The Egg Wash Technique For Perfectly Crispy Chicken

Before you head out for that fast-food fried chicken, try making it at home instead. Recipes abound on the Internet with varying ingredients along with different prep and cooking processes. While many methods use the entire egg to bread the chicken, we are here to report a better way to reach the ultimate crunch-ness. Egg white mixed with some cornstarch is the key to the crunchiest coating. 

An egg wash, often used to add an attractive sheen to an English pasty or Cuban pastelito, is also an essential step in the breading process, whether you are planning to fry chicken, vegetables, or fish. Steps in the process for crispy breading are pretty standard: Dredge chicken in flour, dip in beaten egg, then in the breading ingredient of choice — simple flour, packaged panko, fresh breadcrumbs, or sweet corn flakes. Whatever coating you choose, the key to the crunchy golden crust can be found in that second step — the egg wash.

Breading has two important jobs: to seal in the juiciness of the chicken and to provide a crispy texture and seasoned flavoring. In either case, the protein in the egg, specifically the whites, has an adhesive effect helping it to bind to the other ingredients. 

Why not use the whole egg in the egg wash?

While the protein helps the ingredients stick to each other, the fat does not, according to one Reddit user, who expressed wonderment in never knowing about this egg-whites-only method before. "Took me 40 years to figure out that the fat in the yolk keeps the breading from adhering the way it should."

This method of preparing an egg wash makes sense when you think about the different forms the parts of an egg take when cooked. A cooked egg yolk is "creamy, custardy, and rich. Egg whites, however, make foods like meringue shatteringly crisp and delicate" per The Kitchn.

Another factor in the whole egg vs egg white question is nutrition. You might not be too concerned about fat and cholesterol if you're frying foods, but it doesn't hurt to know that an egg-white egg wash is a little healthier. While a complete egg has 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat, an egg white has 4 grams of protein and no fat. The egg white boasts lower calories and cholesterol than its yellow roommate. If the extra fat doesn't faze you, keep the yolk after separation. You can find plenty of recipes to use up those extra yolks.