Crispy Fried Chicken (America's Test Kitchen)

Total Time
1hr 20mins
Prep 1 hr
Cook 20 mins

This is my favorite fried chicken recipe! Due to the labor intensiveness of it, I only make it for special occasions, but it is well worth the effort when i have the time. Maintaining an even oil temperature is key to the success of this recipe. An instant-read thermometer with a high upper range is perfect for checking the temperature; a clip-on candy/deep-fry thermometer is fine, though it can be clipped to the pot only for the uncovered portion of frying.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. In large zipper-lock plastic bag, combine salt, sugar, paprika, garlic cloves, and bay leaves.
  2. With rubber mallet or flat meat pounder, smash garlic into salt and spice mixture thoroughly.
  3. Pour mixture into large plastic container or nonreactive stockpot.
  4. Add 7 cups buttermilk and stir until salt is completely dissolved.
  5. Immerse chicken, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until fully seasoned, 2 to 3 hours.
  6. Remove chicken from buttermilk brine and shake off excess; place in single layer on large wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet.
  7. Refrigerate uncovered for 2 hours. (After 2 hours, chicken can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 6 hours longer).
  8. Measure flour into large shallow dish.
  9. Beat egg, baking powder, and baking soda in medium bowl; stir in remaining 1 cup buttermilk (mixture will bubble and foam).
  10. Working in batches of 3, drop chicken pieces in flour and shake pan to coat.
  11. Shake excess flour from each piece.
  12. Then, using tongs, dip chicken pieces into egg mixture, turning to coat well and allowing excess to drip off.
  13. Coat chicken pieces with flour again, shake off excess, and return to wire rack.
  14. Adjust oven rack to middle position, set second wire rack over second rimmed baking sheet, and place on oven rack; heat oven to 200 degrees.
  15. Line large plate with double layer of paper towels. Meanwhile, heat oil (oil should have 2 1/2-inch depth in pan) to 375°F over medium-high heat in large 8-quart cast-iron Dutch oven with a diameter of about 12 inches.
  16. Place half of chicken pieces skin-side down in oil, cover, reduce heat to medium, and fry until deep golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes; after about 3 minutes, lift chicken pieces with tongs to check for even browning; rearrange if some pieces are browning faster than others. (Spot-check oil temperature; after first 6 minutes of frying, oil should be about 325°F Adjust burner if necessary).
  17. Turn chicken pieces over and continue to fry, uncovered, until chicken pieces are deep golden brown on second side, 6 to 8 minutes longer.
  18. Using tongs, transfer chicken to paper towel–lined plate; let stand 2 minutes to drain, then transfer to rack in warm oven.
  19. Replace paper towel lining on plate. Return oil to 375°F and fry remaining pieces, transferring pieces to paper towel–lined plate to drain, then transferring to wire rack.
  20. Cool chicken pieces on wire rack (outside oven) about 5 minutes and serve.


Most Helpful

I think this recipe has a whole lot of potential to being really good. However, even with the brining, I thought it was bland. I realize that I love spicy fried chicken, but this needed something other than just salt to give it flavor. I will make this again because the chicken is very moist and tender, but I will be adding blk pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper and or hot sauce. It was edible, but with no wow factor. I am searching the absolute best I am still looking and will continue to tweak this until I find it. Also, the crust is very crispy which is a plus. So it's tender, moist, crispy and bland. So it's got 3 out of 4 important things to make it great. I would only recommend it along with the changes of adding seasoning to it. I think garlic powder may be stronger in the brine than fresh garlic, but I could be wrong.

mizjmassie September 18, 2011

This was very very good, but it did take a lot of work. The crust was so good. I will probably only make this once a year. If you like spicy food, add more to the brine.

Coppercloud July 09, 2012

This is the absolute best fried chicken that I have ever had. The meat is juicy and flavorful, the crust is crispy and sticks to the chicken, and it just turn out great each time. I usually fry the giblets with the chicken, and I've also sometimes add some salt-free Mrs. Dash to the coating. Great recipe and well worth the pre-cook steps.

Sierra Silver July 03, 2009

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