Fried Chicken > Can you cook fried chicken in a pressure cooker

Can You Cook Fried Chicken in a Pressure Cooker?

Fried chicken is a beloved comfort food enjoyed across the globe. Who doesn’t love that crispy, golden brown exterior and juicy, tender interior? But frying chicken can be time-consuming, messy, and unhealthy due to all the oil used. This leads many home cooks to wonder – can you cook fried chicken in a pressure cooker?

Can You Cook Fried Chicken in a Pressure Cooker?

While it is possible to make a version of fried chicken in the pressure cooker, it will not have quite the same texture and flavor as traditional fried chicken that has been deep fried. This is because the pressure cooking environment steams the chicken rather than surrounding it completely in hot oil.

That said, with some tweaks and extra steps, you can absolutely cook chicken with a crispy fried coating in the pressure cooker. The key things to do are:

    • Cut the chicken into smaller pieces to help it cook and crisp more evenly. Drumsticks, wings, boneless thighs or chicken tenders work best.
    • Dredge the chicken in buttermilk, flour, breadcrumbs, cornmeal or spices for the coating. The thinner the coating, the better it will crisp.
    • Use the saute or browning function on the pressure cooker first to brown the chicken pieces on both sides in a small amount of oil. This helps start the crisping process.
    • Pressure cook just until the chicken is cooked through, around 3-5 minutes at high pressure. Quick release the pressure.
    • Finish the chicken by broiling, baking, or air frying for a few minutes per side to further crisp and brown the coating.

Related post: Can you cook fried chicken in a cast iron skillet?

The result will be juicy, tender chicken with a crispy, crunchy exterior. It takes more effort than deep frying, but is doable in the pressure cooker. While not identical, pressure cooked “fried” chicken is a tasty, healthier alternative to enjoy the flavors of fried chicken without all the oil.

What is Pressure Cooked Fried Chicken?

Pressure cooked “fried” chicken is not exactly the same as traditional fried chicken. Using a pressure cooker results in chicken that is browned and crispy on the outside, while remaining moist and juicy on the inside. However, it will not have the same level of crunchiness as deep fried chicken. The high pressure and steam environment softens the crust slightly.

So while you can make a version of fried chicken in the pressure cooker, it is more accurately described as “pressure cooked crispy chicken.” It’s a healthier alternative that captures some of the flavors of fried chicken without all the oil.

Can You Get Chicken Crispy in a Pressure Cooker?

The short answer is yes, you can get chicken fairly crispy in the pressure cooker, but there are some limitations. Here are some tips:

    • Use smaller chicken pieces like wings, legs or boneless thighs rather than whole chickens or breasts. Smaller pieces will brown and crisp more evenly.
    • Coat the chicken in spices, flour, cornmeal or panko breadcrumbs before cooking. This will help form a crispy crust.
    • Use the saute or browning function on the pressure cooker first to brown the outside of the chicken before pressure cooking.
    • Broil or bake the chicken for a few minutes after pressure cooking to further crisp the outside.
    • Air fryer lids are available for some models that allow you to air fry after pressure cooking for an extra crispy finish.

So while the pressure cooker can produce delicious, moist chicken, it takes a few extra steps to really achieve that crunchy fried texture. The crust won’t be quite as crispy as deep fried, but you can get close.

How To Make Pressure Cooked Crispy Chicken

Follow this simple process for the crispiest possible chicken:

    1. Cut chicken into small, evenly sized pieces and coat in buttermilk, eggs, and breading of your choice.
    2. Select the saute or browning function on the pressure cooker to heat oil. Brown the chicken pieces on both sides, working in batches.
    3. Pressure cook the chicken for 3-5 minutes once pressure is achieved, until cooked through. Quick release the pressure.
    4. Spread chicken pieces on a baking sheet. Broil for 2-3 minutes per side to further crisp the coating.

Enjoy hot and crunchy pressure cooked crispy chicken! Dip in your favorite sauces or seasonings.

