Oven-fried chicken is a fantastic alternative to fried chicken. By “frying” it in the oven (oven-fried chicken is actually baked!), you get all the great crisp and crunch of fried chicken, without the extra fat from frying it in oil. And, it’s even easier to make!
This is one of my favorite meals. I love breading the chicken — I find it fun! I love the results. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside. Yum! And as a bonus, while the chicken is baking, you can make the rest of the meal, clean up, or just relax and anticipate a great meal.
Step 1: Selecting your chicken
Pick your cut
This part is easy. Pretty much any cut of chicken can be used for oven frying. Wings, thighs, drumsticks, breasts… they all turn out delicious! The only thing I’d really recommend is to cut up your chicken into the smallest units:
- Instead of using a whole leg, cut it up into the drumstick and thigh.
- If you’re going to oven fry some wings, split them into the tip, midsection, and drumette.
- Click here for some good pictures of all the cuts.
Boneless or Bone-in?
Again, pretty much anything goes here. Personally, for thighs and breasts, I prefer boneless because it’s less of a hassle to eat. Drumsticks are always fun to eat with your hands though.
It all comes down to what you like best!
Remember though, the cooking time can increase if you leave the bone in.
Skin or no skin
You can pick either oven-fried chicken. Each cut has its own benefits:
- Leaving the skin on provides a base for the coating, and helps it stick better.
- The skin adds extra crispiness and flavor to the chicken.
- The skin helps prevent the chicken from drying out.
- Removing the skin reduces the amount of fat you end up eating.
Pick your size
Picking the right size pieces can be a little bit tricky.
The chicken is going to cook at relatively high heat, so you want to make sure your pieces aren’t too small, or they’ll be dry and tough before the breading is crispy. On the other hand, if your pieces are too big, the coating might burn before they’re cooked.
Generally, pieces that come from a 3-5 lb chicken are just about the right size.
If you’re using boneless chicken breasts or thighs, you don’t need to worry about this so much. If your pieces look a bit thick, just pound them down to 1/4-1/2 an inch or so.
Step 2: Coating your chicken
The next step to making oven-fried chicken is breading the chicken. This is my favorite part! It’s organized, but just messy enough to be fun.
If you’re not sure how to bread chicken, check out our chicken breading guide.
The guide describes three methods for making breaded chicken: the 1-2-3 Method, the 1-2 Method, and the 1-Method. For oven-fried chicken, I recommend either the 1-2-3-Method or the 1-2 Method — they’re both great! The 1-Method isn’t as good for oven-fried chicken. Here’s why:
- Oven frying chicken isn’t the same as frying it. Frying in oil may not be as healthy, but it does make your chicken extra crispy. The 1-2-3 and 1-2 Methods give your chicken a thicker, crunchier breading, which helps compensate for the lack of pan-frying.
- The 1-Method recommends using a coating of flour. Flour is great for pan-frying or deep-frying because it burns at a much higher temperature than the other coatings. In the oven, though, it takes much longer to crisp. You end up having to cook your chicken for 30 to 45 minutes longer!
- With the 1-Method, your chicken has a much thinner coating and has no liquid base to protect it, so it can end up a bit on the dry side.
Step 3: Cooking your chicken
Now for the last step. We need to know how to cook the chicken! At this point, you’ll be really happy that you decided to oven fry your chicken rather than pan-fry it. It’s so easy to cook!
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Lightly grease a baking dish. Arrange your breaded chicken pieces in the dish. The dish should be large enough to hold all your chicken pieces without overcrowding them. If they’re too crowded, they won’t brown evenly.
- If your breading is not flour, bake the breaded chicken in the prepared oven for 50 minutes, turning over the chicken after 25 minutes.
If your breading is flour, bake the chicken in the prepared oven for 50 minutes, then turn over and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
- The chicken is done when it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165F (according to the USDA safety facts) and stays at that temperature for at least 10 seconds.
- The breading on the chicken should be nice and browned by the time you remove it from the oven. If it hasn’t browned yet, feel free to leave it in an extra 10 minutes or so.
- Each oven is different. Some just seem to heat more than others, even at the same setting. Try setting your oven to 400F first, but if you find that it burns the breading, turn it down to 375F. Or, if the breading just isn’t getting crispy, try setting your oven to 425F.
- If you left the skin or bone in your chicken pieces, they might take a bit longer to cook. Just watch the internal temperature and you’ll be fine. Remember, 165F for 10 seconds.
Step 4: Enjoy!
Yup, that’s it! You’re now ready to sit down and eat some delicious oven-fried chicken. Yum!
It really is easy to make. The whole process of breading the chicken can take less than 10 minutes when you’re used to it. The only hard part after that is waiting for the chicken to cook! Luckily, that baking time is a great opportunity to prepare the rest of the meal (mashed potatoes anyone?) and clean up any mess you might have made while breading.
Oven-Fried Chicken Recipe
Here’s an easy oven-fried chicken recipe. I just love the spice mix in the bread crumbs… sometimes I add a bit more garlic, but I’m a bit of a garlic fanatic.
This recipe is great because it’s so quick and easy to prepare. And once it’s in the oven, you’re free to do whatever else you want… like cook up some delicious side dishes.
Try it with rice and veggies. You can’t go wrong!
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp grated Parmesan
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup milk
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Combine bread crumbs, parmesan, paprika, onion powder, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small, shallow bowl.
- Take each chicken breast and dredge it in the flour. Shake off any excess flour. Dip the floured chicken breast in the milk, and then dredge it in the bread crumb mixture, getting a good thick breading on there.
- Place the breaded chicken breasts in a baking dish. Be careful not to overcrowd your dish!
- Cook the chicken breasts in the preheated oven for 50 minutes, turning them after 25 minutes.