The One Ingredient that Makes Fried Chicken So Much Crispier

published Mar 3, 2020
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Credit: Lauren Volo

Is there anything more glorious than the crispy, cragged coating on juicy, savory chicken? If there is, I can’t think of it. Life with two kids and a husband raised in the South has me coating a lot of chicken (and pork) for weeknight dinners and celebratory meals, for frying and for baking, too.

Years of frying chicken for picnics, making crispy chicken nuggets for my kids, and even occasionally coating veggies for extra crispness has taught me to always have flour, breadcrumbs, and eggs on hand. But one of the most valuable ingredients is one you might not expect. This magical powder helps almost any coating stick to the food better and gives fried foods an even crispier coating without a double fry. Do you know what it is?

Credit: Lauren Volo

Cornstarch Is the Secret to the Crispiest Fried Chicken

You might keep cornstarch on hand for thickening gravy and making near-instant pudding at home. It’s primarily used as a thickening or gelling ingredient, but it’s also a smart ingredient for making cookies softer and for holding together fillings for jammy bars. And, it’s the secret ingredient for getting crispy coatings like tempura paper-thin.

So how exactly does it work? When paired with all-purpose flour, cornstarch helps prevent gluten development, which makes the flour coating crispier, and absorb moisture (from the frying and the chicken), which also means a crispier coating.

If you already have a favorite fried chicken recipe, try replacing a quarter of the flour with cornstarch. For example, instead of 2 cups of all-purpose flour use 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of cornstarch. If you are looking for a good recipe, we highly recommend this one. Either way, you’ll find yourself with extra crispy chicken, with a minimum of extra effort!

This is my favorite fried chicken recipe: How To Make Crispy, Juicy Fried Chicken

Your turn: What’s your favorite method for making chicken extra crispy?