For YEARS, Dustin and I have been wanting to add a fried chicken recipe to the blog. Years.
We have tested so many recipes here and there…
Getting close sometimes. Failing miserable other times.
I know – super hard life, right? Testing out fried chicken over and over. Life is rough 😉
One time, we got super close and thought the batter was perfect, but in order to cook the chicken all the way through, it would burn the outside. That was super disappointing.
BUT, we finally figured out the right formula for the best buttermilk fried chicken recipe ever.
Mmmm…buttermilk fried chicken.
In our long trek of testing recipes, we’ve learned several really useful tips and techniques for making the best fried chicken.
1. You need to marinade the chicken for hours. Patience is a big virtue here. Not only does it allow the chicken to really get infused with flavor, it also works to keep the chicken super juicy once it gets fried.
2. Using a candy (fry) thermometer makes a BIG difference. It’s pretty difficult to know exactly how hot your oil is and you really want it to be a consistent 350 degrees so you can know exactly how long to cook each piece of chicken. These thermometers cost less than $10 and are really useful for frying anything and for making tasty candy, like toffee.
3. Speaking of thermometers, a digital instant read thermometer is very helpful, too. These thermometers work great to quickly let you know if your chicken is fully cooked so you don’t have to cut into the chicken. Instead, quickly remove the chicken from the hot oil when you think it’s done, test it quickly with the digital thermometer, and, if it reads 160 degrees, it’s ready to rest as it raises to 165 degrees while it’s resting. Perfection.
4. Let the chicken rest at room temperature for 20-25 minutes before cooking. So, once you have marinated the chicken, allow it to sit on the counter (in the marinade bag is fine) for a good 20 minutes or so. Allowing the chicken to come to room temperature will mean even more precise cooking when you fry it because it will need to be “warmed back up” to room temperature before going into the hot oil. That being said, don’t let the chicken sit for much longer than that because then it would start to be unsafe to cook.
5. Use peanut oil for frying your chicken. Peanut oil has a very mild flavor and a high smoking point which means you will likely not ever have to worry about burning the oil as you cook. Peanut oil is great for frying all sorts of things, like these tasty homemade garlic fries.
6. If you find that you’ve heated your oil to hot and it’s waaaaay over 350 degrees, there are a couple things you can do to bring the temperature back down. You can sacrifice a piece of chicken and place it in the hot oil. Any time you add something to the hot oil, it will bring down the temperature as it works to cook it. If that does’t work, you can carefully add more peanut oil to the pot. This works really well to bring down the temperature quickly. Or, if you just use a deep fryer, it will keep the temperature pretty steady for you, too.
7. When frying, use this guideline for how long to cook the chicken in the oil. Wings = 3 min., legs = 5 min., thighs = 4-6 min., and breasts = 8 min. This is for cooking each piece individually, so add more time if cooking pieces in batches, but this gives you a general idea for how long each type of chicken will need in 350 degrees to reach 160 degrees.
Hopefully these tips and tricks for how to make fired chicken will have you well on your way to making the best buttermilk fried chicken recipe you’ve ever had, too. Fried chicken is a little bit of work, but it’s also pretty darn awesome making delicious homemade fried chicken.
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp hot sauce tapatio or cholula
- 1 whole chicken cut into pieces
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 5-8 cups peanut oil or enough to fill a deep stock pot or deep fryer
To prepare the buttermilk marinade, whisk together the buttermilk, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp. cayenne, and hot sauce in a bowl.
Add the chicken pieces into a large resealable bag. Pour the buttermilk over the chicken. Squeeze out any excess air and then seal the bag.
Place in the refrigerator for 3-6 hours.
Pour the mixture into a large resealable plastic bag.
After the chicken has marinated, combine the flour, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, remaining kosher salt, and remaining ground black pepper in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine well.
Allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
One marinated chicken piece at a time, dredge the chicken into the flour mixture. Coat all sides.
Shake well to remove any excess flour mixture. Repeat with rest of chicken, setting aside when ready to fry.
Heat the peanut oil in a deep stock pot over medium-high heat. If possible, use a candy/fry thermometer to ensure the temperature reaches 350 degrees.
When the oil is hot, fry the chicken in batches until golden brown and juices run clear, turning chicken to brown evenly.
Individually, chicken pieces will cook as follows: wings = 3 min., legs = 5 min., thighs = 4-6 min., and breasts = 8 min.
Once chicken is cooked through, allow to drain and rest for 5 minutes before eating.
You can also use a digital meat thermometer to test the chicken after cooking to ensure it reaches 160 degrees before allowing it to rest. It will continue to cook and raise to 165 degrees while it rests.