What About Bone-In Fried Chicken?

Cooking bone-in chicken pieces like whole legs, thighs, or wings makes getting a crispy crust more difficult. The bones conduct less heat than the meat, so the coating is more likely to become soggy.

For the best results with bone-in chicken, choose smaller pieces like wings or drumsticks. Cook them using the saute function before and after pressure cooking to maximize crisping. Another option is to shallow fry or air fry the pressure cooked bone-in chicken to finish.

Pressure Cooker vs. Deep Fryer for Fried Chicken

So how does pressure cooked chicken stack up against traditional deep fried? Here are some key differences:

    • Deep frying makes the crispiest, crunchiest crust possible. The bubbling hot oil completely surrounds the chicken for even browning.
    • Pressure cooked chicken has a less crisp, slightly softer crust but it’s much healthier with far less oil and calories.
    • Deep fried chicken risks drying out. Pressure cooking keeps the meat very moist and juicy.
    • Deep frying takes about 15-20 minutes. Pressure cooked chicken only needs a few minutes to cook through.

While pressure cooked fried chicken is quite tasty, deep frying still produces superior crunch. However, pressure cooking is a quick and healthier alternative worth trying.

So, Can you make fried chicken in an instant pot?

Yes, it is possible to make a version of fried chicken in the Instant Pot or other electric pressure cookers. The Instant Pot uses pressure cooking technology to quickly cook food, though it does not actually deep fry.

While pressure cookers can’t exactly replicate deep fried flavor and crunch, you can absolutely make a tasty, healthier version of crispy fried chicken using this shortcut method. Give it a try for quick weeknight dinners! Combine pressure cooking with broiling, baking, or air frying to get the crispiest crust possible.

What is the best oil to use?

Use a high smoke point oil like canola, vegetable, or avocado oil for the best flavor and frying performance.

Can you use pressure cooker to deep fry chicken?

No, a standard pressure cooker cannot be used for deep frying chicken. To deep fry, food must be fully submerged in hot oil which is not possible in the closed pressurized environment of a pressure cooker. However, you can make roasted or crispy versions of chicken in a pressure cooker using dry heat methods. But for the bubbling hot oil and true deep frying process, you would need a dedicated deep fryer appliance designed for this task.

How long should you pressure cook chicken?

For small boneless pieces, cook 3-5 minutes once pressure is achieved. Bone-in or larger pieces may need 5-8 minutes. Max out at 10 minutes.

Does KFC fry or pressure cook their chicken?

KFC is known for its iconic fried chicken which they prepare by submerging chicken parts in hot oil. Their chicken is fried in heavy duty commercial pressure fryers. This allows them to fry chicken quickly and at lower temperatures. But traditional pressure cookers are not capable of actually deep frying chicken the way KFC does. KFC does not use pressure cookers to steam or pressure cook their signature fried chicken.

What pressure level should you use?

High pressure (10-12 psi) works best to quickly cook the chicken through. Some cookers have a lower “fried chicken” setting that you can try.

Can a pressure cooker make things crispy?

A pressure cooker alone cannot make foods very crispy. However, Browning or sauteing food first, and/or finishing in the broiler or air fryer after pressure cooking can produce crispy textures. The high pressure steam and lack of dry heat limits the crisping that can be achieved in a pressure cooker. But combining pressure cooking with other methods can result in crispy foods like chicken, roasts or french fries.

Is it necessary to broil or bake after?

It’s not required but doing so will further crisp up the coating for a texture more like real fried chicken.

What is pressure cooked fried chicken called?

There is no single common name for fried chicken style dishes made in a pressure cooker. Terms like “pressure cooked crispy chicken”, “pressure cooker fried chicken” or simple names like “crispy chicken” may be used. But it is important to specify it is cooked in a pressure cooker rather than being traditional deep fried chicken.

What about an air fryer lid?

Yes, using a pressure cooker with an air fryer lid attachment allows you to crisp up the chicken after pressure cooking for perfect results.


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