The Wasteful Oil Mistake Too Many People Make With Fried Chicken

It's not easy to perfect a homemade fried chicken recipe. It's mastering the ideal blend of spices and seasonings, getting just the right thickness when it comes to that fried coating, and ensuring the meat comes out fully cooked, yet still moist in the center. And while all of these factors heavily impact flavor, there is another aspect of fried chicken that, if not done right, could seriously impact your wallet: Choosing the right oil.


It's not uncommon to keep a container of olive oil in the pantry. It's great for salad dressings, pairing with bread, or even drizzling over some ice cream (trust). But you definitely should not use it to deep fry chicken for two reasons: It's expensive, and it has a low smoke point. In short, not only will you spend a ton of money to get enough olive oil for fully-submerged fried chicken, but you'll also probably burn it, negatively impacting the flavor of that chicken you worked so hard to prepare.

Olive oil is too flavorful and expensive for frying

Olive oil has a couple strikes against it in terms of deep-frying foods, but when it comes to your wallet, it's just a bad choice for fried chicken. To fully submerge chicken, a large amount of oil has to be used. Olive oil is one of the most expensive oils because of its purity and extraction process, so it doesn't make financial sense to sink so much money into a large pot of oil. Olive oil is best when its flavor can be highlighted, such as when it's infused with garlic and served with bread.


Speaking of flavor, olive oil is also not considered a neutral oil. Neutral oils are oils that don't impart flavor into a dish when they're used due to having such mild properties. So, when frying chicken, you want to choose an oil that is considered neutral so that it doesn't alter the flavors you've used to season and prep your meat. And for that reason, olive oil is out. Canola and corn oil are good examples of neutral oils that are great for frying chicken.

Olive oil has a low smoke point, too

One big rule for deep frying is understanding smoke point. An oil's smoke point is the temperature at which it starts to burn (or smoke), so when frying food, you need to use an oil with a smoke point that exceeds the temperature at which you plan to fry. Olive oil has different smoke points depending on the type, but if you have extra virgin olive oil in your pantry, don't use it. Its smoke point ranges from about 350 to 410 degrees Fahrenheit. For the best fried chicken, you'll want a cooking oil that can fry comfortably at 365 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Something like peanut oil, with a smoke point of about 450 degrees Fahrenheit, is better.


There is one exception in terms of smoke point: Refined olive oil. This type of olive oil is treated by additional processes, such as bleaching or neutralization, which impact the oil's flavor and color and reduce its quality. Refined olive oil has a smoke point of about 390 to 470 degrees Fahrenheit, so it would work in this case. But between cost and the risk of burning it, your safest bet is to just choose a different oil.