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Submitted by on Aug 2, 2021

Southern fried chicken, commonly known as fried chicken, is a meal made up of chicken pieces that have been pan-fried, deep-fried, pressure-fried, or air-fried after being coated in seasoned flour or batter. The breading gives a crisp coating or crust to the chicken’s outside while preserving the meat’s juices. Broiler chickens are the most popular.

Fritters, which were popular in the European Middle Ages, are perhaps the earliest deep-fried food. The Scots, on the other hand, were the first Europeans to deep fry chicken in fat (though without seasoning). Meanwhile, many West Africans have seasoned fried chicken habits (though battering and cooking the chicken in palm oil). Enslaved Africans and African-Americans in the American South blended Scottish frying skills with West African seasoning traditions.

Apicius’ (4th century) Roman cookbook contains a recipe for deep-fried chicken called Pullum Frontonianum.


The term “fried chicken” was first reported in the 1830s and occurs often in American cookbooks from the 1860s and 1870s. Fried chicken’s origins in the southern United States may be traced back to Scottish and West African cuisines.

Scottish fried chicken was unseasoned and cooked in fat, but West African fried chicken was seasoned (but battered and cooked in palm oil). African slaves in the American South utilized Scottish frying methods and African seasoning techniques. Enslaved and separated African-American women became notable dealers of fowl (live or cooked) as early as the 1730s, providing some means of self-sufficiency. Due to this, as well as the high cost of the ingredients, it was an uncommon meal among the African-American community, saved (as it is in Africa) for special occasions.

In the United States, backyard and small-scale hog farming provided an affordable way of turning waste food, agricultural waste, and garbage into calories with the creation of larger and faster-growing pigs (due to crosses between European and Asian breeds) in the 18th and 19th centuries (in a relatively small space and a relatively short period).

The majority of the calories came from fat and rendered lard. Lard was utilized in nearly all types of cookery and was a key ingredient in many traditional farmhouse dishes (many of which are still considered holiday and comfort foods today), such as biscuits and pies. The economic and caloric need of using lard and other stored fats may have contributed to the global appeal of fried meals.

Cast iron became commonly accessible for cooking in the nineteenth century. The genesis of today’s fried chicken was a mixture of flour, fat, a chicken, and a hefty pan set over a somewhat controlled heat.

Fried chicken became a popular dish in the American South when it was introduced. Later, as Africans were imported to labor on southern plantations as a result of the slave trade, slaves who became cooks added flavors and spices that were not present in traditional Scottish food, enhancing the flavor.

Due to the fact that most slaves were unable to raise expensive meats but were generally permitted to keep chickens, frying chicken on special occasions continued in African American communities throughout the South, particularly during periods of segregation when most restaurants were closed to the black population.

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