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How many minutes per pound to deep fry a whole chicken?


Deep frying a whole chicken can yield incredibly moist, tender meat with crispy, golden brown skin when done properly. The key is making sure the chicken is cooked through to a safe internal temperature while avoiding overcooking it. So how long should you deep fry a whole chicken? The general guideline is to fry a whole chicken for 12-15 minutes per pound at 350°F. But there are some additional factors to consider.

Recommended Deep Frying Time Per Pound

The most common recommendation is to deep fry a whole chicken for 12-15 minutes per pound at 350°F oil temperature. This allows enough time for the heat to fully penetrate the chicken and cook it through without drying it out.

Here are the estimated frying times based on chicken weight:

Chicken Weight Frying Time
3 lbs 36-45 minutes
4 lbs 48-60 minutes
5 lbs 60-75 minutes

As you can see, a heavier chicken will need more frying time per pound than a lighter one. This is because the heat takes longer to fully penetrate to the center of a large chicken.

Key Considerations

When determining the frying time, there are a few important factors to keep in mind:

– Oil temperature – The oil should be maintained at 350°F. Higher heat will cause the outside to burn before the inside is done. Lower heat will increase the cook time.

– Chicken temperature – The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165°F in the thighs and at least 155°F in the breasts when done.

– Chicken size – Larger chickens will need more time than smaller ones. Plan for 12-15 minutes per pound.

– Thawed vs. frozen – Frozen chickens will take 50% longer to fry than thawed ones. Be sure to account for this.

– Oil amount – Having enough oil to submerge the chicken is key. Too little oil means uneven cooking.

Step-By-Step Frying Instructions

Here is a simple walkthrough for deep frying a whole chicken:

1. Prepare the chicken

– Thaw completely if frozen. Do not fry a frozen chicken.
– Remove giblets and neck from the chicken cavities.
– Dry the skin thoroughly with paper towels.
– Season the outside with salt, pepper, spices, or batter if desired.
– Tuck the wings under the shoulders.
– Tie the legs together with butcher’s twine.

2. Prepare the oil

– Use a heavy pot or deep fryer designed for frying.
– Add 3-4 quarts of frying oil, like peanut or canola oil.
– Heat to 350°F degrees over medium heat. Use a thermometer.

3. Fry the chicken

– Gently lower the seasoned chicken into the hot oil using tongs.
– Fry for estimated time based on size, around 12-15 minutes per pound.
– Flip chicken occasionally for even cooking.
– Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thighs and breast.
– Fry until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F in the thighs and 155°F in the breasts.

4. Remove and drain

– Once fully cooked, carefully remove chicken from oil using tongs.
– Allow oil to drain off by holding it over the pot briefly.
– Place chicken on a wire rack or paper towels to drain.

5. Check doneness

– Double check the internal temperature in multiple spots.
– If needed, return to oil for 2-3 minutes to finish cooking.
– Once done, let rest 5 minutes before carving.

Tips for Crispy, Juicy Deep Fried Chicken

Achieving perfectly fried chicken that is moist on the inside and crispy on the outside takes some finesse. Here are some helpful tips:

Use the right oil

The oil significantly impacts the end result. Opt for neutral tasting oils with high smoke points like peanut or canola oil. Avoid olive oil, which can impart flavor.

Maintain oil temperature

Heating the oil properly and regulating the temperature is key. Use a thermometer and adjust the heat to keep the oil consistently at 350°F.

Dry the chicken well

Ensure the chicken is very thoroughly patted dry before frying. Any moisture on the skin will make it steam instead of fry.

Don’t crowd the pot

Fry the chicken in batches if needed to avoid crowding the pot. Overcrowding lowers the oil temperature.

Allow chicken to rest

Letting the chicken drain on a rack and rest for 5+ minutes allows moisture to redistribute for a juicier bird. Dig in once it cools slightly.

Monitor oil quality

The oil will degrade with extended frying. Replace it once it becomes too dark or develops an off flavor.

How Long Does Fried Chicken Last?

Properly stored, fried chicken will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. Here are some storage tips:

– Allow fried chicken to cool completely before refrigerating.
– Place chicken in a sealed container or resealable plastic bag.
– Refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking.
– Use leftover fried chicken within 3-4 days for best quality.
– Reheating fried chicken in a 400°F oven helps revive the crispy texture.

Do not keep fried chicken at room temperature for more than 2 hours. To freeze, allow chicken to cool fully then wrap tightly in plastic wrap, foil or freezer bags. Frozen fried chicken maintains quality for 2-3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator before reheating.

Is Deep Fried Chicken Healthy?

While delicious, deep fried chicken is high in fat and calories compared to other cooking methods. A 3 oz serving of fried chicken thigh contains approximately:

Calories Total Fat Saturated Fat
245 15g 4g

Despite this, fried chicken can be enjoyed occasionally as part of an overall balanced diet. Here are some tips for making it slightly healthier:

– Use boneless, skinless chicken pieces to reduce fat and calories.
– Opt for lighter batters like egg white-based recipes. Avoid heavy breading.
– Drain on paper towels to absorb excess grease after cooking.
– Enjoy fried chicken in moderation along with veggies and whole grains.

While deep frying makes chicken more caloric overall, your oil choice can also impact its nutrition profile. Peanut oil is one of the more heart-healthy oils for frying compared to lard or shortening.

Alternatives to Deep Frying Chicken

If you are looking for lower fat options, here are some alternatives to get crispy, delicious chicken without deep frying:

Baked Chicken

Coat chicken pieces with breadcrumbs, Parmesan, spices or a light layer of oil then bake in a 400°F oven until browned and cooked through. Baking uses little or no added fat.

Air Fried Chicken

Air fryers mimic deep frying using super hot, circulated air. Cook chicken in 1-2 Tbsp oil for crisping without the grease.

Grilled Chicken

Get nice char marks and caramelization on the skin by grilling bone-in chicken over medium-high heat. Use minimal added fat.

Pan Roasted Chicken

Brown chicken thighs or drumsticks in a skillet on the stovetop then finish cooking through in a 375°F oven. Crisp the skin without frying.

While deep frying remains the gold standard for crispy, moist chicken, these oven-based methods allow you to enjoy similar flavors and textures with less oil.


What temperature should fried chicken be?

The minimum safe internal temperature for fried chicken is 165°F in the thighs and 155°F in the breasts. Always verify temperature using a thermometer.

Can you fry chicken straight from frozen?

It is not recommended. Frozen chicken will take nearly twice as long to fry, leading to an overcooked exterior and undercooked interior. Always thaw chicken fully before frying.

Is buttermilk marinade good for fried chicken?

Yes! Soaking chicken in buttermilk before breading helps tenderize, adds flavor, and promotes browning. The lactic acid in buttermilk also acts as a tangy marinade.

What oil is best for frying chicken?

Look for oils with high smoke points and neutral flavors. Good choices include peanut, canola and vegetable oil. Avoid olive oil for frying.


When deep frying chicken at 350°F, allow 12-15 minutes per pound as a general guideline, increasing time for larger birds. Take care to thoroughly dry and cook the chicken until it reaches a safe internal temperature. Follow proper deep frying techniques for the ideal crisp, juicy chicken. While not the healthiest cooking method, fried chicken can still be enjoyed in moderation alongside other less caloric dishes as part of a balanced diet.