Can You Boil Chicken Before Frying It?

Boiling chicken before frying it can compromise the flavor of the finished product if you don't do it the right way.
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Chicken is a quality protein to add to your diet. Fried varieties should only be eaten as occasional treats, due to the extra calories and fat. If you're going to invest the time making fried chicken, you want the best fried chicken recipe possible — and boiling before frying chicken isn't really necessary.

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You’re better off going the classic route when it comes to making fried chicken. Use a flavorful marinade to soak your chicken pieces, bread them and then fry the chicken at a low heat until the coating is golden brown. Boiling in advance is not necessary.

Why You Shouldn't Boil Chicken Before Frying

If you cook up your fried chicken with a good recipe, you'll have a winning dish. If you're tempted to boil it first to speed up the cooking process or you believe it will make your chicken more tender, step away from the pot of water.

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It's simply not necessary to boil chicken before frying it, and you may actually compromise the taste of your dish.

While you can technically boil chicken before frying it, you'll end up with a compromised flavor and, possibly, a crust that falls right off. Most recipes call for a flavorful marinade to be applied to the chicken before frying; boiling it first rinses this marinade off.

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Boiling the chicken makes it extra slippery, too, so your breading mixture may have a hard time clinging to the skin on your chicken pieces.

Classic Fried Chicken

A classic fried chicken recipe involves first soaking the chicken in a flavorful marinade consisting of buttermilk and spices such as cayenne, salt and oregano. Let the parts soak for a minimum of 4 hours, or up to 24 hours.

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Next, you'll bread the chicken in your coating of choice and fry at a relatively low temperature of about 350 F, according to the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

When the chicken is a deep golden brown, it's likely done. Do check it with a food thermometer to ensure it reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 F or above, according to the USDA.

The Best Way to Boil Chicken Before Frying

All this being said, precooking does offer you the advantage of knowing that the chicken is already fully cooked to a safe temperature in advance. You don't have to rely on the frying process to do this job, and can focus on finding the ideal flavor and texture.

So while it's not necessary, it is possible to boil chicken before frying, and you don't have to totally ruin the flavor of your dish.

One recipe for boiling chicken, created by British chef Nigella Lawson, calls for boiling chicken in milk for about 20 minutes. Then you dredge and fry the chicken pieces.

This shortcut will help you cut down your frying time, but you'll need to put lots of flavor into the breading since you're skipping the marinating step. Follow these instructions for flavorful fried chicken:

Things You'll Need

  • Pack of chicken pieces

  • 3-4 cups milk

  • Large pot

  • Deep skillet or electric skillet with lid

  • Cooking oil

  • Plates

  • Flour

  • Dried herbs and spices

  • Fork

  • Whole eggs

  • Tongs

  • Paper towels

  • Serving platter

Step 1: Boil the Chicken

In a large pot, add your milk and boil your chicken pieces in the milk for 20 minutes, then set aside. Allow the chicken to cool and dry before you proceed.

Step 2: Heat the Oil

Pour cooking oil into a deep skillet or an electric skillet. Turn the heat to medium-high and heat the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3: Season Your Breading

Dump a cup or two of flour onto a plate. Add any dried herbs and seasonings that you like, such as black pepper, onion powder and paprika to make your breading. Plan on about 1 cup of flour for 3 chicken drumsticks. While the oil is heating, stir the flour and seasonings with a fork until everything is blended.

Step 4: Beat the Eggs

Crack 2 or 3 eggs onto a separate plate for every 3 chicken pieces. Gently beat the eggs with a fork.

Step 5: Bread the Chicken

Pick up a piece of boiled chicken using a pair of tongs and dip it in the beaten eggs until it's well coated on all sides. Roll the egg-coated chicken in the flour mixture until it's evenly coated on all sides.

Step 6: Fry the Chicken

Transfer the battered chicken to the hot oil using a pair of tongs. Do this so that your hand and arm are farther away from the hot oil, which can splatter as you add the chicken.

Repeat the battering process with the remaining pieces of boiled chicken, adding them to the hot oil as you go.

Step 7: Let it Cook

Cover the skillet and allow the chicken to cook for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the battered coating has become crisp and turned golden brown.

Step 8: Flip and Cook Some More

Flip each piece of chicken using a pair of tongs. Cover the skillet and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, or until the second side is crisp and golden brown. Since the chicken is already boiled, you don't need to worry about cooking it all the way through.

Step 9: Remove and Drain

Remove the chicken from the skillet using a pair of tongs. Drain the chicken on paper towels before serving it. This soaks up a bit of the cooking oil, which reduces the overall fat in the fried chicken.

Baking Chicken Before Frying

Another way to precook chicken before frying it is to bake the pieces prior to cooking. Baking first helps save time when frying and preserves all the flavor of your marinade.

To bake chicken before frying, marinate your chicken for 4 to 24 hours, then place the chicken into an oven that's heated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Let it cook for 30 to 40 minutes — so the thickest parts cook up to 165 F internally, especially near the bone. Allow it to cool before breading and frying in oil, reducing your frying time to 3 to 4 minutes per side.

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