Can a house air fryer rival KFC on the subject of fried hen?

There’s a wide selection of kitchen home equipment that may make cooking tasty treats simpler and speedier, however some show to be extra widespread than others – and that is actually the case for air fryers.

Two million air fryers had been offered between April and June final 12 months, in line with market analysis agency NPD. It’s not onerous to see why these kitchen home equipment have grow to be so widespread – not solely do the very best air fryers pace up cooking instances, in addition they use significantly much less oil to prepare dinner more healthy variations of dishes which are historically deep fried in oil, akin to fries and hen wings. 

The UK has just lately been warned to brace itself for shortages at branches of quick meals hen chain, KFC, on account of disruption to the availability chain, and being big fried hen followers, this information left us dismayed. 

So we obtained to pondering, if air fryers can produce crisp, crunchy fries – can they be used to create a more healthy various to fried hen at house when you can’t get your take-away repair from elsewhere? 

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Learn on to find what occurred after we made crispy hen in an air fryer, or when you’ve already determined you wish to spend money on an air fryer, try the very best costs proper now:  

Coating issues

Earlier than even switching the air fryer on, you’ve obtained to resolve simply what to make use of to coat the crispy hen. 

Historically, fried hen is coated in flour combined with a variety of herbs and spices, though the precise 11 that KFC makes use of in its recipe is a carefully guarded secret. Nonetheless, as cooking in an air fryer makes use of significantly much less oil and a decrease cooking temperature than deep frying, I used to be involved as as to if the flour would really brown and prepare dinner sufficient to create a thick crust with a satisfying crunch. 

So I began rifling via my pantry searching for different coatings I might use that may create a crisp, crunchy crust.

In a world earlier than air fryers, hen coated in breadcrumbs was typically touted as a wholesome various to fried hen, because it crisps up when cooked within the oven with out the necessity for a similar degree of oil as deep frying. I grabbed the Panko breadcrumbs, that are drier and flakier than common breadcrumbs and take in much less oil, retaining a crisp coating whereas nonetheless aiming to be comparatively wholesome too.  

Then a field of cornflakes caught my eye. Changing breadcrumbs with crushed cornflakes has been a well-liked pattern for the previous few years for these making more healthy fried hen as a result of it gives a a lot crisper coating than breadcrumbs, and the nice and cozy amber colour is extra akin to the look of deep-fried hen.

Over the previous few years, I’ve tried a number of recipes determined to recreate this crisp, crunchy hen coating, and this one by British chef Tom Kerridge, has proved by far essentially the most profitable. 

So I made a decision to observe this recipe to the letter, however create two extra coatings substituting the flour within the recipe for panko breadcrumbs in a single, and crushed cornflakes within the different, to see which, if any, created a crisp, evenly browned coating.  

Whereas I used to be mulling over the totally different coatings, I additionally started to ponder the reduce of meat I ought to use. KFC sells each fried hen on the bone, and boneless fried hen. Boneless hen thighs would prepare dinner extra rapidly, taking round ten minutes in whole, however would this be lengthy sufficient to brown and crisp the coating? Meat on the bone would possibly make sure the thighs prepare dinner for a length that may create a golden crust. 

As a way to check this, I selected to make use of each boneless and bone-in thighs that had been rolled within the totally different coatings, to resolve simply how one can obtain wholesome fried hen in an air fryer.  

I additionally determined to double-coat the hen too – this implies dipping the hen in overwhelmed egg, rolling it within the coating, and repeating the method, to make sure the crust is thick, moderately than a fragile coating that falls off when the hen is picked up. 

This was significantly necessary because the hen, like all meals cooked in an air fryer, should be turned half method via cooking to make sure even browning. 

(Picture credit score: TechRadar)

Let’s get cooking

As soon as I’d double-coated the hen thighs, I used cooking oil spray and squirted every the highest of every piece of hen 5 instances, to make sure it was as brown and as appetizing as potential. This was repeated when turning the hen midway via cooking too. 

I heated the Instantaneous Vortex Plus air fryer, which at present holds the highest spot in our listing of greatest air fryers, to 356 F / 180 C (the really helpful cooking temperature in line with the Instantaneous app that accompanies the air fryer for cooking crispy hen) and began by cooking the boneless hen thighs for 5 minutes either side.

As soon as attending to the top of the cooking time, I used a meat thermometer to test the temperature – every bit of hen was above 165 F / 75 C – which is the required temperature for hen in line with the Meals Security web site

I used to be dissatisfied with each the hen coated in flour and panko bread crumbs. Though I’d used spray oil, it was left wanting extraordinarily pale and in no way appetizing. There have been additionally clearly areas of flour, which remained white and weren’t cooked in any respect. Nonetheless, the hen beneath the coating was succulent and juicy. 

The clear winner of this check was the hen dipped in crushed cornflakes. Partly this was due to the colour of the cornflakes, which have golden amber hue in comparison with the white flour, and the pale cream shade of the panko breadcrumbs. 

Even after such a brief period of time within the air fryer, the cornflake-crusted hen  was crisp and crunchy, whereas the panko breadcrumbs and flour had been comfortable and in components soggy too. 

Subsequent we repeated the check with bone-in hen thighs, and allowed ten minutes per facet, after consulting the Instantaneous app. Checking the temperature after 20 minutes, our meat thermometer was solely registering  150F / 65 C, so we cooked the hen for an additional 5 minutes so it reached the right temperature.

The longer cooking time proved to be extra profitable with all three coatings evenly browned and reaching a colour that seemed appetizing. The flour coating was nonetheless slightly soggy in sections, nonetheless the panko breadcrumbs and crushed cornflakes had been crisp throughout. 

All three coatings had been scrumptious, however for me, the cornflake-coated hen was the winner, due to the satisfying crunch it offered. Nonetheless, my companion thought the panko-breadcrumbed hen was higher, stating he discovered the cornflakes barely over-cooked, virtually bordering on burnt.  

Healthy fried chicken thighs made with different coatings in an air fryer

(Picture credit score: TechRadar)

 Verdict

Healthy fried chicken thighs made with different coatings next to the Instant Vortex Plus air fryer they were made in

(Picture credit score: TechRadar)

It’s clear an air fryer can rival KFC on the subject of producing crispy hen, however what you utilize to coat the hen and whether or not the meat contains the bone will have an effect on simply how crunchy the crust is. 

For essentially the most satisfying crunch, use crushed cornflakes to coat the hen particularly when you’re utilizing boneless hen – because the shorter prepare dinner time isn’t sufficient to brown panko breadcrumbs and flour to an appetizing golden colour. 

Nonetheless, the preliminary colour of the cornflakes goes some approach to creating an interesting end in such a brief length. With this in thoughts wholemeal breadcrumbs would additionally work, though we didn’t use these in our check.  

In case you favor your hen on the bone, all three coatings will brown and crisp within the allotted cooking time, though the floured coating was nonetheless ever-so barely soggy. 

For hard-core KFC followers, air-fryer crispy hen could not style precisely just like the quick meals you’ve come to know and love, however it’s a more healthy various that can suffice people who have a hen craving, particularly if their native retailer is battling meals shortages.