Canned Ingredients That Will Seriously Upgrade Fried Chicken

If you're a purist fried chicken fan, then you might enjoy biting into that iconically crispy coating without any fuss and fanfare from added ingredients. You might have a theory about whether battered or breadcrumbed chicken is the tastiest, and one on how to make a light batter or season flour. If you cook fried chicken at home then you may have a recipe for a marinade before you coat chicken breast, thighs, or wings. A good crispy fried chicken recipe is worth sharing. To improve the taste and texture you might want to check out a few tips on how to create a crispier coating

But, hold up — did you know that adding a few ingredients can not improve your fried chicken but that plenty of them are canned ones, too? If you open up your cupboards you'll no doubt have a good few different canned products. Many of these happen to pair nicely with fried chicken, either in the batter and breading or as a topping for the cooked chicken. Enjoy this all-time American favorite by checking out canned ingredients that will seriously upgrade fried chicken.

Cream of chicken soup

Did you know that chicken soup might be one of the most ingenious canned ingredients that will seriously upgrade fried chicken? And no, this isn't about suggesting you chow down on some crispy tenders with a bowl of hot broth on the side. Although, that works too and you can even make soup using fried chicken, too. The idea here is that you make fried chicken with soup and it's not as off-the-wall as it might sound.

Instead of making batter from fresh to coat chicken pieces, whisk an egg into a can of cream of chicken soup. (You don't want to use a clear chicken soup for this tip.) Dip the chicken and then roll it in whatever crispy coating you want. This could be breadcrumbs, panko, seasoned flour, or a mixture of flour and cornstarch. Let the chicken sit for a while in the fridge before frying so that the batter and coating bind together. The soupy batter will keep the meat nice and juicy while holding in place the outer layer so that it can crisp up beautifully. For an even juicier result, try marinating the chicken before dipping it into the soup batter. 

Condensed milk

You might have enjoyed a round of condensed milk toast or poured the sugary dairy delight from a can to make a Korean shaved ice dessert. It's often used to make sweet dishes, so using it to make fried chicken isn't a no-brainer idea. However, in terms of seriously upgrading crispy morsels of meat, it's a great canned ingredient to use. 

Add condensed milk and liquid seasoning to raw chicken pieces along with some ground pepper and garlic powder. Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour before stirring in an egg. Add a blend of flour, cornstarch, and salt, keeping some back to coat the marinated chicken before deep frying. The condensed milk softens the meat and adds a sweet taste that contrasts with the salty seasoning. Another method is to add spices to season the chicken first, and then, after an hour in the fridge, dip the pieces in condensed milk mixed with egg and water. Dredge the meat in flour and fry. You'll get a crispy fried chicken with spicy meat and some sweetness, too. Condensed milk is a substitute for buttermilk, which is classically used to tenderize southern fried chicken.


Chicken wings, a beer, and watching sports are a culinary trifecta. If you're set on watching a game at home then you might want to stock up on an extra one or two cold ones though, as a can of beer is the perfect ingredient to add to a fried chicken recipe. It scores a touchdown for your taste buds. You can make a beer can chicken when you're having a cookout by cooking a whole bird balanced on an empty tinny. But, what about adding some of those amber bubbles to your fried chicken batter to get a super-crispy, light, and airy crunch? 

Following a crispy beer batter recipe isn't that much of a challenge. You literally mix flour and baking powder together with Old Bay seasoning, onion powder, and black pepper. Then you pour in some beer and whisk that baby up until you've got a smooth batter. Let those ingredients to come together for 10 minutes so that you get a better result. Dip your chicken pieces and fry. You can also make a beer batter by mixing ale with flour and eggs. Dredge the chicken pieces in seasoned flour, dip them in the batter, and then coat them in the flour once again. 

Evaporated milk

Evaporated milk is one of those ingredients that has an air of nostalgia about it. Of course, if you're an avid baker then you might get through regular stocks of it. Either way, a novel way of using it that you might not have entertained is to add it to a fried chicken recipe. If this canned convenience is too retro for you and you're not totally sure what it is, it's a bit like condensed milk except not sweet. Both are milk products with water taken out, but evaporated milk is a lot thinner and is often used in recipes in place of milk or to add a dairy taste without the sweetness.

When you make fried chicken, the evaporated milk is used to make an egg wash. Whisk together a couple of eggs with a can of evaporated milk and add seasonings. Classic flavors come from garlic powder and onion powder, but there's nothing wrong with adding a bit more heat or even a herby taste. Keep some of this seasoning to sprinkle on the dry, raw chicken pieces before dunking them in the milky dip. The canned milk is not as thin as regular milk, which helps the coating stick to it and therefore fry well. Coat the chicken in flour before frying. A great way to do this step is to put the flour in a bag so that you can shake the meat around to make sure it's fully coated. 


