Having your breading fall off fried chicken can be frustrating. You put time and effort into breading your chicken, only to have it slide right off after frying or baking. Luckily, there are some simple tricks you can use to help your breading adhere better to the chicken.
Buttermilk is a popular ingredient in fried chicken batter. The lactic acid in buttermilk helps break down the proteins on the surface of the chicken, allowing the breading to better stick. To use buttermilk, simply soak your chicken pieces in buttermilk for 30 minutes to an hour before breading. The longer you soak, the better the buttermilk can work its magic.
Double dipping your chicken helps build up a thicker breading layer. First dip the chicken in flour or cornstarch, then buttermilk or egg, and lastly back into the flour or breadcrumbs. This will create multiple layers of coating, giving you a thicker armor around the chicken. Just be sure to shake off any excess between each dip to prevent clumping.
Use Egg Wash
An egg wash also helps adhere breading to chicken. Whisk together an egg with 1-2 tablespoons water or milk. After dredging chicken in flour, dip it into the egg mixture, allowing any excess to drip off. Then place into your breadcrumbs. The egg proteins will bind the flour and breading together.
Press Breadcrumbs In
Rather than just letting breadcrumbs loosely coat the chicken, press them into the chicken to adhere better. After dipping into egg wash, place chicken into breadcrumbs and gently yet firmly press the crumbs into the surface. This helps create a thicker coating that will hold on tighter during frying.
Let It Rest
After breading your chicken, place it on a baking sheet or plate and allow it to rest in the fridge for 15-30 minutes. This allows the breading time to better adhere to the chicken before cooking. The chilled rest also helps prevent crumbs from falling off when you handle it.
Use Sturdy Breadcrumbs
The type of breadcrumbs you use will impact how well they hold onto the chicken. Dried breadcrumbs will fall off easier. For a sturdier coating, use fresh breadcrumbs made from crusty artisanal breads. Panko crumbs are another good option, as they have a coarser texture to grip the chicken better.
Bake Instead of Frying
Frying can shock chicken and cause the breading to peel off. For better adherence, try baking your breaded chicken. Bake at 375°F for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and breading is crispy. The more gentle heat of the oven will set the breading rather than immediately separating it from the chicken.
Use Egg and Flour
For a basic breading that sticks, combine flour and egg. In one bowl whisk together eggs. In another bowl, season flour with salt, pepper, herbs, and any other spices. Dip chicken pieces in flour, then egg, then back into the flour. Fry until golden brown and crispy. The egg will bind the flour together for a super adhesive coating.
Include Some Cornstarch
Adding a bit of cornstarch into your flour mixture will help cling the breading to the chicken. About 1-2 tablespoons per cup of flour is perfect. The cornstarch absorbs moisture and creates a tackiness that makes the flour adhere better. Just stir it into your seasoned flour before dredging the chicken.
Use Thicker Cuts of Chicken
Boneless chicken breasts and thinner cuts will be trickier to keep breading on compared to meatier pieces. Opt for chicken thighs, drumsticks, wings, or tenderloins to make breading stick better. Their thicker shape and skin help the coating grip and hold on through cooking. Just be sure to deeply score or poke holes in the meat so the breading can grab on.
Keep Oil Temp Steady
Uneven oil temperature while frying can cause breading to loosen and separate. Maintain your fryer or pot of oil at a steady 325-350°F. Use a thermometer and adjust the heat to keep in the ideal range. Starting with properly preheated oil and controlling the temperature will prevent the breading from peeling off.
Dry Chicken Thoroughly
Excess moisture on the chicken will prevent breading from properly adhering. After brining or buttermilk soaking, be sure to thoroughly pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Allowing excess water to drip off and drying will help the flour and breadcrumbs stick better instead of sliding off.
Frying or baking too many breaded chicken pieces together may steam the breading off in spots. Overcrowding the pan causes moisture to build up, leading to soggy breading that falls off. Fry or bake just a few pieces at a time so air can circulate and keep things crispy.
Use Instant ClearJel
ClearJel is a modified corn starch that can help bind fried foods. Add 2-3 teaspoons of instant ClearJel per cup of flour in your breading station. This helps absorb moisture and creates a tacky breading that seals and adheres to the chicken. It will stay crispy and not fall off during frying.
Breading Tips and Tricks
Here are some additional useful tips for getting your chicken breading to stick:
- Chill chicken in fridge for 30 minutes before breading to help coating stick better.
- Use coarsely ground breadcrumbs rather than super fine.
- Press breading onto chicken rather than just dipping.
- Let breaded chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before frying or baking.
- Spray a light coating of oil onto chicken before applying breadcrumbs.
- Replace some flour with cornstarch for added crispness.
With a few simple techniques, you can keep that breading crisp and clinging to your chicken through frying or baking. Proper preparation of the chicken, using adhesion boosters like eggs or buttermilk, and carefully controlling cooking temperatures will prevent soggy crumbs and bare spots. Now you can fry up heapingplatters of chicken without losing your coating.