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Low Carb Fried Chicken Legs: Crispy and Crunchy Recipe

Low Carb Fried Chicken Legs: Crispy and Crunchy Recipe
Home » Low Carb Lifestyle » Low carb dinner ideas » Low Carb Fried Chicken Legs: Crispy and Crunchy Recipe

There are two main problems with fried foods on a low carb, slow carb or ketogenic diet:  the type of oil and the type of coating.  These chicken legs are first sauteed in olive oil, then coated with Dijon mustard, topped with “breading” of crumbled pork rinds, and a little Parmesan, and then baked until crispy. You end up with crispy, crunchy chicken legs that are not only low carb but rival Southern fried chicken legs with high carb breading.

Nine low carb breaded chicken legs on a white cutting board.
Low carb fried chicken legs

Jump to: RECIPE | Problems with Cooking Oils | Low Carb Breading | Illustrated Step by Step

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The use of Oil for Fried Foods on a Low Carb or Keto Diet

While olive oil, coconut oil and butter are all great fats for low carb, and keto diet lifestyles, their smoke point means they don’t do well at the high heat required for many fried foods.  

And while I don’t miss breads and pasta on a low carb diet, I do miss fried chicken, fried fish cakes, hush puppies and the like, so it was important to me to get the oil right.

The main thing to know about cooking with different oils at high heat, is to use oils that are stable and don’t oxidize or go rancid easily.  When oils undergo oxidation, they react with oxygen to form free radicals and harmful compounds that you definitely don’t want to be consuming.

So, you’ll want to make sure you’re using fats with smoke points at or above 400°F when cooking at high temperatures.  That’s all fine and good, but most people cooking fried foods on a low carb, keto diet also want to use oil that is neutral in flavor.  

The problem is that an oil with neutral flavor (i.e., canola oil, vegetable oil) generally means it will be a highly refined oil, rather than a “virgin” or “cold-pressed” oil, and the refinement process of these oils includes high-temperature heating, bleaching and extracting, resulting in oils that might not be the best for health.

The bottom line is finding the best oil for high temperature cooking on a low carb diet is tricky.  I tend to use olive oil, but I don’t use extremely high heat over any length of time. Most often I use a medium high “sauté” for quick browning, followed by baking or finishing the sauté over medium heat.

Olive oil being poured into a glass dish
Olive oil for low temperature cooking

A very good primer on the various oils and how to use them in cooking can be found this website called

The easiest way to simulate fried foods on a low carb diet without all the worry about which oil to use is to skip the frying altogether and bake it!  

Baking chicken legs and thighs with a low carb coating can not only replace fried chicken but has become the preference at our house.  Maybe it will be at yours also.  Try it!!

Alternative for Low Carb Breading or “Coating”

Most fried foods are dipped in eggs (which is fine), but then covered with flour or panko or some sort of breading (not fine for low carb).  

Crushed pork rinds mixed with a bit of grated parmesan to the rescue!  Many low carb people or those on a keto diet have discovered this delicious way of breading things.

Chicharrones used for low carb breading.
Chicharrones used (once crushed) for low carb breading

Don’t like pork rinds (aka chicharonnes)?  Often people that don’t like pork rinds out of the bag find that they are quite different in taste when used as a coating mixed with a little parmesan cheese added.  

I personally like them all ways.  A favorite lunch of mine is using pork rinds as a dipper into a tub of guacamole or cottage cheese.  Not for everyone I know, but I love them this way.

Illustrated Step by Step:

The details of this recipe are described in the recipe card below, but here is a summary of the directions in illustrated steps:

Raw chicken legs on paper towels.
Step #1: Lay chicken legs out and pat dry with paper towels.
Chicken legs being browned in a cast iron skillet
Step #2: Brown the chicken legs in a couple tablespoons oil
Chicken legs on baking sheet coated with mustard and low carb breading.
Step #3: Drain oil from legs, place on baking sheet and bake 15 minutes at 400 F.
Bowl of smashed chicharrones and spices for low carb breading
Step #4: Whisk together the breading ingredients (oil, chicharrones, fennel, salt)
Chicken legs on parchment paper with Dijon mustard coating.
Step #5: Remove legs from oven, cool a bit and use a pastry brush to coat the chicken legs with Dijon mustard
Chicken legs with mustard coating and low carb breading.
Step #6: Press the breading on top of the mustard, raise oven temp to 500 F and cook for 15 minutes
Baked chicken legs with low carb mustard and breading coating.
Step #7: Remove legs to baking rack and let cool 10 minutes

So, there ya go!  Let me know if you have used the pork rind breading on any other proteins.  I’ve also used this crushed almond nut and mustard breading on fish, and this shredded parmesan breading mixture on other proteins, both of which are low carb.

One of the low carb side dishes that pairs perfectly with these chicken legs is this low carb recipe for mock mashed potatoes

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Low Carb or Keto Fried Chicken Legs

chicken legs with low carb breading mixture and Dijon mustard on a white plate.
Baked chicken legs in a mix of chicharrones and mustard
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings 10 Legs
Calories 269


  • 9-10 chicken legs
  • 4 Tablespoons olive oil divided
  • 1 Tablespoon fennel seeds ground in a coffee or spice grinder
  • 1 cup pork rinds crushed
  • ¼ Teaspoo salt
  • 4 Tablespoons dijon mustard


  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Pat the chicken legs dry with paper towels.
    9-10 chicken legs
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat and brown the chicken well on both sides (3-4 minutes per side).  This is not high temp deep-frying, but rather sautéing in less oil.
    4 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Transfer the chicken large sheet-pan (line it with parchment paper for easy clean up).  Bake 15 minutes.
  • While the chicken is cooking, mix together fennel, the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, the pork rinds, 1/4 tsp salt and a pinch of pepper (chicharrones can be salty so go easy on the salt).
    1 Tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 cup pork rinds, 1/4 Teaspoo salt
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and raise the oven temp to 500 degrees F.  While the oven is heating up, use a pastry brush to brush one side of the chicken legs with mustard and then press the crumb mixture on top of the mustard.  Turn the legs over and repeat on the other side.
    4 Tablespoons dijon mustard
  • Bake until the crumb crust turns golden, about another 10 minutes.
  • Serve with a green vegetable, roasted tomatoes or cauliflower mash.


Two other similar breading mixtures that can be used with any fried or sautéed food is this low carb breading mixture recipe which adds in some grated parmesan cheese, or this crushed nut breading mixture.  They are both exceptional mixtures for getting the crunch of breading on fish or chicken.


Calories: 269kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 21gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 110mgSodium: 274mgPotassium: 255mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 113IUVitamin C: 0.4mgCalcium: 22mgIron: 1mg
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