
Canola oil has a smoke point of 460 F and has a low saturated fats. It has been qualified by the FDA for lowering the risk of heart disease!
How Is It Made
Canola oil is one of the most common oils and is often present in mixed vegetable oil because of how easy it is to obtain, grow, and extract. It is made by heating and crushing the canola seed.
The oil is then extracted using hexane solvent, which is removed by the end of the production process. It is refined, giving it a higher smoke point and more beneficial.
It is refined by using water and natural acid to remove fatty acid and color.
Canola oil has a neutral taste and will not add anything to your dish. It is simply used for fried chicken because of its versatility and reliability. If you are going to taste it, it is very mild, natural, and slightly mellow tasting.
- The oil imparts little flavor into food – it is a blank canvas oil.
- Canola oil contains healthy polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 and omega-6.
- As the oil ages, the fatty acids can produce a slightly fishy odor.
Avocado oil is one of the healthiest oils to fry with and is widely used for frying chicken and other meats. You should fry fried chicken at a high heat so that the outside can become crispy.
Avocado oil is perfect for this because of its high smoke point. It is full of antioxidants and has so many health benefits.
Avocado oil has the highest smoke point of any cooking oil. The smoke point of regular unrefined avocado oil is 482 F, with refined oil is 520 F!
This is because it has an excess of monounsaturated fatty acids, which are ‘heart-healthy’ fats, and are rich and beneficial. The smoke point is dependent on how you store the oil due to the fatty acids present.
Avocado oil has similar properties to olive oil, with high fat content and a rich consistency.
How Is It Made
Avocado oil is not derived from seeds like most oils. It is extracted from the actual pulp of the avocado, the part that you’d eat for breakfast.
The oil is extracted by dehydrating the avocado pulp to remove water, and oil is extracted with high temperatures and solvents, then refined and filtered. The oil comes out smooth and with a yellow tinge because of the color of the avocados.
Avocado oil is usually unrefined, so it has the flavor of avocado, although it is not overpowering.
Avocado oil tastes somewhat like avocado. It has a distinct rich, buttery, grassy flavor. It will not add much flavor to your chicken, but it may have a richness, which will benefit your flavors.
- Avocado oil is super rich in monounsaturated fats, which are good for you.
- Avocado oil contains antioxidants.
- The flavor is mild, neutral, and buttery.
- It may be one of the more expensive choices due to the extraction process.
- It is not the most ethical oil due to the number of avocados needed to make the oil.
Sunflower oil is another popular choice for frying chicken. The oil is one of the most neutral and one of the easiest to obtain. Frying chicken in sunflower oil is inexpensive and will make your chicken crispy.
The oil has a high burning point and thrives in high temperatures. Any vegetable oil is perfect for frying chicken because it is neutral and healthy compared to animal fats and milkfat.
Sunflower oil is taken from the sunflowers’ seeds and is easy to grow and obtain. It has a high amount of monounsaturated fat, oleic acid, and linoleic acid. These are heart-healthy fats and are relatively good for you.
It also has a high amount of vitamin E. Sunflower oil is primarily produced in Eastern European countries due to the climate. Russia and Ukraine account for over 50% of the world’s oil production.
The oil is clear, with the refined oil being slightly orange.
The smoke point of refined sunflower oil is incredibly high at 450F and is 225 F if it is unrefined. Most sunflower oil is refined, which is good for your wallet and your chicken. The oil acts as any other vegetable oil and is highly versatile.
How Is It Made
Sunflower oil is relatively easy to extract using chemical solvents such as hexane. The seeds can also be crushed with a pressing device to expel the oil. One of the best and healthier methods to extract the oil is cold-pressing at a low temperature.
Sunflower oil is incredibly neutral and has a slightly natural taste on its own. It will not add any flavor to your chicken, but it helps with the crust of your fried chicken.
- It has one of the highest oleic acid properties and is beneficial as an oil.
- The smoke point is high, perfect for getting that crispy exterior.
- It has little to no flavor.
- Because the oil is high in polyunsaturated fat, it can degrade at higher temperatures.
Coconut oil is a recent and popular contender in the popularity of cooking oils. It is a clear oil, and is one of the most expensive.
The oil is derived from coconut meat, milk, and the hard exterior. Coconuts are naturally full of oil and hard fat. Coconut oil is a great choice for shallow frying, but you can also use it to deep fry, but it is more expensive than other vegetable oils.
Coconut oil is one of the only vegetable/natural oils that act like animal fat. It acts like lard, in the same way that it will remain solid, but will turn to liquid at higher temperature.
The oil begins turning to liquid at around 80 F, but it has a high smoke point of 350 F for the solidity of the oil. When the oil is unrefined, it has a strong coconut smell.
How Is It Made
Coconut oil is extracted through a dry process or a wet process. The wet process is extracted from raw coconut, and the proteins form a separation process between the oil and water.
There are many processes now, using acid, electrolysis, and heat. Wet processes are more costly, hence why coconut oil is pricey. Dry processing entails the extraction of the flesh which is dried and dissolved in solvents, producing coconut oil, and then being refined.
