What's the secret to soft chicken skin?

I looooove chicken skin but it never comes out the way I like it the best, melt-in-your-mouth soft. I do like breaded and fried chicken skin, but I can’t eat flour anymore. Roasted chicken is good, but the skin is usually hard/crispy, and I hardly ever eat it. Chicken cooked in a crock pot gets me soft chicken skin, but the rest of the chicken isn’t generally all that tasty.

There has to be a way to make roast chicken with soft skin, so what’s the secret? Should I cover the roasting pan (which, for me, is a rack inside a cake pan, so no lid) with foil? Is there some way to treat the skin so that it doesn’t turn crispy?

I’m thinking a covered casserole and on a V-rack so it doesn’t stew in its own juices a la a crockpotted bird.

Thank you. I think I might have a round pan (one that’s blue and white, like camping gear) with a lid that might do for a roasting pan. I hate to ask, but what’s a V-rack? Any tips on how to jerry-rig one that will fit in a round pan? I’m wondering if a bunch of forks turned upside down would keep the chicken far enough away from the bottom. All the other racks I have are square.

I do have a cast iron Dutch Oven with a lid that I’ve never used. It’s very very heavy (I have to use two hands to pick it up) and I’m not even sure an oven rack will hold it, though I’ve never tried.

IMO it’s all about water content. Boil it first, then fry it; or marinate it, then steam it like the Chinese do. Or marinate it overnight, then roast/fry it. That’d work.

i don’t know if this will help the skin or not, but i was taught as a girl to soak chicken at least overnight in salt water. you can cut the meat with a fork. it’s the only way i’ll eat chicken to this day.

:stuck_out_tongue: AFTER it’s been cooked…

V rack for roasting

Okay, since no one has done it yet, alow me to be the smartass.
What’s the secret to soft chicken skin?


I was watching Kylie Kwong’s cooking show Heart and Soul and she cooked Poached Chicken. I seen to recall she cooked up a ginger-soy sauce topping for it that looked fantastic, but I can’t seem to find it. The poached chicken definitely has tender skin.

Soft chickens, surely?

You English and your boiled meat! :wink:

Ngoh-geh yuk ho heung.

You could try roasting it breast-side down - the meat on the back is generally sufficiently greasy to keep itself moist, whereas the breast will benefit from the juices that drip down. The skin on the breast won’t go crispy because it will be immersed in the pan juices.

You could look into a Swiss steamer, they are a bit like a pressure cooker.

I’ve produced Asian style chicken very successfully in one of those.

Using a baking pan covered in tinfoil and setting a tinfoil tent on top of the birdie is a good method which doesn’t require you to buy anything you don’t already have. It also has the advantage of making the oven and pan easier to clean (which is how we discovered it). The tent keeps the water and grease circulating, instead of going to the rest of the oven.

The “problem” with the closed crock pots is that no water is lost at all; the problem without the tent, that too much is lost.

Mom’s recipe:

  • clean the chicken.
  • burn off any bits of feather that can’t be plucked.
  • salt it inside and out.
  • cut half a lemon and plop it into the bird’s butt, cut-face-inside.
  • place on pan, in the form described above. No need for oil.
  • place in preheated oven for 25’-30’.
  • when it smells like yum, open the oven, check at the hips and breastbone to make sure it’s really done. If it’s really done, take it out of the oven immediately and switch the oven off leaving it open so it cools faster (unless it’s the summer, but if it’s the summer, why are you making a roast?); if it’s missing a liiiitle bit but not much, put it back in the oven, close the oven, switch the oven off and let it finish roasting while the oven cools off (about 5’).

If it was any simpler it would be illegal.

One would hope…

Another recipe (which may sound familiar, I’ve given it before): fried chicken, Spanish style (pollo al ajillo). Since the OP mentions liking fried chicken but not being able to eat bread, I figured you might want to try it. The skin on the wings is likely to end up over-fried because they’re so skinny, but this depends on how attentive you are during the high-fry part.

You need: a chopped-up chicken, several unpeeled cloves of garlic, oil, salt, a low and wide frying pan with a lid, a dish or similar, tongs.
Get the bird chopped up in small portions, each about the size of one of the wings.
You’ll need two/three cloves per pan-load, so if your pan is large enough to fry all the chicken in one go, you only need three cloves.

