Southern fried chicken, also known simply as fried chicken, is a dish consisting of chicken
pieces that have been coated with seasoned flour or batter
, deep fried
, pressure fried
, or air fried
. The breading
adds a crisp coating or crust to the exterior of the chicken while retaining juices in the meat. Broiler
chickens are most commonly used.
The first dish known to have been deep fried was fritters
, which were popular in the European Middle Ages
. However, it was the Scottish
who were the first Europeans to deep fry their chicken in fat (though without seasoning). Meanwhile, many West Africa
n peoples had traditions of seasoned fried chicken (though battering and cooking the chicken in palm oil). Scottish frying techniques and West African seasoning techniques were combined by enslaved Africans and African-Americans in the American South
The Roman cookbook of ''Apicius
'' (4th century) has a recipe for deep-fried chicken called ''Pullum Frontonianum''.
The American English
expression "fried chicken" is first recorded in the 1830s, and frequently appears in American cookbooks of the 1860s and 1870s. The origin of fried chicken in the southern states of America has been traced to precedents in Scottish
[ quoted at .]
and West African cuisine
[Worral, Simon (December 21, 2014]
"The Surprising Ways That Chickens Changed the World"
. ''National Geographic'': "When slaves were brought here from West Africa, they came with a deep knowledge of the chicken, because in West Africa the chicken was a common farm animal and also a very sacred animal. The knowledge that African-Americans brought served them very well, because white plantation owners for the most part didn't care much about chicken. In colonial times there were so many other things to eat that chicken was not high on the list."
Scottish fried chicken was cooked in fat (though unseasoned)
while West African fried chicken was seasoned
and cooked in palm oil).
Scottish frying techniques and African seasoning techniques were used in the American South by African slaves.
Fried chicken provided some means of an independent economy for enslaved and segregated African-American women, who became noted sellers of poultry (live or cooked) as early as the 1730s. Because of this and the expensive nature of the ingredients, it was, despite popular belief, a rare dish in the African-American community
reserved (as in Africa) for special occasions.
After the development of larger and faster-growing hogs (due to crosses between European and Asian breeds) in the 18th and 19th century, in the United States, backyard and small-scale hog production provided an inexpensive means of converting waste food, crop waste, and garbage into calories (in a relatively small space and a relatively short period). Many of those calories came in the form of fat and rendered lard
. Lard was used for almost all cooking and was a fundamental component in many common homestead foods (many that today are still regarded as holiday and comfort food
s) like biscuits and pies. The economic and caloric necessity of consuming lard and other saved fats may have led to the popularity of fried foods, not only in the US, but worldwide. In the 19th century cast iron became widely available for use in cooking. The combination of flour, lard, a chicken and a heavy pan placed over a relatively controllable flame became the beginning of today's fried chicken.
When it was introduced to the American South, fried chicken became a common staple. Later, as the slave trade
led to Africans being brought to work on southern plantations
, the slaves who became cooks incorporated seasonings and spices that were absent in traditional Scottish cuisine
, enriching the flavor.
[History of Fried Chicken through the Ages](_blank)
. Southernfriedchickenrecipe.com. Retrieved on January 30, 2012.
Since most slaves were unable to raise expensive meats, but generally allowed to keep chickens, frying chicken on special occasions continued in the African American
communities of the South, especially in the periods of segregation
that closed off most restaurants to the black population.
American-style fried chicken gradually passed into common use as a general Southern dish, especially after the abolition of slavery
, and its popularity spread. Since fried chicken traveled well in hot weather before refrigeration was commonplace, and as the growth of industry reduced its cost, it gained further favor across the South. Fried chicken continues to be among this region's top choices for "Sunday dinner". Holidays such as Independence Day
and other gatherings often feature this dish. During the 20th century, chain restaurants focused on fried chicken began among the boom in the fast food industry
. Brands such as Kentucky Fried Chicken
, and Bojangles
expanded in the United States and across the world.
Before the industrialization of chicken production, and the creation of broiler
breeds of chicken, only young spring chickens (pullets or cockerels) would be suitable for the higher heat and relatively fast cooking time of frying, making fried chicken a luxury of spring and summer. Older, tougher birds require longer cooking times at lower temperatures. To compensate for this, sometimes tougher birds are simmered till tender, allowed to cool and dry, and then fried.
