Buttermilk Deep Fried Chicken

Deliciously tender and juicy buttermilk fried chicken with a crisp and seasoned crust. You’ll love how the breading won’t fall off; a short chilling period makes sure it sticks.

As a bonus, cold fried chicken straight from the fridge makes the perfect evening snack. Deep frying and chicken are a match made in heaven.

Golden brown fried chicken piled on plate

Classic Buttermilk Fried Chicken

A classic method of making fried chicken: a buttermilk marinade and perfectly seasoned flour blend add up to juicy, flavorful chicken. A true crowd pleaser.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
marinating 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 55 minutes
Serving Size 4 servings

Ingredients 

  • 8 pieces chicken bone in, skin on

Marinade

  • 3 cups buttermilk

Flour Mixture

  • 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

To Fry

  • 1 quart oil peanut or vegetable

Instructions 

  • Marinate. Soak the chicken pieces in the buttermilk in a very large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, up to 12 hours.
    A bowl of raw chicken pieces submerged in buttermilk, placed on a kitchen counter with a blue and white checkered cloth beside it, representing the marinating step in a buttermilk fried chicken recipe.
  • Bread. 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.
    A person's hand coating a piece of chicken with seasoned flour from a white bowl, illustrating the breading step in the preparation of buttermilk fried chicken
  • Chill. 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.
    raw breaded chicken on wire rack.
  • Fry. Preheat the deep fryer to 340 degrees (or use a heavy-duty Dutch oven filled with three inches of oil and use a candy thermometer 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.
    Chicken pieces being deep-fried in a red Dutch oven filled with oil, capturing the frying process with bubbles around the chicken indicating the cooking action.
  • Serve. 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.
    ooked buttermilk fried chicken pieces resting on a wire rack above a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain excess oil, showing the final step before serviing

Notes

Timing: You can start and finish this recipe in one day if you begin early enough to allow for 6 hours of marinating and 2 hours of chilling.
Overnight Preparation: For convenience, marinate the chicken overnight, bread in the early afternoon, and fry for dinner.
Frying Temperature: A lower frying temperature ensures the chicken cooks thoroughly without burning the crust.
Calories: 375kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 21mg | Sodium: 1064mg | Potassium: 310mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 297IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 216mg | Iron: 3mg

This isn’t the quickest recipe in the world, but it’s still one of our favorites. It’s a dish perfect for a big Sunday dinner with all your favorite sides but also makes great leftovers.

It might seem like a lot of time and a lot of steps, but you just do a little bit here and a little bit there. To save money, you can buy a pack of thighs and a pack of drumsticks instead of a whole cut-up chicken.

Fried Chicken Tips

  • Save money on your chicken. 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.
  • Give it room. Your chicken should be surrounded by oil on all sides, not crowded or sticking together.
  • Watch your oil temperature. If it gets too cold, the breading will fall off and you will be sad.
  • Don’t rush. Every step of this recipe takes time.

Fried Chicken Ingredients + Tools

  • chicken pieces,  bone-in, skin on
  • buttermilk (here’s how to use up leftover buttermilk!)
  • all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • seasoned salt (Lawry’s, etc.)
  • pepper
  • thyme
  • cayenne pepper
  • oil for frying, peanut oil is best but vegetable is okay too!
concrete surface with chicken pieces, spices, buttermilk, and flour
  • 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.)

How to Store Leftover Fried Chicken

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.

fried chicken on white plate

Serving Suggestions

I’m nervous about frying chicken. Any tips?

The key is to keep the oil at a steady medium temperature — too hot, and you’ll scorch the outside before the inside cooks. Use a thermometer to keep the oil around 340°F. And don’t crowd the pan; give those chicken pieces some personal space to cook evenly.

What’s the secret to crispy fried chicken?

After you dredge the chicken, let it sit on the wire rack in the fridge for a bit. This helps the coating stick and dry out slightly, which translates to more crunch when fried. Also, make sure your oil is hot enough before the chicken goes in.

More Deep Fried Favorites

From soaking the chicken in tangy buttermilk to getting that golden, crispy crust just right, we’ve covered all the bases to ensure your chicken is nothing short of spectacular. Remember, the key to outstanding fried chicken is patience – marinate well, let the coating set, and fry at the right temperature. I hope this recipe brings as much joy to your table as it has to mine.

close up view of chicken on cooling rack
Buttermilk Deep Fried Chicken

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