People all over the world love fried chicken. But should you fry chicken in olive oil? When it comes to health benefits, frying chicken in olive oil might be the better choice, especially if you’re using quality oil.
What about the taste? What’s the difference when frying chicken in olive oil when it comes to flavor and texture? Is there a difference? Read on for our ultimate guide to frying chicken in olive oil!
The Quick Answer – Can You Fry Chicken in Olive Oil?
Yes, you can fry chicken in olive oil. It’s one of the healthiest cooking oils available and has a subtle flavor profile. This makes it perfect for bringing out the flavors of your fried chicken dish, helping them to stand out.
Just be sure not to heat the oil above its smoke point (465°F for refined olive oil or 375°F for extra virgin olive oil) to avoid it breaking down into potentially harmful substances.
Benefits of Frying Chicken in Olive Oil
- When frying with olive oil, your chicken is less likely to stick to the pan. This makes it easier to clean afterward.
- Olive oil contains more heart-healthy monounsaturated fat than saturated fat. In fact, some clinical studies have shown that consuming olive oil reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Olive oil has antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, keep your skin healthy and protect your brain cells.
The Taste Difference When Frying Chicken in Olive Oil
There is a distinct taste difference between fried chicken cooked in olive oil compared to other types of oils. Refined olive oil is known as a neutral oil, meaning that it won’t impart any flavor to your food. Extra Virgin olive oil has a more noticeable taste, yet is still quite subtle compared to other more flavorful oils.
Some chefs believe that using olive oil changes the texture of food. In other words, it can make your fried foods softer and fluffier. It’s also thought that cooking with olive oil adds a more beautiful golden color when frying chicken.
If you’re used to frying chicken in other types of oil, switching to olive oil might take some getting used to. This is especially true if you’re used to oils such as peanut oil that have a stronger flavor profile.
However, it’s a switch I’m sure you’ll love. The more subtle taste of olive oil helps showcase the full range of flavors in a delicious juicy chicken recipe.
Is It Healthy to Fry Chicken in Olive Oil?
I’ve already touched on some of the health benefits of using olive oil when frying chicken. Simply put, as long as you don’t heat the oil past its smoke point, it’s perfectly safe to cook chicken with.
What’s the smoke point? It’s the temperature at which the fat in the oil starts to break down and produce potentially harmful byproducts.
Watching the Calories
As great as olive oil is, you should keep in mind that, like most oils, it’s quite high in calories per serving. Because of this, you should take care to note how much oil you use in your chicken dishes, else you could be racking up lots of extra calories without realizing it!
If you love the taste of fried chicken but want to reduce the number of calories in your diet, you should try cooking your chicken with an air fryer. Check out this air fryer chicken breast recipe from a Pinch of Healthy.
Why is Oil Important when Frying Chicken?
When you’re frying chicken, the oil actually performs two important jobs:
- First, it helps to properly cook your chicken. Oil helps transfer heat from the pan to the chicken and, as I’ve mentioned earlier, makes it less likely to stick whilst cooking.
- Second, the right oil enhances the flavor of the dish. Depending on the flavor profile of your cooking oil, it can contribute its own taste or help the existing flavors to really shine.
What’s the Best Type of Oil to Fry Chicken in?
So we’ve established that you can fry chicken in olive oil, and there’s plenty of reason to do so.
You may be wondering, however, if olive oil is the best oil for frying chicken. After all, go to any supermarket and you’ll be met with a huge array of different cooking oils. How do you know which is the best choice?
Well, let’s circle back to the benefits of cooking with olive oil mentioned earlier. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fats, and also contains lots of antioxidants. However, it’s not the only oil to do so. In fact, Avocado oil has more monounsaturated fat per tablespoon and also has a host of health benefits. It also has a higher smoke point. This means that it can withstand higher temperatures before breaking down into potentially harmful compounds.
Whilst you absolutely can use avocado oil, and others, it’s my opinion that olive oil is the best choice for frying chicken.
