Can You Use Regular Milk to Fry Chicken?[ Is It Okay?]

Many recipes call for the addition of regular milk to make fried chicken. Some recipes even soak the chicken in milk. Does it work?

Milk can be used to fry chicken by adding lemon juice or vinegar making it acidic for tenderizing chicken. Alternatively, using a milk-egg wash and coating the chicken in flour results in a crispy fried chicken. However, using milk alone will not tenderize or impart flavor to the chicken well.

Let’s dig a little deeper to understand what impact can regular milk have on the chicken and how to use regular milk in fried chicken recipes. Also, a few alternatives that can be used for regular milk to fry chicken.

Does regular milk work for fried chicken?

Regular milk is widely used in most fried chicken recipes. Although most recipes call for combining milk with about 2 to 3 eggs, so as to make a milk-egg wash that is coated over the chicken if there are big pieces or if there are small pieces of chicken then they may be dipped directly into the wash.

The aim of the wash is to make a coating that allows the flour or breadcrumb or cornmeal to stick to the chicken. This ensures that the coating does not fall off while frying. The milk wash also allows the seasonings to stay on the chicken.

Related Reading: Too Much Milk in Macaroni and Cheese? [Here’s How to Fix It!]

Advantages of Making a Milk Wash for Fried Chicken:

  1. Creates a barrier between the chicken and the coating so that the chicken does not turn out too dry after frying.
  2. Allows for the flour to stick to the chicken and create a coating. The egg and milk mix into an emulsion and coat the chicken and allow a lot of flour to stick to the chicken to create a coating.
  3. Allows the seasonings and spices to coat the chicken and give a wonderful flavor, without which the chicken would turn out bland.

Related Reading: Using Self-Rising Flour To Fry Chicken [ Can It Be Done?]

Can I soak the chicken in regular milk instead of buttermilk?

You can soak the chicken in buttermilk instead of milk. However, it will not add any value to the chicken. As, the milk by itself does not have any flavor, as well as lacks the acidity to tenderize the chicken.

Buttermilk is a better option due to the acidity present in the yogurt. It is able to efficiently break the protein bonds and make them softer. Also, this process allows the chicken to absorb the spices and the seasonings well. This is the reason why fried chicken is flavorful from within when treated with buttermilk.

However, many age-old recipes in old cookbooks can be seen with substitutes for buttermilk. In case there wasn’t any. Since there was a lack of availability of food products and supermarkets and people mostly made them at home.

How to Make Buttermilk Substitute from Regular Milk:

If you do not have buttermilk at home then fret not. I have been using this age-old recipe to make a buttermilk substitute.

1 cup of Milk
1 tablespoon of Lemon / Vinegar / Apple Cider OR 1/4th teaspoon of citric acid
Stir well and let the above mix sit for 5 minutes.

How to Use Milk To Fry Chicken?

Since regular milk or milk in itself does not impart any flavor or value to the chicken. Thus, it has to be added with other ingredients to make the chicken delectable.

Here are two ways to use milk in the fried chicken recipe.

1. Soaking The Chicken

Chicken can be soaked in by making a buttermilk substitute from milk and should be kept for at least 2 hours. To get the best results you can mix chicken and buttermilk substitute and pop it into the fridge overnight.

This process will gradually tenderize the meat and will allow seasonings and spices to soak in the mix. It will also give the chicken a small tang.

This mix can be mixed with egg to make an egg wash to dip the chicken in to allow a wonderful crisp coating.

Related Reading: Best Flours To Use For Fried Chicken! [A Deeper Understanding!]

2. Make a Milk Wash

The second method is to make a milk-egg wash to dip the chicken in.

Steps to make a Milk-egg wash:

  1. Take 2 cups of regular milk. (Whole milk, evaporated milk+water, and non-dairy milk can also be used)
  2. Add 2 eggs.
  3. Whisk the eggs into the mix to make an emulsion.
  4. Your milk-egg wash is ready.
  5. If it is too runny you may add another egg to it.

The chicken is dipped in egg wash and then coated with flour and then fried in oil to get a crispy coating.

Related Reading: Evaporated Milk in Macaroni and Cheese? [Here’s why!]

Alternatives to Milk To Fry Chicken:

Following are a few alternatives that can be used instead of milk to fry chicken. There are some non-dairy as well as dairy alternatives. They can be used to either dip the chicken and then coat it with flour or breadcrumbs for a crispy exterior.

Non-Dairy Milk

The most common essential for milk would be non-dairy milk such as almond milk, oat milk, cashew milk, etc. They can be easily used with eggs to make a lovely batter to coat your chicken in.

Melted Butter

A simple and humble butter can be used as a base coating for the flour to stick on. Since butter has a little salt it will impart flavor to the chicken and make it tender and juicy. However, the coating that you will get will not be as thick as expected. It will be a thin layer.


It acts as a wonderful tenderizer for all kinds of meats due to its slightly acidic nature. The lactic acid breaks the proteins in the chicken and softens the meat. Beaten yogurt with added spices and then coated with flour.


Well, the most widely used tenderizer is buttermilk. It mimics the effects of adding yogurt and makes it even more moist and juicy due to its higher moisture content.

Sour Cream

Sour cream also has an acidic content and thus will work in a similar way in tenderizing chicken. Although you will have to dilute the sour cream with a little water so that the enzymes are able to penetrate inside easily.


Brine is essentially salted water. Vegetables and meats soaked in brine tend to be soft and flavorful. Soak the chicken for about 20 to 30 minutes. You can create your own brine at home by adding salt to the water. in a 1:1 ratio. i.e. 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water.

Pineapple juice

It is another great tenderizer for meats, it has naturally occurring digestive enzymes. However, you cannot marinate the chicken in pineapple juice for longer than an hour. It will result in an overcooked, tough, and rubbery chicken.

tamarind pulp

It is common to use tamarind pulp in most Asian and African Cultures. It is a good option like pineapple juice it has naturally occurring enzymes and can boost the flavor of the chicken. It will give a tangy and sweet flavor to the chicken. However, do not let the pulp sit for more than 30 minutes.

Pickle juice

Pickle juice is essentially brine water that is used to pickle vegetables and has tremendous health benefits. It will add a rich and subtle flavor to the chicken by making it tender and juicy. It also works well for other meats such as beef and pork.

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  2. Is Pizza and Pasta Flour the Same? [Here’s the Difference!]
  3. Can You Use Heavy Cream Instead of Milk in Macaroni and Cheese?
  4. Should You Put Egg in Mac and Cheese? [Here’s What to Do!]
  5. Why is My Mac and Cheese Dry? [And Here’s How to Fix It!]
  6. What is Tempering Eggs? [Complete Beginner’s Guide!]
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