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How to Make Fried Chicken

Created May 23, 2017
Buttermilk Country Fried Chicken
Fried chicken is way better when it doesn’t come from a drive-thru. You can have a crispy-tender bird from the comfort of your own home with just a few tips + tricks!


Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside: Fried chicken is Southern comfort food at its finest. But if you’re accustomed to the drive-thru version, making your own can feel a little intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be! We’ll show you how to make it yourself easily with our most foolproof fried chicken recipes, from a classic buttermilk recipe to an easy oven version.

What Type of Chicken Should You Buy?

The short answer: whatever’s your favorite! The long answer: all parts of the bird are delicious, but they’re not all created equal. The legs and thighs (aka the dark meat) are more flavorful, while the breast is a leaner, meatier option. You can purchase a whole bird and carve it yourself (see our handy how-to guide for help!) or purchase pre-carved, packaged drumsticks, breasts and thighs from the grocery store.

How to Brine Chicken for Frying

First things first, let’s talk brine. To brine meat means to soak it in a flavored solution; this adds moisture and brings out a lot of flavor. Brining usually yields best results after an overnight soak, but even just an hour or two will make a world of difference. Our favorite fried chicken brine is buttermilk, but it can be as simple as soaking it in a salt and water solution for a few hours. If you’re feeling adventurous, try brining it in pickle juice or apple cider for an interesting flavor kick.

How to Batter Fried Chicken

Hey, batter batter! To get that crispy outside that everyone loves, you need a batter. Typically the batter is a combination of the brine, flour, eggs and the coating—in that order. What can you use for a fried chicken coating? Anything! Well, almost. We like the classic flour coating seasoned with your favorite spices, but crushed potato chips or cereals and Panko breadcrumbs work just as well. Just make sure not to leave your chicken sitting in the coating too long before frying, or it’ll lose its crispy texture.

How to Make Fried Chicken

When you’re craving classic fried chicken, this recipe is exactly what you need—the secret’s in the buttermilk marinade.

What you need:

  • 1 large resealable food storage bag 
  • 1 pie pan 
  • 1 whisk 
  • 1 large 12-inch skillet 
  • Food thermometer 
  • Paper towels



  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 1 teaspoon ground red pepper 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced


  • 2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts/thighs 
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour 
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch 
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon paprika 
  • Oil for frying

Place chicken pieces in a large resealable food storage bag. Add all marinade ingredients and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.

Add chicken and marinade to a resealable food storage bag.

In pie pan, mix flour and all remaining chicken ingredients except oil. Heat about ½ inch of oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.

In a pie pan, mix flour, corn starch and spices.

Remove chicken pieces from marinade a few at a time, allowing excess to drip off. Roll chicken in flour mixture until well coated. Add chicken to hot oil in skillet, a few pieces at a time until all are in skillet. Cover; cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes or until deep golden brown. Discard marinade.

Dip marinated chicken in flour mixture.

Uncover skillet. Turn chicken; cook 5 to 8 minutes longer or until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (170°F for breasts; 180°F for thighs). Drain chicken on several layers of paper towels. Serve warm, or refrigerate and serve cold.

Buttermilk Country Fried Chicken

Different Methods for Cooking Fried Chicken

Cajun Oven-Fried Chicken

Sometimes deep-frying is just out of the question (we hear ya!). That doesn’t mean you have to forgo your fried chicken dreams! While no one would confuse it with the real deal, oven-fried chicken is just as tasty. Our Cajun Oven-Fried Chicken is a bit more weeknight- (not to mention waistline-) friendly than the deep-fried version. And the cleanup is so much easier, too. You still get that classic buttermilk marinade, with a Cajun-spiced twist!

What you need:

  • 1 large bowl 
  • 1 oven-proof rack 
  • 1 baking sheet 
  • 1 large plate 
  • 2 shallow dishes or pie plates 
  • Paper towels 
  • Food thermometer


  • 2 ½ lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, thighs or combination 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 3 egg whites, slightly beaten 
  • 1 ¾ cups Progresso plain panko crispy bread crumbs 
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning

In large bowl, place chicken and buttermilk; toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 8 hours.

Chicken and buttermilk in a large bowl.

Heat oven to 450°F. Place ovenproof rack on top of rimmed cookie sheet; spray both with cooking spray. Set aside. Place egg whites and bread crumbs in two separate shallow dishes or pie plates. Transfer chicken to large plate, letting buttermilk drip back into bowl. Discard buttermilk.

Remove chicken from buttermilk.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Rub Cajun seasoning on both sides of chicken.

Rub Cajun seasoning on both sides of chicken.

Dip chicken into egg whites, letting excess drip back into dish. Coat chicken in bread crumbs, pressing to adhere. Lightly spray both sides of chicken pieces with cooking spray; place on rack.

Dip chicken in egg whites, then bread crumbs.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking, until lightly browned and juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (165°F). If desired, broil 6 inches from heating element 30 seconds to 1 minute to thoroughly brown and crisp the crust.

What to Serve with Fried Chicken

From warm biscuits to fluffy mashed potatoes, these comforting side dishes are the perfect complement to a fried chicken dinner.

How to Store Leftover Fried Chicken

Too much fried chicken? Sounds like a non-issue to us! Store it covered in the refrigerator for up to four days, or freeze tightly wrapped for up to four months.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken

Reheated fried chicken is often a bit of a let-down (read: rubbery microwaved chicken = nobody’s favorite). For best results, let the chicken come to room temperature and preheat your oven to 400°F. Place a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until internal temperature has reached 120°F.

More Fried Chicken Favorites

Here’s every chicken recipe you’ll ever need.