The idea of frying chicken at home can be an overwhelming one. It can be scary to know that you are dealing with a vat of oil that is nearly 400 degrees.
Hot oil likes to splatter, especially once the food is added to it. If that food has any moisture of its own, this makes for an even scarier situation.
While we’re talking about scary, let’s also take into account that the majority of house fires start in the kitchen and the grease fires are extremely difficult to extinguish.
Fried chicken might be delicious, but it is also understandably scary to make. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way.
When you are planning to cook fried chicken, there are some things you absolutely MUST know beforehand. You can’t just bread your mead and toss it into any old pan, or you could wind up with a dangerous situation on your hands.
Instead, you need to pay attention to many details about the frying pan you will be using for frying your chicken. There are several key points you must be aware of to ensure your safety as well as to guarantee the deliciousness of the end product.
Considerations you need to be aware of are:
Safety: It might seem silly to consider safety when cooking some chicken, but this is a really important consideration when frying foods. Look for a frying pan that has a lid. Not only will this help to keep the temperature in range while you are cooking your food, but it can be extremely useful if something bad happens. Should a fire start, having a lid will give you the opportunity to quickly snuff it out and deprive the flames of oxygen.
Depth: The first thing you should know is that you absolutely never want to use a shallow pan to fry chicken (or anything for that matter). Using a pan with low sides is just inviting disaster into your kitchen, and you definitely don’t want that.
Instead, reach for a frying pan that is deep – 3 inches deep at minimum. A deeper pot lets you use enough oil to get the job done but will ensure that grease splatters are not a common occurrence.
Material: You’ll also want a frying pan that is made from a material that will retain heat well. If your temperature is fluctuating rapidly, not only will it take forever to cook your chicken, but you run the risk of your meat not being able to cook to the proper temperature. This is dangerous as the chicken that is not cooked well can lead to severe illness.
Materials that can retain heat well are:
Many people think that stainless steel itself is a good conductor of heat, but it isn’t as good as other options available. If it is used in conjunction with another material, stainless steel cookware can work well for frying chicken, but used alone it is not the best.
Another reason you want your pan to be good at retaining heat is that after each batch of frying chicken, you will need to wait for the oil to come back up to temperature (at least 350 degrees) before you add the next batch to the pan. If you have a pan that cools significantly in the meantime you will have a long waiting period; but if you have a pan that retains heat well, you can keep powering through and get to enjoy your dinner much sooner.
When it comes to how evenly the different types of frying pans heat up, this is another important consideration. If you’ve got a couple of hot spots in your frying pans, you will have bits of chicken that cook faster than others resulting in chicken that is not well cooked and can be difficult to enjoy. Additionally, these hot spots can cause the fried chicken’s breading to stick to the pan which will make you lose out on some of the delicious flavors you’ve worked hard to achieve.
Size: You’ll want a pan that is big enough to fry several pieces of chicken at once without crowding them together. Frying chicken can be quite a process, so you’ll want to be able to get through it in a timely manner. You don’t want to place too many pieces of chicken in the pan at once though, or they won’t cook properly.
Instead, you will want a pan that is big enough to hold multiple pieces of chicken while still having room for the oil to move freely around the pieces.
Weight: The last thing you need when you have a pan of blisteringly hot oil is for it to be lightweight and easy to knock over. No, when frying chicken, you will want to be sure that the frying pan you are using is heavy and cannot be easily bumped.
Ease of Use: There are many great options available, but a lot of them need special utensils. When the frying chicken, you need to be able to use heavy-duty tongs that can withstand high temperatures. You’ll need to choose a frying pan that can tolerate being bumped and scraped by your cooking utensils.
Cleaning: After spending all day prepping and cooking your fried chicken, the last thing you will want is to spend an hour scrubbing all of your dishes clean. For this reason, you will want to use a frying pan that is easy to simply wipe clean or rinse and toss in the dishwasher.
Truthfully, the best type of frying pan for chicken is a cast-iron skillet. It is heavy, retains and distributes heat well, has a deep and large cooking surface and it is easy to care for and clean. That is why our pick for the best pan for frying chicken is the 12 Inch Cast Iron Frying Pan from Lodge.
We mentioned earlier that one of the best and most traditional ways to fry chicken is in a heavy-duty frying pan on the stovetop. However, some people just aren’t willing to do that, and we can understand their reasoning. It hurts to get popped by hot oil as the chicken fries, and frying chicken can be especially messy. Instead of avoiding this delicious food altogether – consider using a deep fryer to cook it instead.
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