Cooking School

Can You Fry Chicken in Olive Oil?

Olive oil is healthier, but can you use it to fry chicken?

Claire Onidi By
Claire Onidi
Passionate about food and pastries since always, Claire spends most of her time in the kitchen to develop new recipes. She is French but lived many years abroad.
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Updated August 23, 2022

can you Fry Chicken in Olive Oil

It’s a common misconception that you can’t fry chicken in olive oil due to its low smoking point. But olive oil can be heated at temperatures of 350-400°F just fine, making it a suitable alternative to vegetable oils when frying.

According to the USDA, olive oil is completely fine for frying chicken (1). It contains high volume of monounsaturated fatty acids which help to reduce cholesterol (2). And, it gives the chicken more flavor than regular vegetable oil.

Olive oil even gives fried chicken a less greasy texture, since it isn’t absorbed as easily as other oils.

How Can I Fry Chicken in Olive Oil?

There are two methods to cook chicken in olive oil with great results.

Pan Frying Chicken in Olive Oil

  1. Season the Chicken

    Before you cook the chicken, you can season it. This step is not mandatory but adds flavor to the chicken.

    Sprinkle the raw chicken with salt, pepper, herbs, or whatever seasoning you prefer. I like to use dried or fresh thyme.

  2. Heat Your Pan

    You want the pan nice and hot before you add the chicken. Heat up your pan or non-stick skillet on medium-high heat. Add 3 tbsp of olive oil and let it get hot.
  3. Cook Chicken

    Add your chicken pieces. Space them out in the pan for even cooking. Fry chicken on each side for about 2 minutes.

    Avoid flipping the chicken constantly. This will ruin the crispy skin and make the meat dry. Flip each side only once.

    Before you remove the chicken from the heat, cut open a piece and check for pinkness. If the inside is pink, continue frying chicken until it’s cooked.

  4. Drain Oil

    Remove the cooked chicken from the pan and place onto a paper towel. I do this to absorb any excess oil, so you don’t have overly greasy chicken.

Deep Frying Chicken in Olive Oil

  1. Prepare Chicken Breading

    Just like for the pan-frying method, breading is optional and up to you.

    Whisk together 100g of flour with 1 pinch of salt and paprika. In another bowl, beat 1 egg with 2 tbsp of water. Prepare a third bowl with bread crumbs or panko flakes.

  2. Bread the Chicken

    Coat your pieces of chicken in the dry flour mixture. Tap off any excess, then dip chicken into the egg mixture. Finally, coat the chicken in the bread crumb mixture.

    You don’t have to bread your chicken before deep-frying, but it gives you more juicy chicken. It also gives the chicken extra flavor and crispiness.

  3. Heat Olive Oil in Pan

    Use a deep pan like a skillet and fill it with enough olive oil to deep fry. Heat the oil at 350°F.
  4. Deep Fry Chicken

    Place chicken in olive oil. Let each side get golden brown before you flip. Each piece will take about 15 minutes to cook.
  5. Drain Oil

    Remove the cooked chicken from the pan and place onto a paper towel. I let the paper towel soak up any excess grease before serving the chicken.

Tips for Cooking Fried Chicken in Olive Oil

Master The Oil’s Smoke Point

Olive oil may not be your first choice for cooking, since it’s generally used as a salad oil. However, cooking with olive oil can still provide you with a lot of its famous health benefits.

The key to retaining its nutrition is to keep the olive oil below its smoke point. Olive oil has a smoke point of around 390-468°F (350 – 410°F for extra-virgin olive oil). Since deep-frying oil temperature is around 350–375°F, this makes olive oil a great option to use.

Opt for a Light Olive Oil

If you want to fry chicken at a high heat, opt for a light olive oil. Light olive oil has a higher smoke point than extra virgin olive oil. This makes it better suited for deep frying or searing foods.

Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point than cooking oil like canola oil, coconut oil, or peanut oil. So, it’s better for sautéing or cooking small quick meals. Good foods to cook with extra virgin olive oil include chicken tenders, vegetables or eggs.

Heat the Oil Slowly

When you heat up the olive oil for cooking, let it get up to temperature slowly. If you heat up the oil too quickly, there’s a higher chance it will burn.

When you cook chicken, try to use the least amount of oil possible. Less oil will be easier to control, and prevent your chicken from burning.

Reuse the Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Deep frying requires a lot of oil, which can be wasteful. As long as you keep the oil below its smoke point, you can reuse the oil several times. You can even store it and reuse the extra virgin olive oil again at a later time.

Just keep in mind that the more times you heat the oil, the less nutrients it will have. Reusing frying oil also causes its flavor to deteriorate over time.

Use a Slotted Spoon or Tongs

Extra virgin olive oil is healthier than regular oil, but nobody wants overly greasy food. If you want to minimize grease when you deep fry chicken, cook with a slotted spoon or tongs. Slotted utensils will allow the chicken to drain before you move it to a paper towel.

Don’t Crowd the Pan

When you’re frying chicken, be careful not to add too many pieces of chicken to the pan at once. Overcrowding the pan causes the oil to drop in temperature. When the oil isn’t hot enough, your chicken will absorb the oil and get soggy instead of crispy.

This happens because the temperature of the cold chicken affects the temperature of the hot oil. If the oil is heated to 350°F, adding cold chicken can drop the heat by as much as 100 degrees. Always cook fried chicken in small batches, so the temperature of the oil stays consistent.

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