Because it’s a good all-rounder. It has a decent smoke point and packs in a lot of monounsaturated fat. Whilst neither of these are the best of all oils, the kicker is the more subtle taste. Olive oil doesn’t impart a strong flavor to food when cooking, unlike Avocado oil.
Fat Content and Smoke Point by Oil Type
|Type of Oil||Fat in 1tbsp||Monounsaturated Fat in 1tbsp||Smoke Point|
|Extra Virgin Olive Oil||13.5g||9.85g||375°F|
|Refined Olive Oil||13.5g||9.85g||465°F|
|Unrefined Peanut Oil||13.5g||6.24g||320°F|
|Refined Peanut Oil||13.5g||6.24g||450°F|
How to Pan-Fry Chicken in Olive Oil
Here are the steps to pan-frying your chicken in olive oil:
- Be sure to use extra virgin olive oil for the best results.
- Season your chicken on both sides with salt, pepper, and any other spices you want to use. If you’re using marinades or glazes, put them in a bowl near the stovetop.
- Turn your stove to medium-high heat – just enough that it’s hot, but won’t smoke. Remember, the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is 375°F – make sure you don’t heat your pan to a higher temperature than this.
- Add about two tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. You can eyeball this, but it should be about enough to cover the bottom of the pan.
- Once your oil is hot, carefully lay as many pieces of chicken as will fit in a single layer on top of your pan. You don’t want to overcrowd your meat – this will lead to uneven cooking. In some cases, it might even cause your food to steam instead of fry.
- After about two minutes, your meat should be cooked on one side – this is when you flip it over using tongs or a fork. If your pan isn’t big enough for both sides of the chicken to cook at once, wait about a minute until you can flip it over without risking splashing oil everywhere.
- Once both sides of your chicken are fully cooked, carefully remove the meat from your pan, and lay it on a plate with paper towels or napkins. This will help to absorb some of the excess oil.
- To check if it’s properly cooked, cut open one of your chicken pieces. If the color is at all pink, it’s not cooked and needs to be fried for longer.
- Repeat these steps with your other chicken pieces, until they’re all fully cooked. It’s best if you do this in multiple batches. So, if you have a large pan or skillet, try to fit as much meat in there as possible at once. Don’t worry about cooking each side for too long – just be sure that each part of the chicken has gotten fully, evenly cooked. If you’re worried about undercooked meat, you can always cook it for a bit longer once all of your pieces are done.
- Serve your chicken on top of some pasta or rice, and drizzle with some olive oil if desired. You might also want to add in some vegetables like onions and garlic, depending on how you’re serving it.
How to Deep-Fry Chicken in Olive Oil
You can deep-fry your chicken in olive oil too – it yields a very crispy exterior, and gives the chicken a different taste to pan-frying.
To make sure that your oil stays at the right temperature (which is important for keeping your food from getting soggy or burnt), use a deep-fry or candy thermometer to monitor it. I’d advise using refined olive oil for deep frying as it has a higher smoke point of 450°F.
Tips for Deep Frying Chicken in Olive Oil
- Use a pan with high sides, to keep your oil inside the pot.
- When working with very hot oil, you should always wear oven mitts and stand back a bit – oil tends to spit when heated, and this can get pretty dangerous if it’s coming in contact with skin.
- Make sure that none of your chicken pieces are touching before you put them in the pan or pot. This will help ensure that they don’t stick together while cooking.
- Never leave your pan or pot unattended whilst deep frying. You never know when the oil might start to sputter and spit, and if this happens, you should always take the pan off of the heat and stand back.
- If you want, you can always take your deep-fried chicken or other foods and put them on a rack before serving – this will allow the grease to drip away from the food for a healthier alternative.
- Never add water to your oil after you’ve already started cooking – this can cause it to splatter, and might also ruin the taste of your food.
- If you’re going to reuse the oil, let it cool completely before storing it – if you put warm or hot oil in a jar or plastic container, it can melt the plastic, which is no good for your food or the container!
- Make sure the chicken pieces are as dry as possible before putting them in the pan as wet meat can result in soggy fried food.
- Deep frying tends to make a bit of a mess, so expect to have to clean up afterward!