The miracle of the fried chicken

Frying chicken: On the left side the chicken hasn't been flipped yet, so the side you see hasn't been fried. On the right, you see the browned, already fried side of the chicken.

Frying is a cooking process that usually involves a frying pan or a wok. The process involves the heating of fat (animal fat or cooking oil) in order to cook the relevant foodstuff. (For this article, "fat" and "oil" are used interchangeably unless otherwise noted.)

Good frying technique generally produces results that are crispy and well cooked on the outside while still moist and less processed on the inside. There are many different frying techniques and ingredients. Many things are fried in a light layer of oil at the bottom of a frying pan. Another technique is deep frying, where a vat holds enough oil to completely submerge the food. Various kinds of fat or oil will have different flavors and produce different textures.

In the 1990's and early 2000's many people began to consider frying less healthy than other methods of cooking. Generally, it results in foods with more fat and calories than other cooking methods. Different oils and fats may have varying health effects. A certain amount of fat in your diet is necessary, but too much can be unhealthy.


When cooking with fat or oil be careful. The fat or oil is hot enough to cause serious burns. Any that gets on you will also hold the heat for longer than a water-based liquid. Because water and oil do not mix well, if water gets in the hot oil, it may spatter, splash or even cause an explosion. Never pour water onto hot oil.

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Deep frying

If the oil gets too hot, it will smoke and can catch on fire. If that happens, do not try to put it out with water. If the fire is still small and contained in the pan, you can put the lid on. If you can safely reach the heat controls, turn them off. Putting baking soda or using a fire extinguisher can be effective. If the fire has already spread, evacuate everyone and call emergency services.

You can reduce the danger of fire by knowing the flash point or temperature where fires start for the kind of fat or oil you use. (Most are about 600 degrees Fahrenheit, but there is variation.) Use a cooking thermometer and adjust the heat to the appropriate, safer temperature.

Another danger when cooking with oil is that some may get spilled on the floor making it slippery. Again, because oil does not mix well with water, a quick damp mop or cloth wipe is not likely to clean up the spill. Use a dry absorbent cloth and soap or detergent that will "cut" the oil.


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