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How to keep fried chicken crispy?

How to keep fried chicken crispy?

Crispy fried food is undoubtedly one of the best culinary inventions ever. There are tons of multi-million dollar companies built around crispy fried chicken for a reason.

It’s juicy and succulent on the inside and extraordinarily crunchy on the outside - to die for!

But this is where reality hits and hits hard: the not-so-crispy, mushy, and moist chicken. It is the worst and, unfortunately, unavoidable.

However, there is also good news. Whether it’s homemade, store-bought, or frozen fried chicken, you can easily keep it crispy and even crisp up leftover bits again.

But how do you keep fried chicken crispy?

To keep your fried chicken pieces crispy after you’ve made them, store them in a low-heat oven until you need them. If you want to reheat your leftover fried chicken pieces, simply reheat them in a high-temperature oven. This allows the coating to crisp up while the chicken heats up.

In this information-packed article, we’ll look at all the different ways to keep fried chicken crispy, as well as how to make leftover chicken crispy again. We’ll dive into which method is used, and look at the pros and cons of each.

Crispy chicken

As you may have noticed, we love crispy chicken. Doing so requires perfectly balanced ratios of ingredients, the best possible application of technique, and frying the chicken at precise temperatures for a very specific amount of time.

But after all that effort, your chicken will probably only stay crispy for an hour or so, if you’re lucky! Fortunately, we’ve experimented a lot with fried chicken over the years, and today we’ll share with you the techniques we’ve learned.

But, before getting into the technique, it’s important to first know what you’re working with and how it will affect the method you choose.

The first factor to consider is the type of chicken you intend to re-fry. Fried chicken can be homemade (meaning made from scratch), frozen fried chicken, or store-bought fried chicken ( from a fast food franchise ).

Each of them has different characteristics and therefore will require different techniques to keep it crisp. Even within each category, each brand, franchise, and recipe have different elements that may affect the method you choose in some way.

If a technique doesn’t work for a specific brand of frozen fried chicken you use, remember it and try a new method next time.

The second factor to consider is when you’re trying to revive fried chicken; it may be that you want to keep the chicken crispy for a couple of hours before eating it, or you want to re-crisp leftover fried chicken.

Reheating leftover chicken and crisping it up is a whole different story than keeping fried chicken crispy for an hour or two.

What makes fried chicken crispy?

When you look at the method used to make the fried chicken, it’s always the same basic steps with slight variations in proportions and technique.

The chicken piece is first cleaned and often washed to remove any impurities or off-flavors. This step is not necessary and many people skip it, it is simply a precaution.

The chicken pieces are then individually coated in seasoned flour, then in an egg mixture, and lastly in seasoned breadcrumbs . There are a wide variety of ingredients that can be substituted, but the method is always the same.

Often each piece is coated twice to get a better coating and ultimately a crispier piece.

Once the pieces are coated, many recipes call for them to sit in the refrigerator to help firm the coating. This totally depends on the recipe and the specific ingredients.

Finally, the chicken is fried in hot oil , usually between 320-360°F (160-180°C). There are two reasons why food becomes crispy after it is fried.

The first is the method itself used.  Frying food in very hot oil removes moisture from the food , creating a dry, crisp product. This is what happens when your food sizzles in the deep fryer: it’s water escaping from the ingredient and reacting with the oil.

The second factor that makes food crisp is the ingredients used, in this case, the egg mixture. Have you ever fried an egg and the edges were a bit crispy? This is exactly what happens here too.

It is the moisture in the egg that is removed during frying, so the shell is crispy while the chicken remains tender and juicy.

Who would have thought that fried chicken is so technical?

Why does it lose its crunch?

So, if frying removes moisture to create a crispy crust, it is quite obvious that adding moisture will lose that crispiness.

Sure, it’s not like you’re dousing your crispy fried chicken with water, but moisture is everywhere! At room temperature, crispy chicken absorbs moisture from the air and becomes soggy.