You cannot call yourself a cook if you don't have a can of tomatoes at the ready. Whether they are crushed, chopped, or whole plum tomatoes, they are so versatile and there are plenty of canned tomato brands to choose from. With some dried basil and roasted garlic, you can make a deliciously fast marinara sauce. Spoon this on top of freshly breadcrumbed fried chicken breasts in an ovenproof dish. Sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top with grated Parmesan and chopped parsley. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes so that the cheese melts. This is a stallion of an Italian fried chicken dish, all with the help of an everyday canned ingredient. 

To add another twist, coat chicken with turmeric and flour before frying. In a clean pan or wok fry some homemade curry paste before turning it into a spicy red sauce by adding a can of crushed tomatoes and coconut milk. Once it's simmering away, add the fried chicken and cover it so you get some heat in every mouthful. Or, what about frying chicken thighs and serving them with oodles of tomato gravy? To make the sauce, you'll need a can of diced tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, chicken broth, onions, and flour.


If you love dark, salty slithers of fish on a pizza then you're officially a canned anchovy fan. You're not alone, by the way, or likely to be regarded in the same way as a culinary curio. Fish in a can is on-trend, so check out some tinned fish tips you'll wish you knew sooner. Make sure you know how to use canned anchovies as one of the best go-to ingredients to seriously upgrade fried chicken first though. Why? It's a top umami flavor booster. 

If you're a fan of chicken Caesar salad, then you can deconstruct it, kind of reconstruct it as a crispy fried chicken sandwich, and still include anchovy dressing. Instead of croutons, use toasted bread and in place of grilled chicken, use fried chicken. The salad is turned into a filling, too. To make the creamy dressing combine anchovy fillets with garlic, Parmesan, and Dijon mustard with an egg, oil, white wine vinegar, and black pepper. You can also fry chicken breasts without any coating in olive oil after frying whole garlic cloves. Take the meat out of the pan, and add chopped anchovies, capers, and garlic with a little red pepper. After a few moments, squeeze in fresh lemon juice, heat up the sauce, and add the fried chicken before serving.

Coconut milk

Canned coconut milk is a classic ingredient pairing with chicken dishes. A twist on Alex Guarnaschelli's chicken stir fry with spicy peanut sauce recipe is a creamy, curry-style creation par excellence. But, have you ever thought how amazing it could be to upgrade fried chicken itself? You've heard of tenderizing chicken in buttermilk, southern-style, so why not use coconut milk instead? While you're there, add in some spicy jerk seasoning and curry powder. Now that's called flavor bombing. Once dipped, coat the chicken in seasoned, self-rising flour and crank the heat up under that oil for some spicy frying action. 

Take it slow by leaving chicken in canned coconut milk overnight or for at least eight hours. Add curry powder to the milk and to the flour that you're going to dredge the pieces in afterward. Fry after letting the marinated and floured chicken rest a little — you can wait another 15 minutes, surely. A slight variation is to rub seasoning on raw chicken and then add coconut milk to make a marinade. After refrigerating, add some of the seasonings to flour and coat the chicken before frying. A good tip for an even crispier crunch is to pop the fried chicken in a preheated oven for 15 minutes after frying. 

Black olives

Tomatoey puttanesca made with black olives is traditionally served with penne pasta, but slathering it on chicken is also a classic recipe. While you can buy pitted and stuffed olives from a farmers market or deli counter, as well as unpitted ones, you'll often find black olives are canned. It's not a huge mystery, as canning goods preserves them, and ripe black olives can soon start to be less than appetizing. If you're a lover of European food, a can of black olives is a must for throwing on pizzas and in pasta dishes. They also give fried chicken a seriously upgraded taste, too. 

Try a Spanish recipe with fried breaded chicken by frying the meat first. In a clean pan, fry some chopped chorizo. While you can buy this cured meat fresh, you might want to look for a can of this, as well. Who knew sausages from Spain came in a can as well? Add some bell pepper, a little sugar, some chopped tomatoes, and a chicken stock cube. Add slices of canned black olives, along with paprika and fresh basil. After simmering for a few minutes, add this aromatic topping to your fried chicken.


If you love waffles and fried chicken, which is an old-style American dish, then why not add Spam into the mix? Make your own waffles from leftover mashed potato and some chopped-up Spam and serve with fried chicken and perhaps a drizzle of maple syrup to channel diner-style retro dishes. Or, what about fried chicken wings served with a Spam version of an Asian fried vermicelli dish, fried bee hoon? 

