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"Nutshell" Damn Good! naked fried chicken w/ spicy vinaigrette sauce

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A flourless but extra crispy fried chicken recipe that will make you rethink whether you need to add flour. Chicken is double-cooked and tossed in a delicious vinegar based sauce.

"Naked" fried chicken achieves that familiar super crispiness and elevates that natural chicken flavor. Make Monday a fried chicken night. Use Sunday for the prep work and then Monday is a super quick fry.

naked fried chicken with spicy vinaigrette

MOOD MUSIC

As a kid I caused quite a ruckus when I asked my Uncle Slick, the resident fried pork chop expert, to not make mine with flour. I learned a few things from such a simple request – 1. I had “set of balls” for a youngster; 2. Pork chops with no flour was not a fried pork chop 3. I was the weird Brown and so it began, me in a nutshell, expected to conform versus marching to my own beat.

Extremely frustrated and somewhat embarrassed by his limited cooking techniques I was told to make a jelly sandwich since I was too good for his fried pork chops. Luckily for me, my dear grandmother saved the day as usual and fried flourless pork chops.

I made a fried pork chop sandwich with a homemade sauce including Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, karo syrup and spices I saw my grandfather make. My sauce wasn’t even close to as good as his, but I never forgot how the sweet, vinegary and spicy sauce paired with the crispy flourless pork chop. And the pork taste! It was magnified and singularly focused without all the crust.

What is naked Fried Chicken?

Naked means it’s actually batter-free or flourless fried chicken; chicken is fried without any type of flour, breading, starch, or batter whatsoever. Skipping out on the flour makes this a really good low carb fried chicken dish.

Crispy Fried Chicken Recipe Ingredients

For The Fried Chicken

  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Whole Chicken cut into 4 pieces (2 breast/wing halves; 2 thigh/drumstick halves)
  • Peanut Oil

For The Spicy Vinaigrette

  • Garlic Cloves
  • Fresh ginger
  • Red bell pepper
  • Dried herbs (thyme, oregano, basil)
  • Piri piri spice seeds or crushed red pepper seeds
  • Sugar
  • Paprika
  • Rice vinegar
  • Tamari Sauce - gluten-free soy sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper

How To Make Naked Cripsy Fried Chicken

Making the best naked fried chicken requires three critical steps all of which are very simple to execute. The three steps include brining, steaming, and frying.

Brine The Chicken

Cut the chicken into smaller pieces.

Add water, sugar, and salt to a large bowl and stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Place the chicken in an extra-large ziplock bag then add the liquid brine and refrigerate overnight. Alternatively, buttermilk plus fresh herbs make for a great brine and can be used. Simply blend the herbs with the buttermilk.

Steam the Chicken

The idea of steaming chicken prior to frying may be a new one to most, but its really effective in ensuring a moist bird as well as creating that extra crispy skin, especially in lieu of the fact that there is no breading which means all your crispy goodness has to come 100% from the fried chicken skin.

To steam, place a cup of water in a pot. Add the pasta/steamer insert to the interior of the pot. Add the chicken and cover the pot with the lid. Heat the pot on medium to start the steaming and reduce to low then let the chicken steam 10-15 minutes.

Remove the chicken. Allow to cool and then refrigerate at least 30 minutes, but preferably overnight.

Make the Sauce

Chop the ginger, garlic, and peppers finely and then mix in a medium bowl with both the dry and liquid ingredients. Set aside.

sauce in a glass bowl

Fry The Chicken

After steaming, comes the frying, but you only need to fry just long enough to crisp the skin and brown the chicken as the steaming process is all the real cooking you’ll need.

Pre-heat your oil in your fryer or frying pan to 375 degrees F.

Allow chicken to come to room temperature. Add to the fryer and cook 2-3 minutes. Set aside on a cooling rack.

Place chicken pieces (cut them smaller if preferred) into a large bowl. Add the sauce and toss the chicken until well covered.

The beauty of this steam first approach, is the chicken actually spends less time in the oil which is how you get that clean chicken flavor. You also still get that beautiful golden brown color due to the sugar in the brine. From a frying perspective, this also means the chicken spends very little time in the oil. Less time frying means getting dinner on the table quickly.

naked fried chicken with spicy vinaigrette
Fried chicken ready for chopping into pieces prior to saucing

Sauce the Chicken

fried chicken in a bowl of sauce

As a finishing touch you can dip the fried chicken in your favorite sauce or spicy vinaigrette similar to how most people approach chicken wings. This recipe calls for a spicy Asianish vinaigrette, but feel free to create your own or use a pre-made store-bought option.

