Learn these few steps to make the best fried chicken recipe of all time that is crispy, juicy and full of delicious flavor.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Bob’s Red Mill. The opinions and text are all mine.
Fried chicken is one of the most comforting foods to eat. It’s delicious, It’s fairly easy to make and the ingredients aren’t too expensive. While all these things are true, it can be difficult to achieve maximum flavor, tenderness and juiciness because of over cooking, under seasoning and breading falling off. I’m going to show you my 3 important steps to making the best fried chicken recipe ever.
WHAT IS SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN
Southern fried chicken or just fried chicken is chicken parts that are breaded in seasoned flour and fried in oil until crispy and cooked through out. The origin of fried chicken in general has been around since the middle ages and is said to be founded by the people of Scotland who have a tradition of frying whole chickens in fat.
The history of Southern Fried Chicken in the south stems back 3 centuries to African American slaves who became household cooks and furthered the tradition of frying chicken by incorporating seasonings and spices into the recipe. Fried chicken is still often commonly made today and served up in households and across the United States.
THE BEST FRIED CHICKEN
In my opinion, there are 3 secrets to making the best fried chicken recipe around. While there are some other techniques that can help you achieve really good tasting chicken, these steps are imperative.
- Buttermilk Brining for at least 12 hours
- Double breading using cornstarch
- Rendered bacon fat incorporated into frying oil
CHEF NOTE: if you chose to skip any of these steps, I cannot guarantee the final outcome.
BUTTERMILK FRIED CHICKEN
Brining the chicken in buttermilk alone will certainly help tenderize the meat. Buttermilk is simply milk that has acid incorporated into it and most commonly it’s white distilled vinegar. With that being said you can use lemon juice as well.
While the buttermilk is great, don’t stop there because we also want to flavor the meat in addition to tenderizing it. The way to achieve this is by making a simple brine to incorporate into it as this will be the driving step into the flavor department of this fried chicken recipe.
- Mix together water, salt and vinegar into a pot and bring to a boil until the salt has been dissolved. Add in ice cubes to chill.
- Add the brine to the buttermilk and mix together.
- Add in the chicken parts to the buttermilk brine submerging it completely
- Marinate in the refrigerator overnight for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
CHEF TIP: The longer the marinade bringing process the more flavor and tenderness that can be incorporated into the chicken. I recommend the 24 hours brining time.
PICKLE JUICE BRINE: If for some reason you don’t want to make the brine simply drain your pickle juice jar to render about 2 cups of the brining liquid and use it instead of the homemade brine, I made.
CRISPY FRIED CHICKEN
The absolute secret to making chicken really crispy and crunchy is by double breading it and using a bit of cornstarch to help crisp it up. Cornstarch swells when being mixed with the hot oil which makes the little granules of starch to separate from each other which is why it pushes outward from the chicken in layers. During the frying process these granules lock into place making the crispy crunchy outside that is so coveted.
The other important piece to crispy fried chicken is doubled breading which makes the best outer crust to fried chicken. Go from the buttermilk brine to the seasoned cornstarch flour, back to the brine and back to the seasoned cornstarch flour, and then in the fryer.
The outside breading will be thick, perfectly crunchy and nothing short of delicious. In addition to the corn starch you will definitely need flour and my absolute go to is Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose flour. It’s loaded with protein to make that strong outside coating help stick to the chicken.
CHEF NOTE: I only season the cornstarch and flour with paprika, salt and pepper but you can also add things such as garlic, onion granules, cayenne and herbs to help enhance the flavor.
WHAT KIND OF OIL TO USE FOR FRIED CHICKEN
There are several different oils you can use when making fried chicken to achieve that perfect brown outside crust. The most important factor to remember is that the oil has a high smoking point so that the chicken does not burn. In addition to the oil, an absolute necessity is rendered bacon. This not only preserves the original culture of fried chicken but it just adds so much complex flavor to the recipe that it really elevates it to the next level.
