Cookbook:Fried Chicken

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Fried Chicken
CategoryChicken recipes

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Fried chicken has a dual origin in the rural American South. The Scots had a tradition of shallow cooking chicken in fat (not quite pan frying), unlike their English counterparts who baked or boiled chicken. Later, as African slaves were introduced to households as cooks, seasonings and spices were added that are absent in traditional Scottish cuisine, improving the flavor and they brought the concept of deep fat frying. Since slaves were often allowed to keep only chickens, frying chicken as a special occasion spread through the African American community. After slavery, poor rural southern blacks continued the tradition since chickens were often the only animals they could afford to raise. Since fried chicken could keep for several days, it travelled well, and also gained favor during segregation when blacks normally could not find places to eat and had to carry their own food. Southern whites also continued the tradition of frying chicken. Therefore, fried chicken continued to dominate as "Sunday dinner" or on other special occasions.


  • Dry ground seasonings as desired (e.g. pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, etc.)
  • 1 fryer chicken, cut up (see notes below)
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • ½ cup salt
  • Flour
  • A quantity of oil suitable for the desired cooking method (see notes below)




  1. Combine all seasonings in desired quantities to make a spice rub.
  2. Pour the buttermilk into a bowl and dissolve in the salt.
  3. Piece by piece, roll the chicken around in the spice rub.
  4. Submerge each chicken piece in the buttermilk.
  5. Cover the bowl of buttermilk and chicken and refrigerate. You can get by with as few as two hours if you are in a hurry, but the flavor will suffer. You can also park it overnight, but in this case you should reduce the salt to ⅓ cup.
  6. Shortly before you want to cook the chicken, remove it from the buttermilk and drain. Roll it around in flour so that it is well covered in flour. Shake off the excess flour.

Deep frying


The safest cooking method is deep frying.

  1. Immerse chicken in 360°F oil. Cooking according to the specified time for each chicken part:
    • Breasts: 10 minutes
    • Drumsticks: 12 minutes
    • Thighs: 13–14 minutes
    • Wings: 10 minutes
  2. Drain the chicken on a wire rack over a sheet pan.

Pan frying


The most traditional cooking method is pan frying in a cast iron skillet. Care must be taken to avoid spilling and splattering.

  1. Heat enough oil (or shortening) to come 3–4 mm up the side of the pan to 325°F.
  2. Carefully place chicken in pan, skin side down. Cook until brown (10–12 minutes). Turn over and cook other side. Doing this will require some careful placement in the pan so as to cook the slow-cooking meat (such as thighs) more intensely than the fast-cooking meat (such as wings and breasts).
  3. Drain the chicken on a wire rack over a sheet pan.

Pressure frying


Pressure frying gives excellent results, but special equipment is needed. A typical pressure cooker is not suitable for cooking with large quantities of oil; a pressure fryer must be used. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully.

  1. Put the chicken pieces into hot oil (larger pieces first) and fry about 3 minutes until very light brown. Then put on the lid and lock it.
  2. Cook at a pressure of 5–6 pounds for about 7 minutes.
  3. Drain the chicken on a wire rack over a sheet pan.

Notes, tips, and variations

  • The key to this recipe is the buttermilk brine, which seasons the chicken with a salty tanginess inside. Combined with a suitably zingy spice rub, this works out beautifully.
  • This recipe is death to oil, so it's one you might want to save until you're thinking about changing your fryer oil anyway.
  • As with all respectable fried chicken recipes, this recipe may be even better 24 hours after you cook it, when the chicken has been refrigerated.
  • If you can get a pre-cut chicken, this is ultimately easier. Alternatively, if you have a real preference for drumsticks, thighs, breasts, or some other part, feel free to buy just those. The quantities in the ingredient list, however, reflect two breasts, two thighs, and two drumsticks. Don't waste the other parts on fried chicken; save them for chicken soup! But if you like fried chicken wings, increase the quantities a bit.
  • If you are kosher, lactose intolerant, not fond of buttermilk, or feeling experimental, feel free to play around with other possible brines here. If you use a less viscous liquid than buttermilk, however, you may need to use an egg wash to make sure that the flour sticks to the chicken in sufficient quantity.
  • Wings can also be saved, along with other leftover bits of carcass, to make chicken soup.
  • Personal preference chooses which spice to use as a base. A paprika-based rub works very well for this recipe, but others will work just fine. Cumin or curry powder would also both be good choices. You can use rosemary powder and green bell pepper powder in order to give a more mediterranean taste to fried chicken.