Poke Your Air Fryer Chicken For The Crispiest Skin Imaginable

2023-02-16 16:30:10 By : Ms. Alyssa Zhao

Ok, so you brought an air fryer, but are you using it or is it sitting in the cabinet collecting dust? We hope you are using it. The air fryer has revolutionized the way we fry chicken and cook nearly everything else. And while you don't get exactly the same crispness and flavor air frying food as you do with deep frying, the results are pretty close. 

The air fryer works by circulating hot air around the food with a high-speed fan. The food sits in a perforated bucket in the older models, or on racks in the newer toaster-oven styles, so the hot air reaches every crevice. This heat "fries" the chicken in a similar way to hot oil, immediately crisping the skin and cooking the chicken quickly so the interior doesn't dry out. You can air-fry breaded chicken that's been coated in flour, cornmeal, breadcrumbs, or a combination.

There are all kinds of tips and tricks out there for getting the most out of your air fryer, like not overfilling it and making sure to shake the basket or rearrange the food when cooking is halfway done. But here's one you probably haven't heard of: Poke your chicken for the crispiest skin imaginable.

According to America's Test Kitchen, when you poke the chicken skin (dark meat only please), some of the fat beneath the skin's surface will ooze out as the chicken heats up. And that fat is just what you need for a super flavorful, super crispy chicken skin.

This works because while the air fryer doesn't use a lot of fat to cook your food, you do need some. Most air fryer recipes tell you to spray a bit of oil on the food before it cooks. This helps the food brown and crisp. And since there's natural fat under the skin of dark-meat chicken, why not use it to your advantage?

The chicken breast just doesn't have as much fat as the dark meat (wings, thighs, and drumsticks). That means it can overcook and get dry and stringy if you aren't careful. On the flip side, the air fryer is one of the best ways to get juicy chicken breasts. When air frying a cut-up chicken, you will have better results if you cook the white meat and the dark meat separately, since you'll likely have to cook in batches anyway. 

Even though you have poked the dark meat chicken skin to let the fat out, after you have breaded or floured it, you may want to spray on a little bit of oil, to ensure crispness, and finish the chicken skin-side up for best results. Food Network says the oil also helps the breading and any seasonings stick to the chicken as the air whirls around it in the fryer. 

So, now that you're dusting off that unused air fryer and salivating over crispy, juicy chicken, here are some easy, tasty recipes to try out. For a spicy appetizer, air fryer chicken wings are a great choice, but if you like more zest, try air fryer sweet Thai chili chicken wings. You might want to jump the gun and roast a whole chicken in the air fryer, but we suggest starting smaller before you spread your wings. Beasts, thighs, and wings are all good starting points, and when the meat is dark, don't forget the poke!