The One Ingredient Your Fried Chicken Desperately Needs

Are you actually frying your own chicken, instead of leaving it to the Colonel or Annie (aka the Popeye's Chicken Lady)? Well, congrats to you! Fried chicken may seem like a simple dish — and when it comes to eating it, the only hard part is leaving a few pieces left in the bucket for everyone else — but it is anything but easy to prepare properly. There are just way too many ways to screw up your fried chicken, since it's pretty darn difficult to make sure the outside achieves the perfect degree of crispy golden brown crunch while the inside gets cooked to the point where food poisoning doesn't loom on the horizon. Oh, and then there's all that tricky business about not setting your kitchen on fire by letting the oil get too hot — the National Fire Protection Association (via FDNY Smart) reveals the horrifying truth that fires caused by deep fryers cause an average of 60 injuries and five deaths every year, along with over $15 million in property damage. Yikes!

If you are still brave and skillful enough to keep on frying, though, you're probably already doing all the right things to make almost-perfect fried chicken. There is, however, one more step you might want to take that will allow your chicken to reach 100 percent perfection, and it involves adding just one single ingredient.

Pickle juice will make your fried chicken even more amazing

Yes, the secret ingredient your fried chicken has been squawking for is pickle juice — you know, that weird green liquid you probably pour down the drain each time you reach the bottom of the pickle jar. Well, stop throwing it out! There's just so much you can do with leftover pickle juice. Wide Open Eats suggests you use it in cocktails, and it might even perk up an otherwise undrinkable glass of cheap wine. Where pickle juice really shines, however, is when it's paired with chicken. A little pickle juice in your chicken salad can help to cut through the fatty mayo taste, but if you're making fried chicken, you'll be using the pickle brine ahead of time as a marinade.

Chris Kronner, a chef renowned for his burgers and author of A Burger to Believe In: Recipes and Fundamentals, is actually no slouch when it comes to cooking chicken, either. Tasting Table shared his recipe for pickle-brined fried chicken, which calls for soaking the raw chicken in pickle juice for at least six hours (or up to 24), then giving it another soak in buttermilk before coating it in seasoned flour and frying. This one-two punch of pickle juice and buttermilk will ensure the most tender and moist chicken you've ever fried up.