Can You Eat Fried Chicken on Keto? KFC Breading Hack (Recipe)

Keto (Low Carb) | Written by Nathan Petitpas | Updated on 17 May 2023

A young woman debating if she can eat fried chicken on a low carb diet and who is wearing a black sweater while holding a white bucket of fried chicken with a large smile on her face and beside her is several fried chicken legs and thighs.

Can you eat fried chicken on keto?1 Often, those on a keto diet craving for crunchy fried chicken may ask themselves this as they look to spice up their diet or simply because they miss their favorite fried food and want to sneak it in on a cheat day.

It’s a legitimate concern because fried chicken may have the potential to disrupt a keto diet—the good news is that using an alternative breading such as crushed nuts or pork rinds and using an air fryer when cooking fried chicken recipes can provide the same crispy and delicious taste that is synonymous with fried chicken at KFC.

However, keto dieters keen and insistent on eating fried chicken at KFC or other establishments can use this KFC breading hack by simply removing the breading to reduce the carb content and make it more keto friendly.

Fried Chicken Nutritional Information + Carbs in Fried Chicken

The information below gives a summary of the nutritional information that can be expected from a typical breaded fried chicken including the macros, calories, ingredients and the types of fats.

Chicken Drumstick (1 serving, 71g):

  • Calories: 178 kcal.
  • Carbs: 5.1 g
  • Protein: 15.3 g
  • Fats (saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated): 11.3g
  • Cholesterol: 71mg
  • Fiber: 1.5g
  • Sodium: 630mg
  • Potassium: 182mg

Chicken Thigh (1 serving, 145g):

  • Calories: 364 kcal.
  • Carbs: 10g
  • Protein: 31g
  • Fats (saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated): 22g
  • Cholesterol: 141 mg
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Sodium: 371mg

Chicken Wing (1 serving, 71g):

  • Calories: 178 kcal.
  • Carbs: 5.1g
  • Protein: 15g
  • Fats (saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated): 11g
  • Cholesterol: 69mg
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sodium: 182mg

Chicken Breast (1 serving, 163g)

  • Calories: 360 kcal.
  • Carbs: 11g
  • Protein: 34g
  • Fats (saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated): 21g
  • Cholesterol: 110mg
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sodium: 1080mg
  • Potassium: 400mg

Can You Eat Fried Chicken on Keto? Is Fried Chicken Keto Friendly?

Fried chicken that is typically breaded is generally not a keto friendly meal and should be cautiously and mostly avoided on those on a keto diet.

While it is not a bad thing to indulge in savory foods while on a keto diet, such as meats and chicken, fried chicken has a number of ingredients that will render it keto unfriendly.

These ingredients include the bread and flour/and or cornmeal that gives fried chicken its characteristic and signature crunchy taste.

A black basket that contains pieces of fried chickens with lettuces and placed on top of a matte white surface.

Source: sharonang via Canva.com2

A keto diet which is among the popular trending diets generally contains high amounts of fats, moderate proteins and very low carbohydrates. These macro nutrients are divided into roughly 55%-60% fat, 30%-35% protein and a low 5%-10% carbohydrate content which translates to a consumption of 20-50 grams of carbs intake daily (based on a 2000 kcal.) diet.3

These ingredients, particularly the breading which has a high amount of carbs are bound to place someone above the threshold of a keto diet—to put this into perspective 1 breast of fried chicken (212 grams) that is breaded and with skin on is loaded with a colossal 18 grams of carbs.

Can you eat fried chicken on keto? Unless someone on a keto diet is planning on eating only one piece of chicken and having no other carbs for the day such as mash potatoes and gravy, fried chicken won’t fit into a keto diet.

Is KFC Chicken High in Carbs? Does KFC Have Any Keto Foods?

KFC fried chicken is generally high in carbs due to the high carb content of its breading. As mentioned earlier, one chicken breast can contain as much as 18 grams of carbs.

A white bucket from KFC filled with fried chicken, placed in a dimly lit room.

