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Pickle-Brined Keto Fried Chicken

This Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken is crispy and light with tender, flavorful chicken. Skip the pickle brine and it will still taste great. The texture is as good or better as any Southern fried chicken you’ve had!

Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear and some garlic mustard aioli.

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This Keto Fried Chicken? I think it’s our favorite keto recipe to date. And we’ve made a LOT of keto recipes.

The breading is light and crispy and the chicken is tender and juicy. This is one of those recipes that makes eating low-carb so easy! Whenever I get a craving for something loaded with carbs, this is the recipe I reach for. My other go-to keto dinner recipes are Keto Chicken and Dumplings, Crispy Baked Lemon Pepper Wings, and Instant Pot Mississippi Pot Roast. If I’m splurging or making something for a special occasion, it’s always this easy boneless prime rib recipe!

Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear.

Is fried chicken okay on keto?

YES but you’ll have to modify the ingredients traditionally used for fried chicken. All-purpose flour is out as are most of the breadings used. Finely crushed pork rinds are a commonly used replacement for breading which would be delicious on this keto fried chicken. You can also use almond or coconut flour, which I’ve tried, but it never gets as crispy as I like when I use it as a breading.

Then I discovered Whey Protein Isolate. I use whey protein in my shakes and drinks but I was skeptical as to how it would work as a breading. Turns out that I love it so much that it’s now the low-carb breading I use for everything! It’s not a “well, this is a decent substitute that’s better than anything else I’ve found”. No, I’d use this as a breading regardless of whether I was reducing carbs in my diets or not. It’s so light and turns everything I fry into something crispy and delicious.

It worked so well that I didn’t even try the pork rinds. The coating is thin but it turns out that I really like it that way. It’s still crispy and doesn’t overwhelm the chicken. I use chicken thighs which not only prefer but they’re also thinner than breasts so the coating works really well here. Plus I think we all need a recipe for keto fried chicken without pork rinds for once!

I’d been mulling recipe ideas for keto fried chicken around in my head for months before the idea of brining it first in pickle juice hit me. Pickle brined chicken is nothing new, but since pickles and pickle juice are so closely tied to the keto diet, it seemed like a perfect match.

Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear and some garlic mustard aioli.

How long do you brine chicken in pickle juice?

I recommend brining your chicken in pickle juice for anywhere from 8-24 hours. I opt for 24 hours because that length of time gives my keto fried chicken a nice pickle flavor. You may prefer less pickle flavor, however, so you can always start with 8 hours and go up from there. You can even skip the brining entirely if you’re not into the pickle thing. Or make a batch both ways and see which you like best.

Ingredients in keto fried chicken

  • boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • pickle juice
  • eggs
  • mayo
  • Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • whey protein isolate (or crushed pork rinds)
  • avocado oil
Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear and some garlic mustard aioli.

How to make keto fried chicken

Making keto fried chicken is really simple. Although I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs in this recipe, you can use bone-in chicken thighs and/or breasts with skin if you prefer. Everything in the recipe will be the same, except I should note that you put the skin side of your chicken down first when cooking. But I can’t recommend using boneless, skinless chicken thighs enough! They cook quickly, stay nice and juicy and are easier to eat.

After brining, you’ll drain off the pickle juice and pat your chicken dry. I like to cut each thigh into 2-3 pieces, but that’s entirely up to you. Dredge each piece in a mixture of beaten egg, mayo, dijon, salt, and pepper, then again in the Whey Protein Isolate (or finely crushed pork rinds if you prefer). Fry in hot avocado oil (or another oil with a high smoke point) until browned and crispy. That’s it! So simple and you will love the flavor!

Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear and some garlic mustard aioli.
Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken in a basket with brown parchment paper and a pickle spear.

Pickle-Brined Keto Fried Chicken

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

This Pickle Brined Keto Fried Chicken is crispy with tender, flavorful chicken. Skip the pickle brine and it will still taste amazing!

Ingredients

  • 3 lb chicken thighs,, boneless and skinless
  • 2 cups pickle juice,, from a jar of pickles
  • 2 large eggs,, beaten
  • 1 heaping tbsp mayo
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2 cup whey protein isolate, (or 1-2 cups finely crushed pork rinds)
  • 2 cups avocado oil

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in a large, resealable plastic bag. Pour pickle juice over chicken and place in refrigerator. Marinate for 8-24 hours, depending on how much pickle flavor you want your chicken to have (I go for the full 24)!
  2. Drain chicken and discard pickle juice. Pat chicken dry and cut into 2-3 pieces each, if desired. Pat chicken dry with paper towels.
  3. Mix together eggs, mayo, dijon, salt and pepper, then toss the chicken in the mixture, taking care to make sure it's entirely coated. 
  4. Preheat the oil in a large, deep skillet until shimmering. Working quickly, dredge each piece of chicken in whey protein (or pork rinds) and place in the oil. Cook until both sides are well-browned and chicken is cooked through, turning just once.
  5. Drain cooked chicken pieces on paper towels. Serve with your favorite sauce. We like the Garlic Mustard Aioli from Trader Joe's (or make your own) or a good, homemade ranch dressing. Be happy that you can eat yummy things like this on a keto "diet"! :)
Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 453Saturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 281mgSodium: 1669mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gProtein: 53g

Kristy Bernardo
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