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Is Fried Chicken Keto?

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  Published on February 3rd, 2023
  Reading time: 4 minutes
  Last modified January 18th, 2023
Eating keto fried chicken

Eating delicious food is certainly possible on keto, and meat is one type of food that you are free to indulge in. It is high in protein and generally has no carbs to speak of. However, eating plain meat again and again can get old. If cooked chicken breast is a staple in your diet, you might be wondering if you can branch out a bit. Is fried chicken keto? 

Unfortunately, fried chicken uses flour or cornmeal (and sometimes cornstarch) to create its familiar beloved crunchy crust. That means it’s not keto-friendly. Traditional fried chicken can be made keto-friendly if you remove the breading before eating. You can also fry unbreaded chicken in lard or avocado oil to stay in ketosis. Another alternative is to substitute almond flour for the more traditional white flour and dip the chicken in heavy cream and eggs instead of milk. 

Is Fried Chicken Keto? 

The keto diet is all about keeping your carb count low. Chicken is a great addition to your meal plan because a cup of plain chopped or diced chicken has zero carbs, but this isn’t the case for traditional fried chicken, which is breaded. As a result, fried chicken is almost certain to put you over the top of your carb count. 

Kentucky Fried Chicken is one of the most popular restaurant options for fried chicken. With their Original Recipe fried chicken, you could be eating four grams of net carbs on a single drumstick. Opting for a chicken thigh or breast will raise that carb count, giving you somewhere between eight and eleven grams of carbs. [1] A Popeyes chicken thigh has 6 grams of net carbs, while a fried chicken breast from Popeyes has 14 grams of net carbs. [2]

Given that most people try to stick to fewer than 20 grams of carbs each day, traditional fried chicken does not fit well into a keto diet, although you may be able to have a small amount and remain in ketosis if you’re careful with your other carbs for the day. You can also try removing the breading and eating just the meat if you have no other options. This should give you close to zero carbs. 

The good news is that there are a few ways you can enjoy “fried” chicken without having to be paranoid about your carb count. However, you will have to make your fried chicken at home instead of choosing the easier option of takeout.

How to Make Fried Chicken Keto

There are a few ways that you can go about making a substitute for traditional fried chicken while keeping in ketosis. The first is to forgo the breading altogether. In a small bag, mix together all of the seasonings that you would ordinarily use in your breading but exclude the flour. You might put in some thyme, paprika, salt, pepper, and oregano. 

All you have to do is toss your plain chicken breast in these seasonings and then fry it in some lard or keto-friendly oil

Making keto fried chicken in healthy oil

However, many people turn to fried chicken because they like the crunch and the taste of the breading. If this describes you, there are a few substitutions you can make to create a keto version of your favorite fried chicken.

Most people dredge their usual fried chicken in milk which has too many carbs for your keto diet. Instead, dip your chicken in heavy cream and eggs so the seasoning coating with stick. Some people choose to dip their chicken in a keto-friendly milk like unsweetened almond milk, but we found that heavy cream and eggs were preferable. 

Instead of flour, you will mix your seasonings into almond flour prior to frying. While the flavor may be a little different, the carb count is also significantly lower. A quarter-cup of almond flour comes in at just 2 grams of net carbs while traditional all-purpose flour has about 19 net carbs for the same amount. [3] [4]

You have several options for healthy oils that you can fry in. Some people like to use the more traditional extra virgin olive oil in lieu of vegetable oil because it is generally healthier. If you’re looking for a healthy fat with a higher smoke point, you can fry your chicken in lard or avocado oil. 

The result is that you can have two chicken thighs and come in at just 2.1 grams of net carbs. This is pretty impressive given the high carb count of KFC chicken. For more details on how you can make fried chicken, you can see our full fried chicken recipe here

There are also tasty fried chicken recipes that use ground pork rinds to create a crispy crust instead of almond flour. Check out our recipe for air-fryer chicken nuggets using pork rinds here.

Making Your Fried Chicken Keto 

The good news is that you do not have to forgo your favorite foods when on the keto diet. You can still indulge in favorites like fried chicken, but you have to pay attention to how much you eat–and what the ingredients are. Choosing to run through the drive-thru to pick up some fried chicken is not the best option for those trying to stick to a keto lifestyle, but you can easily make your own at home while staying in ketosis. Try out the substitutions found here to see if you can satisfy your craving for crunchy seasoned chicken! 

Ashley Simpson is a freelance writer dedicated to helping people improve their lives -- in every way possible. She understands that food and diet are necessary components to a healthy lifestyle and experiments with both. When she isn't typing away, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son.



Full nutrition guide - KFC. (n.d.). Retrieved December 22, 2022, from https://www.kfc.com/full-nutrition-guide 


PLK Nutrition FEBRUARY 2022. Retrieved January 18, 2023, from https://plk-use1-prod.sites.rbictg.com/nutrition/PLK_Nutrition.pdf


U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Flour, Almond. FoodData Central. Retrieved December 22, 2022, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2261420/nutrients 


U.S. Department of Agriculture. (n.d.). Flour, Wheat, All Purpose, Enriched, Bleached. FoodData Central. Retrieved December 22, 2022, from https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/789890/nutrients 

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