Home » Dinner Recipes » The Best Southern Fried Chicken (+Video)

The Best Southern Fried Chicken (+Video)

If you want a crazy delicious fried chicken recipe, then it has to be this recipe for The Best Southern Fried Chicken. Crispy, flavorful and absolutely divine!

FRIED CHICKEN RECIPE FOR CRUNCHY SKIN AND TENDER CHICKEN

I’m from the south and we all know that Fried Chicken is a staple here. Something that you are born to love and born to eat! This recipe for The Best Southern Fried Chicken is one of my favorite recipes and one that took me a few years to get just right. This recipe produces a crunchy exterior with moist chicken on the inside. The absolute perfect chicken in my opinion. Really good fried chicken takes time so don’t rush this one.

The Best Southern Fried Chicken laid out on a parchment paper lined metal tray.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

Can I substitute the buttermilk?

No. This is non-negotiable here. If you’re are going to go through the trouble of making fried chicken, you will be missing out on so much flavor. It has to be real buttermilk too. Not the stuff that you make with milk and vinegar. And overnight soak is optimal for maximum juiciness.

Why add cornstarch to fried chicken batter?

The mixture of the cornstarch and flour helps give it that extra crunchy exterior.

Can I use chicken breasts for fried chicken?

This recipe works with any cut of chicken. The key is just making sure the chicken is cooked to 165F degrees internal temperature.

Does you have to fry chicken in peanut oil?

Peanut oil has a neutral flavor that won’t compromise the flavor of the chicken. Canola oil would be my second choice.

I always see southern cooks use a cast iron skillet for frying. How come you don’t?

I deep fry my chicken in a deep fryer but you can also do this in a deep, heavy bottomed pot. I just find that you often get darker burn-like spots with a cast iron pan if you aren’t super careful.

How do I make fried chicken taste more like KFC chicken?

Well, you’ll need to use their famous 11 herbs and spices. Just substitute the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper in this recipe for the following seasonings: (you will skip the step of seasoning the individual chicken pieces and stir in 2 1/2 Tablespoons of this seasoning in with the flour/cornstarch mixture).
Note: you will not use this entire amount. Mix it together and use about 2 1/2 Tablespoons of the mixture in place of the seasonings I provide below if using it in this recipe.

2 teaspoons salt
½ Tablespoon dried thyme
½ Tablespoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon celery salt
½ Tablespoon black pepper
1 Tablespoon mustard powder
2 Tablespoons paprika
2 Tablespoons garlic salt
1 Tablespoon powdered ginger
1 Tablespoon pepper (use white pepper if you have it)

What should I serve with this chicken?

The possibilities are endless. Some of our favorites are: Southern Fried Okra, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw, Butter Swim Biscuits and Macaroni and Cheese.

fried chicken pieces shown on a paper towel with a small bowl of sea salt to the side.

INGREDIENTS NEEDED: (SEE RECIPE CARD BELOW FOR THE FULL RECIPE)

  • whole chicken (cut up) – you can just use your favorite cut of chicken here: breasts, thighs, wings, legs.
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder – this is the blend of seasonings I enjoy but feel free to use your favorite or use the copycat KFC seasoning blend above in the FAQ.
  • buttermilk – this is key, do not substitute – this really makes the meat so tender and keeps it from being dry.
  • hot sauce – this is optional but adds a nice little kick.
  • cornstarch – this is what gives you that crispy skin so don’t skip it.
  • peanut oil – this is my favorite oil to fry in since it isn’t going to take away flavor from the chicken (and its the less stinky kind of oil).
Ingredients needed to make The Best Southern Fried Chicken: chicken, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, buttermilk, hot sauce, flour, cornstarch, black pepper.

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN:

Place the cut up chicken in a large bowl. Add the salt, garlic powder, and onion powder, toss to coat the chicken in the spices.

cut up chicken in a white bowl.

Add the buttermilk and hot sauce to the bowl, stir until everything is combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but it’s best if you can let it sit overnight.

chicken pieces soaking in hot sauce and buttermilk in a white bowl.

In a medium-sized bowl add the flour, cornstarch, salt and black pepper.

Flour, cornstarch and black pepper in a white bowl with a whisk set off to the side.

Whisk this mixture together until completely combined.

Whisk mixing up flour mixture in a bowl.

Taking the chicken pieces one at a time, let the excess buttermilk drip off. Coat in the flour mixture, make sure the chicken is well coated. Shake off any excess. Set the chicken aside and let it sit for a few minutes until the coating starts to look a little pasty.

Chicken pieces being coated in flour mixture in white bowl with a fork.

Fill up your deep fryer (deep cast iron skillet or dutch oven) with peanut oil (or frying oil of your choice) and preheat to 350°F. Carefully add the piece of chicken to the deep fryer. Fry until golden brown, turning every few minutes. You will need to fry in batches so you do not overcrowd the fryer.

Chicken in frying oil.

Chicken is done when golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Depending on the size of the chicken, dark meat takes about 12-14 minutes and white meat takes 8-10 minutes.

Chicken on paper towels with salt and hand holding up piece of Souther Fried Chicken.

When the chicken is done frying, place it on a paper towel lined sheet tray and immediately sprinkle a little flaked salt on top. Continue with the rest of the chicken pieces.

