You can deep fry chicken without coating it in batter, but to do that is to miss the entire point of using a fryer. There are a thousand recipes for making fried chicken batter, so look around to find what works best. In the meantime, the easiest way to make batter is to buy it pre-made at the store (Hooters makes a terrific pre-made batter). You can either directly coat the chicken parts in the batter mix, or you can mix the batter with milk and dip the chicken into a bowl. Battering keeps the juices inside the chicken during frying, adding flavor that will get lost if you fry the chicken plain.
Before adding oil into the deep fryer, make sure the inside is completely dry. Even just one drop of water inside the fryer can cause the oil to pop out and onto your skin. Unplug the fryer before adding the oil. Never add oil to a fryer that is already heating up as there is the very real potential of getting burned by it splashing out and onto your skin.
Inserting the Chicken
Battering the chicken has the added effect of keeping moisture from dipping into the fryer as you add it. This makes adding battered chicken much less dangerous than unbattered chicken. Regardless, you should always wear oven mitts or some kind of protective handwear when placing chicken into the fryer. Use aluminum tongs to carefully place the chicken all the way into the oil. Do not just drop the chicken into the fryer, and try not to allow your grasp to loosen so that it falls in. Do not stand with your face over the fryer, because you’ll run the risk of the hot oil splashing directly onto your face.
The cooking time for deep frying chicken will vary according to the part you are cooking. A wing will get cooked quicker than a drumstick, and a drumstick will cook faster than a boneless breast. The best way to tell for sure if the chicken is cooked all the way through is to take it out of the fryer and poke it with a fork. If it’s not cooked, the juices will run pink. However, on larger sections you may get clean juices even though deepest interior is not cooked all the way. The only way to make sure you that your chicken is entirely cooked is to cut it through the middle of the thickest part. You can use a thermometer, and the USDA recommends that chicken be cooked to 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit.