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How to Dredge Chicken

Dredging may be a basic cooking technique, but done right, it will give your chicken a satisfyingly crispy coating while keeping it moist on the inside. Here’s a quick guide on how to dredge chicken.

How to Dredge Chicken

To dredge meat is to coat it lightly with a dry ingredient. You can dredge chicken in four easy steps.

Step #1: Dry the Chicken

Many skip this step, not knowing the impact it has on their cooking. Drying the chicken before dredging it is critical to making the outcome crispy and delicious.

Regardless of if you get your chicken butchered fresh or get packaged meat from a supermarket, the meat will be moist. You must pat the chicken dry with paper towels to remove the excess moisture from the meat.

Too much moisture in the meat risks the flour getting soggy, leading to the chicken not browning well.

Step #2: Find the Right Dish

To ensure hassle-free dredging, you must find the right dish to spread the flour or your dry ingredient of choice in.

A pie plate is big enough for dredging pieces of chicken in. However, if you don’t have one, don’t fret. You can use any dish that’s wide enough to fit the pieces of chicken.

Alternatively, you could use a large bag to spread the flour.

Using A Bag To Dredge Chicken

Spreading flour in a large food-safe bag will allow you to coat multiple chicken pieces in one go (granted the pieces are small enough). If the chicken pieces are larger, it’s best to cover one piece at a time.

Small pieces of chicken will get coated with flour with a couple of shakes of the bag. If the pieces are bigger, using a bag makes rolling the meat in the flour much easier.

You don’t have to use a plastic bag for this — if you have paper bags at hand, all you have to do is spread a sufficient quantity of flour in one before you can get to dredging.

Some find dredging in a dish a lot easier than dredging in a bag. Choosing one over the other won’t make a difference in the taste of your dish, so the decision comes down to personal preference.

If you decide to use a bag and not a dish, ensure that the bag is food-safe. Plastic bags and even some paper bags have dyes and glues embedded in them. Using one of these bags isn’t safe since their chemicals may get absorbed by the flour and meat.

Step #3: Spread and Season the Flour

Grab your dish or bag and spread flour in it generously. Season the flour with salt and pepper, and don’t forget to add herbs to the flour to make the chicken more flavorful.

If you like your chicken spicy, throw some paprika or chili powder into the mix to your palate’s liking.

Warning: Do not salt the chicken directly.

While salting chicken directly enhances its flavor and makes it juicier, salting the chicken directly isn’t a good idea when dredging.

Salt is a desiccant and leeches moisture out of the meat. The moisture that the salt will draw out will make the flour coating soggy and prevent the chicken from browning properly.

Adding salt to the flour along with other seasoning is the right way to go. The flour will act as a barrier between the salt and the meat, adding flavor to it without drawing out moisture.

Step #4: Dredge the Poultry

For the final step, the chicken goes into the flour-filled dish or bag. After the meat is coated with flour liberally, turn it over to the other side to ensure it gets covered with flour all over.

Next, get the chicken out of the dish or bag, shake it, then tap the meat with your fingers to get all of the excess flour off. Leaving extra flour on the meat will make the coating gummy when you give the chicken an egg wash during the breading process.

A perfectly dredged piece of chicken is lightly but thoroughly coated with flour.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long before cooking should I dredge the chicken?

Chicken must be dredged right before it’s cooked. Letting the chicken sit after dredging it will cause it to get soggy. The longer the poultry waits after dredging, the more it is sapped of its relishing texture.

What can I substitute flour with for dredging chicken?

The idea of dredging is to create a barrier between the meat and the heat. This way, the poultry will remain juicy while the outer coating is crunchy making it a crispy savory meal.

You can substitute flour with any finely ground power. Cornstarch and almond flour are the healthiest alternatives, but you can use coconut flour or flaxseed meal if you prefer.

Is dredging with almond flour healthy?

Besides having low-carb content, almond flour is packed with nutrients, making it a lot healthier than other flours. But you must bear in mind that almond flour needs more egg wash to keep the breading stuck than wheat flour does.

What is the difference between dredging and breading?

The process of coating meat or other food with dry ingredients like wheat flour is called dredging. However, it is often confused with breading.

Breading comprises the process of dipping food in egg wash and breadcrumbs after dredging.

deep fried chicken

Conclusion

And there you have it — the secret to the perfect dredging broken down in four easy steps. Now it’s time to put your dredging skills to work!

You can use this technique to make classic fried chicken or experiment with other recipes and even air- and oven-frying to find what pleases your tastebuds just right.

While it may seem like a test of willpower, you must leave the chicken to rest for 10 minutes after cooking. Cutting into the meat too early will lead to all the flavorful juices flowing out. 

Regardless of how you cook your chicken, though, getting this technique will leave you wanting more.

Nathaniel Lee is an avid cook, drawing on his decades of home cooking and fine dining experience. With inspirations like Alton Brown and Gordon Ramsey, Nathaniel focuses on simple processes to make amazing food.