What Fried Chicken Looks Like Around The World

When push comes to shove, there's far more that connects us as human beings than divides us — particularly when it comes to those culinary pleasures enjoyed around the world. For proof, look no further than the literal global adoration held for one of the greatest food items to ever grace the planet: fried chicken.

Fried chicken's worldwide popularity isn't merely a result of KFC's rather astounding international footprint, which includes more than 25,000 locations in nearly 150 countries as of 2023. After all, while the U.S.-born, fried chicken-centric fast food chain's ability to make inroads around the world is a testament to its product, it concurrently demonstrates an inherent craving exists for deep-fried poultry in every corner of the globe.

Now, U.S. fans of fried chicken — which essentially includes everyone (save for vegetarians) — are likely familiar with some of the fried chicken styles that originated in this country. But given the unparalleled delightfulness found in popular fried chicken variations outside the U.S., we decided to highlight some of the most delectable international offerings in this food category as well. So without further ado, here's what fried chicken looks like around the world.

Southern fried chicken (U.S.)

Since you're reading this article (thanks, by the way!), you're clearly aware that a plethora of fried chicken styles exist across the globe. Still, for the vast majority of U.S. residents — or any citizen of the modern world, for that matter — the sheer mention of fried chicken is apt to conjure images of Southern fried chicken dancing in their heads. Consequently, we're starting our oil-fried, international poultry trip with the somewhat-synonymous style known as Southern fried chicken.

Considering the scope of the fast food fried chicken market in the 21st century — which consists almost entirely of restaurants known for slinging Southern fried chicken like the "Louisiana fast!" chain Popeye's – the odds that anyone is unaware of this specific version are slim to none. Yet far fewer folks may realize the concept of tossing a chicken piece in seasoned flour and batter before deep-frying it didn't necessarily originate on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Rather, the cooking practice may have emerged from the moors of Scotland instead.

Of course, you're more than welcome to ignore the dish's potential non-America-based origin story if you so choose. After all, many Southern fried chicken fans are already keen to gloss over the dish's less-than-palatable historic connection to the U.S.'s former (and downright shameful) practice of legal slavery – meaning you're best-suited to live in the moment the next time you dig into a crispety, crunchety breast or wing.

Chicken 65 (India)

Despite any potential misconceptions to the contrary, not everyone in India is a vegetarian. In fact, only 39% of the nation's population reports adhering to a meat-free diet as of 2021, according to a Pew Research Center survey. With that in mind, it's no real surprise to discover the South Asian country is home to the superbly tasty (and spicy) fried chicken dish known as Chicken 65.

Commonly served in bite-sized bits (although variations appear to exist within India regarding the size and type of chicken used), Chicken 65 packs a punch in each piece of deep-fried deliciousness. The numerically named Indian classic — a label referencing the year (1965) its creator A.M. Buhari introduced it on menus at his titular hotel — is prepared with a variety of spices, including a heavy dose of chilis and curry leaves.

In other words, Chicken 65 may not be for the weak at heart. But if you're able to stomach the heat contained within its crispy outer layer — or, rather, enjoy that pleasant pain as it rolls along your tongue — you're apt to find yourself willing to consume 65 pieces in a single sitting.

Torikatsu (Japan)

There's a decent chance some readers are already familiar with katsu, the popular Japanese dish made with katsu curry that features a (usually Panko) breaded-and-fried cutlet. Of course, if you're under the impression that katsu is only made with pork — which may be the more commonly featured meat in katsu recipes — you're missing out on one of the best fried chicken options in the world. And if you've yet to try the poultry-centric version of this Japanese classic known as torikatsu, you'll want to change that as soon as possible.

As you likely ascertained, this fried chicken cutlet dish — called "tonkatsu" when it's made with pork — is named for the katsu curry sauce essential to its existence. But unlike what most diners may expect from the name curry, the Japanese variety of this classic sauce swings closer to the sweet end of the flavor spectrum than the spicy side.

Additionally, since torikatsu is essentially a fried chicken cutlet smothered in a mouthwatering sauce, it sort of reminds us of a Japanese take on country fried chicken (or steak) — and who in their right mind would ever consider turning that down?

Coxinha (Brazil)

It's entirely plausible that when certain people envision fried chicken, the notion of using a pre-cooked chicken product may not enter the equation. There's some logic to this, of course, particularly considering how prone poultry is to drying out while cooking. Yet anyone set in their ways with that belief will inevitably miss out on the glorious coxinha — a deep-fried croquette from Brazil that's filled with pre-cooked shredded chicken and cheese.

Coxinha (which translates to "little thigh" in English) is beloved for a number of reasons, as you'd likely expect — though the main explanation for this fried chicken product's popularity comes down to its dynamite flavor. Made of shredded chicken mixed with requeijão (a soft cheese occasionally referred to as Brazilian cream cheese), coxinha are then formed into drumstick-like shapes before being breaded and fried.

