Chicken is one of the most loved foods in the entire world. Truly chickens are fantastic creatures.
They can turn table scraps into delicious, nutritious, protein-packed, hygienically sealed snacks – otherwise known as eggs ;).
For quick and easy steps, dive right in the details with a brief infographic guide below!
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They also taste delicious fried in vegetable oil (or other oils, check out our oil selection guide here) and are a great source of protein that way too. Here’s a quick and handy guide for how to deep fry chicken:
What temperature to deep fry chicken?
350°F to 375°F (117°C to 191°C) is the best temperature for deep frying chicken; some oils smoke at higher temps, and at lower temps the oil can drop too low when you add the chicken to the oil. Smaller cuts (wings, etc) tend more towards the 350°F side of the spectrum while the larger pieces (thighs, breast, whole chicken) tend more towards the 375°F level.
On most deep fryers without an actual temperature gauge, this would be medium-high heat. If you’re not sure on your deep fryer, consider using a deep-fry thermometer for the first time to get an idea.
If you’re frying room temperature pieces of chicken, you’d stick to the lower ranges of time as stated below; frozen chicken would be at the higher end of the ranges.
How long to deep fry chicken wings?
About 10 minutes at 375°F (191°C); check the larges wing for doneness – clear juices and nice white meat mean you’re done and ready to feast.
How long to deep fry chicken legs?
About 15 minutes at 375°F (191°C); to check for doneness, slice open the meatiest portion of one of the larger legs and check for clear running juices. If that’s what you see, let them cool somewhat and then enjoy! See our full guide for how to fry chicken legs here.
How long to deep fry chicken breast?
About 14-17 minutes at 375°F (191°C); if you want to cook them faster, then slice them into strips and cook for 6-8 minutes instead. This is assuming you’re using boneless skinless chicken breasts.
How long to deep fry chicken tenders?
About 6-8 minutes at 375°F (191°C); most chicken tenders are pre-cooked from the store and if this is the case, as long as the outside is crispy you are good to go. If you made them yourself, make sure the juices run clear and there’s no red at all. If there is, simply cook for 1-2 minutes longer and check again.
How long to deep fry chicken thighs?
About 15 minutes at 375°F (191°C); to check for doneness, remove the largest thigh and using a knife and fork open the meatiest portion of the thigh and check to make sure the juices run clear. Deep fried chicken thighs are one of the best parts of the chicken! You’ll want to move wings from their top spot once you’ve tried these!
How long to deep fry chicken nuggets?
About 4 minutes at 350°F (191°C); most nuggets come precooked, so as long as the outside is a nice crispy golden brown they should be suitable for eating!
How long to deep fry a whole chicken?
Heat oil to 350°F and cook for about 4 minutes per pound. To check for doneness, insert a meat thermometer into the breast and you want to see an internal temperature of 165
How to know when chicken is done?
As noted in almost all of the ones above, the best practice is to find the largest part of the piece of meat you are frying since it stands to reason the largest piece will take the longest to cook. Once you’ve found the largest piece, cut it open – be aware it will be VERY HOT! Use great caution, and don’t put your eyes directly above the piece either, because sometimes steam will be released and go…straight up into unwary eyes.
Once you’ve cut it open, look to see if the juices are clear; if you see any hint of redness in the juice or meat, cook it a bit longer. Unlike beef, which can be served rare (partially bloody), chicken blood should never be ingested. It can cause severe sickness if it is!
What is the best oil for deep frying chicken?
Opinions vary of course, but some things to consider are:
High smoke point:
Some oils have a smoke point under 400°F, and if you’re cooking the chicken at 375°F you might hit that smoke point and end up setting off the smoke alarm in your house. Smoke will also negatively affect the taste of the chicken.
Some oils have a strong flavor that can get transferred to the piece of meat you are cooking; this can also be less than desirable.
With these points in mind, the best oil for deep frying chicken is peanut oil since it has a high smoke point, and no flavor transfer. Vegetable shortening and lard are also good options. See here for our breakdown of what oil is best to use in a deep fryer.
Tip for deep frying breaded chicken pieces:
If you are breading chicken pieces before deep frying, be sure to do so only just before cooking. If you don’t, the bread crumbs will become soggy from the egg mixture (often whole egg mixed with all-purpose flour and other ingredients) or whatever you’ve coated the chicken with in order to make the bread crumbs stick. This will affect how the pieces of chicken turn out when done!
If you want the very best results, dip the chicken into the egg mixture, then coat with bread crumbs and place the chicken gently into the deep fryer for the time as stated above (varies per cut of chicken).
Placing the cooked chicken onto paper towels after cooking can allow some of the cooking oil to be removed for a less oily experience.
Salt and or pepper make great toppings and will really bring out the flavor of the cooked meat; southern fried chicken is an all time favorite!
Check out or most recommended deep fryer here: