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Unleashing the Ultimate Crunch: Elevate Your Fried Chicken Game with Leftover Marinade

Add crunch to your fried chicken with leftover marinade

Fried chicken is a popular dish that combines a crispy crust with a juicy interior. Achieving the perfect balance between the two can be a challenge, but there’s a simple trick that can take your fried chicken to the next level of crunch. And the best part? You probably already have the secret ingredient: leftover marinade.

The Power of Leftover Marinade

When you brine or marinate your chicken overnight, you’re infusing it with flavor and moisture. But what do you do with the liquid when you’re ready to bread and roast the chicken? Instead of throwing it away, you can use it to add crunch to your fried chicken.
After mixing your breading, simply drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the marinade into the flour and mix with your fingers, fork, or whisk. This extra liquid in the batter forms clumps that stick to the chicken, creating a crisper, more crunchy surface. As a result, the chicken pieces become even crispier toward the end of the frying process, providing a delightful texture and flavor.
While your chicken will still be crunchy without this step, adding a tablespoon or so of marinade to the dredge will greatly increase the crunch factor. To maximize the effect, let your chicken sit in the dredge for a few minutes to allow the flour to hydrate in the buttermilk brine clinging to the chicken.

More tips for crispy fried chicken

Now that you know the secret to using leftover marinade, let’s explore some other tips and tricks to ensure your fried chicken has a perfectly crispy crust.

Add vodka or bourbon to your brine or batter

Adding a small amount of vodka or bourbon to your brine or wet batter can make a significant difference in the texture of your fried chicken crust. The alcohol evaporates more quickly than other liquids during frying, creating bubbles in the crust and providing additional surface area. This technique is similar to adding vodka to pie crusts to create flaky layers. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different spirits to find your preferred flavor profile.

Incorporate cornstarch into the batter

To prevent the flour in your batter from glutening and weighing down your crispy coating, add some cornstarch. Cornstarch adds a crispy and airy element to your fried chicken, reminiscent of tempura. By combining cornstarch with flour, you can achieve a light and delicate crust that complements the juicy chicken inside.

Double fry for extra crispiness

If you want an extra-extra-crispy crust, consider frying your chicken twice. After the first fry, let the chicken cool in the refrigerator for an hour or even overnight. This step allows the crust to set and become even more crispy. When you’re ready to serve, fry the chicken again until it’s golden brown. The double frying technique provides a satisfying crunch that will impress your guests.

Finish in the oven for perfectly cooked chicken

If you’re worried about undercooking the chicken to achieve a crispy crust, you can finish the cooking process in the oven. Once the chicken is golden brown, transfer it to a preheated oven and cook until it reaches a food-safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This method will ensure that your chicken is not only crispy, but also perfectly cooked and safe to eat.

Bottom Line

These tips and tricks will help you up your fried chicken game and achieve a sublime level of crispness. Don’t let your leftover marinade go to waste-incorporate it into the batter and see the magic it does to your chicken’s texture. Combine it with other techniques like adding vodka or bourbon, using cornstarch, frying twice, and finishing in the oven for a truly exceptional fried chicken experience. So roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and get ready to make the most delicious, crispy fried chicken you’ve ever tasted.


Yes, you can use any type of marinade you prefer. Whether it’s a buttermilk-based marinade, a spicy herb and spice blend, or a tangy citrus marinade, the leftover liquid can be incorporated into the dredge to enhance the crunchiness of your fried chicken.

Do I need to let the chicken sit in the dredge before frying?

While it’s not necessary, allowing the chicken to sit in the batter for a few minutes can help the flour hydrate in the buttermilk brine, resulting in a more cohesive coating. This step can further enhance the crispness of the fried chicken.

Can I use this technique for boneless chicken?

Absolutely! This technique can be used on both bone-in and boneless chicken. Whether you’re frying chicken tenders, boneless thighs, or boneless breasts, incorporating leftover marinade into the batter will add extra crunch to your fried chicken.

How much leftover marinade should I add to the tank?

To avoid making the dredge too wet, it’s recommended to add about 2 tablespoons of marinade to the flour mixture. This amount is enough to add crunch without making the coating too soggy.

Can I use this technique with other fried foods?

While this article focuses on enhancing the crunch of fried chicken, you can certainly experiment with incorporating leftover marinade into the batter for other fried foods. Try it with onion rings, fried fish, or even vegetables for an extra burst of flavor and texture.

Can I refrigerate leftover marinade and use it later?

It’s generally not recommended to reuse marinade that has been in contact with raw chicken due to food safety concerns. However, if you have leftover marinade that hasn’t been in contact with raw chicken, you can refrigerate it and use it within a few days for another batch of fried chicken or other culinary creations.

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