Making this delicious southern fried chicken recipe has never been easier! With a trusty cast-iron skillet, submerge freshly battered chicken pieces in hot oil until a golden crust forms on the outside while juicy inside! The even heating created by the heavy and sturdy cast iron means that every piece of buttermilk-battered chicken is cooked through perfectly, saving you from having to order takeout for the family!
This Southern Fried Chicken recipe is one of my favorite deep fried foods – a dish that’s great for summertime picnics, lunch boxes, casual entertaining or main meals with the family. If you have a deep fryer, you can use this recipe and pop the chicken into the fryer. Either way this makes the best fried chicken ever! You can even use this recipe to make other dishes such as our favorite Fried Chicken Sandwich.
Fried Chicken can be enjoyed with an array of side dishes – as a satisfying lunch or dinner option that the whole family will love! Consider pairing your fried chicken with Strawberry Avocado Salad, Air Fryer Fries, Homemade Dinner Rolls, mac and cheese, or as is with some hot sauce.
Why You’ll Love Fried Chicken
- Making your own fried chicken is incredibly easy, allowing you to save money from any further takeout!
- This fried chicken is made with juicy and flavorful chicken drumsticks and thighs with seasoned batter that fries to a crispy golden brown color.
- You can easily adapt this fried chicken by using gluten-free flour and different combinations of seasoning.
What Ingredients do I Need for Fried Chicken?
- Chicken – I’ve used chicken thighs and drumsticks for this recipe since these cuts of meat have a higher fat content, making for incredibly flavorful and juice meat. Dark meat pieces are my personal favorite. You can also cut apart a whole chicken and batter up everyone’s favorite pieces!
- Flour – All-purpose flour has been used to coat the raw chicken pieces for frying but you could use gluten-free flour instead.
- Buttermilk – If you don’t have buttermilk, combine 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar per cup of milk needed.
- Oil for frying – I’ve used vegetable oil but you could also use canola oil or another oil that has a high smoke point. I wouldn’t recommend olive oil as its smoke point is much lower – meaning that cooking the chicken at a lower temp will result in absorbing more of the olive oil and the finished chicken will just not be the same with flavor or crunch.
- Seasoning – A combination of smoked paprika, coarse black pepper, coarse sea salt, and onion powder has been used in this recipe. Feel free to experiment with cayenne pepper and chili powder for a kick of heat! Garlic powder, thyme, and oregano are also great seasoning additions.
PRO TIP: It’s important to only add the raw chicken to the pan once the oil temperature has reached 350°F so that the chicken cooks evenly and gets a crispy exterior. If the oil is not hot enough, the flour batter will absorb the oil and become soggy instead of crispy and crunchy.
How to Make Fried Chicken
PREP: While the oil heats in a deep skillet, start to set up the dredging station with the flour, seasoning, and buttermilk. Dip each piece of chicken into the flour and seasoning mixture, followed by the buttermilk and then the flour mixture once more. Set the coated chicken pieces aside on a baking sheet or platter.
COOK: Add the chicken pieces in batches to the Dutch oven or iron skillet so that they are fully submerged in the hot oil and cook for 12-15 minutes, turning the chicken pieces halfway. Once the chicken is fully cooked with an internal temperature of 165F and a crispy golden exterior, lift the chicken pieces out of the Dutch oven with a slotted metal spoon and transfer them to a paper-lined tray for any excess oil to be soaked up. Serve and enjoy!
- If you have time, soak your white meat in a large bowl of buttermilk either overnight, well covered in the refrigerator, or for a minimum of 4 hours in the refrigerator. The acid in the buttermilk will break down the protein in the chicken. This great tip will have you serving the juiciest and most tender chicken pieces ever!
- Dredging/coating chicken in flour should be done at room temperature. This will not lower the temperature of the oil as much as if the chicken was cold from refrigerating prior to frying.
- It is so important to keep the temperature of the oil as constant as possible so that the chicken cooks uniformly and has a lovely golden brown color. Try to keep the temperature between 325 – 350 ‘degrees F.
