Nothing says comfort food quite like pan-fried chicken. And, breading it with flour and egg before frying gives the chicken it the signature “crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside” quality you are looking for. It's simple to make and is a crowd pleaser – learn how to make the best fried chicken here.
Rinse chicken pieces (e.g., legs, thighs, wings, breasts, cutlets) in water, blotting them with a paper towel to provide a better sticking surface for the flour and egg mixture. Set these in the fridge to chill while you prepare the eggs and flour.
Beat eggs together in a bowl with a wire whisk or fork until they are a uniform yellow mixture. Use the ratio of two eggs to one cup of milk or nut milk substitute.
Sprinkle a thick layer – roughly 1/2-inch – of flour onto a dinner plate or pie plate. For every cup of flour, add one teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and any additional spices you like. Consider using spices like onion powder, lemon pepper, garlic powder or paprika.
Take the chicken out of the fridge and dip one piece at a time in the egg and milk mixture, turning it over so the egg coats both sides. Then, dredge the chicken piece through the flour, turning it to get flour on both sides and shaking off any extra. Set it on a plate while you heat up the oil.
Frying the Chicken
In a large frying pan with at least one inch depth, pour roughly 1/2 inch of oil. Set the heat to medium or medium-high, bringing the oil to roughly 350 F. If you don’t have a thermometer, heat the oil so it is wavy but not smoking, and so that a small drop of flour added to the pan sizzles but doesn’t immediately burn.
Place coated chicken pieces into the pan gently, using tongs, to avoid splashing oil. Allow space between the pieces so they don’t touch. Depending on how much chicken you have, you might need to fry it in batches.
Continue frying the chicken, flipping each piece every two minutes. Cook until the pieces turn golden brown. Wings take roughly 10 minutes; breasts, legs and thighs take about 12 minutes total cooking time; and a cutlet needs six to eight minutes of frying time. Chicken is done when the juices run clear from a cut made into the thickest part of a piece, or a thermometer registers 165 F.
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- For a lower-fat meal, remove and discard chicken skins before dredging the pieces in flour and eggs.
- If cooking in batches, place the finished chicken on a paper towel-lined platter and keep them in a warm oven until ready to serve.
- For a crispier coating, dip the chicken in flour, egg and breadcrumbs.
- The oil will be hot. Take care not to splash oil while adding or removing chicken from the pan, and allow the oil to fully cool before moving the pan.
Suzanna Didier's work appears in online publications including the National Geographic website, SFGate and Local.com. She is an avid cook who lives on a hobby farm, direct-markets organic produce to local restaurants and has taught at the preschool, elementary and college levels. Didier holds a Master of Arts in education from the University of Oregon.