Light & Crispy Fried Chicken is a comfort food classic that’s lightly pan-fried with minimal oil, but is still flavorful, juicy, and crunchy!Jump to Recipe
This Light & Crispy Fried Chicken is inspired from all my years living in D.C. Twelve and a half years to be exact. And while it's maybe not the deep south, you can guarantee I had my share of chicken and waffles, doughnuts, or biscuits down there. What I learned about good fried chicken is that like most fried foods, its comfort food heaven. It’s the best when that outer crust is perfectly flavorful & so crispy, and the chicken inside is nice and juicy. It’s the perfect contrast and you just know the person who cooked it put some love into it.
When it doesn’t live up to these expectations, it’s disappointing. The outside is soggy and too oily and the inside is either overcooked, undercooked, dry, or too fatty. It takes a few tips, some love, and time to make it right. These dinners aren’t your 15-minute quick weeknight meals, although you can certainly make this during the week. But, as with any dish that takes effort, they’re so worth the wait and work.
Sometimes really good food takes time, and it has its place. This kind of cooking for the sake of enjoying cooking can be so relaxing and therapeutic. I know I love to take a break from recipe testing and photographing to just try new things. That’s what this recipe is, and I know it’s a staple for many people as a comfort food favorite. I’m going to take a shot in the dark and attribute that to the frying though.
CRAVING FRIED FOODS
If I start listing all the things that taste great fried, I’m just going to start salivating, so I won’t do that. Anything fried is amazing. I’ve definitely made this point in another recipe too. Fried foods are a strong craving for many because the food is salty, loaded with fat, and usually carb-heavy. And this is known as the comfort food definition, right?
Sometimes we only crave these things because we tell ourselves we’re not allowed to have them. We restrict ourselves from this because it’s heavy, not nutritious, and it’s usually a bomb – like a blooming onion. Eating the whole thing is probably going to induce a stomachache.
But then sometimes because of this, it makes fried foods, like fried chicken alluring. It’s even more enticing because we think we’re not allowed to have it. Restriction is a trigger for diet adherence success or failure. Think of the concept “wanting what you can’t have”. The 80/20 rule exists for this reason. It allows a more flexible eating approach by incorporating treats throughout the week and more nutritious food on the weekends. You can customize this to what works for you, 70/30, 60/40, or even 50/50. The best “diet” is one that is sustainable for you and makes you happy.
LET’S FRY SOME LIGHT & CRISPY CHICKEN
So, you might be thinking, how on earth can I lose weight and eat fried foods on a diet? And no I’m not even about to tell you that this is made in an air fryer. This recipe is using real oil to fry. It's minimal, but it’s enough alongside cooking spray that helps keep things moist. It’s this balance that makes it totally within reach to have as often as you like.
This recipe is adapted from Delish and is something I’ve made for a long time. My one tip is if you’ve never tried dipping fried chicken in honey you need to start. It’s that salty-sweet combo that is so hard to resist and is so satisfying.
The flavor of this chicken is from nuances of ingredients that you can taste, but they don’t overpower the chicken at all. The trick I’ve learned is that it’s all about seasoning your batter. In this batter is flavors of garlic, hot sauce, paprika, thyme, pepper, and salt. The crunch comes from just a little bit of cornmeal combined with flour.
This chicken is my favorite to eat on its own with sides that go with it. though you can eat it as a sandwich too. Serve alongside biscuits, crispy kale or collard greens, honey, & hot sauce.
Methods of Cooking:
Air fryer – you can choose to instead make this in the air fryer. Batter the chicken as directed, then cook at 400 for about 15 minutes.
Oven-Fried – you can also make this in the oven and cut out all the oil. Instead, put all the dredged chicken on a cooling rack set in a baking sheet. Spray the chicken all over with cooking spray and bake at 400 for about 15-20 minutes.
This recipe makes 6 servings of chicken with each being 266 calories each, only 12.5g fat, 18g carbs, 21g protein.
STORING & REHEATING
The reheating method will make a big difference for this chicken. If you microwave it, it will become soggy. Instead, heat the chicken up under a broiler or in a pan.
AS ALWAYS, IF YOU MAKE THIS – PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!
Light & Crispy Fried Chicken
- 1 cup nonfat milk
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 garlic clove minced
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
- 1 ½ boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- Cooking spray
- Optional condiments: hot sauce honey, ketchup, etc
Whisk the first 6 ingredients together in a shallow bowl (milk, hot sauce, minced garlic, thyme, salt, & pepper).
Pat the chicken completely dry and season on both sides with salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken to the milk and marinate (optional) for 30 minutes, up to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
In another shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, paprika, and cayenne.
Dredge the chicken into the flour and cover completely.
Heat a large skillet on medium-high and add ½ tablespoon vegetable oil. Add the chicken when the oil is hot and cook 3-5 minutes per side. chicken should be golden brown. Remove chicken and let it rest on a towel lined plate. Repeat for following batches.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
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