Coconut oil has a nutty and mild taste. It is a neutral flavor, but there may be a slight hint of coconut with your dish.
- The triglyceride fats in coconut oil are beneficial for your health.
- Coconut oil has a rich taste and buttery texture.
- Coconut oil has high saturated fats (cholesterol-raising fats), which are not as healthy for consumption.
- The smoke point is not as high as other oils.
Corn oil is one of the most popular oils for frying chicken, along with peanut oil and canola oil. It is mostly used for cooking and has an excellent smoke point.
Refined corn oil is the best to use for frying, as the smoke point is extremely high and the oil is golden, creating that amazing crispy, golden crust on your chicken.
To add, corn oil is one of the least expensive vegetable oils because of how easy corn is to grow and how many climates it can thrive in.
Corn oil is mostly produced in the United States and China and South America. It has a high smoke point of 450 F, one of the highest for frying oil.
Corn oil has a lot of anti-inflammatory properties and can even help reduce heart disease. It also has a lot of vitamin E, but it is not considered the “healthiest” oil.
How Is It Made
Corn oil is typically pressed from the seeds and then extracted using hexane.
The hexane is then removed and is even reused. The corn oil is refined with an alkali treatment, which also helps with neutralizing the fatty acids present in the oil.
Corn oil has a relatively neutral taste, with a slightly deep and nutty flavor. The oil is dark and will form an excellent crispy, dark exterior on your chicken.
- Corn oil is one of the cheapest oils.
- Corn oil has one of the highest smoke points of all oils.
- Corn oil has some saturated fats and is not the healthiest oil.
Soybean oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the seeds of soybeans. It is one of the most popular oils to use and is widely used by fast-food restaurants due to its reliability and neutral taste.
Soybean oil is widely produced in China and the United States and is easily grown in most countries.
Soybean oil has one of the highest smoke points of any oil, which is 495 F, and this is why fast food restaurants use it. It can reach incredibly high temperatures and create a nice crispy exterior on the chicken you cook.
The oil contains omega-3 and can reduce cholesterol levels and be beneficial for the skin. It has also been shown to benefit bone growth and health.
How Is It Made
Soybeans are cracked and heated, and then their oil is extracted with a solvent. The oil is refined and sometimes blended with other vegetable oils.
The remaining grounds and meals are used as animal feed, so the oil is sustainable.
Soybean oil is highly neutral and does not taste of much at all. It may have a slight tinge of nuts, but it is mostly neutral.
Soybean oil has an extremely high smoke point.
Soybean oil has many health benefits.
Soybean oil contains a lot of omega-6, which can cause inflammation if you have too much.
Healthy Oils Vs. Unhealthy Oils
No oil is the healthiest, and you definitely would not want to drink it! Some of the healthiest oils are olive oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil, avocado oil, and sesame oil.
These oils are rich in “heart-healthy” fats and are derived from rich vegetables that are fatty and nutty. They are also some of the highly refined oils, meaning they are less expensive and better for you.
Unrefined oils are not necessarily harmful for you but can be cloudy, go out of date, and maintain their flavor a lot more.
No oil is healthy, but some of the oils you may want to avoid in high amounts are peanut oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil. These oils are richer in omega-6, which are saturated fats.
They are not detrimental to your health but are better in lesser amounts.
How To Fry Chicken
Frying chicken is easy, and takes minimal effort. Season your chicken with salt and pepper and bathe it in buttermilk for at least twelve hours to fry the chicken. Make sure your buttermilk is seasoned with seasonings such as paprika and other herbs.
Take out your chicken and pop it in some seasoned flour. Dredge the chicken in flour. Coat it fully, and make sure it sits for around ten minutes to stick to the meat.
Next, make sure your oil is heated to around 325F and fry the chicken in small batches for 10-15 minutes, flipping every few minutes. Let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes, and dip in your favorite sauce!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Shouldn’t I Fry Chicken In Olive Oil?
Olive oil is a great oil, but it has a low smoke point of 370F, meaning as soon as your oil is near temperature, it will run the risk of smoking.
Olive oil is also not the best for fried chicken because it is highly unrefined and rich and has a tangy olive flavor which may not complement your fried chicken.
What Oil Does KFC Use?
KFC uses popular soybean oil, as well as vegetable and canola oil. These oils are reliable and neutral with a high smoke point so they are perfect for frying in large quantities.
You Fry Chicken Without Oil?
You cannot fry chicken without oil if you want it to turn out like a classic fried chicken.
Fried chicken is supposed to be deep/medium fried, and it is known for its golden color and crunchy texture. It needs to reach high temperatures to cook the meat.
How Unhealthy Is Fried Chicken?
Fried chicken is definitely not healthy, but it is delicious in small amounts. Eating lots of fried chicken can cause heart and cholesterol problems after a long period of time.
Oil is not the healthiest, and this list will not make you assume oil is healthy. Many oils contain good fats, and others may not. If you are frying chicken, you are likely not frying it because it is a healthy dish, but more so because it is delicious and a treat.
There are so many oils to choose from to fry chicken in, and some of them have better properties than others.
Overall, all of the oils on this list will give you some perfect fried chicken, but it is up to you to decide which oil is the best for you.