- A few preparation methods to aid cooking is to poke several holes in the chicken flesh prior to dredging. You can also cut a lengthwise slit along the drumsticks and thighs. The hot oil penetrates the flesh and the chicken will be cooked more thoroughly and evenly. Once cooked you won’t see a cut or a hole in the coating!
- I used an instant-read thermometer to test the internal temperature of the chicken which should be 165F for it to be safe to eat.
- Putting chicken into the oil will lower the temperature of the oil initially. Keep your eyes on your frying chicken as you need to monitor the temperature of the oil. If it gets too hot, lower the temperature so that the chicken does not become a very dark brown or burn.
- Shake the freshly battered chicken slightly before adding to the hot oil – this will prevent small pieces of batter burning in the oil.
The first published recipe for fried chicken was by an English cook named Hannah Glasse in 1747. While that may be impressive, stories of this fried food have been passed down in China, Middle East, and West Africa from thousands of years ago! The fried chicken that we know and enjoy today is a happy adaptation thanks to the American South.
- If you like being adventurous, add spices and seasoning to the tenderizing buttermilk. I know some people like to add their chili powders and sauces into the buttermilk to intensify and change the flavor.
- Another method to finish cooking your chicken is to transfer it to the oven after browning it in the oil. This method works well if you are cooking thicker pieces such as chicken breast. However, should you want to only fry the chicken breasts, remember they will take a little longer to cook through because of their thickness.
- Juicy, delicious drumsticks and wings are my favorite parts of the chicken, plus they are extremely budget-friendly and both cuts of meat cook for the same amount of time. You could also fry similar-sized chicken pieces together because of the cooking time factor.
- There are different methods to drain your fried chicken pieces including draining on brown paper, paper towels, parchment paper, waxed paper, or on a wire rack. It’s really up to you and what you have available.
- If you don’t have a Dutch oven, use a cast iron skillet that’s deep enough to submerge the chicken pieces in oil.
Store leftover fried chicken for 2 – 3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. To reheat, place the chicken pieces in the oven for 15 – 20 minutes at 350F. The coating will not be as crispy as it originally was when cooked and served immediately.
If you want to try to regain that delicious crispy exterior, consider reheating leftover fried chicken in an air fryer, if you have one.
A Dutch oven is essentially a cooking pot with a very tight-fitting lid and thick walls. It is a heavy pot usually made either from cast iron or ceramic and will maintain a steady temperature and heat, cooking food evenly.
I love the way the chicken browns beautifully in a Dutch oven but if you don’t have one then you could use a heavy skillet but make sure you have enough oil to cover the chicken while cooking.
Some oils have a higher smoke point which is perfect for frying chicken. Oil like olive oil cooks at a lower temperature and so I don’t use it in this recipe. Suitable vegetable oils that are neutral flavored oils include canola oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, or peanut oil.
Before frying the chicken, gently pat the pieces to ensure that the coating sticks properly to the Buttermilk. Also tap off extra flour and buttermilk as this will not have stuck properly to the chicken.
If you put too many pieces of chicken together in the Dutch oven, they will bump against each other during the frying process and this can cause bits of the coating to break off. Do not keep turning the chicken over whilst it is cooking. Turn it over once only halfway through frying. The more you turn it the more you could potentially knock the coating off.
Southern Fried Chicken Recipe
- 12 pieces chicken thighs and drumsticks
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- Vegetable Oil for frying
- Heat at least 3” of oil in a Dutch oven or deep cast iron skillet until it reaches 350°F. You want the oil deep enough to cover as much of the chicken as possible. Submerging the chicken all the way in the oil will produce the most even cooking.
- Prepare a dredging station to batter the chicken while the oil is heating. In one bowl, pour the buttermilk. In a second bowl, mix together smoked paprika, black pepper, sea salt, onion powder, and flour. Whisk until combined evenly.
- Batter the chicken pieces by dipping them first into the flour mixture, then into the buttermilk mixture, and one more time into the flour mixture. Set the battered chicken on a separate plate.
- When the oil has reached 350°F, place several pieces of battered chicken into the oil. Cook for approximately 12 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking if the chicken is not fully submerged in the oil. Cook until the chicken is deep golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Lift the chicken from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a paper bag or paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Continue cooking the chicken in batches.
- Serve hot.