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How do you fix salty fried food?

Using vegetables or potatoes

If you’ve oversalted a fried food like french fries or fried chicken, you can use starchy vegetables or potatoes to help absorb some of the excess salt. Cut up some potato chunks or sliced vegetables like carrots, parsnips or celery. Add them to the fried food and stir thoroughly to coat them in oil and seasonings. The natural starch in potatoes and vegetables will help absorb and balance out some of the saltiness. This trick works best with fried foods versus baked or broiled.

Diluting with unsalted ingredients

Another strategy is to dilute the salty fried food by mixing in additional unsalted ingredients. For example, if you have salty fried chicken, mix in some boneless, skinless chicken breasts. If the french fries are too salty, add in some unseasoned potato wedges or tater tots. The unsalted items will help absorb and cut down the overall saltiness. You can also try adding unsalted vegetables, rice, pasta or bread. Crunchy items work especially well.

Make a sauce or gravy

Making a sauce, gravy or dip is an easy way to mask and balance out overly salty fried foods. For example, serve salty fried chicken with gravy or ranch dressing for dipping. Or make a honey-mustard sauce for salty fried catfish. For french fries, ketchup, ranch or cheese sauce can help temper the saltiness. The key is to make the sauce slightly sweet and tangy to counteract the salt. Thick, creamy sauces work best at coating and camouflaging the salt.

Bread or starch coating

If you breaded or battered fried foods with a salty seasoning blend, you can dilute it by adding plain bread or starch crumbs. For example, cut chicken breasts in half horizontally to make thin cutlets. Dredge them in a 50/50 blend of salty seasoned breadcrumbs and unseasoned panko. Or toss fried shrimp in a mix of salty cornmeal and plain flour or cornstarch. The plain coating will scale back the overall saltiness. This trick works best when frying foods with a wet batter and dry breading.

Quick rinse

For fried foods like fries or chicken tenders, you can quickly rinse them after frying to remove excess surface seasoning. After frying, transfer them to a colander and rinse with warm water for 10-30 seconds. Gently shake to remove excess water. The quick rinse will dilute the salty exterior coating while keeping the interior nicely seasoned. Be sure to pat dry with paper towels before serving.

Remake with less salt

If the fried food is severely oversalted, the simplest solution can be remaking it with less or no salt added. For example, if the fried chicken breading is far too salty, scrape off the coating, re-dip in egg wash and bread with plain panko. Or for French fries, cut up new potatoes and fry in fresh oil with little to no salt. This ensures you end up with an evenly seasoned fried food. It may be time-consuming but necessary in some cases.

Embrace the salt

Sometimes it’s easiest to embrace the salt level and find ways to make it work. Extra salty fried chicken or fries go great with icy cold beers or lemonade. The high salt content also makes fried foods more craveable. Another option is to purposely pair salty fried foods with bland sides or desserts. The saltiness can help balance out the meal. If you’re eating salty fried foods as an appetizer, follow up with an unseasoned main course.


Fixing overly salty fried foods takes a bit of cleverness and improvisation. Absorbing the salt with starchy vegetables or unseasoned ingredients works well. Making a sweet and tangy sauce or gravy can mask the saltiness. For heavily breaded items, you may need to remover the coating and start over. Rinsing or soaking can help in some cases too. If all else fails, use it as an excuse to drink more cold beverages. With the right techniques and pairings, it’s possible to salvage even the saltiest fried foods.

Method Best for How it Works
Using vegetables or potatoes French fries, fried chicken Starch absorbs excess salt
Diluting with unsalted ingredients Fried chicken, fries Plain items balance out saltiness
Making a sauce or gravy Fried chicken, fish, fries Sweet, creamy sauces mask salt flavor
Bread or starch coating Breaded fried foods Plain coating lowers overall salt content
Quick rinse French fries, chicken tenders Removes excess surface seasoning
Remake with less salt Severely oversalted foods Ensures even, moderate seasoning

Tips for frying at the ideal temperature

Frying at the proper oil temperature is key for achieving perfectly cooked, crispy fried foods. Here are some tips:

Use a thermometer

Don’t guess – use a deep fry or candy thermometer clipped to the side of the pot to monitor the temperature. The optimal frying temperature is 350-375°F.

Allow the oil to preheat

Heat up the oil to the desired temperature before adding any food. Don’t overcrowd the pot which can cause the temperature to drop dramatically.

Adjust the heat as needed

Increase the heat to bring the oil back up to temperature between batches. Turn down the heat if it climbs over 375°F.

Fry in small batches

Fry food in small batches so the oil temp doesn’t drop too much. Allow the oil to come back up to temp between batches for even cooking.

Use a heavy, high-sided pot

Choose a heavy pot like a Dutch oven to retain heat evenly. Make sure the pot is deep enough so the oil only fills it halfway.

Let foods rest before frying

Dry wet batters thoroughly before frying so the oil doesn’t bubble and splatter. Pat foods dry so the coating adheres.

Don’t overfill the pot

Overfilling will cause the oil temperature to drop drastically. Use a higher walled pot if needed to allow food to fry freely.

Blot fried foods

Blot fried foods after cooking to remove excess exterior oil. Allowing them to rest on a rack or paper towels prevents sogginess.

Watch for smoking oil

If the oil starts smoking, immediately turn down the heat. Smoking oil leads to burnt, bitter food and can be dangerous.

Healthier frying tips

Although fried foods have a reputation for being unhealthy, there are ways to make them a bit better for you:

Use healthier oils

Opt for heart-healthy frying oils like avocado, coconut or olive oil. Avoid reusing oil which increases free radicals.

Cut back on added salt

Skip added salt in batter or breading so you control the sodium content. Season lightly after frying.

Choose lean proteins

Fry proteins low in saturated fat like chicken breast, white fish or extra firm tofu. Avoid fatty meats like bacon.

Coat thinly

Use very thin breading or batters to cut down on excess carbohydrates. Dredge foods in flour, not thick batter.

Bake instead of fry

For lower fat, bake foods on a sheet pan instead of deep frying. Spritz with oil to make crispy.

Watch portions

Fried foods have lots of calories so keep portions small. Fill up on salad and roasted veggies on the side.

Make your own

You control exactly what goes into homemade fried foods. Avoid heavy restaurant appetizers and sides.


While deep frying inevitably adds more fat and calories, there are techniques to enjoy this cooking method a bit more healthfully. Choosing healthy oils, lean proteins, and lighter breadings helps balance out fried foods. Baking instead of frying and watching portions also reduces the unhealthy factor. Most importantly, savoring homemade fried foods in moderation allows you to indulge while being mindful.