Chicken: Fried or Roasted?

Being an inquisitive person, and adventurous in the kitchen, I wanted to settle the issue for myself: do I prefer frying chicken, or roasting chicken? Is my “House Chicken” roasted or fried? Here’s a comparison (note: these are standard recipes; you probably have several in your collection. I’m just going to talk about the results, the process, and my preferences. I’ve added links to good recipes for each, right in the title – remember that if you see red text, it’s clickable. Your comments are welcome!)  

Fried Chicken

fried chickenSoaked in brine, dipped in a standard 3-part flour, buttermilk, and flour, then fried in about 3 inches of hot oil – this is a classic in the kitchen, and deservedly so.

The outside is crispy, the interior perfectly cooked and very moist. This chicken is good hot or cold. The texture will suffer, though, once it’s been refrigerated, for it will never regain that crispy crunchy crust.

Pro:

You can make as much, or as little, as you need. It doesn’t heat up the whole kitchen, because it’s made on the stovetop. It’s delicious. You can dress it up or down, serving it at a fancy dinner or a backyard picnic. You can vary the seasoning to make some interesting variations.

CON:

Mess. Hoo boy, does it mess up your stove, and anything else in a three-foot radius, with sticky, icky, oil residue. You’ll have about two quarts of chicken-flavored oil to dispose of, and that’s if you had only one pot going. If you had a bunch of chicken to fry, you might have even more. And good luck re-using that stuff. It’s a tricky process, because you need to have the oil at just the right temperature, to cook chicken that’s crispy and also perfectly cooked. Too hot, and it’ll burn; too cool, and you get greasy tough bird.

Roast Chicken

roast chickenBrown and crispy on the outside, juicy and flavorful on the inside, it’s also dead simple to make: you need a pan, a chicken, salt & pepper.

In an old cookbook in my collection, roast chicken is ‘the bride’s best friend’ because it produces a fine meal with little effort. Season the bird, put it in a pan, and stick it in the oven. Easy.

Pro:

It’s simple. It’s easy to vary the flavor with seasonings. You can add stuffing if you like it. Two chickens can roast at the same time – maybe 3 or 4, if your oven is large and you have the pan for it. It’s good hot or cold. You can roast a whole chicken or the chicken parts. Cleanup is simpler: there’s the roasting pan and some drippings, which you might even use in gravy or soup.

CON:

It takes time – about an hour, maybe more, depending on the size (and number) of the birds. (I’m talking about standard 3-4 lb birds here, let’s not mix teeny tiny Cornish game hens into this discussion!) It uses the oven, which might heat up the kitchen, which in 90-degree weather is just not okay.

My Verdict – Chicken: Fried or Roasted?

Roasted! From early fall to late spring, it’s one of my kitchen standbys. I love the sight (and smell) of a roasted bird, plump and bronzed. I use the pan drippings, along with the bones and any leftover skin, to make a full-flavored stock. I can easily cook two birds at the same time, giving me a head start on all sorts of meals using cooked chicken. I can spin a meal centered on roast chicken in all sorts of directions: country French, Greek, Asian, delicate, hearty, lean, sumptuous. It’s among the most versatile dishes I know.

And it’s dead easy. Never underestimate the big payoff for little effort. In my kitchen, roast wins, every time.

What about yours?

10 Responses

  1. Agreed! Roasted chicken wins in our home too, for many reasons. Although fried chicken tastes wonderful, the workload demanded to create it cannot jive with a busy mom’s schedule. Trying to keep hungry kids out of the kitchen @ 4-5pm while cooking with hot oil just sounds like trouble.

    Roasted chicken on the other hand is classy, has easy preparation, easy clean up, and dare I say it… it’s healthier! So many choices in life dictate how we use our time & resources, so if I’m gonna spend an hour teaching the kids (by word & example) how to cook healthy? Well, then I suppose roasted wins by default 😉 It also frees me up to make the side dishes.

    Thank you for sharing the tips/ recipes for fried chicken! I will definitely give it a whirl on a weekend.

    Hugs!

    • Yes, keeping the kids away from hot hot oil is a good idea! So far the consensus seems to be “Roast at home, Fried away”

  2. Maurita, fried chicken occurs around here maybe once a year. I do it outside on a portable burner and enjoy it very much, but I keep as much of the mess out of the house, and reserve it for the very occasional treat.

    A roast chicken is often my go-to when I don’t know what else to do. Infinite possibilities with one of those.

    • Now there’s an idea I hadn’t thought of: the portable burner. Brilliant!

  3. I like the comparison and agree with findings on both. As much as I’m a sucker for fried food (and I AM), I tend to go for roasting because it takes less active time…

    In the last year-and-a-half I’ve developed a soft spot for a combination of the two methods: it starts with deboning a chicken, pan frying the skin to brown it before finishing in the oven. It takes 35-40 minutes from the moment I start deboning (though the first few times it took me almost an hour to debone a chicken!)

    Many will say that the deboned chicken will have less flavor as it’s cooked off the bone but I haven’t found that to be the case at all (I’m guessing part of that is due to using really good chicken that’s been air-dried and not frozen as well as cooking it with a bit of lard or suet)…

    This was a fun read – thanks for sharing Maurita!

    • Hm, you make me want to see a video of you doing that. Or better yet, visiting to see it in person!

  4. I love both! I like to either brine the chicken to be fried, in hot sauce and buttermilk, or just inject hot sauce in the pieces. I love, love, love, leftover fried chicken. The roast chicken is certainly easier, and it’s hard to beat a good roasted bird. I always save the carcass and bones to make a little chicken stock. And while I love both, roasted and fried, I like to cook my birds on my charcoal rotisserie! the skin is the best part, and ya have no mess to clean up !

  5. They are both really good! Fried chicken is about the crispy exterior. But it IS a big deal to make, and clean up after. It’s not something you would make quickly at the spur of the moment. This is why take-out chicken places thrive (IF they do it well.)

    Roasted Chicken is much easier to do quickly and at the spur of the moment. I probably make it couple times a month. A chicken is pretty inexpensive, and what could be easier than a good salt-crust, some root veg beneath it to keep it from sticking to the pan, and just chopping it up once done? I also stuff rosemary in the cavity and sometimes a half a lemon. I squeeze it over the bird and toss the whole half inside.

    I love fried chicken, but for making it at home, Roast Chicken is the winner. Also I would say that while roast chicken takes about an hour to cook and fried chicken is much quicker, you will spend MUCH more than an hour setting up to make and bread your chicken and then clean everything up after.

    • I love eating good fried chicken … but not cleaning up after making it.

    • bingo!

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