Chicken Skins with Spicy Sea Salt

Crunchy fried chicken skins (let’s call them chicken cracklin’s) are an indulgence that I take with a grain of salt—spicy sea salt, to be exact. These crispy-skinned diet destroyers make you hate yourself for indulging; I’ll just have one, okay, maybe ten. They’re just that good—gone-in-sixty-seconds good.

Serves6 to 8



Total TimeUnder 30 minutes

Recipe CourseAppetizer, Snack



  • 1 cup (272 g) coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon (4 g) chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon (4 g) smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tablespoon (3 g) freshly ground black pepper
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 36 chicken thigh skins


  1. Place the salt, chili powder, paprika, and black pepper in a jar with a lid. Cover and shake.

  2. Add enough oil to a large cast-iron pot to come halfway up the side of the pot. Bring the oil to 375°F (190°C).

  3. Spread the chicken skins out on paper towels and pat dry. Drop them into the hot oil one at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot. Fry until the fat is rendered out and the skin becomes ultra crispy and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack and immediately season with the spicy salt. Repeat until all the skins are cooked. Serve in the center of the table with ice-cold beer.

Table Tip

I buy skin-on chicken for most every use and remove the skin and freeze it for just this recipe. The skins from the thighs are best, but any chicken skin will work. I like the chili powder–infused sea salt, but feel free to use Cajun seasoning instead.


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