Fried Chicken > Can you use cornmeal for fried chicken

Can You Use Cornmeal for Fried Chicken?

Fried chicken is a beloved comfort food in the American South and across the country. When done right, fried chicken has ultra-crispy and flavorful skin enveloping juicy, tender meat. But what’s the secret to getting that perfect crunch on your fried chicken? The answer lies in the coating. While all-purpose flour is commonly used, cornmeal can be a game-changer for getting crispy fried chicken every time.

Can You Use Cornmeal for Fried Chicken?

Yes, cornmeal can absolutely be used for fried chicken and actually creates an incredibly crispy, crunchy, and flavorful crust when used properly. Cornmeal is ground dried corn that comes in fine, medium, and coarse grinds. The coarser the grind, the better it will work for fried chicken. The gritty, sandy texture of cornmeal provides an extra crispy and textured coating on chicken when fried.

To use cornmeal for fried chicken, start by soaking chicken pieces in buttermilk or egg. Then dredge the moist chicken in coarse cornmeal to evenly coat. For best results, do a double dredge by dredging in flour first before the cornmeal. The flour helps the cornmeal stick while the cornmeal provides crunch. A blend of 2 parts cornmeal to 1 part flour makes the ideal coating. Season the cornmeal with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne, and other spices for flavor.

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Frying the cornmeal coated chicken results in an incredibly crunchy crust that stays crispy. The bumpy texture and coarse particles of cornmeal form a shatteringly crispy exterior while sealing in the chicken’s juices. The cornmeal also enhances the flavor of the chicken, accentuating its natural sweetness and balancing the other seasonings. While flour works for frying chicken, cornmeal takes it to the next level of crispy, crunchy fried chicken perfection.

The secret to crispy fried chicken is coarsely ground cornmeal combined with some flour and spiced up to flavor those crispy bites with the satisfying crunch you crave.

What is Cornmeal and Why Use it for Fried Chicken?

Cornmeal is ground dried corn that comes in fine, medium, and coarse grinds. It has a gritty, sandy texture and sweet, nutty corn flavor. Using cornmeal to coat your fried chicken gives it an extra crunchy and textured crust. The coarse particles of cornmeal cling well to the chicken, adhering into a shatteringly crispy layer. The flavor of cornmeal also accentuates the natural sweetness of the chicken.

How to Use Cornmeal for Fried Chicken

Using cornmeal for fried chicken is easy. Simply dredge moist chicken pieces in cornmeal to evenly coat. For ultra-crispy chicken, double-dredge the chicken by coating it first in egg and/or buttermilk then dredging in cornmeal. For even more crunch and flavor, you can blend the cornmeal with flour and spice mixes.

A combination of 2 parts cornmeal to 1 part flour makes the perfect crispy coating. Season the cornmeal with salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and other favorite spices.

The Secret Crispy Coating – Cornmeal and Flour

Blending cornmeal with all-purpose flour makes the ideal crispy coating for fried chicken. The cornmeal provides great crunch and texture while the gluten in the flour helps the coating adhere tightly to the chicken for a shatteringly crispy crust that doesn’t fall off. Using just cornmeal can sometimes result in the coating flaking off too easily while all-purpose flour alone makes a softer coating.

The addition of egg and buttermilk in the dredging process also helps the cornmeal and flour coating stick to the chicken thanks to the protein and acids that alter the protein structures in the meat, allowing the coating to bind tightly.

Makes for An Extra Crispy and Flavorful Crust

Coating your fried chicken in cornmeal before frying results in chicken with a delightfully crunchy crust that stays crispy even after the chicken cools down. The coarse particles of cornmeal form a bumpy and shatteringly crispy texture. Beyond crunch, the nutty corn flavor of cornmeal also enhances the flavor of the fried chicken. It brings out the natural sweetness of the chicken and balances the other seasonings.

While all-purpose flour certainly gets the job done for fried chicken, taking the time to bread your chicken in cornmeal will reward you with fried chicken that is so crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, and full of flavor in every bite. Cornmeal crust is the secret to the fried chicken of your crispy, crunchy dreams.

Is cornmeal better than flour for frying chicken?

Cornmeal is an excellent alternative to regular flour when frying chicken. It can provide an extra crunchy and textured crust. Many Southern cooks prefer using cornmeal or a blend of cornmeal and flour for the ultimate crispy fried chicken.

What is the best flour to fry chicken in?

The best flour to use when frying chicken is all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour contains enough gluten to make a coating that adheres well to the chicken for a crispy crust. The high gluten content allows the flour to bind to the chicken and seal in moisture while also crisping up nicely when fried. All-purpose flour has the right balance of crispy and tender. Avoid cake or pastry flours as they have too little gluten.

What seasoning goes well with cornmeal for fried chicken?

Season cornmeal with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, and other favorite spices for fried chicken. The cornmeal’s natural sweetness balances the spices nicely.

What is the best flour for crispy frying?

For ultra crispy fried foods, using corn flour (not to be confused with cornmeal) or potato flour can’t be beat. Corn flour is made from finely ground cornmeal so it is very dried and starchy, resulting in an extra crispy coating when fried. Potato flour has less gluten than all-purpose but still crisps up beautifully. Waxy potato flour makes the crunchiest coating. These alternative flours contain starches that crisp up quickly when fried.

Why double dredge chicken in cornmeal?

Double dredging the chicken by coating in egg/buttermilk then cornmeal helps the coating stick tightly and evenly to the chicken. The egg/buttermilk alter the chicken’s surface proteins so the cornmeal crust adheres better. Double dredging results in very crispy fried chicken.

What is the secret to good fried chicken?

The secret to truly good fried chicken is all in how you coat it. For crispy, crunchy fried chicken, double dredge the chicken first in seasoned flour, then buttermilk, then back into the flour. Letting the coated chicken sit for 10-15 mins allows the crust to hydrate and adhere better. Frying at the right temperature, between 325-350°F, avoids under or overcooking. Starting with the right chicken matters to – use bone-in, skin-on thighs and drumsticks.

Can you use only cornmeal to fry chicken?

You can use 100% cornmeal to coat fried chicken, but it may cause the coating to flake off more easily. Combining cornmeal with some all-purpose flour helps the coating stick to the chicken better so it stays on when frying and eating. Use a 2:1 ratio of cornmeal to flour.

What is fried chicken batter made of?

Classic fried chicken batter contains eggs, milk or buttermilk, all-purpose flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and spices. The eggs and dairy provide moisture and binding while the flour provides structure and crunch once fried. Baking powder reacts with the liquid to fluff up the batter for a thick, crispy coating. Seasonings like garlic powder, paprika, cayenne, thyme, and oregano add flavor. Some batters add cornmeal or potato starch for extra crispness.

Should you use fine or coarse cornmeal for fried chicken?

Coarse ground cornmeal works best to coat chicken for frying. The coarser grind adheres well and provides more nooks and crannies for getting a bumpy, extra crunchy texture on the fried chicken. Fine cornmeal can work but may not get as crispy.


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