Making perfect crispy fried chicken is on the menu today, it all revolves around using good technique. I will guide you through, step-by-step, to the moistest and crispiest southern fried chicken around town. Can be done within 25 minutes, best overnight...
Secrets To Perfect Fried Chicken
- Salt the chicken the night before frying. The salt adds flavor to which the chicken really needs, and also pulls out some of the moisture in the skin, making it easier to get crispy chicken. The chicken skin will also tighten up around the pieces of chicken helping the fried crispy skin to not fall off on the first bite.
- Brine the chicken the night before to add more moisture. The brine forces osmosis to take place. Which is an exchange of moisture from a bi-directional relationship with the protein. The flavors of the brine go deep into the chicken protein.
📋 Brine Recipe
- 3 cup of water
- ½ cup of kosher salt
- ⅓ white sugar
- 5 cloves of crushed garlic
- 1 whole onion sliced
- Optional: Adding herbs: Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano
-Brine Recipe on Recipe Card below
Video: 3 Step Perfect Fried Chicken
💰 Cost Saving
Purchasing a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself saves a bunch of money. On average $400 a year. When you buy pre-cut-up chicken you are paying to have someone else cut it up.
Next trip to the grocery store check on the price of 2 chicken breasts. You'll notice that they alone cost the amount of a whole chicken.
Below is a post covering the exact math and breakdown of the annual costs of pre-cut chicken, verse you cutting it yourself
💡 There's an option, cutting up the whole chicken yourself. I've covered this a few times on our website. Below is a video on how to do it. My method is rock solid and I learned it in culinary school.
Leave a comment below and let me know if that information helped your fried chicken cost go down and improved the presentation 👍
Cornstarch is light and airy in texture which lends itself to making the fried chicken crispier. Helps the chicken skin overall bite experience. It is the main ingredient often found in tasty Asian recipes like tempura frying.
Yes, you can perform the dredging process ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator covered on a racking rack until your ready. I like to lightly dust the chicken again before cooking/frying.
The Oven @ 250 degrees until hot enough to your liking
- The air fryer works great too
The Marinade for Fried Chicken
The marinade has three effects
- Increases moisture
- Adds flavor
- Tenderizes the Chicken
All three sound great, but there is one more. The marinade is the "Wet" part of our future flouring process. The dredging/flouring process will use this exact same buttermilk marinade. Which means one less step than normal and less mess.
Marinate overnight, about 8 hours is good for the best possible tenderness of the fried chicken. If you go too long with the marinade you'll start to over tenderize and the chicken.
📋 Marinade Recipe
- 4 Cups of Buttermilk
- 3 Tbsp of Favorite Hot Sauce
- 1 Tbsp of Garlic Salt
- 1 Tbps of Paprika
- 1 Tbsp of Sea Salt
- ½ tsp of Black Pepper
📖 Dry Ingredient Options
The flour that comes to mind to use is All-Purpose, but is that the best option?
What creates the crispiest fried chicken?
The answer varies. Grandma's buttermilk fried chicken uses a combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch. While the all-purpose flour has the right amount of protein to give it crunch, the cornstarch lightens the overall texture.
🧂 Gluten-Free Fried Chicken
Almost sounds impossible, yet there are a number of options.
Gluten-Free flour options
- Almond flour
- Tapioca flour
- Buckwheat flour (may contain the word “wheat,” but it is not a wheat grain and is gluten-free. It belongs to the family of pseudocereals, a group of grains that are eaten like cereals but don’t belong to the grass family. (source)
- Brown Rice Flour
- Chickpea Flour
Gluten Free Flour Recipe: 2 Cups Rice flour, plus 1 Cup Tapioca flour
Gluten Seasoning Warning:
Gluten hides in everything, sadly. Warning: Avoid using any prepackaged seasonings, as they sneak in gluten in the form of "Natural Flavors" or "Natural Seasoning"
The answer is to mix each seasoning ingredient yourself. Mix dried garlic, paprika, thyme, oregano, etc, to know for sure no gluten has entered your recipe.
To make the best-fried chicken, use Peanut oil. Which offers a higher smoke point which is closer to 450 degrees. Once a frying oil has excessed its smoke point the oil has become rancid and ruined. Using peanut oil also adds flavor. The restaurant, Chick-Fil-A uses peanut oil.
The second best option is canola oil. Adds flavor and is made from corn.
Do not use straight vegetable oil as it is bland without flavor.
Crisco, then added to peanut oil would be just about the best you could do in the way of flavor and controlling the smoke point.
TIP: Add a touch of bacon grease to the oil for the win!
Cooking Fried Chicken
If you have a deep fryer I would suggest using it as it offers very even heat-coverage of the chicken while frying. This promotes even cooking and browning.
I love using a cast-iron skillet personally. Cast iron is considered the best in the south for frying chicken. A number of classic southern restaurants will fry chicken using cast iron.
First, if you choose to use cast iron, use one with really high sides/walls. Just make sure you have enough oil to cover to the top of the chicken, even better, over the top of the chicken. The balancing act goes on with managing the oil.
