The Reason Butter Won't Give Your Pan-Fried Chicken Crispy Skin

cooked chicken legs in sauce
cooked chicken legs in sauce - nelea33/Shutterstock

Ideally, pan-fried chicken will come off the heat tender and juicy on the inside, and golden and crispy on the outside -- but the perfect crunchy skin won't happen in just any cooking fat. If you want a tasty flavor, go with butter, but if you want your ideal texture, opt for a cooking oil instead.

Why won't butter give you the crispy chicken skin of your dreams? For one, its milk solids don't do well in the high temperatures required for frying -- and if you turn the heat up too high, your butter may just end up burning, which can lead to a bitter flavor. And frying food at low temperatures just doesn't produce the same result. To make a crunchy skin, you'll need the water on your chicken to evaporate, which occurs when it comes into contact with oil. That crackle that you hear when pan-frying food is really just its moisture turning into steam bubbles and exploding, which results in a crispy consistency. But if you use butter, your food likely won't make it to a high enough temperature to get there.

Read more: 12 Different Ways To Cook Chicken

How To Pan-Fry Your Chicken For Crispy Results

chicken thighs cooking in oil
chicken thighs cooking in oil - Warongdech Digital/Shutterstock

So if you want to achieve crispy chicken skin, you'll need to pan-fry it in oil. Go for options with high smoke points, such as canola, sunflower, and peanut oil, but stay away from olive oil for this dish, as its lower smoke point generally means you won't want to use it for frying. But as we previously learned, moisture is the enemy of crunchy skin, so make sure to thoroughly pat your poultry dry (getting the liquid out of all the nooks and crannies) with paper towels before it goes on the stove. If you have the time, you can also keep it uncovered in the fridge overnight, which lets the cold air suck a little more moisture from your bird.

And if you really want to go the extra mile, sprinkle some baking powder on your chicken. This additional step helps the proteins on the skin to disintegrate, so you end up with a better crunch. If you choose to refrigerate your uncovered poultry the night before, apply your baking powder right before you chill it. But when you do go to pan-fry it, heat the oil — or ghee if you have to have some buttery flavor— in your skillet before adding in the chicken, so it will instantly start crisping up when you cook it.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.