Fried chicken has been described as being "crunchy" and "juicy",
as well as "crispy". The dish has also been called "spicy" and "salty". Occasionally, fried chicken is also topped with chili like paprika
, or hot sauce
to give it a spicy taste. This is especially common in fast food
restaurant chains such as KFC
. The dish is traditionally served with mashed potatoes
, macaroni and cheese
The dish is renowned for being greasy, especially when coming from fast food outlets.
It has even been reported that some of those who enjoy eating the food limit themselves to eating it only a certain number of times a year, to keep their fat intake reasonably low. Out of the various parts of the animal used in fried chicken, the wings generally tend to contain the most fat, with almost of fat for every . However, the average whole fried chicken contains only around 12% fat, or per every .
of fried chicken generally contains around 240 calories of energy.
Generally, chickens are not fried whole. Instead, the chicken is divided into its constituent pieces. The white meat
sections are the breast and the wings from the front of the chicken, while the dark meat
sections are the thighs and legs or "drumsticks" from the rear of the chicken. The breast is typically split into two pieces, and the back is usually discarded. Chicken fingers
, which are boneless pieces of chicken breast cut into long strips, are also commonly used.
To prepare the chicken pieces for frying, they are typically coated in a flour-based batter that may contain eggs or milk, or they may be dredged in flour or breadcrumbs
. Seasonings such as salt
, black pepper
, chili powder
, garlic powder
, or onion powder
can be mixed in with the flour. Either process may be preceded by marination
or dipping in buttermilk
, the acidity of which acts as a meat tenderizer. As the pieces of chicken cook, some of the moisture that exudes from the chicken is absorbed by the coating of flour and browns along with the flour, creating a flavorful crust.
is used to fry the chicken, but corn oil
, peanut oil
, canola oil
, soybean oil
, or other vegetable oil
s are also frequently used.
The flavor of olive oil
is generally considered too strong to be used for traditional fried chicken, and its low smoke point makes it unsuitable for use. There are three main techniques for frying chickens: pan frying
, deep frying
Pan frying (or shallow frying) requires a frying pan
of sturdy construction and a source of fat that does not fully immerse the chicken.
The chicken pieces are prepared as above, then fried. Generally, the fat is heated to a temperature hot enough to seal (without browning, at this point) the outside of the chicken pieces. Once the pieces have been added to the hot fat and sealed, the temperature is reduced. There is debate as to how often to turn the chicken pieces, with one camp arguing for often turning and even browning, and the other camp pushing for letting the pieces render skin side down and only turning when necessary. Once the chicken pieces are close to being done, the temperature is raised and the pieces are browned to the desired color (some cooks add small amounts of butter at this point to enhance browning). The moisture from the chicken that sticks and browns on the bottom of the pan becomes the fonds required to make gravy.
Deep frying requires a deep fryer
or other devices in which the chicken pieces can be completely submerged in hot fat. The process of deep frying is placing food fully in oil and then cooking it at a very high temperature.
The pieces are prepared as described above. The fat is heated in the deep fryer to the desired temperature. The pieces are added to the fat and a constant temperature is maintained throughout the cooking process.
Broasting uses a pressure cooker
to accelerate the process. The moisture inside the chicken becomes steam and increases the pressure in the cooker, lowering the cooking temperature is needed. The steam also cooks the chicken through, but still allows the pieces to be moist and tender while maintaining a crisp coating. Fat is heated in a pressure cooker. Chicken pieces are prepared as described above and then placed in the hot fat. The lid is placed on the pressure cooker, and the chicken pieces are thus fried under pressure.
[Fried Chicken Recipes](_blank)
. Southernfood.about.com (November 9, 2011). Retrieved on January 30, 2012.
The derivative phrases "country fried" and "chicken fried" often refer to other foods prepared in the manner of fried chicken. Usually, this means a boneless, tenderized piece of meat that has been floured or battered and cooked in any of the methods described. Chicken fried steak
is a common dish of that variety. Such dishes are often served with gravy.
* Barberton chicken
, also known as ''Serbian Fried Chicken'', is a version created by Serbian
immigrants in Barberton, Ohio
, that has been popularized throughout that state.
