Recipes for Healthier Ways to Make Fried Restaurant Foods

Fried restaurant foods don’t have to be detrimental to your diet. It is possible to create healthy versions of your fatty favorites without sacrificing any flavor. In fact, for those who avoid fried foods at all costs, Cooking Light shares some great news! If you use a heart-healthy oil that’s low in saturated fat, create healthier breadings, and fry your foods at the perfect temperature, you can create a fried dish that won’t take a terrible toll on your diet. It is important to keep in mind that while you can make fried food healthier, it still isn’t nearly as healthy as fruits, veggies, and lean meats, so practice moderation. Ready to fry your way to a more nutritious dish? We’ve compiled six recipes bringing you healthy fried foods that taste fantastic.

1. Potato Chips

potato chips in a bowl

Who doesn’t love a healthier version of the potato chip? | iStock.com

Sometimes, nothing sounds better than digging in to a bag of greasy, fried potato chips. You can succumb to those cravings without feeling guilty by preparing Stonesoup’s recipe. You’ll start by frying the potatoes in cold oil, which prevents them from overcooking on the outside. The end result? Easy-to-make chips that are healthier and tastier than any store-bought snack.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large potatoes
  • Peanut oil for deep frying
  • Sea salt, to serve

Head to Stonesoup for the full recipe. 

2. Oven Fried Onion Rings

onion rings with ketchup on the side

You can make these healthier onion rings in the oven | iStock.com

Food Network’s onion rings are perfect as a satisfying side dish or as an amazing appetizer. This recipe makes crispy, crunchy rings that are much better for you than a normal batch of fat-riddled onion rings. It yields 4 to 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large yellow sweet onions, sliced ¼- to ½-inch thick

Head to Food Network for the full recipe. 

3. Buttermilk Oven “Fried” Chicken

Raw chicken legs on a table

This recipe gives you crispy chicken without the deep frying | iStock.com

With this The Skinnytaste Cookbook via Parade recipe, you’ll get great fried chicken flavor without all of the unwanted fat. It yields 4 servings, which includes two drumsticks, with each containing 294 calories and 8.5 grams of fat. To compare, Eat This Much estimates that just one fried chicken drumstick contains 200.4 calories and 12.7 grams of fat. Note: The recipe recommends marinating the chicken overnight, so plan accordingly!

Ingredients:

Chicken

  • 8 chicken drumsticks (about 3½ ounces each), skinned
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Cooking spray or oil mister

Coating

  • ⅔ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup crushed cornflake crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1½ teaspoons sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder

Head to Parade for the full recipe. 

4. Chicken-Fried Steak and Gravy

Man whisking ingredients in a bowl

You can have chicken-fried steak without all of the fat and salt, too | iStock.com

Eating Well delivers a recipe that reduces the chicken-fried steak’s saturated fat and salt. In fact, after preparing this pan-fried dinner, you’ll have a cube steak that contains less than one-third of the fat and about 80% less sodium. The best part? It’ll taste just as good! It yields 4 servings, with each containing 322 calories, 13 grams of fat, and 473 milligrams of sodium.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup cornmeal
  • ¼ cup whole-wheat flour
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pound cube steak, cut into 4 portions
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 (14-ounce) can reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ cup half-and-half

Head to Eating Well for the full recipe. 

5. Fried Catfish With Hush Puppies and Tartar Sauce

Catfish fillets

You can cut down on your calories and fat with this fried fish recipe | iStock.com

Thanks to Cooking Light, you now have a healthy fish fry recipe to enjoy any night of the week. If you aren’t a fan of catfish, you can swap it out for tilapia or a different flaky, white fish. The recipe yields 6 servings at 507 calories each, which includes one fillet, two hush puppies, and 4 teaspoons of tartar sauce.

Ingredients:

Tartar Sauce

  • ¼ cup organic canola mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle relish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • ¾ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt

Catfish

  • 8 cups peanut oil
  • 6 (6-ounce) catfish fillets
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour, divided (about 2 cups)
  • 1¼ cups cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs

Hush Puppies

  • 3⅖ ounces all-purpose flour (about ¾ cup)
  • ⅓ cup cornmeal
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Head to MyRecipes for the full recipe by Cooking Light.

6. Oven-Fried Shrimp

popcorn shrimp on a plate with hot sauce

Try crisping your shrimp in the oven instead of the pan | iStock.com

There’s no frying required with this Williams-Sonoma recipe, yet you still get the same great crispy, fried flavors. You can also create coconut shrimp with this recipe by substituting 1½ cups unsweetened desiccated coconut for the panko mixture, and adding 1 teaspoon of curry powder to the butter mixture. Then dip the shrimp in the butter mixture, followed by the coconut, and bake as directed. The recipe yields 4 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup ketchup-style chili sauce or ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons drained prepared horseradish
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • 1¼ cups panko or other dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian or Spanish
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined

Head to Williams-Sonoma for the full recipe. 

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