A refrigerator uses a liquid cooling system to help cool food, so naturally fried chicken absorbs moisture in there, too.

So the best way to keep your chicken crispy is to constantly keep it away from moisture , but how do you do it?

How to keep fresh fried chicken crispy

Let’s start with the freshly made house fried chicken. Homemade fried chicken is quite a long and messy process, so most of the time people prefer to prepare it in advance, leaving time for cleanup and other chores before sitting down to enjoy the meal.

As soon as fried chicken comes out of the fryer, it begins to absorb moisture from the chicken meat and from the surrounding air.

These methods work best on homemade chicken and even frozen chicken, but not pre-made chicken. Pre-made chicken has already been out for a long time before you bought it, so once it’s out of your warmers or ovens, applying these methods won’t help you much.

Method 1: Keep Fried Chicken Fresh Crispy for One Hour

This method is perfect if you’ve just finished cooking and want to keep your pieces crisp before serving, or if you want to make sure your second servings will still be good before you go back for more.

To keep fried chicken fresh and crispy for an hour, follow these steps while you finish cooking it:

  1. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet or roasting pan.
  2. When you’ve finished frying a piece or batch of chicken, remove it from the fryer and place it on the rack. Make sure the pieces are not touching.
  3. Continue this process until all the chicken is fried.
  4. Keep the tray in a cool, dry place, away from drafts or direct sunlight. Both will speed up the moisture absorption process. An oven or microwave that has not been used for cooking is perfect.

The reason the “paper towel method” doesn’t work, is because the chicken sits in the oil and becomes soggy again. This is a great method that drains any excess oil from the chicken and keeps it away from liquids thus keeping it crisp.

Advantages :

  • This works amazingly well when you have a large batch of chicken to fry. When the first few bits come out, they will likely sit for a couple of minutes, even up to an hour. This method helps keep those pieces crisp as you continue to prepare them.
  • This method requires no additional work or preparation. You just have to fry and put the chicken aside on the tray.
  • This method also doesn’t require special equipment and won’t cost you money (like replacing kitchen paper).

Cons:

  • You can’t use this method to keep fried chicken crispy for a long time. Anything longer than 45 minutes to 1 hour will cause your chicken to get cold, absorb moisture, and become soggy.

Ultimately, this method is best when you need something simple to keep your chicken crisp just before or while you eat.

Method 2: Keep Fried Chicken Crispy for a Couple of Hours

What if you want a method to keep your fried chicken crispy for a while, like during a party or a big family gathering?

The first method is useful for a normal night, but sometimes you want something you don’t have to worry about for a couple of hours.

To keep your fried chicken fresh and crispy for a couple of hours, follow these steps:

  1. Set the oven to 200°F (100°C).
  2. Place a wire rack on a cookie sheet or roasting pan.
  3. When you’ve finished frying a piece or batch of chicken, remove it from the fryer and place it on the rack. Make sure the pieces are not touching. Continue this process until all the chicken is fried.
  4. Once you’ve finished frying, place the tray and wire rack into the oven over low heat. You can keep the chicken inside for at least 2 hours before the chicken meat starts to dry out.
  5. If you think your oven is too hot, you can lower the temperature, but not too much, as the moisture must constantly continue to evaporate.

Advantages:

  • This method works great as it still uses method 1 to prevent soggy chicken, where the chicken is drained on a wire rack, not paper towels.
  • Using the oven at a low temperature helps remove moisture from the chicken and is a very easy method that does not give work.
  • The chicken can keep in the oven, super crispy, for a couple of hours while you wait for guests to arrive or run a few errands.

Cons:

  • This method requires the oven to be on all the time, which consumes a lot of electricity, that is, money.
  • It doesn’t work with leftover chicken.

Method 3: Revive Store Bought Fried Chicken (Same Day)

When pre-made fried chicken comes out of the store’s oven, it immediately begins to absorb moisture and become soggy.

