Scared of Deep-Frying on the Stovetop? Try This Simple Trick.

Updated: Oct. 25, 2023

The key to crispy chicken on the stovetop is using the right deep-frying pan. And here's the secret: The best pan for deep-frying isn't a pan at all!

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Fried chicken is nearly universally loved. And with so many great recipes, there are heated debates about which seasonings to use, the role of buttermilk, how long to let the chicken rest before frying and single- vs. double-dipping. But home cooks too often deprive themselves of the joys of crispy, juicy, home-fried chicken for one reason: fear.

The Scary Truth About Deep-Frying

It’s not as if the fear is completely irrational. Unless you own an electric deep-fryer, you’re cooking with hot oil on the stovetop, which is known for its tendency to spatter. (Be sure to use a deep fry thermometer for accuracy). Plus, there’s an added concern: The vast majority of house fires start in the kitchen, and grease fires are notoriously bad. So as much as we love fried chicken, it’s understandable that some might hesitate to fill a skillet with oil, light the burner and stand back.

Our Answer

Luckily, the answer is simple. Forget the skillet, and don’t even think about using any other shallow cooking pan. Our Test Kitchen recommends grabbing a pot instead. The key to fright-free deep-frying is using a pot with high sides. A cast-iron Dutch oven is the perfect vessel. It’ll give you plenty of room for a generous layer of oil while keeping the spattering mess to a minimum, and in the unlikely event of a fire, it’s a split-second’s work to set the pot’s lid on top to starve the fire of oxygen.

Test Kitchen Tip: Hot oil is crucial to a successful fry. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the coating will get soggy. Work with a few pieces of chicken at a time to ensure the oil temperature doesn’t drop too much. Once you’ve removed the cooked chicken, wait for the oil to come all the way back up to temperature before adding the next batch.

Now that you’re no longer afraid of the process, you can reap the rewards that home deep-frying brings to our favorite comfort food. And if you still can’t overcome your fear of frying, there are many great recipes for oven-fried chicken, which has a beauty all its own!

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