The Best Oil Temperature For Making Fried Chicken

Fried chicken is one of the most deliciously indulgent comfort foods out there. Its juicy, well-seasoned meat is the perfect accompaniment to other soul food classics such as mac and cheese and cornbread. A dish that's been perfected across the American South (via First We Feast), fried chicken typically consists of hefty, bone-in pieces of poultry that are marinated in a buttermilk brine before being dredged in seasoned flour and fried in plenty of hot oil — though around the world, the basic preparation takes many different forms, including Cantonese crispy chicken in China and Chicken Kiev in the Ukraine, Russia, and Poland.

As anyone who loves fried chicken knows, the dish has the potential for greatness — and it also often falls flat, whether it's under-salted, bogged down by a too-greasy crust, or even raw in the middle. Other than making sure your seasoning game is on point, perhaps the best insurance for creating perfect fried chicken is frying the bird at the correct temperature, as too-cold or too-hot oil can both wreak havoc on this classic.

Aim for an oil temperature of 300 to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

Have you ever had the misfortune of biting into fried chicken whose crust was burnt on the outside but whose meat was raw in the middle — or whose crust was lackluster, pale, and greasy? These goof-ups are all too common when it comes to preparing fried chicken, and they can all be attributed to frying the bird in oil that's too hot or too cold, respectively (via Bon Appétit). When frying chicken, correctly calibrating the frying temperature is the most important step you can take towards turning out a perfect bird.

As explained by Southern Living, doing so is a matter of starting the cold chicken in very hot oil, because the meat will drop the temperature down quickly. The outlet advises using a thermometer to get the oil up to about 360 degrees Fahrenheit, which will drop down to around 300 degrees when you add a few pieces of chicken. As you fry the meat in batches, you should tinker with the flame below the skillet in order to keep the oil's temperature hovering between 300 and 325 degrees Fahrenheit — a temp that's hot enough to brown and crisp the crust, while also allowing the chicken pieces to cook through in a reasonable amount of time, a little less than half an hour, according to the outlet's recipe for Mama's Fried Chicken.

Cook's Country agrees that the frying temperature should remain between 300 and 325 degrees but notes that the oil can by anywhere between 350 to 375 degrees prior to the initial drop.