Crispy BBQ chicken drumsticks

How to Make Crispy Chicken in the Oven

Last Updated on January 28, 2021

If you were to describe your ideal piece of chicken, how would it look? For us, it would be crispy, succulent, and juicy.

In this guide, we’ll talk about how you can make chicken that fits all three of these criteria in your oven at home. Use our favorite cooking tips and tricks to bake up crispy chicken that rivals any fried cuts.

Baking Chicken in the Oven: Bone-In or Boneless?

When it comes to crispy baked chicken, both bone-in and boneless cuts work. However, we recommend using skin-on cuts for succulent, crisp skin. If you’d prefer something like a boneless, skinless chicken breast, opt for some kind of breading. More on that below.

Curious about which cuts get extra crispy in the oven? You can bake chicken breasts and tenders, wings, drumsticks, thighs, and even whole chickens.

How Do You Make Chicken Skin Crispy?

  1. Pat your chicken dry: Moisture is the enemy of crisp chicken skin. Before you send your chicken to the oven, pat it dry, especially if you’ve used a marinade. After patting it dry, use a neutral-tasting oil and season however you’d like.
  2. Use high-heat fats for succulence: We all love a piece of succulent chicken, especially when it’s crisp and caramelized. Certain fats are great for helping crisp up chicken skin, including neutral, high-heat oils like avocado oil. Butter and ghee are also delicious, though they impart more moisture.
  3. Use a rack: One easy way to ensure crispy chicken skin? Bake your chicken on top of an oven-safe wire rack. This allows heat to fully circulate around the chicken, functioning like an oversized roasting rack. Plus, excess fat and moisture will drip down rather than making your chicken soggy.
  4. Vent the oven: Here’s a novel trick for crispy chicken skin: Partway through baking, open your oven ever so slightly to let the steam escape. This lets some of the moisture out, resulting in crispier skin.
  5. Bake at a high temperature: When it comes to crispy chicken skin, you probably don’t want to cook your food low and slow. Instead, cook it faster at a higher temperature. Keep reading for some bake time and temperature suggestions.

The Best Breading for Crispy Chicken

You can bread bone-in, skin-on cuts of chicken just as well as boneless, skinless cuts. However, a boneless, skinless cut lacks any kind of fatty exterior to crisp up in the oven, so you’ll especially want to use a breading here for a crunch factor.

Here are a few great breading ideas:

  • Flour (including almond flour, chickpea flour, or rice flour)
  • Nuts (processed into a finer texture)
  • Gluten-free, panko, or normal breadcrumbs
  • Cornflakes and other neutral, crispy cereals
  • Crushed pretzels and chips
  • Crushed pork rinds (great low-carb option)

Pair your breading with an egg wash to properly dredge your chicken. Don’t forget to season your mixture generously as well. Our BB seasoned salt works wonderfully here, as does our BB all-purpose dry rub.

How Do You Bake Chicken So It Doesn’t Dry Out?

You’ve probably noticed a theme here: For crispy chicken skin, you’ll want to reduce moisture when it comes to the skin or breading. However, you’ll still want to retain plenty of moisture on the inside, so how do you achieve this delicate balance?

We suggest baking your chicken faster, at a higher temperature. Many cooks say 375–400°F is the sweet spot for baking chicken. If you bake it for longer at a lower temperature, you risk drying out the meat. Chicken should always be baked to an internal temperature of 165°F.

Here are some suggested bake times for different cuts of chicken (baked at 400°F). Naturally, size will determine your bake time:

  • Chicken Tenders: 15–20 minutes
  • Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast: 20–25 minutes
  • Bone-In Chicken Thighs: 35–45 minutes
  • Chicken Drumsticks: 30–40 minutes
  • Whole Chicken: 1–1.5 hours

4 Crispy Baked Chicken Recipes to Get You Started

Easy Baked Chicken Wings with Tangy Yogurt Dip

Is there anything better than a perfectly baked chicken wing? This recipe achieves uber-crisp skin sans frying, relying on a few tricks in the oven instead.

First, you’ll want to use a healthy dose of melted butter to encourage the Maillard reaction (think brown, caramelized skin). Then, partway through baking, carefully vent the oven to let out steam to remove excess moisture.

BBQ Dry Rubbed Drumsticks

These low-maintenance chicken drumsticks are the ideal star of a weeknight meal. Drumsticks are a quick, kid-friendly option, but you can apply this seasoning to any cut of chicken. Skin-on cuts will crisp up better.

A simple spice mix delivers lots of flavor, complete with chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. For extra delicious caramelization, slather on your favorite barbecue sauce at the end, and return them to the oven (or broiler) for a few minutes.

Fennel-Rubbed Drumsticks with Spinach and Apple Slaw

Complete with garlic and onion powder, this fennel-based rub livens up drumsticks. We dip these drumsticks fully into ghee, then save the remaining fat for basting during baking. The result is endlessly succulent, crisp chicken.

The accompanying spinach and apple slaw is a delightfully bright complement to that unctuous chicken.

Coconut Party Wings with Gluten-Free Ponzu Dipping Sauce

These savory-sweet wings come out of the oven crispy and caramelized, thanks to a few key steps. First, they bathe in a marinade that includes coconut milk (hello, tenderization), ginger, garlic, lime, and cilantro. To ensure they crisp in the oven, you’ll need to pat them completely dry after removing them from the marinade.

Next, they’re baked on top of a wire rack, which allows the excess fat and moisture to drip below the wings. This, too, ensures crispy skin. You’ll want to dip these crispy wings in the accompanying ponzu sauce forever.

Courtney Hamilton is a writer and editor with over seven years' experience in journalism, blogging, communications, and other media. She has written for publications like PaleoHacks, PaleoPlan, The Center for American Progress, OC Weekly, and more. 
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