Labneh Is The Creamy Secret Ingredient For Next Level Fried Chicken

While in the Western imagination, fried chicken is inextricably linked to classic American cuisine, cultures from all corners of the world have put their unique stamps on the dish. There's the popular Korean version of fried chicken and India's spicy Chicken 65 (a.k.a. Chennai fried chicken). Clearly, this particular type of dish lends itself well to a range of different ingredients found across the globe. So, it should come as no surprise that a Middle Eastern staple like labneh can serve as the ultimate ingredient for fried chicken.

For those unfamiliar, labneh is a dairy product that falls somewhere between cheese and yogurt. It's extra-strained until most of the liquid is removed, resulting in a thick and creamy spread traditionally enjoyed plain as a dip. But if you get a little creative, labneh can also be used as an unexpected ingredient to take your batch of fried chicken to the next level.

Marinate your chicken in labneh before frying

If you've made fried chicken before, you know that step one of any good recipe is soaking the cuts in a buttermilk bath. Because it's been fermented or cultured, buttermilk features a good amount of lactic acid, which provides a tangy flavor and helps break down the protein in chicken, leading to more tender meat. Labneh is similarly fermented to achieve its yogurt-like taste and consistency. It also contains a high amount of the acid, making it an ideal buttermilk substitute for marinating chicken before frying.

And because labneh is thicker and creamier, it can hold onto the flour (or cornflake) coating better than the liquidy buttermilk, and it will remain stuck to the chicken during frying. Since lactic acid also acts as a leavening agent, it helps create a thick and fluffy outer shell while maintaining a moist, tender bite of meat within.

To achieve the perfect serving of fried chicken with a Middle Eastern twist, you can create a marinade by mixing labneh with hot sauce and some of your favorite spices and soaking your chicken in it for at least a few hours (although you can leave it overnight, as well). Bread the labneh-coated pieces in your dry ingredients before frying, and when you finally get a piece on your plate, you'll taste the juicy difference.