Tender chicken with a perfectly seasoned crispy coating, this deep-fried buttermilk chicken will become a favorite family dinner.
Table of contents
❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe
- Delicious: tender and juicy chicken with a crisp and seasoned crust.
- The breading won’t fall off: a short chilling period after breading the chicken makes sure the deliciously crisp breading sticks.
- Great leftovers: Cold fried chicken straight out of the fridge makes the perfect evening snack.
This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.
- chicken pieces, bone-in, skin on
- all-purpose flour
- seasoned salt (Lawry’s, etc.)
- cayenne pepper
- oil for frying, peanut oil is best but vegetable is okay too!
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- Rimmed baking sheets
- Metal cooling racks to place the breaded chicken to chill and the cooked chicken to drain.
- A deep fryer. (You can certainly deep fry without one, but there’s nothing quite like a deep fryer. My recommended model maintains a perfectly even temperature and drains the oil so you can reuse it and save money.)
Step one: soak and bread
Now, this is one of those things you’ll need to start way ahead of time. The chicken must soak in the buttermilk for a few hours at least, and then after dredging in flour it air chills in the fridge to keep the coating stuck on. If you don’t mind waking up early you can do it all in one day, but make sure you’ve allowed yourself enough time (6 hour soak plus 2 hour chill plus 30 minutes cooking.)
Look for your very biggest bowl and place the chicken inside and fill the bowl up with buttermilk. Toss it around until it’s coated and covered, and then pop it back in the fridge for 6 to 12 hours.
When the time is almost up, mix up the seasoned flour. You’ll have another big bowl. If there are certain spices you want to add, feel free.
Get a rimmed baking sheet and place a cooling rack on top. You will need this for the breaded chicken to rest on a do a brief chilling period before you fry it.
Remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk one by one. Shake off the excess buttermilk and then toss them into the flour. Make sure they are fully coated.
Place them on the cooling rack and place them back in the fridge, uncovered, for about two hours.
Step two: fry!
There are a few things to do to prepare for frying.
First, get a new rimmed baking sheet and layer some paper towels inside. Place another, clean cooling rack on top of the paper towels.
Preheat the deep fryer to 340 degrees. This is quite a bit lower than many recipes, but the chicken needs to cook a long time to make sure that it is thoroughly cooked. If the oil is too hot, the crust will burn before the chicken is cooked.
Place the chicken in the deep fryer basket. You’ll need to cook this in batches and make sure they have enough room to swim in the oil without touching each other. Fry the chicken for 12-15 minutes, then flip it and fry another 12-15 minutes. I flip even if I am cooking in a deep fryer, as the chicken pieces are usually so large that they aren’t fully submerged.
When the time has passed and the chicken is a beautiful deep, golden brown, check the internal temperature using an instant-read thermometer. If it is above 165, go ahead and cut into a test piece just to be sure the juices run clear. If everything looks good, remove the chicken from the deep fryer and place on the cooling rack to drain.
You can serve it right away, or place it in a 200-degree oven to keep warm until you’re ready to serve.
🥫 Storage instructions
Any leftovers can go in the fridge, tightly covered.
You can eat them cold or reheated in an air fryer or oven. The microwave will work in a pinch, but the skin won’t be crispy.
Fried chicken does not freeze well.
It’s slightly acidic, which tenderizes the chicken. It helps the breading stick, which ensures a nice crispy exterior.
Use a Dutch oven or deep skillet. Pour in a few inches of oil and monitor the temperature with a candy thermometer.
You can check the temperature (it should be 165 degrees F), or cut into a piece and make sure the flesh is white and the juices run clear.
Because the frying temperature is slightly lower. This ensures the chicken cooks through before the crust starts to burn.
👩🏻🍳 Expert tips
- Save money on your chicken. I’ve found the most affordable way to get bone-in chicken is to buy a few bulk packages of one single cut. Look for bone-in thighs, drumsticks, and breasts. You can always buy a whole chicken and cut it up, but it’s more work and more money.
- Timing help. Do the marinade overnight, bread it around lunchtime, and fry for dinner to make sure each step has enough time.
- Make sure you keep an eye on your oil temperature! If it gets too cold, the breading will fall off and you will be sad.
What to serve on the side
- Biscuits, of course! My four-ingredients biscuits always turn out.
- Southern-style coleslaw is always served with deep-fried chicken in our house. It’s the law.
- And since this has been a long process, let’s make an easy dessert and whip up an easy berry cobbler with frozen berries.
- Don’t forget the peach-raspberry tea.
📘 Related Recipes
- From-scratch deep-fried chicken tenders are super popular with kids and ready with a lot less prep work.
- Homemade French fries are easy to make once you have the deep fryer out.
- Onion rings without breadcrumbs are crunchy and delicious.
- Don’t want to deal with chicken pieces? Make buttermilk chicken tenders!
📖 Here’s the recipe
Classic Buttermilk Fried Chicken
- 8 pieces chicken bone in, skin on
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 2 cups flour all purpose
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (Lawry's, etc.)
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 quart oil for frying peanut or vegetable
- Soak the chicken pieces in the buttermilk in a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, up to 12 hours.
- Combine the flour, salt, pepper and seasoned salt in a large mixing bowl. Take out the chicken pieces, shaking off the excess buttermilk and dredge them in the seasoned flour, one by one.
- Place the floured chicken pieces on a wire cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, to help the flour stick.
- Preheat the deep fryer to 340 degrees (or use a heavy duty Dutch oven filled with three inches of oil and use a candy thermometor to monitor the temperature). Fry the chicken, covered, for 12-15 minutes per side until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. The internal temperature should be at least 165.
- Place a clean cooling rack over a baking sheet with layers of paper towels. Place the cooked chicken on top and allow to drain. Serve immediately, or hold in a 200 degree oven.