Salt the chicken while the oil heats up.
Once the oil is hot, place the chicken and two (or three) garlic cloves in it; since the oil should be very hot, it’s better to use tongs. Don’t place pieces of chicken on top of others, they all should be touching the bottom of the pan. If that means several loads, that’s all right.
Turn the pieces of chicken and the garlic around as they get “golden” (which I don’t know how to describe better, but basically when they start looking cooked). When each piece of garlic is brown on both sides, take it out and add a fresh one; when each piece of chicken is golden all over, take it out, put it in the dish and add a fresh one. Keep this up until all the chicken is done.
Lower the heat to minimum. Take out any garlic still in the pan. Put all the chicken back into the pan. Cover it. Leave it in for about half an hour, stirring occasionally (make sure to overturn pieces as you stir and to move them from top to bottom as well).

Once it’s done, move it to a plate. It’s a good dish for potluck parties or picnics as well as for eating at home.

I’ve heard legends of having to add more oil so every piece has some oil touching it for the slow-boil part, but like I say this seems to be unfounded rumor, never happened to me :wink:

Thank you all for your responses! I’m going to try all of your suggestions, and buy a V-rack. I couldn’t find anything about a swiss steamer though, except to take a wonderful trip on beautiful Lake Zürich. I have been thinking of buying a pressure cooker. It’s about time I got over my pressure cooker phobia. My mom used to have one and it scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. It was really freaky, it would vibrate like crazy and made all kinds of strange noises, and I was sure that one day either the lid would fly off and decapitate me or the water would spout out and scald me. Seriously, I wouldn’t set foot in the kitchen if she used it, but the food always tasted good.

Scubaqueen, I have made brined chicken, but it seems to come out too salty for our tastes. I did it just last week using a half-cup of kosher salt stirred into a pitcher of water, and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 5 hours. My husband could barely eat it and didn’t finish his. I love salt but it was even too salty for me. I know I must have used too much salt. I was thinking of trying again using a quarter cup or less of salt, and not letting it sit so long. Other things I’ve tried include putting pats of butter under the skin but that didn’t seem to help.

That poaching recipe looks good, and I’m going to try it.

Perfect! Wonderful! It sounds delicious and that’s the first one I’m going to try, then your second recipe. Thank you for posting them here.

? People don’t make roast chicken in the summer? I never have, but that’s mainly because I only started to like chicken a few years ago, and first, we had a Kentucky Fried Chicken a half block away, and we also have an ethnic market right outside our back door that sells whole roast chickens for less than the cost of an uncooked chicken. But now, the KFC is closed, and I can’t take chances on what the market uses to marinate/season with, so I have to start making them myself.

I appreciate the time taken for all the responses!

Yes, basically any method that keeps moisture in the equation will work. Heck, wrap the whole thing in foil, and it’ll work. You can also try cooking it in a very slow oven (225-250F) for a couple of hours. I’ve gotten soft skin in my smoker in this way, but I assure you that was not intentional. I now always make my smoked chicken at 300F. (People actually like soft chicken skin?)

When it’s over 100 outside, no, I don’t turn on the oven if I can help it. Our power bill is high enough already, thank you very much.

Can you eat potatoes? I always make pot roast of chicken. If you leave the lid on all during the roasting, the skin will be soft. I generally take the lid off during the last 15-30 minutes, to brown the skin.

I’ve had it a few times when I was a kid where it was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, but not for ages, and no way to find out how it got that way (my grandma died a couple of decades ago). I don’t mind if it’s a tiny bit crispy, maybe I could take the foil/lid off for, I don’t know, the last 10 minutes-ish. Once I try the various suggestions here I can find what tastes best to me, and how soft I really do want it.

Good point. I doubt I’d make it often in the summer, even though we do have central air, but I want to experiment a few times before summer hits.

I’ve been forced onto a low-carbohydrate diet (very much against my will, let me tell you) so no, I can’t eat potatos (sigh), or carrots (fine by me), but I can use other veggies to cushion, like celery. I can use the onion as long as I don’t eat the onion, which is also fine by me. I’ve always loved raw carrots and onions, but have never liked cooked carrots and onions, so I wouldn’t eat them anyway. Thanks for that recipe. Nice tip about the chicken fat.