By the time it gets to your house, it won’t be as crunchy anymore. Here’s the best method to revive same-day store-bought fried chicken:

  1. Preheat oven to 360°F (180°C).
  2. Place a wire rack on a cookie sheet or roasting pan.
  3. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on the rack and place in the oven.
  4. Bake over high heat for about 5-8 minutes , or until the layer is crisp again.
  5. If you want to keep the chicken crisp for a couple of hours afterward, lower the heat to 200°F (100°C) and leave the chicken until you are ready to use it. Alternatively, reheat the chicken only as needed.

Advantages:

  • A very quick and easy method of reheating store bought fried chicken.
  • Reheats the chicken and makes it crispier.

Cons:

  • After a while, there’s nothing you can do to make your store-bought fried chicken crisp again, simply because it’s been kept too long and has been heated and cooled too many times.
  • You can also re-fry it in a deep fryer, but this still won’t work in some cases.

How to Keep Leftover Fried Chicken Crispy

Leftover chicken is any piece of chicken that has been placed in the refrigerator to cool completely and then reheated.

This is much more difficult to get back to crisp as the coating has absorbed a lot of moisture during this time and has become soggy.

For us, the following methods work fantastically with homemade chicken scraps, but not so much with frozen or store-bought parts. You just have to make sure that you have saved it well before!

Method 4: In the oven

Here’s how to revive your homemade leftovers, the best way:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. While the oven is preheating, take the chicken out of the fridge. Let it rest at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes .
  3. Place a wire rack on a cookie sheet or roasting pan.
  4. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer on the rack and place in the oven.
  5. Bake over high heat for about 12-20 minutes , or until the chicken is heated through and the coating is crisp again.

Advantages:

  • It is a very efficient method and thanks to the wire rack, dry air can circulate completely through the piece, resulting in an evenly crisp product.
  • It is a very easy method that requires above all time. You don’t really have to do a lot of work. You can place it in the oven and leave it until it is ready.

Cons:

  • It requires a lot of extra steps and you need some time to reheat the chicken.
  • Note: Chicken cannot be reheated after using this method.  Chicken should never be reheated twice.

Method 5: In a deep fryer

If you have a deep fryer, this is a great way to warm up - and crisp up - your leftover fried chicken:

  1. Preheat the oil to 360°F (180°C).
  2. While the oil is heating, take the chicken out of the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Once the chicken has rested and the oil is hot, add the chicken to the fryer (in appropriately sized batches, preferably small) and fry for about 5-10 minutes, or until the chicken is crisp again and has set. fully heated.

Advantages:

  • This is a convenient method because you probably still have the oil in which you initially fried the chicken. The oil can be reused in the deep fryer or in the stock pot, so there are fewer dishes to wash and less cleaning.
  • It is a much faster method than heating the chicken in the oven.

Cons:

  • This method requires more care, as the temperature of the oil needs to be monitored to prevent the chicken from burning completely before heating.
  • The chicken will darken as it frys in the oil. This isn’t a huge problem, but some people don’t like chicken that is too dark.

Method 6: In an air fryer

If you have an air fryer, this is a great way to heat up your fried chicken. Frying it in the air fryer will get it crispy again.

This is how you do it:

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 400 °F (200 °C).
  2. While it’s preheating, take the chicken out of the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes .
  3. Arrange the chicken on a wire rack in a single layer, and place it in the air fryer. Cook it for about 12-15 minutes , or until it’s heated through and the layer is crisp.

This creates very crispy chicken pieces and works well for any type of leftover chicken, whether homemade, frozen, or store-bought (frying times may vary slightly, though).

Advantages:

  • Air fryers have excellent circulation of dry air and combine the best features of the oven and fryer methods.
  • It is a very easy and uncomplicated method.
  • This method works for almost any fried chicken.

Cons:

  • It requires specialized equipment.