Photo by Joël de Vriend on Unsplash4

However, there are some chicken options and other foods that are on the KFC menu that have low carbs and are keto friendly including the Kentucky grilled chicken. The full list of keto foods, dressings, dippings and condiments on the KFC menu appears below:

  • Green beans
  • Kentucky grilled chicken
  • House side salad
  • Caesar side salad
  • Heinz buttermilk dressing
  • Marzetti light Italian dressing
  • Colonel’s buttery spread 
  • Buttermilk ranch dipping Sauce (in moderation)
  • Creamy buffalo dipping sauce (in moderation)
  • Water and/ or unsweetened beverages

How Do You Make Fried Chicken Keto Friendly?

To make fried chicken keto friendly, dieters can remove the breading, or if prepared at home substitute the white flour, breading or use alternate dipping.

Can you eat fried chicken on keto at KFC and any other popular fast food establishments or even have KFC inspired keto fried chicken at home?

The delightful news is that it is possible to make fried chicken keto friendly whether homemade or purchased at a favorite fast food chain such as KFC, Popeye’s or when looking for Wingstop keto options.

Removing Breading

The breading that is used for fried chicken in fast food joints turns the chicken which is a mostly protein rich meat into one that is heavily loaded with carbs rendering fried chicken as not keto friendly.

A fried chicken wing that has skin on and breading that is typically 58 grams will contain 6.5 grams of carbs as per the U.S. Department of Agriculture.5

To make KFC Popeyes fried chicken keto friendly, keto dieters can opt to perform this KFC breading hack by simply removing the breading from the chicken. While this will undoubtedly deny them the crunchy taste that makes these brands popular, the carb count will be brought down to almost zero.

Those looking to prepare fried chicken at home and wanting to retain the crispy taste that breading provides may use keto breading for chicken alternatives including:

  • Fried chicken with pork rinds as breading
  • Chickpea breading
  • Crushed nuts
  • Grated coconut flakes
  • Keto approved bread crumbs purchased or made using ingredients such as garlic powder, oregano and smoked paprika

Frying in Alternative Oils (Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Tallow or Lard)

Very often fried chicken is cooked in highly processed and refined oils which result in their degradation and release of toxic substances.6 This will result in an increase in prevalence of diseases such as heart disease for those who regularly indulge themselves in fried chicken.

To make the fried chicken healthier, use oils such as avocado oil, olive oil, tallow and lard. These oils have high smoke points which is ideal for frying at high temperatures.

The smoking point is the maximum temperature at which oil starts to visibly smoke and should be avoided whenever cooking, as it creates harmful by products such as acrylamides, trans fats, toxic aldehydes, hydroxy linoleate and free radicals.7 Furthermore, these cooking fumes can increase the risk of lung cancer.8

A clear jar filled with avocado oil placed on top of a wooden surface along with a whole and sliced fruit of avocado, another jar can also be seen in the background.

Source: Yana Gayvoronskaya via Canva.com9

Typically oils that have smoke points of 400°F and higher are considered to have high smoke points. Avocado oil is the best oil for frying chicken as it has the highest smoke point of the substitute oils at a massive 500°F, while tallow has a high smoke point of 400°F and lard has a smoke point of 370°F.

Coconut oil can also make for an ideal choice as it has a smoke point of 370° F. Choosing the best coconut oil for keto shouldn’t be too much of a challenge—however, there may be a coconut oil flavor in the chicken which may not appeal to some.

Is olive oil keto? It certainly is, and is one of the best oils for those on a keto diet and can be used to fry chicken; it also has a high smoke point ranging between 374°-405°F.

Cooking With an Air Fryer

Air fryers are essentially convection ovens that use hot air, but unlike convection ovens, have the task of replicating and mimicking the action of deep frying in hot oil.10 They use significantly less oil using heated air infused with fine droplets of cooking oil to dehydrate food.

Using this method of cooking generally requires a tablespoon of oil as opposed to 3 cups of oil (750ml) during conventional deep frying which translates into less calories consumed.

On a white concrete surface are tongs, and two pieces of fried chicken, and a black opened air fryer machine with fried chicken inside.

Source: grandbrothers’s Images via Canva.com11

Calories can easily stack up against those looking to lose weight and those wondering how much weight can you lose on keto in the first 7 days, losing 5lbs. can be achieved when cooking foods using air fryers.