Now, it's difficult to dispute the notion that a finished batch of coxinha resembles a pile of miniature golden brown pears. Not that anyone could ever mistake the chicken-and-cheese-filled glory after biting into coxinha for a piece of fresh fruit — and thank goodness for that.

Nashville hot chicken (U.S.)

Given the undeniable love for fried food throughout the U.S., we probably could have crafted a list solely composed of fried chicken dishes founded by American-based individuals. But with a bonafide bevy of internationally created fried chicken styles worth highlighting, we instead chose to limit the number of U.S.-popularized selections. Of course, even with that caveat in mind, we'd be remiss if we neglected to include the fried poultry product famously founded in Tennessee known as Nashville hot chicken.

For the unfamiliar, this iconic fried chicken dish's name isn't some redundant reference to its temperature. Rather, the crown jewel of Nashville's culinary scene (we presume) is named for its decidedly delicious, tongue-burning flavor profile. And if you doubt the veracity of Nashville hot chicken devotees regarding the food's sweat-inducing abilities, keep in mind it was original conceived by a jilted woman hoping to punish her allegedly unfaithful beau with an unexpectedly painful, Scoville scale-busting fried chicken recipe.

There's plenty of places to pick up an order of Nashville hot chicken in the 2020s. But for anyone eager to enjoy the crème de la crème of this fried chicken style (topped with pickle slices), consider a trip to Prince's Hot Chicken Shack — or the original, and best, home of Nashville hot chicken.

Korean fried chicken (Korea)

We're generally cautious when it comes to declaring one nation's culinary prowess as superior to any others (and we're not about to start). That being said, we're never shy about expressing our admiration and fandom for a particular cuisine — meaning we're keen to declare our unabashed love of any and all Korean food. More specifically, we're happy to embrace the peninsula's lengthy track record when it comes to deep-fried poultry and eagerly encourage the consumption of Korean fried chicken whenever the opportunity arises.

Now, while Korean chef Yong Soo-do joked with the South China Morning Post in 2019 that "even a shoe tastes good when you fry it," the key to authentic Korean fried chicken doesn't rest in footwear-as-protein. Rather, a lion's share of the credit for the tastiness may lie in the double-frying technique that's usually employed. This process ensures twice the crunchiness is retained when it hits your plate (and won't result in an excessively greasy final product if properly executed).

The dish's doubly crisp texture also allows it to withstand being drenched in the typically sweet, often honey-centric sauce — the sort that earns some variations the nickname candy chicken. Even if you aren't served candy chicken specifically, though, you're unlikely to ever walk away disappointed after eating Korean fried chicken.

Country chicken (Guatemala)

When researching what fried chicken looks like around the world, almost every selection we've included is commonly prepared by residents throughout the region of origin. But when it comes to country chicken and its Guatemalan roots? It's easy to believe most folks in the Central American nation aren't making this type of fried chicken at home in their kitchens. Rather, those who swear by country chicken are enjoying orders from the immensely popular fast food chain Pollo Campero.

To be sure, there's no question country chicken — the signature product created by the beloved fried chicken establishment founded in 1971 in Guatemala — is uniquely seasoned and tailored to the Central American palate. In fact, the country chicken served by Pollo Campero is so evocative of the nation that a trip to one of its locations is considered a necessity for any Guatemalan-born individuals returning to the region.

Whether or not a person was raised on Pollo Campero's country chicken, though, we doubt anyone wouldn't enjoy this Central American fried chicken style — even if you aren't convinced you could use a little more zest in your life.

La zi ji (China)

As you're well aware by now (we hope), the enjoyment of fried chicken around the world isn't limited to the undeniable popularity of KFC. Even in China — a nation with more locations of the Colonel Sanders-founded chain than the U.S. as of 2018 — the love affair with fried chicken stretches much further back than the introduction of KFC's famed 11 herbs and spices. Look no further than la zi ji — the delightfully spicy, chili pepper-heavy fried chicken dish originating from the Chingqing municipality.

Of course, the potential for one to walk away smiling after consuming a plate of la zi ji likely comes down to their preference for spicy foods. Since there's nothing mild about this Chinese fried chicken's flavor profile — and very little reason to believe a person with a weak spine for spiciness could handle a dish sometimes referred to as "firecracker" chicken — it may be prudent to exercise caution when ordering it.

Still, if your only experience with Chinese fried chicken products involves Americanized versions like gold fingers and orange chicken, you're missing out. So if you've got a strong enough tongue to handle the heat, don't hesitate to grab an order of la zi ji the next time you're considering Chinese food.

Pozharsky cutlet (Russia)

To be honest, there's very little to like about Russia in the year 2023 ... unless you're in favor of one nation invading and challenging the sovereignty of another nation, that is. Still, as we've mentioned on more than one occasion, we do food here at Mashed, not politics (usually). And since our goal is to provide readers a thorough guide to what fried chicken looks like around the world? Well, we wouldn't be fulfilling our duty if we skipped the royal-approved Pozharsky cutlet — a favorite dish of 19th-century Russian Tsar Nicholas I.

