Most recipes for fried chicken you’ll find, typically include some form of breading that’s usually flour.
And if you’re intolerant to gluten or want a low-carb meal, you may want to learn how to bread chicken without flour or breadcrumbs.
Fortunately, there are a few flour substitutes you can use to bread chicken that create a nice crispy exterior.
You can use gluten free flour, dip your chicken in a cornstarch batter or even use mayonnaise.
In this article, I’ll explain how each method works, so you can make the perfect breaded chicken without using any flour.
How to bread chicken without the flour?
Making fried chicken is easy since it doesn’t require any special ingredients or knowledge.
In most cases, all you need are some chicken breasts, a few eggs, flour, and breadcrumbs.
However, if you’ve decided to cut out gluten or you’ve simply run out of flour, you’ll need to use a substitute instead.
Flour acts as a binder that helps the eggs and breadcrumbs stick to the chicken.
Without it, most of the coating will fall off during cooking and your chicken will taste rubbery and have an uneven texture.
Therefore, to use a substance that will help breadcrumbs stick to the chicken, I typically use cornstarch, mayonnaise, or a gluten free flour.
Let me explain how you can use each of these flour substitutions to make some crispy breaded chicken.
Dip the chicken cuts in cornstarch
Cornstarch is a staple ingredient in many East Asian dishes such as Korean chicken.
It’s typically used to create a crispy exterior for dumplings, fried meats, and desserts.
Similarly to wheat flour, cornstarch absorbs moisture and helps dry ingredients stick to meats.
This makes it a great substitute for flour in breaded chicken.
Some recipes use both flour and cornstarch, but you can also achieve the desired result with cornstarch and no flour at all.
To make a cornstarch coating for your fried chicken, you’ll need to combine cornstarch with water and season with salt and pepper.
I’ve found that using two parts cornstarch and one part water produces the best batter.
Once your cornstarch batter is ready, you dip the chicken in until it’s fully coated and fry it in a pan.
I personally prefer using cornstarch instead of flour since it gives my chicken a thinner, crispier finish.
Use Gluten free Almond flour (keto alternative)
If you’re intolerant to gluten, making breaded chicken might seem like an impossible task.
Fortunately, there are plenty of gluten free flours available on the market that will give your fried chicken a nice crust.
I like using almond flour since it can be used as a 1:1 substitute for wheat flour and doesn’t require any mental gymnastics on my part.
It also contains plenty of minerals such as iron, magnesium, and copper which makes it more nutritious.
Almond flour is also a good keto alternative to regular flour since it has almost no carbs!
Anyways, when I’m making breaded chicken with almond flour, I also replace the breadcrumbs with parmesan cheese so my entire recipe is gluten free and low carbs.
Even though it’s not necessary, you can add 1/4 cup of coconut milk to the egg wash for a deeper flavor.
In terms of spices, I like using a simple mix of Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
To prepare the chicken for frying, you should combine the almond flour, parmesan cheese, and spices in a shallow dish.
Once the dry ingredients are well combined, you roll the chicken slices in them, then coat them with the egg wash, and roll them in the almond flour mix once again. The order of actions is important for achieving the best results with this one!
Coat the chicken with a thin layer of mayonnaise
Even though it may sound odd, you can bread chicken with mayonnaise and breadcrumbs instead of flour and eggs.
Since mayonnaise is adhesive and thick, it will act as a glue that will keep breadcrumbs from falling off.
Another benefit of using mayonnaise for breaded chicken is that it improves its visual appeal.
Frying chicken bits dredged in mayo initiates the Maillard reaction which rearranges the amino acids of the ingredients and leads to browning.
This also changes the overall texture of the crust and boosts its flavor.
To make breaded chicken with mayonnaise instead of flour and eggs, you’ll need 3 tbsp mayo, some breadcrumbs, and spices.
You start by seasoning the chicken with the spices and letting it rest for 15 minutes.
Afterwards, you cover each slice in a thin layer of mayo and roll it in the breadcrumbs.