In addition, fried chicken cooked using air fryers will still retain the crunchy taste that is a signature of fried foods, as they still preserve chemical process known as the maillard effect that makes fried food savory.12

Substituting White Flour

The flour used that is part of the breading includes selections such as white flour, corn flake cereal, corn flour and panko—these flours need to be substituted with better alternatives such as almond and coconut flour.

Traditional breading mixtures pack on high amounts of carbs when added to fried chicken. To put this into perspective, 1 cup of white flour contains 92.78 grams of carbs.13 Can you eat fried chicken on keto using different flours? Yes, and in contrast to white flour, substitutes such as almond and coconut flour not only have less carbs, but also have other health benefits.

Almond flour is among the best keto flour for frying because it is rich in antioxidants and vitamin E which help reduce instances of serious health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.14

A white ceramic bowl filled with coconut flour and behind it in the background is a coconut shell broken in two pieces, and displayed on top of a light wooden surface.

Source: Jarvna via Canva.com15

Coconut flour is tasty and makes for an ideal ingredient for low carb batter as it has plenty of benefits in addition to having less carbs; this includes having a high fat content which is ideal for those on a keto diet.

It is also gluten free, contains a high amount of fiber and protein—it can help control blood sugar due to having a lower glycemic index.16

This means that it needs a longer time to be digested and subsequent absorption of carbohydrates.

Using a Different Dipping

In addition to the breading, oftentimes fried chicken will have moist coatings such as milk, miracle whip, and ranch and blue cheese dressings.

These dressings also contain oils and added sugar that are not healthy and certainly not ideal for those on a keto diet—sugar consumption is a common reason and answer for keto dieters who wonder can you be in ketosis and still not lose weight.

On a shiny concrete surface are two white bowls filled with dairy produce creams, one with soft cheese and the other one with heavy cream, there's also a spoon and a towel in the background.

Source: slowmotiongli via Canva.com17

Rather than using these dipping’s, those on a keto diet should opt for dipping chicken in either heavy cream or eggs. These choices are low in carbs—eggs are high in protein, while heavy cream contains health boosting minerals and vitamins including vitamins A, K, D and E.

KFC Inspired Keto Fried Chicken Recipe (Low Carb Homemade Fried Chicken)

KFC fried chicken is clearly a favorite fast food choice and those on a keto diet who are not too keen on removing the breading to make it more keto friendly have the option of some recipes that can allow for alternate breading.

These easy keto dinners recipes can mimic the mouthwatering and crunchy chicken bought from fast food establishments for those longing for fried chicken on keto diet—what’s more, they are much healthier alternatives because of using better ingredients.

They include parmesan crust fried chicken and lemon pepper fried chicken which are both air fried. Since one of the goals of a keto diet is to lose weight, one may be wondering when deciding to choose between chicken breast, thighs or wings.

They may stop and ask themselves are chicken wings good for weight loss?

Chicken wings are high in fat which is an ideal quality for a keto food and can be good for weight loss—however, drumsticks, breasts and thighs have higher protein content. Keep this in mind when choosing which part to include in the recipes below with regard to dieting goals.

Parmesan Crust Fried Chicken (Air Fried)

Parmesan crust fried chicken is keto friendly and retains and shares the savory crispy taste of regular breaded fried chicken. They are moist, full of healthy fats and make for a perfect homemade keto crispy chicken.

On a wooden board is a piece of fried chicken with melted parmesan cheese on top, beside are a couple of asparagus, and a black bowl of parmesan cheese.

Source: 4kodiak via Canva.com18


  • Chicken thighs (4pcs) or chicken breasts (3 pcs) [Boneless and skinless or with skin]
  • Ground parmesan cheese (2 Oz.)
  • One whisked egg with 1 tablespoon of water
  • Half a cup of almond flour
  • Half a teaspoon of black pepper and salt
  • Half teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Half a teaspoon of oregano
  • Half a teaspoon onion powder
  • Half teaspoon of Italian seasoning
  • Half a teaspoon of garlic powder
  • Avocado oil
  • Chopped basil to garnish


  1. Mix the dry ingredients to create the ‘breadcrumbs’.
  2. Trim the chicken of fat, but retain some fat, and dip into the egg combining this with breadcrumbs making sure to cover the chicken on all sides.
  3. Blend parmesan cheese in a food processor until the mixture is fine.
  4. Place the chicken in the air fryer (2 thighs would fit) and cover with the parmesan cheese blend and drizzle some avocado oil. 
  5. Cook for 15 minutes at 330 degrees making sure the thickest part of the thigh has hit a temperature of 165 degrees. Repeat for the rest of the pieces.
  6. Serve on a platter and top with basil.

