Find more than 175 lightened-up recipes in our new book, Comfort Food Makeovers, which features recipe makeovers of classic home-style meals and popular restaurant dishes.
The first thing that comes to mind when we think of fried chicken is the shatteringly crisp, ultra-crunchy coating. But calories come to mind as well: Two pieces of the Original Recipe Fried Chicken from KFC weighed in at 720 calories and 42 grams of fat. We knew there had to be a way to cut down these numbers and still produce that golden-brown, crunchy, rich flavor that makes the dish so delicious. And we were right: Our final recipe clocked in at 450 calories, with only 10 grams of fat. Check out our step-by-step process for breading and baking.
MAKEOVER SPOTLIGHT: OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN
1. The first step in making over our recipe was removing the fatty skin, which gets ultra-crisp when fried. Looking to replicate that texture, we tried making the coating with a number of different ingredients, including homemade bread crumbs and potato chips, but cornflakes came out on top. Not only are cornflakes relatively low in fat and calories, but they also provide a super-crisp texture. To crush the cereal into small pieces, we found it best to place them in a zipper-lock bag and crush them with a rolling pin or the bottom of a large skillet.
2. When we coated our chicken all over with the cornflake crumbs, we found that the coating on the bottom became soggy during baking. To avoid this, we simply coated the top and sides only. Given that the bottom of a split chicken breast is mostly bones anyway, we didn’t miss the crunchy texture on the underside of the chicken. Plus, using less coating meant less fat and calories. To ensure the crumbs adhere well, be sure to press them onto the sides and top of the chicken.
3. Deep-frying was a nonstarter for our lightened recipe, so we baked our chicken instead—this shaved off a huge amount of fat and calories per serving. To help the chicken cook through more evenly and allow any moisture to drain away, we baked the chicken elevated on a wire rack. Spraying the rack with vegetable oil spray prevented the chicken from sticking.
4. The best way to know when the chicken is done is to take its temperature. Be careful not to overbake the chicken, or it will taste dry and stringy. We baked the chicken until the coating was golden and the chicken registered 160 degrees, which took about 35 minutes; this ensured moist, juicy meat.