The goal for fried chicken is always the same: crunchy, flavorful chicken that is also tender on the inside. How do you get that divine combination? There are many ways, some methods even calling for boiling the chicken before frying it. But should you boil chicken then fry it? Or are you compromising the flavor?
Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
- Can You Boil Chicken Then Fry It?
- What Does Boiling Chicken Do To The Flavor?
- How to Boil Chicken Then Fry It
- Final Thoughts
Can You Boil Chicken Then Fry It?
Yes, you can boil chicken before frying it, but there is no guarantee that the chicken is going to be flavorful. It’s true that boiling or poaching chicken will make it much more tender—when done correctly.
The idea behind boiling chicken before frying it is that precooking speeds up the preparation and cook time. This also ensures that you are getting thoroughly cooked chicken.
What Does Boiling Chicken Do To The Flavor?
It depends. If you boil chicken the right way, which we talk about below, you get a super tender meat that falls right off the bone. That can be useful when you are frying up wings, thighs, and breasts. However, if you boil the chicken in super hot water with reducing the temperature, you end up with bland meat that doesn’t hold the crust.
Boiling chicken too quickly and in water that is too hot will make it slippery. You will have difficulties breading the meat.
How to Boil Chicken Then Fry It
British chef Nigella Lawson created a recipe that calls for boiling chicken in milk for 20 minutes. After you finish boiling, dredge the chicken in your flour and fry it up. According to Lawson, boiling in milk instead of water acts as a marinade that tenderizes the meat. You don’t lose any flavor, and you also cut down on the time it takes to fry the meat.
You can also poach the meat with vegetables. Use water or broth, chicken breasts (or thighs, legs, and wings), thyme, sage, pepper, and soup vegetables and bring it to a boil at medium-high heat on the stove top. Once you get it to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pan. Let the meat simmer for about 40-50 minutes.
Afterwards, remove the chicken from the heat and wait for it to cool.
Here’s a video guide to boiling a whole chicken prior to frying, which covers the essentials:
Frying Boiled Chicken
Once you’ve boiled or poached the chicken, it’s time to fry it up right. You will need:
- Dried herbs and seasonings
- Boiled skinless chicken breasts, thighs, legs, or wings
- Dump 2 cups of flour on a plate and mix in your seasonings. Use about 1 cup flour for 4 chicken breasts. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep skillet. The heat should reach around 375 degrees F before cooking the chicken.
- On a separate plate, crack 2-3 eggs. Gently beat.
- Using tongs, pick up a piece of boiled chicken. Dip the meat into the egg, making sure it’s coated. Then roll the chicken in the flour, again coating it completely. Repeat for all pieces.
- Drop the battered boiled chicken gently into the oil. Use tongs to keep your skin away from splattering oil.
- Cover the skillet and let the meat cook for about 3-4 minutes. The batter should be crisp and brown before flipping. Once flipped, let the chicken fry for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Drain the chicken on a paper towel before serving it.
If you ever wondered if you should boil chicken wings before frying, you hopefully have your answer now. Boiling chicken before frying is an unnecessary step, as most recipes will ask you to marinade the chicken anyway. Furthermore, boiling chicken the wrong way might drain it of nutrients and flavor. Frying boiled chicken is also more difficult, but it is doable.
Have you boiled chicken before frying before? Let us know how it went!
How long should you boil chicken before frying?
You should boil chicken for 20 minutes at a low temperature, depending on what you are using. Poaching chicken takes around 45 minutes. The longer you boil it, the greater the chance of making the meat too tough and bland.
How do you fry chicken after boiling it?
Boiling chicken before frying only reduces the time it takes to fry the chicken. You can follow the same recipe for fried chicken that you normally would. Just be mindful of how long the chicken spends in the oil.
Is KFC chicken boiled first?
No, KFC does not boil their chicken before frying it. Here is what really happens: Before coating the chicken in the breading, the meat is dipped in cold water (or brine water). Doing so helps the flour stick to the chicken better, so you get a more dense breading after it fries.
Does boiling chicken make it tender?
There is a common misconception that boiling meat will tenderize it. In reality, boiling chicken at high temperatures will make the meat much more tough and chewy. The best way to boil chicken is to poach it, or simmer the meat in water at a low temperature for a longer period. This will infuse the chicken with moisture and make it fall off the bones easier, which is ideal for recipes that call for shredded chicken.