The best chicken cuts for frying are chicken thighs, chicken drumsticks, chicken wings, and chicken breasts. Of course, not all parts are equal in texture, flavor, and juiciness. While chicken breast is leaner and tends to be dry, the chicken thigh is juicier with more flavor. Which one is better for you only you can decide. At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference.
In this article, I’ll walk you through 4 of the best chicken parts for frying. At the end of the article, you’ll find one of the most amazing fried chicken recipes. I’ll show you how to brine chicken and fry it, so it’s juicy and delicious.
Best chicken cuts for frying
Here’re four of the best chicken pieces for frying:
1. Chicken thighs: the best overall
Chicken thighs are from the top section of the chicken leg. It’s an incredibly tender and flavorful cut of dark meat poultry. Even though meat contains more tendons, it’s still tender when cooked because of its fat content.
It’s by far one of the best-fried chicken parts. It’s easy to fry and difficult to dry out, unlike white meat, which is quite a bit leaner and easy to overcook. Chicken thighs have a strong flavor and are incredibly moist and tender, unlike white meat, which lacks moisture, tenderness, and taste.
Furthermore, if you’re not someone who enjoys de-boning, chicken thighs are sold boneless and skinless, bone-in and skin-on or boneless or skinless.
2. Chicken drumsticks
The chicken drumstick comes from the leg quarter, which includes the drumstick and the thigh. Because chickens use their legs constantly, they develop darker meat than breasts and wings and are quite a bit more flavorful and juicy.
Chicken drumsticks are excellent for frying. It’s hard to dry them out, meaning it’s hard to overcook them. They keep juicy and have a fantastic flavor no matter what.
A drumstick is an excellent option if you like dark, fatty meat that tastes like chicken. It comes with a bone and is easy to cook and prepare without needing to de-bone.
3. Chicken wings
There are three types of chicken wings: the flat, the drumette, and the whole wings. They are perfect for frying, grilling, baking, and smoking. Chicken wings are white meat: however, they are still juicy and flavorful.
When you think of a chicken wing, a buffalo wing is the first thing you think of. Well, there’s a good reason for that – it’s an excellent option for frying. It’s easy to fry, tasty, and hearty food for parties or any occasion.
4. Chicken breasts
Chicken breast is from the pectoral muscle on the underside of the chicken. It’s a lean cut of meat; therefore, when overcooked tends to dry out. Non or less, it’s an excellent option for frying, especially if you’re looking for a leaner option packed with protein.
Dark meat chicken is juicier and has more flavor; however, when the chicken breast is handled correctly, it can provide an excellent taste and good texture. Before frying chicken breast, tenderize it and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature.
How to fry chicken
I’m using a whole chicken for this perfect fried chicken recipe. However, if you do not want to carve the poultry feel free to use your favorite cuts of chicken.
- 1 whole chicken
- 4 cups buttermilk
- 5 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika powder
- 1 cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (optional)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- canola oil or vegetable oil for frying. Alternatively, you can use other high-smoke oil – peanut oil, avocado, light olive oil, etc.
- Cast-iron skillet, dutch oven, or a deep fryer
- Wire rack
- Meat thermometer
- Rinse the chicken pieces;
- Add chicken pieces to the bowl and sprinkle them with two teaspoons of kosher salt, onion, and garlic powder;
- Add 4 cups of buttermilk to cover the chicken. Make sure the chicken is entirely covered. Let it sit in a fridge overnight;
- An hour before cooking the chicken, bring it to room temperature. It’ll allow the chicken to cook evenly without burning;
- In a separate bowl, prepare the flour mixture – flour, salt, paprika, black pepper, cornstarch, and cayenne pepper if looking to spice it up a bit. Cornstarch will add the crunchiness; however, if you do not like crunchiness, leave the cornstarch out;
- Fill up a cast-iron skillet or dutch oven with frying oil and preheat 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot oil is essential to fry chicken properly;
- Take one chicken piece at a time and let buttermilk drip off. Coat it well in the flour, shake off excess flour, and set the chicken aside on a wire rack which should sit on a baking sheet. You’ll notice the flour coating will start to look like a paste. It’s a sign chicken is ready for frying;
- Deep fry chicken in batches. If you add too many pieces simultaneously, the oil temperature can drop, and the chicken will become soggy. The chicken should come out golden brown. Add a few pieces at a time and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165° Fahrenheit. Dark meat usually takes a bit longer to cook, between 10-14 minutes, while white meat cooks faster, around 10 minutes;
- When the chicken is done frying, place it on a wire rack. Sprinkle some kosher salt on top and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.