Spam is universally loved; so much so that there's a food festival dedicated to it in Waikiki. If it tastes good with rice and seaweed, which is a classic Spam musubi, then why not fried chicken? A cool take on musubi comes from LA fried chicken hotspot, Go Go Bird. They deep fry Spam and already-fried chicken together wrapped in a sheet of nori. Drizzled with Szechuan chili oil with seasoning sprinkled on, the fried meats are wrapped in another nori sheet and served on a toasted bun with melted cheese and pineapple kimchi. That's what you call turning a canned ingredient into a seriously good upgrade and creating a unique dish. 


Thinking of canned foods as basic or staples that don't deserve as much recognition as star ingredients is misguided. Sure, the world of cans is stacked up with simple, everyday foods, but there are also some gourmet goodies that shine, too. Artichoke hearts in a can are an absolute must to have in your pantry if you're any kind of home cook who fancies yourself as a bit of a chef. They are so good for you, and using canned ones means you can enjoy them out of season. There's no faff in prepping them, either. 

Add them to a recipe with fried chicken and an old-style dish becomes something way more elevated. Rather than deep-frying chicken, fry herby chicken breast lengths and serve with a sautéed jus of lemon juice, garlic, and canned artichoke hearts with onion and green bell pepper. You can also fry the artichokes the same way as the chicken. Coat chicken escalopes in seasoned flour and egg wash before frying in a skillet with oil and butter. Do the same with quartered artichoke hearts from a can. Cook these in a buttery, dark sherry broth made with chicken stock and serve with pasta. 


A long glass of cider in summer is so thirst-quenching, while the apple taste is warming as the days and nights grow colder. A mulled cider when it's snowing outside is fine. Whatever season you enjoy a can of cider, make sure you pair it with some fried chicken. In fact, if you're making a snack of crispy-coated, juicy chicken bites yourself, use some cider to upgrade your recipe. And no, that doesn't entail drinking while you're cooking (well, maybe just a little). 

Cover chicken breast lengths in seasoned flour and chill for 10 minutes. Make a thin batter from cider and self-rising flour. As with all batters, the golden rule is to rest it first, and the fridge is the best place for this. Get your oil nice and hot and watch as the bubbly batter turns into a light and crispy coating. Serve these finger-good snacks with a dip. You can also mix cider with milk, eggs, and spices to make a flavorful marinade for fried chicken. Coat in cornflour and self-rising flour with a little turmeric for a golden, crispy outside and tender, juicy bite. 


Delicate canned crabmeat — which is incredible, for the record — isn't the most obvious canned ingredient to seriously upgrade fried chicken. You can bake breaded chicken breasts stuffed with fresh crabmeat or imitation crabmeat and cream cheese in the oven. But, you can also tweak this idea by pan-frying the chicken and using canned crabmeat. Instead of cheese, try mixing the stuffing with canned lump crabmeat and canned white crabmeat. Add mayo, egg, mustard, and shrimp. 

Fried chicken with crabmeat is a traditional Asian dish known as hai yook par gai. And, you can make this with canned crabmeat as long as you drain it, flake the meat, and take out any cartilage. Cover the chicken with cornflour seasoned with spices and some sugar before frying. Make the crab sauce with chicken broth, ginger, and green onions. A simpler idea is to serve a large plateful of southern-style chicken in a bed of creamy crabmeat. Don't overthink this pairing — it goes together because it does. 

Creamed corn

Southern-style fried chicken and creamed corn are the epitome of good old-fashioned American home cooking. Yeehaw. The creaminess of canned corn is delicious with mashed potatoes, too, which are also a foodie match with crispy chicken. While food trends come and go, these types of dishes never lose their tasty appeal. When you want a plateful of home-comfort food that's no frills and downright delicious, this is it. However, you can use creamed corn to seriously upgrade fried chicken in perhaps more interesting and creative ways. 

What about serving spicy fried chicken in an Asian bao bun with a spoon of canned creamed corn? The heat and the softness of the buns (which are often served with shredded beef) enhance the creamed corn and crispy chicken combo to no end. Fried chicken with creamed corn may have rustic origins in the U.S., but it's so good that it has been served up at high-end eateries as a gourmet dish in other parts of the world. 


Don't you love adding an ingredient to a dish to upgrade it that at first seems unlikely to work? The idea of pairing canned caviar with fried chicken is fun and deliciously different. Serve fried chicken strips with a side of caviar. Or, what about fried chicken drumsticks with a caviar topping on top of a spoonful of sour cream? This upmarket snack will certainly be a course to chat about at a buffet party. 

Fry wings for a more delicate caviar and fried chicken match, and avoid the flats as they aren't as robust for the toppings. Add a little spicy seasoning in the flour coating to pep up the salty taste a little. The heat works with the coolness of the ingredients, as well. Famed Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York serves up an eye-watering $600 dish with a couple of fried battered chickens with caviar, crème fraîche, and a white BBQ sauce. That's a serious upgrade on your average, diner-style fried chicken for sure.