The Simple Step For Shatteringly Crisp Chicken Skin

It feels a little strange to talk about anything's skin too much, but crunchy, crispy chicken skin is good enough to be worth obsessing over. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say the most coveted part of any roast chicken isn't the legs or the breasts, but those little bits of extra crispy chicken skin that diners inevitably try to sneak a bite of before the bird is even carved. It's not hard to see why either: With its fatty, salty flavor and perfect crunch, it hits just about every pleasure center in your brain simultaneously. Chicken skin is good enough that you can make it into an ingredient or a snack all by itself.

The tough thing is getting really crispy skin on a piece of chicken isn't always an easy task. Chicken skin is naturally pretty fatty and moist, which means you need a lot of heat to render out all that liquid and get the skin to start crisping up. All that heat puts you at risk of overcooking the relatively lean chicken meat itself, giving you a bit of a conundrum. Do I want moist meat or crispy skin? Well, you don't actually have to make that choice if you take a few steps ahead of time — and the easiest and most essential one starts with your refrigerator.

Dry out your chicken in the fridge

Whether it's getting a crust on a steak, or a crispy pie bottom, it's true time and again that moisture is the enemy of crunch. That means drying, whether it's a whole bird or a skin on thigh, is the key to perfectly crisp chicken skin. This can be achieved simply by patting your chicken dry and putting it uncovered in the fridge overnight. The cold air will circulate around your chicken, evaporating the moisture and desiccating the skin. Then, when your chicken hits the pan, or the heat of the oven, it will have almost nothing in the way of water to steam out and the skin will harden.

While air drying alone will do a great job getting you crisp skin, that little overnight stay in the fridge (uncovered) also gives you the chance to add a few extra ingredients that take your chicken skin to the next level. Dry brining your chicken by salting it before you put it in the fridge will not only flavor it, but draw moisture from the skin, aiding in the air-drying process. You can also mix in some baking powder at a ratio of 1 teaspoon to 4 teaspoons of salt. Baking powder will break down the proteins in the skin, helping it render out fat and liquid easier and improving the browning. 

It starts in the fridge and ends with the crispiest chicken skin ever.