Just place chicken pieces (cut them smaller if preferred) into a large bowl. Add the sauce and toss the chicken until well covered.

naked gluten-free fried chicken with spicy vinaigrette

Crispy fried chicken cooking tips and considerations

It always amazes me to see so many fried chicken recipes that don’t call for brining despite the fact that we go to extreme measures to brine Thanksgiving turkeys. Brining is an essential step as it both tenderizes the meat and flavors the chicken prior to any cooking. We’re talking the difference between a good fried chicken and a great one!  So make time and brine. For this recipe I chose a wet brine, but dry brines are equally as effective. I’ve used both approaches and it really is a preference thing but there are pros and cons to each method.

Steaming works because as mad food scientist Alton Brown explains it renders some of the fat under the skin of the chicken which allows for more crispiness than normal. Steaming plus resting overnight in the fridge equals even more crisp. Refrigeration allows the skin to dry out more and the cooling tightens the skin. It’s for this reason I suggest doing all the pre-frying stuff on Sunday. This way you can take the chicken out from the fridge Monday after work and then fry it. Steaming is actually a form of pre-cooking so you’ll only need to fry for a few minutes.

To keep this chicken all the way gluten-free I used Tamari sauce instead of regular soy since its gluten-free. The full sauce is vinegar-based and marries Asian and Portuguese flavors together for a sticky finger-licking good time. It’s got fresh ginger and garlic, rice vinegar and Piri Piri spices. Other chiles dried or fresh can work if you don’t have access, but you’ll want some heat to contrast the sweetness as well as to stand up to the vinegar given the ratio of vinegar to oil in the vinaigrette.

The high acidity in the sauce is perfect for fried chicken. It’s basically playing the role of a pickled jalapeno or pickle slices commonly served at chicken joints. Or when I think of the best hot chicken I’ve had there was a strong vinegar presence either from the powdered vinegar in the seasoning or the pickled condiments.

chicken wing held in the air with fingers

Additional Tips

  • Keep the brine simple – water, sugar, and salt. Buttermilk is always a great option too
  • Stacking Chinese Bamboo Steamers are great for steaming food, but if not available a pot with insert and lid get the job done
  • Let the chicken cool before frying. If you have the time refrigerate overnight or at least for a few hours. Then let reach room temperature before frying.
  • Chop/cut the chicken into smaller pieces after frying. This makes it easier to toss in the vinaigrette. It also makes the chicken more finger food like similar to wings/drummettes.
  • For the vinaigrette chop the ingredients the old school way using just your knife to get small, somewhat evenly chopped pieces. You don’t want big pieces of raw ingredients nor the mushy minced stuff you get from using graters and other tools. Using just a knife you will get better presentation and even, balanced flavor throughout the sauce.
  • Feel free to use your own favorite sauce. Just be sure it has enough acid for the chicken. The more vinegar the better unlike a traditional vinaigrette.

Naked Fried Chicken FAQs

What oil should I use to fry?

I prefer a neutral-flavored oil like peanut for making naked fried chicken. The more neutral flavor allows the vinaigrette and the natural taste of the chicken to shine. It also has a high smoke point and results in that nice golden brown color. For those making this chicken as part of a keto diet there are a few good keto friendly oil options.

Is this fried chicken gluten-free?

Most fried chicken recipes call for flour; afterall this is what provides that crispy exterior. Flour, unless it's any of the commercial gluten-free flours contains gluten. Also, the recipe is Asian-ish and calls for tamari in place of soy.

Most don’t realize that many sauces, condiments, and marinades house gluten. Tamari is essentially gluten-free soy sauce and can be found in the international or Asian section f any mainstream grocery store these days.

Admittedly, I was reluctant to actually call this a gluten-free, low carb or keto fried chicken recipe for fear that it would create concern about the flavor. The fact is, this is my goto and preferred way to fry chicken cause the texture and taste are out of this frickin world.

Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a post against traditional fried chicken. I love the classic version, and if I’m visiting New Orleans I don’t care what I have going on, I’m making a trip to the Popeye’s near the Quarter. That location is unlike any anywhere else. The crunch, hot damn!

But just know naked fried chicken isn’t really an anomaly. In my research and travels, many cultures around the world don’t use flour – Haitian and Filipino fried chicken are two of my favorite. Likewise, the fried chicken at Momofuku’s is flourless and was a source of inspiration for my current version. At Momofuku they brine, then steam the chicken before frying it. It may seem highly involved, but it’s actually pretty simple and can be done without any special equipment.

