The Likely Reason Your Fried Food Didn't Turn Out Crispy Enough

Fried food might seem like a category best relegated to restaurants and fast food spots — until you make some homemade fried chicken yourself, of course. You might be scared away (understandably) by the prospect of a pot of hot oil bubbling away in your home kitchen. You might think that you could do without easy access to fatty, salty fried food, and it's best kept as a take-out treat. Then you try your hand at some homemade French fries, realize you can make something that good at home, and suddenly your Dutch oven is seeing more fried shrimp than braised beef. It's empowering to realize something you always associated with restaurants is within your reach as a home cook.

That doesn't mean frying food at home doesn't have its pitfalls and common mistakes. That hot oil really can do some damage, which is why you shouldn't fry wet food. The Spruce Eats also warns that improperly fried food can easily turn out undercooked inside if you don't know the right temperature at which to cook them. But despite the trouble frying can sometimes present, it's truly the optimal way to prepare certain dishes, which is why it's a real bummer when your fried treats end up less crispy than they ought to be. What do you need to do to avoid this sad fate?

Keep the oil temperature up for crispy fried food

Getting perfectly fried food is all about maintaining a balanced temperature. If the oil's too hot, you are going to turn your food black instead of a nice golden brown. And when things turn out soggy, that usually means the oil temperature was too low. When it comes to battered foods, according to Bon Appétit, the lower the temperature, the longer your batter is sitting in the pot absorbing oil, which can lead to a dark, unappetizing oil-laden crust.  

It's not just about starting your oil hot enough either, as Taste of Home notes that overcrowding your pot when you start frying can lower the temperature too much, with the same disappointing result. You also need to wait for the oil to reheat between batches, as it will cook at a lower temperature than you initially raised it to.

What temperature should you be aiming for to get that perfect crisp? Cook's Illustrated states that most fried things will be cooked between 325 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Even after the initial temperature drop, you want to keep the temperature in the high 200s or low 300s to prevent excess oil absorption. Of course, all of this can be helped by keeping a good candy or meat thermometer on hand. Simply keep that temperature in the right range and soon you'll be cranking out some perfectly battered and fried fish that even the best seafood shacks can't compete with.