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Crispy chicken that looks and tastes like fried chicken except that this chicken doesn’t require any frying. This is a very easy way to make crispy chicken that tastes as good as fried chicken but without all the work. It is also healthier than traditional fried chicken. The chicken can be cooked in the oven or in an air fryer.
This is one of my favorite ways to make chicken. It’s a quick and easy weeknight meal that everyone in my family enjoys. The chicken stays so moist and juicy and the skin is incredibly crispy. When it is first finished cooking, you can tap on it and hear just how crispy the skin is.
- Chicken drumsticks, thighs or wings
- Baking Powder
The two main ingredients you need to make crispy chicken are chicken and baking powder. You can add other seasonings for flavor and you can also add oil to help create an even golden color if you are serving them plain, but they are not necessary to actually make the chicken crispy.
Chicken: I recommend sticking with drumsticks, thighs and full wings for this recipe. If you want to make party wings, I also have a recipe for crispy party wings. I don’t recommend breast meat. Chicken breast meat can get dry easily and the chicken will be cooked past the point of when the meat is done to get the skin extra crispy, so it doesn’t work with breast meat as well. Drumsticks, thighs and wings still stay juicy even if they are cooked a little longer. You can use fresh or frozen chicken. If using frozen, make sure to completely thaw before using.
Baking Powder: If possible, use aluminum-free baking powder. While it is not necessary for the baking powder to be aluminum free for this technique to work, using aluminum free will ensure there is no metallic aftertaste.
The chicken can be eaten just as is. This is how I usually serve it. However, you can easily add more flavor with other dry seasonings (like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder) or with a sauce (like bbq sauce).
You may also may want to add salt. This really depends on the chicken you are using. When using frozen chicken, I don’t feel the need to add salt since most frozen chicken is often treated with a saline solution so that they already have a good amount of salt added. If you are using fresh chicken that doesn’t have a lot of salt added to it, I do recommend adding a little salt with the baking powder. However, everyone’s salt preference is different. The best way to determine if you think you will need to add salt is to check the sodium level on the nutrition label of the packaging for the chicken.
How to Make Crispy Fried Chicken in the Oven
First, you will want to pull and stretch the chicken skin so that it completely covers the drumstick, thighs or wings. This is usually the most necessary with drumsticks. This step is necessary to ensure that the chicken skin is what is mostly being coated in baking powder and not the meat. In the photo below I show how the chicken looks before and after.
The chicken is then tossed in baking powder. If adding salt (or other seasonings), add it with the baking powder. Try your best to evenly distribute the baking powder across. You can use a basting brush to help spread the baking powder evenly.
Spray an oven-safe baking rack with cooking oil spray. Place it on top of a baking sheet lined with foil. You can also brush with oil if you don’t have a spray. Make sure to generously coat the cooling rack so the chicken doesn’t stick to it. Place the chicken on the rack, making sure none of the chicken pieces overlap. Spray chicken surface with cooking spray. You can also brush with oil instead.
Bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes or until chicken skin reaches desired crispness and chicken is fully cooked inside.
How to Make Crispy Fried Chicken in the Air Fryer
The preparation for the chicken is the same as the oven version.
Spray the inner plate of the air fryer basket that the chicken will be sitting on with cooking oil. (Some air fryers just have a removable basket and some have a removable grill plate. Mine has a grill plate that is placed inside the basket.) Place the chicken on, making sure none overlap. Spray the surface of the chicken with oil or brush with oil.
Cook for about 25 minutes.
I personally prefer the air fryer version because it cooks faster, but if I am making a large amount I will use the oven instead. The chicken comes out almost exactly the same with either method.
More Easy Chicken Dishes
- Instant Pot Honey Garlic Chicken
- PF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Cheesy Chicken Fritters
2 Ingredient Crispy "Fried" Chicken
Servings: 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Main Course
An easy method for making crispy chicken that tastes and looks like fried chicken but without any frying.
- 4 lbs (64 oz/1814 g) chicken drumsticks, thighs or wings fully defrosted if using frozen
- 2 tbsp (24 g) aluminum free baking powder
Stretch out the skin on the chicken pieces until the chicken is mostly covered in skin. See post for more details and photo.
In a large bowl, add the chicken and sprinkle baking powder (and salt if using) over the chicken. Toss the chicken in the baking powder until evenly coated. If you see any thick patches of baking powder on the chicken, make sure to spread it out with the help of a basting brush.
For the oven version: Preheat oven to 450°F/232°C. Line a large baking sheet with foil. Place an oven-safe baking/cooling rack on top of the baking sheet. Generously grease the surface of the rack with cooking oil spray (or brush with cooking oil). Place chicken on the rack, making sure none of them overlap. Spray the surface of the chicken with cooking oil spray or brush with oil. See notes for more details on the oil. Cook in preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked (the internal temperature should be at least 170°F/77°C) and skin reaches desired crispness. Chicken is best served soon after it is cooked.
For the air fryer version: Preheat air fryer to 400°F/204°C. Grease the inner basket plate with cooking oil spray. Place chicken on the plate, making sure none of them overlap. You may need to cook in several batches depending on the size of your air fryer. Spray the chicken surface with cooking oil spray. Cook in preheated air fryer for about 20-25 minutes (I usually do 25 minutes) or until chicken is fully cooked (the internal temperature should be at least 170°F/77°C) and skin reaches desired crispness. Chicken is best served soon after it is cooked.
- Aluminum free baking powder is recommended to prevent any possible metallic aftertaste. However, if you don't have access to aluminum free, baking powder that contains aluminum will still work.
- Whether you need to add salt will depend on your personal salt preference and the amount of salt added to your chicken. In general, I find that frozen chicken has more salt added and I don't need to add any salt. When using fresh chicken with very little salt added, I use about 1 tsp for 4 lbs of chicken.
- You can reduce this recipe. Just remember to use 1 tbsp of baking powder for every 2 lb of chicken.
- Cooking oil spray is not strictly necessary on the chicken but it does help ensure that it bakes up evenly gold in color. If you leave off the cooking oil, you'll find that the skin bakes up drier and may have some dry powdery patches. This isn't an issue if you plan on saucing the chicken but if you are serving it plain, I recommend you spray the chicken with oil. You can also brush the chicken with oil. Sometimes I will brush the chicken with olive oil to make it a little healthier.
- The chicken should be consumed soon after it is cooked. It does not stay crispy as long as traditional fried chicken.
- For ease of nutrition calculation, the nutrition estimate assumes 4 lbs of drumsticks (about 16 drumsticks) and 2 drumsticks per serving.
Serving: 2drumsticks, Calories: 170kcal, Protein: 20g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Sodium: 240mg
The nutrition information provided are only estimates based on an online nutritional calculator. I am not a certified nutritionist. Please consult a professional nutritionist or doctor for accurate information and any dietary restrictions and concerns you may have.