The Unexpected Fat To Fry In For More Flavorful Fried Chicken

If you look up the term "textural contrast" in the dictionary, you may see fried chicken listed as the example picture. That's because of the crispy skin and tender meat pairing, which is enhanced by many things, like the choice of marinade and type of fat for frying.

Not just any fat can be used to make fried chicken. For instance, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseed oil, and butter all have smoke points that are at 325 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, per Lacademie. On the other hand, fats like vegetable shortening, lard, peanut oil, and canola oil have much higher smoking points and are considered to be some of the best options for frying via WebstaurantStore. (Lard and vegetable shortening, in particular, are Southern favorites).

But the world is huge, and so is the list of other frying oil options. And we've got an unexpected one that will add way more flavor to your next batch of fried chicken.

Duck fat gives your fried chicken a decadent flavor

Chefs and home cooks alike use duck meat in dishes like duck confit and braised duck. But the real treasure lies in duck fat, which enhances flavor profiles and the crispy textures of foods like fried chicken, per Duck Char. Its flavor is said to be rich (which translates to the food that cooks in it), and its 375 degrees Fahrenheit smoke point makes it ideal for deep-frying.

Duck fat also helps to level up your fried chicken by adding a subtle element of decadence to it, per Food & Wine. As D'Artagnan explains, the pros are drawn to duck fat for its silkiness, as well as how it puts some extra oomph into just about any fried recipe. And this also goes for side dishes like french fries or vegetables and condiments like mayonnaise and salad dressings. (Aka, it's pretty versatile).

To use duck fat for fried chicken, Restaurant Hospitality suggests heating it to 350 Fahrenheit and frying the chicken pieces for three to four minutes (though this may vary greatly depending on how big the pieces are, as well as how many you're cooking at a time). In addition, you need to make sure the meat is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before consuming, per the USDA. So, next time you're making fried chicken, opt for duck fat to make it more elegant, flavorful, and ultra-crispy.