Here are some good oils to fry chicken in
- Canola Oil (this is what I used)
- Peanut Oil
- Vegetable Oil
CHEF TIP: The best temperature of the oil for frying chicken is 350°.
CHEF NOTE: If you have a lot of leftover rendered bacon fat and are not sure what to do with it, it freezes well or incorporate it into pie crusts for the most tender flakiest crusts ever like in my Homemade Chess Pie Recipe.
DEEP FRIED CHICKEN
My guess is that most of you don’t own a deep fryer and that is totally ok, because the most Southern way to fry chicken is pan frying it in a cast iron skillet. Cast iron holds heat well which will help your oil stay up to temperature.
- Add the oil and rendered bacon fat to the cast iron skillet until it reaches the halfway point. CHEF NOTE: You need to allow for the oil to expand and go up the pan as it gets hotter and chicken is added to it.
- Heat the oil until it reaches and holds 350°. You can check the oil using a high temperature or candy thermometer or if when you add a dusting of flour to the oil it pops and fries.
WHAT TO SERVE WITH FRIED CHICKEN
Here are some of my favorite recipes to serve with fried chicken.
Remember these 3 crucial steps to make the best fried chicken recipe around.
REHEATING: Add the chicken to a rack over a sheet tray and cook in the oven at 375° for 12 to 15 minutes or until hot. You can also refry the chicken in oil to re brown and cook through. If frying do so at 325°. If you microwave it, the breading can become soggy.
STORING AND FREEZING: Store the chicken, once cooled, into a plastic container with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Fried chicken does not freeze that well because once thawed the breading can become really soggy, however you can re fry it straight from the freezer.
*If you love this fried chicken recipe then my Smoked Chicken BBQ Recipe is a must try, and be sure to drop me a comment below and a rating if you’ve had the chance to make this amazing fried chicken recipe*
Remember to check out the step by step video below!
The Best Fried Chicken Recipe Ever
For the Brine:
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons sea salt
- ½ cup white distilled vinegar
- 1 cup of ice
- 6 finely grated cloves of garlic
- 1 quart buttermilk
- 1 whole roasting chicken cut up into parts
For the Breading:
- 3 cups Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon sea salt
- ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
- 5 cups canola oil for frying
- 1 cup rendered bacon fat for frying
- Brine: Add the water, salt and vinegar to a small size pot and bring to a boil until the salt has been completely dissolved.
- Immediately remove the brine from the burner and add in a heaping cup of ice cubes. Pour the mixture into a plastic bag along with the garlic and butter milk and whisk to combine.
- Add the chicken parts to the plastic bag with the brine in it and submerge. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Breading: In a bowl or loaf pan mix together the flour, corn starch, paprika, salt and pepper until combined. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl or loaf pan, drain the buttermilk brine from the chicken into the bowl or pan.
- Next add a piece of drained brined chicken to the seasoned flour and coat. Pat off any excess flour and submerge into the brine coating it. Remove it again and add it back to the seasoned flour and dredge it completely coating it. Set on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper or a plate. Repeat the process until all the chicken is breaded.
- Add the oil and bacon fat to a large cast iron skillet and heat to 350°.
- Cook the chicken in batches in the oil cooking it for 7-8 minutes per side until crispy golden brown and an internal temperature of 165°.
- Drain the chicken on a rack over a sheet tray to collect the dripping oil.
- 1Serve hot!
• If for some reason you don’t want to make the brine simply drain your pickle juice jar to render about 2 cups of the brining liquid and use it instead of the homemade brine, I made.
• I only season the cornstarch and flour with paprika, salt and pepper but you can also add things such as garlic, onion granules, cayenne and herbs to help enhance the flavor.
• The best temperature of the oil for frying chicken is 350°.
• If you have a lot of leftover rendered bacon fat and are not sure what to do with it, it freezes well or incorporate it into pie crusts for the most tender flakiest crusts ever like in my Homemade Chess Pie Recipe.