What to serve with this Flourless Crispy Fried Chicken Recipe

Feel free to choose whatever sides you typically use with your normal fried chicken recipe. Otherwise try any of the options below or see this comprehensive guide to what to serve with fried chicken.

naked fried chicken with spicy vinaigrette

Belgian French fries

Purple potato fried

Collard greens slaw

Blistered Okra and Tomatoes

Wine Braised Greens

Southwestern Corn Saute

MORE FRIED CHICKEN RECIPES

Crispy Buttermilk Wings

Fried Whole Hen

Jerk Fried Chicken

Garam Masala Fried Chicken Thighs

Lemon Pepper Wings

Crispy Air Fryer Wings

Smoked Fried Chicken

Chicken Karaage

Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs

Vegan Fried Chicken Sandwich

Pan Fried Chicken Thighs

make the recipe

If you make this flourless, but crispy fried chicken recipe or any other from the site, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback. Definitely take a photo of the dish and be sure to tag #foodfidelity so that I can see them.

You can also keep up with my food exploits as well as original recipes! You can find me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest. If you like any of the music you find on the site, visit me at Spotify to find curated monthly playlists. 

naked fried chicken with spicy vinaigrette

Naked Fried Chicken With Spicy Vinaigrette

"Flourless" or naked fried chicken with a super crisp exterior and juicy center, then tossed in a spicy Asian-Portugese flavored vinaigrette.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Modern Soul Food
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 341kcal
Author: Marwin Brown

Ingredients

Fried Chicken Ingredients

  • 4 cups water lukewarm
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 1 Whole Chicken cut into 4 pieces (2 breast/wing halves; 2 thigh/drumstick halves)
  • Peanut Oil

Spicy Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoon garlic finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon ginger finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoon red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried herbs thyme, oregano, basil
  • 1 teaspoon piri piri spice seeds crushed red peppers or fresh thai chiles work well as substitutes
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • ¼ tablespoon paprika
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup Tamari Sauce
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Spicy Vinaigrette Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients in a bowl well or alternatively place in a lidded container and shake well.
  • This will keep well in the fridge for 4-5 days

Make the brine

  • Combine water, sugar, and salt in a large container with lid and stir until the sugar and salt dissolves. Add the chicken, cover and refrigerate 1-4 hours.

Steam the chicken

  • Prepare your steamer ((steamer basket or pot with lid and insert)
  • Drain the chicken and put it into steamer
  • Turn the heat to medium and set the steamer lid slightly ajar. Steam for 30-40 minutes then remove from steamer and let cool on a rack. Chill the chicken on the rack in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight if you have time

Fry the chicken

  • Remove steamed chicken from the refrigerator and let it reach room temperature (about 30 minutes)
  • Prepare a fryer of skillet for frying. Heat oil to 375 degrees F and fry the chicken in batches 6-8 minutes. Chicken should be a deep golden brown color and crispy AF. Remove to a paper line plate or rack to drain.
  • Allow to cool enough to handle then cut the chicken into smaller pieces.
  • Put in a large bowl and toss with the vinaigrette. Serve

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • Have plenty of napkins on hand when eating, unless you are like me and lick your fingers. Fair warning it will be tough not to.
  • Feel free to make enough sauce to use on other recipes for the week including salads and other proteins.
  • For sous vide cooking - for thighs - cook at 165 degrees F for 1-2 hours; for breasts cook at 140 degrees for 1 ½-2 hours
  • Let the chicken cool before frying. If you have the time refrigerate overnight or at least for a few hours. Then let reach room temperature before frying.
  • Chop/cut the chicken into smaller pieces after frying. This makes it easier to toss in the vinaigrette. It also makes the chicken more finger food like similar to wings/drummettes.
  • For the vinaigrette chop the ingredients the old school way using just your knife to get small, somewhat evenly chopped pieces. You don't won't big pieces of raw ingredients nor the mushy minced stuff you get from using graters and other tools. Using just a knife you will get better presentation and even, balanced flavor throughout the sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 341kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 635mg | Potassium: 60mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 520IU | Vitamin C: 6.8mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 1.8mg
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Recipe Rating




Sean Dougherty

Saturday 31st of July 2021

Interesting...... I pressure fry my chicken with oil in a pressure cooker like Colonel Sanders. I’ve been wanting to try naked style in the pressure fryer. I just may do this for lunch! Thank you for the great recipe.

Marwin Brown

Saturday 31st of July 2021

That sounds cool. Are you using a pressure fryer?

David M Abner

Tuesday 27th of August 2019

yessir!! yessir!!! yessir!!!!!

I've always wondered why you had to flour or batter chicken in order to fry it... this just proves you don't.. that was some d@@m goooood eatin!!!!!!

Marwin Brown

Thursday 29th of August 2019

Thank you sir! some conventions we just don't question, but probably should at times.

Swathi

Monday 16th of July 2018

Tempting chicken ever!!!

moopbrown

Tuesday 17th of July 2018

Thanks! You gotta try it!