Fried Chicken > Chicken fried chicken vs fried chicken

Chicken Fried Chicken vs Fried Chicken: What’s the Difference?

Crispy, juicy fried chicken is a beloved dish across the world. But the terms “chicken fried chicken” and “regular fried chicken” often cause confusion. What distinguishes these fried chicken preparations? Read on to learn the key differences between chicken fried chicken and fried chicken.

What’s the difference between chicken fried chicken vs fried chicken?

The main difference between chicken fried chicken and fried chicken is that chicken fried chicken uses steak instead of actual chicken as the protein.

Chicken fried chicken is made by taking thin cuts of beefsteak, tenderizing them, seasoning them, dredging them in flour, and frying the steaks until crispy. This preparation technique results in a dish that resembles fried chicken in texture and flavor profile, hence the name chicken fried steak. But there is no chicken used in the preparation.

In contrast, regular fried chicken does contain poultry. Fried chicken starts with cuts or pieces of chicken such as breasts, legs, thighs, wings, etc. The chicken is seasoned, coated in a flour or batter, and fried until the exterior is crispy and the interior stays juicy. While preparation methods vary globally, fried chicken by definition contains chicken.

To summarize:

Chicken fried chicken = fried beefsteak made to taste/feel like fried chicken
Fried chicken = seasoned, floured/battered, and fried pieces of actual chicken

Related post: White cut chicken vs hainanese chicken?

So while the names sound similar, chicken fried chicken uses an entirely different protein than fried chicken. The name comes from the textural and flavor similarities to fried chicken, not the ingredients themselves. Hope this helps explain the key difference between these two fried dishes!

Chicken Fried Chicken: A Southern Specialty

Chicken fried chicken is a specialty of Southern-style American cooking. Despite its name, it actually doesn’t contain any chicken! Chicken fried chicken starts with a thin cut of beefsteak, usually tenderized cube steak.

The meat is seasoned, dredged in flour, then fried until crispy, resulting in a dish reminiscent of fried chicken. The steak takes on the crisp coating and juicy tenderness we associate with fried chicken. The “country fried” steak is often served with traditional gravy.

Chicken fried chicken likely originated from German and Austrian immigrants living in Texas who recreated a version of Wiener schnitzel. Over time, the dish became a Southern staple. Alongside mashed potatoes and greens, chicken fried steak offers a comforting, homestyle meal.

Fried Chicken: Bird Meets Oil

In contrast, regular fried chicken contains poultry as the name suggests. Most often made with chicken, but also quail or other birds, pieces of meat are seasoned, dredged in a flour or batter coating, then fried in oil until the exterior is crispy and the inside stays tender and moist.

Fried chicken offers countless variations around the world. American-style fried chicken utilizes different parts of the chicken like breasts, legs, wings, and thighs. Korean-style fried chicken features twice-fried, ultra-crispy chicken paired with sweet chili sauce.

Japanese karaage is made of boneless chicken thigh chunks. While preparation differs, the concept remains the same: juicy, boneless chicken coated and fried.

Why is chicken fried chicken not just called fried chicken?

Chicken fried chicken is not just called fried chicken because it does not actually contain any chicken. Chicken fried chicken is made by taking thin slices of beefsteak, seasoning them, dredging them in flour, and frying them until crispy.

This method of preparation makes the fried steak resemble the texture and flavor of fried chicken, hence the name chicken fried steak or chicken fried chicken. But there is no poultry used in the dish. The naming comes from the comparison to fried chicken, not the ingredients.

What are the three types of fried chicken?

Three main types of fried chicken are:

    • American Southern fried chicken – This uses chicken parts like breasts, legs, thighs, wings, etc. The chicken is seasoned, dredged in a flour or batter coating, and fried until crispy outside and juicy inside. Pieces are served together as a full meal.
    • Korean fried chicken – Chicken is fried twice in Korean fried chicken for extra crunch. Rice flour batter leads to a light, crispy crust. The chicken is often glazed or sauced, with popular options like soy garlic or spicy.
      Japanese karaage – Karaage features bite-sized pieces of boneless chicken thigh, marinated then fried. The chicken is very crispy and juicy due to the use of thigh meat. Karaage is often served as an appetizer or over rice.

Why is Korean fried chicken not greasy?

There are two main reasons Korean fried chicken is not greasy:

  • Frying the chicken twice allows moisture to evaporate and the oil to cook out of the chicken, leading to a crisper crust without excess grease.
  • Rice flour batter absorbs less oil than typical American fried chicken batters when frying. This helps reduce the greasy feel and taste.

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