Breaded chicken is one of the easiest dinners to throw together in a pinch. It’s fast, filling and delicious, and can be a great compliment to salads or pasta dishes.
As easy as breaded chicken is to make, perfecting the technique can be tricky at first. It seems that all too often, breading falls off the chicken, leaving you with half of the crunchy goodness you started with. So how do you fix it?
Whether you’re using a beer batter or the classic three-step system (egg, flour, crumb), here's how to avoid the five biggest mistakes home cooks make when breading, to make sure you’ve got the crispiest, crunchiest cutlets in the neighborhood.
1. You don’t start dry
The first step to breading chicken is crucial: Make sure the chicken is completely dry before starting the dredging process. Using a paper towel, pat the meat dry on all sides. Excess moisture will cause the flour to get soggy, meaning it will not adhere properly to the chicken.
2. Not shaking off the flour
Be sure to shake off any excess flour from the chicken. Extra flour will create a coating that prevents the egg mixture from latching onto the chicken, which ultimately will prevent the breading from sticking properly. For crispy, flavorful chicken, make sure to remove any excess flour before proceeding.
3. Skimping on the crumb
A thorough coating will give your chicken that crunch you crave. No matter what type of crumb you use, coat the meat evenly and completely on every side.
4. Forgetting the last pat
After you’ve covered the meat in breading, pat it down gently on all sides so that every piece sticks to the egg layer. Well-coated chicken is the key to crunchy cutlets, so make sure the breading is patted down before cooking.
5. Being impatient
If you’re frying, heat the oil in a dutch oven or cast-iron skillet. After the chicken pieces are thoroughly coated in the breading mixture, place them in the hot oil — with plenty of space in between — and let them be! The more you touch the chicken with tongs, the more likely the breading is to fall off. The key here is to be patient. As soon as you see a golden rim appear around the side of the chicken that's still submerged in oil, feel free to flip it. Be cautious not to touch or turn the chicken too much — and watch out for these other mistakes you make while deep frying.
The same goes for baking your cutlets — give them space, flip them once, then it’s hands-off. The breading is also more likely to come off if the cutlets are touching each other. These steps will guarantee that breading stays where it belongs: on your chicken.