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Fried chicken facts for kids

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Fried chicken
A fried chicken breast, wing, leg, and thigh
Course Entrée
Place of origin United States
Region or state American South
Serving temperature Hot or cold
Main ingredients Chicken, batter

Fried chicken consists of pieces of chicken that have been either battered or floured and then pan fried, pressure fried or deep fried. The breading adds a crisper crust to chickens' exterior. The chicken is cut at the joints with the bones and skin being left intact. Some fast food restaurant chains serve fried chicken, most notably Kentucky Fried Chicken and Church's Chicken.


Deep frying chicken upper wing
Frying chicken upper wings in corn oil

Generally, chickens are not fried whole; instead, the chicken is divided into its constituent pieces. The two white meat sections are the breast and the wing from the front of the chicken, while the dark meat sections are the thigh and leg or "drumstick", are from the rear of the chicken. These pieces are usually subdivided into the wings, the breasts (the wishbone is often cut out first in home cooking), the legs, and the thighs. The ribs are sometimes left on the breast, but commercially they and the back are usually discarded.

To prepare the chicken pieces for frying, they may be coated in a batter of flour and liquid (and seasonings) mixed together. The batter can contain ingredients like eggs, milk, and leavening. Alternatively, they may be dredged in flour or a similar dry substance, to coat the meat and to develop a crust. Seasonings such as salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, or ranch dressing mix can be mixed in with the flour. Either process may be preceded by marination or by dipping in milk or buttermilk. As the pieces of chicken cook, some of the moisture that exudes from the chicken is absorbed by the coating of flour and browns along with the flour, creating a flavorful crust. According to Nathan Bailey's 1736 cookbook, Dictionarium Domesticum, for example, the chicken can be covered in a marinade that consists of the juice of two large fresh lemons, malt vinegar, bay leaves, salt, pepper, ground cloves, and green onions; it then must be settled in the marinade for three hours before being dipped in the batter that consists of all-purpose flour, white wine, three egg yolks and salt, and then slowly submerged in a deep pot of either oil, lard, or clarified butter over an open fire. It can then be topped with fresh, dried parsley dipped in the same frying oil.

Traditionally, lard is used to fry the chicken, but corn oil, peanut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil are also frequently used (although clarified butter may be used as well like in colonial times). The flavor of olive oil is generally considered too strong to be used for traditional fried chicken, and its low smoke point makes it unsuitable for use. There are three main techniques for frying chickens: pan frying, deep frying and broasting.

Fried chicken - Arnold Gatilao
Fried chicken

Pan frying (or shallow frying) requires a frying pan of sturdy construction and a source of fat that does not fully immerse the chicken. The chicken pieces are prepared as above, then fried. Generally the fat is heated to a temperature hot enough to seal (without browning, at this point) the outside of the chicken pieces. Once the pieces have been added to the hot fat and sealed, the temperature is reduced. There is debate as to how often to turn the chicken pieces, with one camp arguing for often turning and even browning, and the other camp pushing for letting the pieces render skin side down and only turning when absolutely necessary. Once the chicken pieces are close to being done the temperature is raised and the pieces are browned to the desired color (some cooks add small amounts of butter at this point to enhance browning). The moisture from the chicken that sticks and browns on the bottom of the pan become the fonds required to make gravy.

Deep frying requires a deep fryer or other device in which the chicken pieces can be completely submerged in hot fat. The process of deep frying is basically placing food fully in oil and then cooking it at a very high temperature. The pieces are prepared as described above. The fat is heated in the deep fryer to the desired temperature. The pieces are added to the fat and a constant temperature is maintained throughout the cooking process.

Broasting uses a pressure cooker to accelerate the process. The moisture inside the chicken becomes steam and increases the pressure in the cooker, lowering the cooking temperature needed. The steam also cooks the chicken through, but still allows the pieces to be moist and tender while maintaining a crisp coating. Fat is heated in a pressure cooker. Chicken pieces are prepared as described above and then placed in the hot fat. The lid is placed on the pressure cooker, and the chicken pieces are thus fried under pressure.

The derivative phrases "country fried" and "chicken fried" often refer to other foods prepared in the manner of fried chicken. Usually, this means a boneless, tenderized piece of meat that has been floured or battered and cooked in any of the methods described above or simply chicken which is cooked outdoors. Chicken fried steak and "country fried" boneless chicken breast are two common examples.

Global variants

Princes hot chicken
Nashville-style hot chicken with traditional accompaniments
Tori karaage by clanchou in Kanazawa, Ishikawa
Tori no karaage, Japanese fried chicken
Savory Restaurant fried chicken (Philippines)
HK Fried Chicken Leg
Hong Kong style fried chicken leg from Capital Café in Mong Kok

Throughout the world, different seasoning and spices are used to augment the flavor of fried chicken. Because of the versatility of fried chicken, it is not uncommon to flavor the chicken's crisp exterior with a variety of spices ranging from spicy to savory. Depending on regional market ubiquity, local spice variations may be labeled as distinct from traditional Southern U.S. flavors, or may appear on menus without notation. With access to chickens suitable for frying broadening on a global scale with the advent of industrialized poultry farming, many localities have added their own mark on fried chicken, tweaking recipes to suit local preferences.

