How to Fry Chicken

I don’t fry chicken very often, but when I do, I am particular about one thing: the breading. Crispy breading is the only reason to go the fried route. I mean, the only reason aside from the tender, juicy chicken you get in the end. So I’m going to spill my fried-chicken beans and tell you my surefire method for achieving a crisp, delicious crust.

Traditionally, chicken is fried bones-in and skin-on. The breading sticks to the skin and the skin crisps up as it cooks. I usually aim for a whole fryer (that’s butcher talk for a whole chicken) that is already broken down into pieces giving you 2 breasts, 2 wingettes, 2 drummettes, 2 legs, and 2 thighs (about 3 pounds of chicken). Your grocery store may only offer a selection of similar cuts in a package (for example all legs or all breasts). If this is the case and it’s your first time frying chicken, aim for the legs. They cook faster and are easier to work with.

One more note on selecting chicken: If you are anything like me, you always have boneless, skinless breasts lurking in the freezer because they are the most versatile thing in the cooking universe. You can use boneless, skinless breasts with this recipe, but note that the breading will not stick to the muscle as readily as the skin.

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1 Soak in Buttermilk

Buttermilk is an integral part of fried chicken. I start by pouring 2 cups of buttermilk in a large bowl. If you like a little heat you can add some hot sauce (the orange speckles you see here). A few tablespoons will add flavor. Let the chicken soak in the buttermilk for at least 15 minutes; no more than an hour. Make sure to cover and refrigerate if your soak time will exceed 15 minutes.

You can also brine your chicken ahead of time. Try this Basic Brine Recipe for extra flavorful and juicy chicken.


2 Season and Flour

Whisk 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 3 – 4 tablespoons of Cajun seasoning together, then coat you chicken pieces by rolling them in the flour mixture. Shake off the excess.

You can buy pre-prepared Cajun seasoning or you can try making your own with this Cajun Seasoning Mix Recipe from If you can’t find white pepper, try this one instead.

3 Buttermilk and Flour Again

This is the step that gives your chicken extra-delicious breading! Take your breaded chicken and put it back in the buttermilk, then toss it back into the flour mixture one more time. Double-breaded goodness!

4 Fry

In a large, heavy deep cast iron skillet or Dutch oven, add about 1-1/2 inches of oil. Heat to 350° – 365°F. Carefully add the chicken pieces. Work in batches so your skillet isn’t crowded. Use tongs to turn the pieces. You are looking to cook them approximately 4 – 5 minutes per side (depending on the sizes of the pieces). It’s better to use a thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature reaches a safe 165°F. Be sure to insert the thermometer at the thickest part of the meat, and double check that the thermometer is not touching the bone.
Transfer the cooked pieces to a paper towel to drain any excess grease. You can also place the cooked chicken pieces on a wire rack over a baking sheet in the oven with the temperature set to 300°F. That will keep the chicken warm while you work through cooking the rest.
And finally, EAT! That’s the best part.

Want more? Watch the video for more deep frying tips and tricks. 

About Heather T.

Heather, who runs, has been making messes in the kitchen since she was a little kid when her mom handed her a cook book and told her, “If you can read, you can cook.” Today she serves up fresh, healthy eats, easy weeknight meals and decadent sweet treats.