Air-Chilled Chicken Is Scientifically Better Than All Others

It seems like there are endless tricks and hacks to get the crispiest chicken skin. One of the most common methods is using a dry brine. You can massage a salty rub of spices and herbs into the chicken skin and let it rest uncovered in the refrigerator for a few hours or up to overnight. By letting the chicken literally chill out with salt, it'll dry out the chicken skin while flavoring the meat, creating the perfect environment for crispy chicken skin, according to Cinder.

You could also use what some tout as the secret ingredient to crispy skin: baking powder. According to Cook's Illustrated, applying aluminum-free baking powder to your chicken, along with salt, will dry out the skin. Even oven-baked chicken will have the crispiness and crunch of fried chicken.

But if you want to be pretty much guaranteed crispy skin, don't make the mistake of not buying an air-chilled chicken.

Air-chilled chicken gives you a better crispy skin

The next time you're searching through the poultry case, keep an eye out for an "air-chilled" label versus "water-chilled." If you're wondering what the difference is, it comes down to how chickens are brought down to a food-safe temperature after de-feathering, around 40 degrees Fahrenheit (per Smart Chicken). A water-chilled chicken absorbs some of the water it's plunged into — around 2% to 12% of its total weight, according to Organic Authority, which means you're paying for some water weight. It also means a water-chilled chicken won't take well to a wet brine; you can't add more water to an already soaking sponge. Water-chilled chickens also have a tougher time getting golden brown crispy skin because of all that extra water they're carrying.

Air-chilled chickens, on the other hand, are cooled by being blasted with purified cold air, according to Smart Chicken. Because air-chilled chickens aren't dunked in water, they have a better flavor and texture than their counterparts, which means the skin is primed for browning and crisping, according to Cook's Illustrated. To take advantage of your air-chilled chicken skin and get the crispiest chicken skin, use a rub of salt and baking powder and gently separate the skin from the meat. This gives juices a way out from under the skin, ensuring the perfect roast chicken.