* Chicken Maryland
is a form of pan-fried chicken, often marinated in buttermilk
, served with cream gravy and native to the state of Maryland
. The recipe spread beyond the United States to the ''haute cuisine'' of Auguste Escoffier
and, after heavy modification, found a place in the cuisines of Britain and Australia. The dish is made when a pan of chicken pieces and fat, as for pan frying, is placed in the oven to cook, for a majority of the overall cooking time, basically "fried in the oven".
* Popcorn chicken
, also known as ''chicken bites'' or other similar terms, are small morsels of boneless chicken, battered and fried, resulting in small pieces that resemble popcorn
* Chicken and waffles
, is a combination platter of foods traditionally served at breakfast and dinner in one meal, common to soul food
restaurants in the American South and beyond.
* Hot chicken
, common in the Nashville, Tennessee
area, is a pan-fried variant coated with lard and cayenne pepper paste.
Since the American Civil War
, traditional slave foods like fried chicken, watermelon
, and chitterlings
have suffered a strong association with African-American stereotypes and blackface
The reasons for this are various. Chicken dishes were popular among slaves before the Civil War, as chickens were generally the only animals slaves were allowed to raise on their own.
This was commercialized for the first half of the 20th century by restaurants like Sambo's
and Coon Chicken Inn
, which selected exaggerated depictions of blacks as mascot
s, implying quality by their association with the stereotype. Although also being acknowledged positively as "soul food
" today, the affinity that African-American culture has for fried chicken has been considered by some to be a delicate, often pejorative issue.
On two occasions the golfer Tiger Woods
has been the target of remarks regarding fried chicken. The first occurred in 1997 when golfer Fuzzy Zoeller
said that Woods should avoid choosing fried chicken and collard greens
for the Masters Tournament Champions' Dinner
the following year;
the second when golfer Sergio García
was asked in a press conference in 2013 whether he would invite Woods to dinner during the U.S. Open
to settle their ongoing feud. García, a Spaniard who was unaware of the existence of the stereotype in American culture, committed a gaffe saying: "We will have him round every night ... We will serve fried chicken", which Woods said was "wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate".
Both Zoeller and García subsequently apologized to Woods.
In 2010, fried chicken and collard greens were served at the Universal Studios Lot commissary
during Black History Month
, the drummer of the Roots
, was offended by the menu choice and posted a photo of the menu on Twitter
with the caption "Hmmm HR?". Many believed the choice of fried chicken and collard greens on the menu was offensive and ignorant, while others opined that the choice was a representation of historical African-American food. Chef Leslie Calhoun, an African-American chef at the Universal Studios commissary, believed that the choice was not offensive, stating that she had lobbied for a Black History Month menu for eight years and that when management finally allowed it, she was given the option to serve whatever she chose.
In 2011, a Beijing restaurant named "Obama Fried Chicken" opened in reference to then U.S. President Barack Obama
. It faced legal action from KFC and was renamed soon afterwards.
A restaurant in Brooklyn, New York rebranded itself as “Obama Fried Chicken” in 2009, sparking controversy.
In 2012, Burger King
released a commercial that featured Mary J. Blige
singing about a crispy chicken wrap. The advertisement was controversial due to the racial stereotypes surrounding fried chicken, prompting Burger King to remove the ad from YouTube
and Blige to apologize for appearing in it.
In 2016, fried chicken, collard greens, mashed potato
es, and cornbread
were served as part of a Black History Month menu at Wright State University
. The menu, listed under photos of several prominent African-Americans, including Martin Luther King Jr.
, drew heavy controversy from students and alumni of the university, including Dominick Evans
, a Wright University alumnus.
In 2019, Will Hurd
, an African-American Congressman, appeared on ''Real Time with Bill Maher
''. There, he said that while he was in the CIA
, he "was the dude in the back alleys at four o'clock in the morning collecting intelligence on threats to the homeland." Bill Maher
responded by saying "That's where you'd collect it, huh? Wow. By the Popeyes Chicken
?" Maher was accused of racism for the remark.
* John T. Edge
* Austin Leslie
* Colonel Sanders
* Fried chicken restaurant
* List of chicken dishes
* List of deep fried foods
* List of fast-food chicken restaurants
* National Fried Chicken Day
* Hot chicken
Austin Leslie's recipe in Food and Wine, adapted from John T. Edge's ''Fried Chicken''
Category:Cuisine of the Southern United States
Category:American chicken dishes
Category:Canadian chicken dishes
Category:New Zealand cuisine
Category:Deep fried foods