The Unexpected Oil Swap For Next-Level Fried Chicken

Traveling from the Americas to Europe, then hopping over to Asia and Oceania, you'll find a common sight sold everywhere from street-side stalls to fancy upscale restaurants: hot, crispy fried chicken. This simple yet immensely satisfying dish — chicken coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried — has truly become a favorite around the globe. However, fried chicken isn't a one-size-fits-all affair. For example, in India, you can have a taste of the spice-packed, Labneh-coated Chennai fried chicken, which is very different from, say, the Cajun blackened chicken found in New Orleans. The point is that there's a lot of room for variation and enhancement of the classic recipe.


Beyond just seasoning and technique, you can even swap out the frying medium (usually vegetable oil or lard) with something different. For a classic taste of French cooking, you can try frying your chicken in graisse de canard — duck fat. Besides packing far more flavor than any kind of standard cooking oil, some even say that the duck fat-fried chicken is crispier and juicier, too!

For many chefs duck fat is considered liquid gold

Chefs affectionately refer to rendered duck fat as "liquid gold" due to its remarkable ability to enhance and deepen the flavor of any dish in which it's used. It's a pretty tough task pinning down the exact flavor of duck fat in writing — it's one of those things you must taste to truly understand, but we can certainly say that it's incredibly rich and has a bit of sweetness to it. Swapping your usual cooking oil with duck fat is not just about flavor, though. Cooking with duck fat also ensures a crispier, more golden crust, so you'll get an all-around upgrade both in flavor and texture with this swap.


The main drawback to duck fat is that it's pricier compared to other cooking fats, such as lard. Raising ducks to yield ample fat requires a lot of work and resources, so the price of each jar is set to match. This is why dishes made with duck fat are only ever found in upscale dining rooms and bistros. However, if you're willing to indulge, splurging on a jar of this precious fat for your fried chicken is an investment sure to be worth every penny!

Mix canola oil with duck fat to make the swap less expensive

You can absolutely render down a whole jar of duck fat and use it to fry your breaded chicken. This was how chef David Lebovitz originally made his "French-ified" fried chicken. However, as mentioned earlier, duck fat comes with a pretty hefty price tag. You might want to reserve some of that precious golden liquid for other recipes, like roasting potatoes Jamie Oliver-style or giving your pie crust a better crunch.


So, instead of upending the jar into the pan, here's a nifty you can try: Mix half of the duck fat with regular frying oil, such as canola oil, then fry the chicken pieces in that. This way, you can still enjoy the richness of duck fat in your fried chicken while saving some for later. And since canola oil is neutral in flavor, the natural flavor of the duck fat will still shine through and enhance the taste of your chicken, even if there's less of it in the frying pan!