Crispy chicken crackling

For those of us who love crunch or crispy anything, like me, these crispy fried chicken skins are a must, especially when it's summer BBQ season.  They are like chicken chicharrónes except with only 60% of the calories! Some high-end restaurants these days are serving crispy chicken crackling with a sauce for appetizers.  I even saw it at a restaurant in Nantucket island recently which means that, what I thought only my family ate, is now becoming mainstream.

For most Chinese dishes, I like cooking with chicken thighs.  I find that the boneless, skinless thighs not worth the extra cost, so I buy the bone-in, skin-on thighs. I de-bone the thighs, save the bones for stock and accumulate the skins in a freezer bag and freeze it until I have enough to make a snack or appetizer for company.

Tips for making Crispy Chicken Crackling

Chicken skins.

It is good to accumulate the chicken skins and once you have a substantial quantity, cook it up for company.  For health reasons, it's preferable to limit your crispy chicken crackling consumption to a few.  Each 28 g (1 oz.) of chicken crackling has 90 calories.  As mentioned earlier, store the skins in a freezer bag in the freezer and continually add to the bag whenever you are making dishes that call for skinless thighs. You'll be surprised how quickly they accumulate! When your skins are frozen, defrost them in a colander to allow the water to drain, minimizing the amount of water on the skins.

Seasoning the chicken skins.

Like potato chips, any flavoring will work depending on your preference.  I like adding my savory dry rub onto the skins. It is important to sprinkle the dry rub on both sides of the skin for optimal flavor.  This is done by placing each skin flat onto a cutting board or plate before sprinkling both sides.  

Season each chicken skin

Season each chicken skin individually.

Stack the seasoned skins so that they do not need to be flattened out again when cooking.

Stacked seasoned chicken skins.

Stacked seasoned chicken skins.

Cooking the crispy chicken crackling.

Chicken skin has a lot of oil.  The key to crisping the chicken skin is to continually allow the chicken skin to exude all the oil.  This is done by making sure that the surface on which the skins are cooking is kept dry.  As more fat is rendered in the pan, drain the fat into a used vegetable or fruit can either for disposal or saved for future use.  The rendered fat is called schmaltz and is commonly used in Jewish cuisine when dairy in not allowed. Schmaltz can be used as a substitute for oil.

Do not try to BBQ chicken skins directly on the grate as they may fall into the BBQ and the skin may also stick to the grate. It is best to place a metal plate onto the grate at a slight angle so that the chicken rendering can flow and be directed into a container.

When the skin is placed on a medium-hot surface, it will immediately shrivel up so it is best to place it flat on the hot surface to ensure that you end up with flat cracklings that are crispy throughout.

Serving the crispy chicken crackling.

These crispy chicken crackling should be served right after cooking. Although this can be eaten plain or with lime, crispy chicken crackling can be diced and used as a salad topping or added to any dish for crunch. It can also be used as a cracker and served with a dip such as guacamole or my quick and easy yoghurt dip, Indian inspired yoghurt dip (raita), smoky eggplant dip with kefir, roasted red pepper hummus, or bubbling buffalo chicken dip.  No matter what you accompany these crispy chicken cracklings with, they will be delicious. Enjoy and let me know if you've found any creative ways to serve them.

Crispy chicken crackling


Michelle Sam
Don't throw away your chicken skins. Make delicious chicken cracklings that have multiple uses. The fat rendering, schmatlz, can also be used as an oil substitute.
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Appetizer
Cuisine American



  • Defrost chicken skins in a colander to minimize the amount of water on the chicken. (If necessary)
    Chicken skins
  • Sprinkle each side of the skin with a dry savory rub.
    Savory dry rub
    Season each chicken skin
  • Stack the skins flat to make it easier to cook.
    Stacked seasoned chicken skins.
  • Allow the skin to marinate for 20 minutes.
  • Preheat hot plate until medium high heat.
  • Cook the skins flat. Do not overcrowd.
  • When one side is done, turn over the skin.
  • Remove rendering as necessary by pouring the excess oil into a used, empty can.
  • Place on paper towels to remove excess oil.
  • Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Keyword air fryer, chicken, chicken skin
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