Crispy Fried Chicken Recipe

Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes (plus brining time)
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes


For the brine

  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

For the chicken

  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 pounds), cut into pieces, or your preferred mix of bone-in, skin-on cuts

For the coating

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional, for a bit of heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

For frying

  • Vegetable oil, peanut oil, or canola oil (enough to fill your skillet/pot with 1-2 inches of oil)


1. Brine the chicken

  • In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne (if using).
  • Add chicken pieces to the brine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight for the best flavor and tenderness.

2. Prepare coating

  • In a large shallow bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne (if using), and baking powder.

3. Dredge the Chicken

  • Remove chicken from brine and allow excess liquid to drip off.
  • Working with one piece at a time, dredge chicken in the flour mixture, coating evenly.
  • Dip back into the brine briefly, then once more into the flour mixture for a double coating.
  • Place coated chicken pieces on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.

4. Heat the oil

  • In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven, heat enough oil to come 1-2 inches up the sides over medium-high heat.
  • Heat the oil to between 350°F to 375°F, or test by adding a tiny pinch of flour – it should sizzle immediately.

5. Fry the chicken (in batches)

  • Carefully add chicken pieces to the hot oil, skin side down, being mindful not to overcrowd the pan.
  • Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain oil temperature.

6. Dark meat (legs and thighs)

  • Cook for 12-14 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown, then flip and continue cooking an additional 8-10 minutes or until cooked through (internal temperature of 165°F).

7. White meat (breasts, wings)

  • Cook for 6-8 minutes per side, or until golden brown and cooked through.

8. Drain and rest

  • Transfer fried chicken to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to drain excess oil.
  • Allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.


Thermometer is your friend: An instant-read thermometer is the best way to ensure the chicken is cooked to a safe temperature without overcooking.

Season to taste: Adjust the spice and salt levels in the brine and coating to your preference.

Crowding the pan: Fry in batches to avoid lowering the oil temperature too much. Cold oil leads to greasy chicken.

Reheating leftovers: For best results, reheat fried chicken in the oven for a crispy exterior.


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