Then all you need to do is fry the chicken tenders and enjoy their delightful taste!
You can bread chicken without flour or any other substitutes.
In fact, this produces a lighter and more tender crust than the traditional approach.
In order to put bread crumbs on chicken cutlets without any flour, you need to pound the chicken flat and season it with your spices of choice.
Pounding the chicken into thin pieces is essential as it will keep the breadcrumbs from falling off.
Afterwards, you roll the chicken in a mixture of breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese and then fry it in a pan.
It’s important to not skip the parmesan cheese since it helps the bread crumbs adhere to the meat.
I recommend using Panko breadcrumbs if you don’t make your own.
Some people also use an egg wash, but I’ve found that it can fall off during cooking so I don’t use it.
Author’s note: In general, liquids such as egg wash or water in breading should be applied after you’ve rolled the meat in some dry ingredient first. After that you roll it in the dry ingredients again or you risk the breading falling off.
It’s also worth noting that you shouldn’t flip your chicken cutlets more than once since this too can lead to some of the coating falling off.
Finally, remember that breading takes time and the raw chicken will be out of your refrigerator for quite a while before being cooked. This is one of those meals where it’s important to work with fresh raw chicken that is not close to spoiling yet.
How long should you fry breaded chicken?
The most important factor you need to consider when determining how long you should fry your breaded chicken is oil temperature. Both canola and vegetable oils have high smoking point so they can be used interchangeably in that regard.
If the oil temperature is too low, your chicken will cook slowly and the oil will soak into the batter.
This will not only cost you more time but also make the breading soggy.
On the flipside, frying chicken at higher temperatures will speed up the process, but may also burn the crust and dry out the meat.
Having said that, the ideal oil temperature for frying is between 360°F (182°C) and 375°F (190°C). This a is significantly higher internal temperature than when you pan fry regular chicken drumsticks.
In case you don’t have a food thermometer, you can use a wooden spoon to tell if the oil is hot enough.
To do this, simply dip the end of the wooden spoon in the oil.
If the oil starts sizzling and bubbling around the wood, then it’s hot enough for frying.
However, if the oil is smoking, you should reduce the temperature on your stove and let it cool down.
Assuming your oil is at an ideal temperature, it should take you a total of around 8 minutes to fry breaded chicken on both sides.
This means each side needs to be fried for about 4 minutes.
The best way to tell whether your chicken tenders are done is to measure their internal temperature.
The recommended internal temperature for poultry is 165°F, but you should remove your tenders once they reach 160°F since carryover cooking will naturally increases their temperature for a little longer afterward.
It’s also worth noting that overcrowding your pan will lower the temperature of the oil so you should avoid cooking too many chicken cutlets all at once.
How to bake breaded chicken properly?
If you’re striving for a healthier lifestyle, fried chicken may not be the best option for your diet plan.
Fortunately, you can avoid all of the unnecessary fats and cut out the calories by baking breaded chicken in the oven.
However, baked breaded chicken has a firmer crust that’s not as crunchy so you should keep that in mind.
In terms of the breading, you can use any of the methods that I’ve listed for fried chicken.
To make breaded chicken in the oven:
- You first need to line a baking sheet with parchment paper. For juicier chicken, you can coat the baking sheet with melted butter instead of using parchment paper.
- Once you’re ready, you roll the chicken pieces in batter and arrange them on the baking sheet.
- After all of the pieces are arranged, you bake the chicken in an oven preheated to 375°F (190°C) for 10 to 12 minutes on each side.
- When the chicken is done, it should have a golden brown crust.
My short recap
There are plenty of ways to bread chicken without flour. You can even skip the eggs if you wanted to.
You can use a gluten free alternative such as cornstarch, coat it in mayonnaise, or fry it without any substitutes.
And if you want to lower your carb intake or calorie in general, you can apply these techniques and bake it straight in the oven, using almonf flour.
Regardless of your choice, the coating will never fall off the chicken as long as the meat’s cooked at the proper temperature and dipped in the right order.