Chef's Picks - Fryers (Cast Iron - Dutch Oven)
Oil needs to be at least 350 to 375. Starting at 375 works best so your oil temperature recovers quicker each time you add another piece of cold chicken to the hot oil. Use a temperature probe to know your oil temperature. If the oil gets too hot and the flour burns, all the oil will take on a burnt taste, and you will not have perfect Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Chef Tips: Don't overcrowd the pan and be patient when adding each piece of chicken.
When you add too much chicken, too quickly, it lowers the oil temperature and can cause the chicken to become oily.
Second, too much chicken at once can cause steaming to take place and the flour dredge can start to come off leaving oil-boiled chicken.
Chef Tip: Start cooking the dark meat first (legs and thighs), as it takes the longest to cook.
If you have a deep fryer, then cook the chicken the whole time in the fryer. No oven needed. Watch the internal temperature and stop cooking once you reach 158 on the white meat and 168 on the dark meat. Allow the chicken a little bit of time to rest before eating, so the internal temperature comes to the desired finished temperature. The chicken's internal temperature will continue to increase once out of the oil.
When pan-frying I suggest finishing in the oven. This will help with even cooking. Cook the chicken till it is nice and golden brown and then into the oven. 400 Degree oven till 165 on the white meat and 175 on the dark meat. Allow the chicken to rest once out of the oven for 5 minutes.
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Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe
- 4 cups Buttermilk
- 3 tbsp Favorite Hot Sauce It will not make it hot-spicy
- 1 tbsp Garlic Salt
- 1 tbsp Paprika
- 1 tbsp Sea Salt
- 2 tsp Black Pepper
- 3 cups All-Purpose Flour Cake/Pastry Flour Use 3.5 Cups
- ⅔ cup Cornstarch / if using cake or pastry flour no need for cornstarch
- 1 tbsp Onion Powder
- 1 tbsp Paprika
- 1 tbsp Garlic Salt
- 1 tbsp Chili Powder
- 1 tbsp Fajita Seasoning Optional
- 1 tbsp Creole Seasoning
- 1 tsp Oregano / dried
- 2 tsp Thyme / dried
- 1 tbsp Salt
- 2 tsp Black Pepper
Gluten-Free Flour Ingredients
- 2 cups Rice Flour
- 1 cup Tapioca Flour
- ⅔ cup Cornstarch
- 3 cups Peanut Oil / oil amount depends on the size of your fry pan or fryer
- 1 cup Canola Oil
The Brine Recipe
- 3 cups Water
- ½ cup Kosher Salt /use what you have. If using table salt reduce to ⅓ cup
- ⅓ cup White Sugar
- 3 cloves Garlic / crushed or minced
- 1 whole Onion / sliced
- 1 tbsp Black Pepper
- Optional Adding herbs: Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano
Step 1: Brine The Chicken
- To make the best fried chicken possible, performing an overnight brine adds additional moistness to the fried chicken and adds an additional depth of flavor.
Short On Time?
- The next best is salting the chicken an hour or two before cooking. Simply sprinkle salt on all sides of the chicken. You can use as much salt as you like. Once an hour or two has passed, rinse the chicken pieces off under cold water. Then pat them very dry.
Marinading The Chicken
- Mix the ingredients together for the buttermilk marinade, then add the cut-up chicken to it. Use large freezer bags to store the chicken in and marinate overnight in your refrigerator. Place the freezer bag on a cookie sheet or in a large bowl to help keep your refrigerator clean. Minimum marinade time: 1 - 2 hours.
Dredging the Chicken
- Mix the dry ingredients together for the flour/dredge mix and combine well in a large bowl.Next, take each piece of chicken out of the marinade and add it to the flour and make sure it's coated well.To make your fried chicken have a thick crust you can repeat the dredging process, twice.
Frying The Chicken
- Fry oil needs to be between 350 to 375, closer to 375 which is best. The reason it's best is each piece of cold chicken being added to the oil will lower the oil temperature a small amount. Cook the chicken until the internal temperature reads 158 degrees on the white meat, and 168 degrees on the dark meat.Then allow the chicken to rest for 3-5 minutes. However long you can wait to dive in 😊
- If using a large skillet or cast iron 🍳, fry the chicken to golden brown and delicious and finish in a 400-degree oven until the internal temperature reads 158 white meat/ 168 dark meat. The oven helps with even cooking.Once out of the oven the internal temperature will continue to rise a few degrees to hit your perfect temperature.
Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken – Works Because Its Simple
- If you like extra-thick crust-crispiness. Repeat the flouring/dredge process twice before frying.
The flouring process: Out of the buttermilk marinade, into flour, then back into buttermilk marinade, then into flour one last time before adding to the hot fry oil.
- You can dredge and flour the chicken and place it on a roasting rack, then into the refrigerator to set up. Some people believe the crust turns out better due to having the extra time to have contact.
- How to make sure the crispy chicken skin does not fall off on the first bite. Answer: remove the chicken skin first thing. Pull it all off
- Not ready to eat yet? Store the cooked chicken in a low-temperature oven of 200+ degrees so as not to keep cooking the chicken. Place the chicken on a roasting rack so it does not get soggy.