If the thought of frying chicken sends you into full excited mode, you're in the right place. Deep fryers cook whole birds quickly and produce crunchy, flavorful skin while ensuring the meat within remains moist and tender.
There are some rules to follow when deep frying poultry to make sure you cook your chicken fully and safely.
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Registered dietitian and chef, Julie Andrews, RDN, CD, spoke with LIVESTRONG.com on how to properly and safely fry a whole chicken, so you can get the best chicken every time you choose this cooking method.
How to Deep-Fry Whole Chicken
Things You'll Need
Canola or peanut oil
Deep frying thermometer
Digital meat thermometer
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and rub the ground black pepper and salt over its surface.
- Fill the deep fryer with canola or peanut oil, and then preheat it to a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully — serious injuries can occur if the deep fryer is misused.
- Place the chicken into the deep fryer carefully. Cook the chicken for 6 to 8 minutes per pound.
- Remove the chicken from the deep fryer and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Carve and serve the chicken while hot.
Refrigerate leftover deep-fried chicken immediately and enjoy it within 3 days.
Tips for Deep-Frying a Whole Chicken
Pick the Right Oil
The proper oil will make or break the flavor of your chicken, Andrews says. It's also important for both culinary and nutritional reasons. Andrews recommends using a standard vegetable oil or neutral high-heat oil like canola or peanut oil — these are both affordable and standard for deep frying.
From a nutrition standpoint, Andrews recommends canola or avocado oil. "Canola oil contains both omega 3 fatty acid (ALA) and monounsaturated fat and avocado oil consists mostly of monounsaturated fats, which are considered heart-healthy."
Pat-Dry Your Chicken First
Contrary to some popular chicken cooking advice, do not rinse your chicken before cooking — doing so could spread harmful germs around your kitchen, Andrews says.
"If the chicken is wet out of the package, "simply pat the chicken dry so the oil doesn't splatter when you add it to the hot oil and the skin gets crispy." Use a paper towel, so you can toss it in the trash and so it doesn't accidentally get used for something else.
Cook at the Correct Temperature for the Proper Time
Andrews recommends using a thermometer specifically designed for deep frying. Keep the oil temperature at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (prior to the chicken going in the oil and while it is cooking).
Whole chickens are typically less than 5 pounds, so they do not take as long to fry as a Thanksgiving turkey. It can take anywhere between 6 to 8 minutes per pound to be fully cooked.
Andrews sends out an important reminder: The best way to test for doneness is to insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the meat." It should read 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be sure it's fully cooked. Once you're sure it's done, let that bird rest so the juices return to the center of the meat for the best flavor.
Cooking Times Chart for Deep-Frying a Whole Chicken
Approximate Cooking Time
3 pounds to 3.5 pounds
20 to 25 minutes
4 pounds to 4.5 pounds
30 to 35 minutes
If you're unfamiliar with the deep fryer, or you do not have the manufacturer’s instruction booklet, do not attempt to operate it. Serious burns or dangerous fires can occur with misuse.