North America

  • Barberton Chicken: also known as Serbian Fried Chicken, created by Serbian immigrants in Barberton, Ohio and has been popularized throughout Ohio.
  • Buffalo wings: Named for their place of origin, Buffalo, New York, this is one of the few kinds of fried chicken that is not traditionally battered before frying.
  • Buffalo strips, fingers, crisp wings and boneless wings: using the same cayenne-pepper sauce as Buffalo wings, these chicken products are battered before frying. See also: chicken fingers and chicken nuggets.
  • Chicken fingers: also known as chicken tenders or chicken strips, this is one of the most common forms of fried chicken, generally pieces of chicken breast (sometimes with rib meat) cut into long strips, breaded or battered dipped, and deep fried.
  • Chicken fries: chicken nuggets in the shape of French fries, popularized by the fast-food chains Burger King and KFC. These may also be referred to as chicken sticks.
  • Chicken Maryland, a form of pan-fried chicken, often marinated in buttermilk, served with cream gravy and native to the state of Maryland. The recipe spread beyond the United States to the haute cuisine of Auguste Escoffier and, after heavy modification, found a place in the cuisines of Britain and Australia. The dish is made when a pan of chicken pieces and fat, as for pan frying, is placed in the oven to cook, for a majority of the overall cooking time, basically "fried in the oven".
  • Chicken nuggets: an industrially reconstituted boneless chicken product invented by Cornell poultry science professor Robert C. Baker in the 1950s.
  • Popcorn chicken: occasionally known as chicken bites or other similar terms, small morsels of boneless chicken, battered and fried, resulting in little nuggets that resemble popcorn.
    • Popcorn chicken is also occasionally topped with peanuts, or peanut sauce.
  • Chicken patties: breaded, fried patties of chicken meat used in sandwiches.
  • Country Fried Chicken: chicken meat that has been coated with flour or breaded, fried and served topped with country cream gravy. Related tangentially to Chicken fried steak.
  • Chicken and waffles, a combination platter of foods traditionally served at breakfast and dinner in one meal, common to soul food restaurants in the American South and beyond.
  • Hot chicken: common in the Nashville, Tennessee area, a pan-fried variant of fried chicken coated with lard and cayenne pepper paste.
  • Fried chicken sandwiches: a bun, biscuit or doughnut which is filled with fried chicken and assorted toppings, popular in Washington, D.C.


Ayam goreng Kalasan (ayam kampung) Ayam Goreng Prambanan Bali
Javanese Ayam goreng Kalasan, Indonesian fried chicken, served with kremes crispy granules, sambal chili paste and steamed rice
  • Ayam goreng: various kinds of Indonesian, Singapore and Malaysian dish of chicken deep fried in coconut oil, this Southeast Asian version is absent of batter and richer in spices.
  • Chicken 65: is a deep-fried chicken dish from India.
  • Crispy fried chicken: a dish from the regional Cantonese cuisine of China.
  • Har Cheong Gai: a Singaporean chicken wings fried in a batter with fermented shrimp paste.
  • Salt and pepper chicken: (鹹酥雞 or 盐酥鸡) Cubes of chicken leg meat marinated and deep-fried, similar to karaage but flavoured with pepper salt and/or five-spice powder. Originating in Taiwanese night markets, it has also been popularized in North American Taiwanese bubble tea restaurants.
  • Taiwan fried chicken fillet: Chicken fillet prepared in a similar way to salt and pepper chicken, as one large piece eaten in a paper bag. Popular in Taiwanese night markets.
  • Chicken katsu: (チキンカツ), a Japanese panko-breaded, deep fried chicken cutlet, adapted from tonkatsu, a pork chop variant. Occasionally used in curry.
  • Korean fried chicken: (양념 치킨), fried chicken pieces flavored with Gochujang or ganjang based sauce with garlic.
  • Buldak: Spicy fried or barbecued chicken with Korean seasonings.
  • Prawn paste chicken or "shrimp paste chicken": popular in Hong Kong-style restaurants in Singapore and Malaysia. Incorporates puréed shrimp and ginger juice into its breading mixture.
  • Sweet and sour chicken: deep-fried balls of chicken breast in batter.
  • Toriten: Japanese tempura style fried chicken.
  • Chicken with chilies: (辣子鸡), a Sichuan-style dish with small deep-fried pieces of chicken that are then stir-fried with chilies.
Chicken 65 (Dish)
Chicken 65, a deep-fried chicken dish from India.
  • Chicken lollipop: An Indian snack of fried chicken drumettes, coated in a spiced batter and fried.

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