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Most of the recipes that call for crispy chicken mention that you must leave the skin on. That's what crisps.

Is it possible to make crispy chicken without skin?

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Have you thought about oven fried chicken? The skin is removed and the meat is soaked in buttermilk with garlic and herbs for a couple of hours. Then it is removed and set to dry uncovered on a rack on a sheet in the fridge. Then it's floured, dunked in egg mixture and covered in seasoned breadcrumbs tossed with olive oil before being baked on a rack in the oven. No skin, uses good olive oil for fat, tastes great, even better than normal fired chicken IMO, and is super crispy. – Adam S Jul 3 '11 at 12:48
up vote 5 down vote accepted

It depends on how you define crisp.

You can definitely have a different texture on the outer side of a piece of chicken. In fact, you can't have the same texture as on the inside, unless you are making it sous vide. It will be browned, and drier than the inside. But you can't make it go "crack" when you chomp down on it. You can compare it to the outside of a good steak. So if you want the chicken to be crisp, you really need the skin.

If you don't insist on the chicken itself being crisp, and just need the texture, you can bread the chicken with breadcrumbs, or froth it with batter. Breading is the usual option and works well with pieces shallow fried in a pan, such as chicken breasts or boneless backs. If you are making a whole chicken, you'll have to be creative, and frothing may work better. In any case, a breading or batter cover needs fat to be crisp, so if you are removing the skin for the calorie content, you don't gain anything.

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Simply frying in deep fat will crisp the outside of the skinless chicken. However it has the draw back of making the meat dry and unpleasant to eat. Best done only with thin strips of meat that will cook quickly and so not dry out too much. If dealing with large bits of meat you can cook normally in an over or water then fry after in hot oil for a short time, just long enough to colour the outside, since the inside is already cooked.

In China they crisp chicken by covering it in a very thin layer of corn flour before frying. You want just the thinnest coating. Too much will make the chicken look like it's battered like KFC.

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When in doubt, there's always breading and frying. It'll put a nice crispy layer on the chicken, and might be what they mean by "crispy chicken." I know "crispy chicken strips" are generally breaded and fried chicken breast cutlets.

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I usually just add salt and pepper to my skinless chicken and then heat my cast iron skillet until it's lightly smoking. Searing it on both sides gives me the crispy outside. It tastes close to fried chicken to me. :)

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