Lemon Pepper Fried Chicken (Air Fried)

Air fried lemon pepper fried chicken is a low carb fried chicken recipe that results in juicy chicken wings which are seasoned with lemon pepper seasoning and bursting with a tangy flavor making for delicious keto friendly treats.

On a white rectangular platter are pieces of lemon pepper chicken wings with three lemon wedges.

Source: Ravsky via Canva.com19


  • Chicken wings (6 pcs) 
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • Lemon pepper seasoning (blend of lemon, salt and pepper available from the grocery store)
  • Half a teaspoon of garlic powder
  • Fresh parsley (chopped) and lemon slices for garnish
  • Avocado oil


  1. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, lemon seasoning pepper and garlic powder
  2. Place the chicken in the air fryer and drizzle some avocado oil.
  3. Cook for 15 minutes at 330 degrees making sure the internal temperatures of the wings hit 165 degrees.
  4. Transfer to a serving platter and top with parsley and lemon slices

These fried chicken options can be had with choices of side dishes that are healthy and have added macros to ensure a balanced diet meal that is keto friendly. Side dishes include:

  • Vegetables such as broccoli, peppers, spinach, cauliflower, celery and mushrooms
  • Roasted asparagus
  • Oven roasted vegetables of your choice
  • Thai zucchini noodle salad
  • Garlic butter keto bread
  • Low carb jicama fries
  • Crack keto biscuits
  • Keto cheese garlic bread
  • Nuts such as almonds and peanuts
  • Guacamole made from avocado
  • Keto green bean casserole
  • Cheeses (mozzarella, parmesan, American etc.)
  • Keto coleslaw
  • Caesar salad

So, can you eat fried chicken on keto when considering everything above? In general, no, fried chicken shouldn’t be consumed on keto unless the breading is removed. Alternatively, keto dieters have the option of making delicious homemade keto fried chicken that is breaded with healthier ingredients and fried with an air fryer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Eat Fried Chicken Without Breading on Keto?

Yes, fried chicken can be included on a keto diet when the breading is removed. Chicken is a high protein food and removing the breading brings down the carbs to zero making it keto friendly.

Can You Eat Fried Chicken Skin on Keto?

Chicken skin is high in protein and does not contain any carbs—therefore, fried chicken skin can be eaten on keto and is a keto friendly meal. The skin does contain a high amount of fats and moderate protein which make them ideal for a keto diet.

Can You Eat Fried Chicken Without the Skin on Keto?

Yes, fried chicken without the skin can be had on a keto diet. However, the keto enthusiast will be denying themselves the amount of fats that the skin contains.

Can Fried Food Be Eaten on Keto?

Fried foods on keto is generally not possible because the majority of the time these food options are breaded and have other additives that raises the carb content. If these additions are removed, then it is possible to have fried foods on a keto diet.

Is Broasted Chicken Keto?

Broasted chicken is a healthier option that will typically consume up to 70% less fat than conventional deep frying and thereby having less calories—however; if it is breaded then it will not remain keto, deep frying tends to increase calories in fried chicken. Nevertheless, broasted chicken that is prepared with some form of keto breading will be keto friendly.

Does KFC Chicken Contain Sugar?

KFC chicken contains little to no sugar at less than 1 gram; however the option of  honey BBQ chicken wings do contain 4 grams of sugar.


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About the Author

Nathan Petitpas

Nathan has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 12 years and jumps between several types of training such as bodybuilding, powerlifting, cycling, gymnastics, and backcountry hiking. Due to the varying caloric needs of numerous sports, he has cycled between all types of diets and currently eats a whole food diet. In addition, Nathan lives with several injuries such as hip impingement, spondylolisthesis, and scoliosis, so he underwent self-rehabilitation and no longer lives with debilitating pain.