Wondering how to replicate the crunch from KFC or McD chicken wings? Well, the secret to the crispiness is baking soda! Baking soda can give you the perfect texture and the prominent chomp sound!
We tend to keep baking soda for cleaning; however, you are in for a surprise about the potential of this ingredient in baking and cooking. Adding baking soda to the mix can help expand the chicken’s skin, making it more favorable for air frying or oven baking.
In this article, we will help you understand how baking soda works and discuss in detail the correct way to use baking soda.
What is the science behind baking soda?
Baking soda is an alkaline solution, which means that the pH of this powder is between 7 to 14. Since it is a base, it can be used as a leavening agent because sodium bicarbonate can release small volumes of carbon dioxide without an acid.
Hence, it gives cakes, bread, and cookies, the fluffy texture we all love!
How can baking soda make chicken crispy?
The skin of the chicken is made of peptide bonds that help to keep the chicken fresh and soft. However, if the goal is to make crispy chicken, we would want to break that specific bond to change the chicken texture and make it crunchy and crispy.
Ever heard of Maillard’s reaction? We all love our chicken and sausages charred and brown; we have this reaction to thank for that! This reaction transforms sugars and amino acids into melanoidin complexes that impart unique flavors to food items when they are roasted, fried, or grilled.
Baking soda can aid in accelerating this reaction, resulting in the browning and caramelizing of the chicken.
With just a tiny amount of this powder, the peptide bonds in the chicken can be broken down, allowing the flavorful oils and other ingredients to enter the tough skin and make it golden, crunchy, and delectable.
Baking Soda Vs. Baking Powder
Many people tend to use both powders interchangeably. However, it should be avoided if you do not wish to mess with the flavors of your chicken.
Baking soda is a pure sodium bicarbonate, whereas baking powder is a mix of this compound and some acidic agents. Using baking powder instead of soda can make the chicken soggy and bitter.
The correct way to bake crispy chicken using baking soda
You may be surprised, but it is highly likely that you are not using baking soda correctly! Hence, to ensure you get the most crunchy and crispy golden chicken, we have listed a detailed guideline!
Step 1: Wash the chicken pieces and dry them with a paper towel. Once the chicken is moisture free, you can add ginger, garlic paste, and salt to rid the chicken of the raw smell.
Step 2: At this step, you can add a dash of baking soda and leave it for 15 minutes at room temperature.
Step 3: Once the baking soda has opened up the tough skin of the chicken, you can add the spices you wish to add. I like adding a spoonful of red chili powder, cayenne pepper, and an egg to glue everything together.
Step 4: Wrap the baking tray with aluminum foil and place the chicken evenly on the pan.
Step 5: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven is ready, place the tray and cook it for 60 minutes until you notice the much-desired golden color.
Authors Note: Avoid using baking soda that contains aluminum since it can give a metallic aftertaste to the marinated chicken. It is best to read the ingredients carefully before purchasing one to avoid unwanted flavors.
Can you use baking soda after its date of expiry?
Baking soda is an amorphous powder that has made its way into every household due to its multipurpose uses! From cleaning to cooking, baking soda can be the perfect partner.
If you found an expired can of baking soda, you can still use it! Baking soda does not go bad; however, it can go down with respect to its potency. As per the USDA, the best-by date does not indicate spoilage; it is an estimated period that the manufacturer predicts regarding the quality of the product.
An unopened can of baking soda can last for 2 years without losing its potency, however, after that, it can still be used, but it should be inspected before drizzling it in your recipe.
Once the can has been opened, it’s best to use it within 6 months before its alkaline nature begins to deteriorate.
How to check the potency of baking soda?
To check the potency, add a spoonful of this soda to a bowl and squeeze some lemon or vinegar. If you notice the fuzzing immediately, the baking soda is potent and can be used. However, if the fizz takes time or is less bubbly, you can discard it since it indicates that it is old and may need to be revised.
It is always a good idea to sniff the soda before adding it to inspect the smell. You would not want your cake smelling like chicken or vice versa.
Tips for storing baking soda
This section will discuss some tips and tricks that can help you keep baking soda fresh for a long time. If you use spoilt baking soda in your recipe, it can make it bitter and change the texture of the fried chicken.
Tip 1: If baking soda is in a cardboard box, it’s best to transfer the contents into another air-tight bag or box to prevent its interaction with air and moisture.
Tip 2: Baking soda can absorb random flavors; hence, keep the lid closed to prevent it from interacting with funny flavors.
Tip 3: If your pantry has too many items with a strong smell, it’s best to store the baking soda in the fridge to neutralize other odors.
What are the alternatives to baking soda?
If you are running out of baking soda but still craving a crunchy and crispy fried chicken, you can use the following alternatives.
One of the main reasons why the chicken becomes soggy is because it is not fried at the right temperature. If the oil is not hot enough, the chicken and the coating will absorb the oil so it won’t be crispy.
With this method of frying, the chicken is fried twice! The chicken is cooked at low heat in the first fry to ensure it is tender on the inside. In the second fry, the oil is heated at a high temperature, and the chicken pieces are added for a few seconds. The flash frying makes the outer coating of the chicken brown and crispy.
Coating the chicken with flour will help in adding curst outside the chicken. Hence, the chicken retains the flavor, and the coating helps provide the much-desired crunch!
All-purpose flour is perfect for this method since it does not have an inherent smell or flavor.
Bread crumbs can also help in providing an additional crunch to the fried chicken. By coating the chicken with egg and bread crumbs, the outer coating will have a complex texture and crunch.
In this section, we will discuss some commonly asked questions.
How to fix my chicken if I add too much baking soda?
Answer: Baking soda is a strong alkaline; hence, it increases the overall pH of the chicken and makes its skin crispy. If you added too much, you could counter that by adding acid. The addition of acid will reduce the pH and help neutralize it. The best solutions that you can add to the mix are vinegar or lemon juice.
Can I use baking soda in air-fried chicken?
Answer: Using an air fryer to bake chicken is a healthy method of frying chicken without using oil. However, to get crunchy chicken, you can dust it with baking powder before air frying it. You will be surprised that this chicken’s overall consistency and texture will be similar to deep-fried chicken.
Can baking soda make the chicken bitter?
Answer: Too much baking soda can impact the overall taste of the chicken. The rule of thumb to remember is that a little goes a long way; hence refrain from adding too much. Since it is an alkaline solution, it can impact the final taste of the chicken.
Baking soda can help make the chicken crispy by breaking the bonds that keep the skin together. Once the bonds are open, the skin’s surface area increases, allowing it to absorb more oil to become crisp. Furthermore, it also helps to speed up the browning reaction, thus, giving it the perfect golden brown color.
Baking soda should not be interchanged with baking powder since both have a different pH and aftertaste. To ensure that the soda remains usable for a long time, you can use the tips mentioned above while storing it.
I hope you found this article helpful. If you have any queries regarding baking soda, feel free to contact me in the comment section below.
Milburn Adler is a food enthusiast and connoisseur of wine. His area of expertise is food fusions and gourmet foods. He lives to experiment with new recipes every day and spends most of his day looking for fresh and exotic fruits and vegetables.