First made by Russian Inn owner Evdokim Pozharsky in the early 19th century, this thusly named cutlet may not look all that unique from a distance. But unlike similarly styled fried chicken dishes, Pozharsky cutlets feature ground chicken underneath a layer of perfectly crisp breadcrumbs rather than a singular, solid piece of poultry.

Of course, the novelty of Pozharsky cutlets' composition isn't enough to explain its enduring popularity within Russian cuisine. But between that, and the dish's rich, butter-heavy profile, there's no real reason to wonder why, or how, Pozharsky cutlets belong among titans of the international fried chicken game.

Nigerian fried chicken (Nigeria)

By and large, the name fried chicken implies the presence of chicken surrounded by a crispy outer coating of some sort. But that explanation neglects one of the lesser-known (to U.S. diners) but no less enticing versions of this cooked poultry style emanating from Africa. Of course, Nigerian fried chicken doesn't just skip the flour and batter during its preparation process (as expected from most fried chicken recipes) – it also tends to utilize tougher pieces of chicken that require a longer cooking time.

Now, if you're curious why Nigerian cuisine may prioritize the use of a less tender bird for its fried chicken recipes, it seems that's simply par for the course in the African nation. Many traditional Nigerian dishes appear to consist of time-consuming efforts, after all, so why would the nation's preferred preparation method for fried chicken be any different?

Since tough cuts of meat take a fairly long time to reach completion, many Nigerian fried chicken recipes start by boiling or sauteing the poultry in a seasoned mixture. Don't worry, though, as once its been par-cooked, Nigerian fried chicken is finished the same way every fried chicken recipe is: by frying it in oil.

Parmo (England)

Parmo sounds like the type of dish Artie Bucco (John Ventimiglia) might have frequently served to DiMeo crime family members patronizing his restaurant in The Sopranos series. Then again, while we'd be relatively stunned to learn one of the all-time fictional chefs cooked this popular British fried chicken dish, considering its similarities to a marinara-less chicken parmigiana, well ... it's not entirely implausible. Of course, even if parmo never crossed through Artie's (fake) kitchen, it's still worthy of discussion among worldwide fried chicken dishes.

First appearing sometime during the mid-20th century, parmo is perfectly suited for a nostalgic mid-day meal, or a late night snack for those times you're less concerned about ingesting a nutritionally detrimental dish. And while the central deep-fried breaded chicken cutlet is strikingly similar to other fried chicken dishes, the necessary addition of Béchamel sauce and cheese smothered atop the cutlet ensures its distinction.

Quite frankly, parmo may be the most appealing non-American fried chicken style to a U.S. palate. Because if you find melted cheese and deep-fried meat delicious, is there any feasible scenario where you wouldn't love parmo?

Chicken Maryland (U.S.)

Every so often when we're doing research, a food product crosses our radar that we hadn't the foggiest idea existed beforehand. We may not be able to quantify our excitement level during those moments, but at least we can share our ensuing joy with the world. So if you, like us (or, rather, this writer), were unaware of the classic mid-Atlantic fried chicken dish called Chicken Maryland, it's high time you corrected that blind spot.

While some believe this fried chicken style dates back to the 17th century, we're less interested in the precise history than what makes it so unique. After all, you can't call it Chicken Maryland if the fried chicken isn't topped with an almost-excessively creamy gravy ... or it doesn't come with a side of banana slices.

Now, the pairing of poultry and bananas is likely to raise a few eyebrows. But the fruit's inclusion appears mainly related to its strong connection to Baltimore, Maryland (and bananas' former status as a top-shelf produce). Since the then-luxurious fruit was one of the main imports into the city when Chicken Maryland was popularized, it was often added in an effort to elevate the dish — and this apparent nod to the state's largest city simply stuck over time.

Karaage (Japan)

With Japan's average life expectancy longer than most other countries, it's difficult to imagine individuals there ingest anything but health-forward foods. Yet somehow, the Asian nation finds itself the creator of not one, but two different fried chicken dishes worthy of inclusion on our list. And since we've already highlighted torikatsu, it's time we shine a spotlight on the other impeccable fried chicken item popular in Japanese cuisine known as karaage.

To be honest, aside from both being fried prior to serving, there's little connection between the aforementioned torikatsu and karaage. Karaage involves smaller pieces of bite-size chicken, for instance, and is more of an appetizer or street food than the sitting-down serving-style required by torikatsu. Additionally, karaage is more akin to popcorn chicken bits than a fried cutlet, and appears far less beholden to a singular flavor (whereas torikatsu, of course, requires katsu curry sauce in addition to chicken).

Of course, we're not picking favorites between Japan's fried chicken varieties. Because in the end, when it comes to eating fried chicken around the world in any capacity? We're all winners.