Hand holding a leg piece of Southern Fried Chicken

HOW TO STORE:

  • Chicken needs to be stored in the refrigerator. To do this, you will want to let the fried chicken cool completely before preparing to store, this will help the coating stay crisp.
  • Place the cooked chicken in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator where it will stay good for up to 5 days. You can reheat in the oven, microwave or an air fryer. The oven and the air fryer will help keep the skin crispy while re-heating.
  • If you want to freeze the fried chicken then you will want to store in an airtight container and place in the freezer where it will stay good for up to 6 months.
  • To reheat Fried Chicken from frozen you will want to let it thaw in the refrigerator and then bake it in the oven (at 400F degrees) or use an air fryer until heated through.

CRAVING MORE SOUTHERN RECIPES?

Close up of The Best Southern Fried Chicken on metal tray thumbnail image

The Best Southern Fried Chicken (+Video)

If you want a crazy delicious chicken recipe, then it has to be this recipe for The Best Southern Fried Chicken. Crispy, flavorful and absolutely divine!
5 from 195 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Chilling: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 24 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, cut up (or 8 pieces of your favorite cuts of chicken)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons hot sauce
  • 2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • peanut oil (for frying)
  • flaked salt (for serving, optional)

Instructions

  • Place 1 whole chicken, cut up in a large bowl. Sprinkle on top of the chicken: 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 2 teaspoons garlic powder and 2 teaspoons onion powder then toss to coat the chicken in the spices.
  • Add 2 cups buttermilk and 2 Tablespoons hot sauce, stir until everything is combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, but it’s best if you can let it sit overnight.
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 2 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup cornstarch, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, 2 teaspoons paprika and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Set aside.
  • Fill up a deep fryer (deep cast iron skillet or dutch oven) with peanut oil (or neutral frying oil of your choice) and preheat to 350°F.
  • Taking the chicken pieces one at a time, let the excess buttermilk drip off. Coat in the flour mixture, make sure the chicken is well coated. Shake off any excess. Set the chicken aside and let it sit for a few minutes until the coating starts to look a little pasty.
  • Carefully add the piece of chicken to the deep fryer and continue with the next piece. Don't add more than three or four pieces at at time. You will need to fry in batches so you do not overcrowd the fryer. Fry until golden brown, turning every few minutes.
  • Chicken is done when golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Depending on the size of the chicken, dark meat can take about 12-14 minutes and white meat takes 8-10 minutes (these are estimates – use a meat thermometer for accurate doneness)
  • When the chicken is done frying, place it on a paper towel lined sheet tray and immediately sprinkle a little flaked salt on top. Continue with the rest of the chicken pieces.

Video

Notes

  • You can let this soak for a minimum of 2 hours but the key to the best flavor is letting it soak overnight. It gives time for the buttermilk to do its magic!
  • The mixture of the cornstarch and flour helps give it that extra crunchy exterior. Don’t like it crunchy? Just leave out the cornstarch. 
  • We used a whole cut up chicken, you can buy it that way or break down your own.
  • Peanut oil is the best for frying this recipe but canola or vegetable work as well.
  • I deep fry my chicken in a deep fryer but you can also do this in a large cast iron pan as well. If you aren’t accustomed to frying, it can be difficult to maintain the proper temperature so an electric deep fryer is very helpful. If you find the chicken is darkening too quickly on the outside, it probably means your oil has gotten too hot so it’s very important to maintain temperature. Again, if you are not accustomed to frying, thermometers safe for frying and a meat thermometer are your best friends!
  • Buttermilk is absolutely necessary for this to turn out moist. If you cannot find buttermilk you can make your own by mixing 1 cup of regular milk with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then stir.
 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American

Nutrition

Calories: 727kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 33g | Sodium: 1598mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“The Country Cook” is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

Did you make this recipe?Share it on Instagram @thecountrycook and mention us #thecountrycook!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




62 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    oh and 1 last thing, I couldn’t edit my previous comment & this is important to note, the corn starch with flour gave my chicken the most incredibly crunchy crust! genius! no need to do double coating with flour, egg and panko, corn starch is definitely the way to extra crispy fried chicken. can’t wait to try this with chicken wings!!!!!!

  2. 5 stars
    O.M.G BEST chicken ever! I soaked the chicken in buttermilk, hot sauce & old bay for 5 hrs. I added extra of the seasonings listed plus some poultry seasoning. I cooked it in my 2 generations old cast iron pan and it was incredibly juicy and flavorful. great recipe!!!!

  3. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I will definitely make this again! I made this last night. I didn’t have a deep fryer, so used an electric skillet with half an inch+ of peanut oil at 350 degrees. I fried up bone-in legs/thighs and a couple breasts. All turned out beautifully, although a bit darker than the pictures. I even used the lid on the electric skillet with the top vent open to keep the oil spatter to a minimum. The chicken still turned out nice and super crispy! I did have to cook the chicken for 15-20 minutes to get to the 165 degrees, so the chicken pieces turned out a bit dark, but not burned. Might you have any suggestions? Should I maybe use a lower heat for even longer or higher so the chicken doesn’t get so dark ?

  4. 5 stars
    Brandie,
    Being from the south fried chicken is a staple well really anything fried.
    Loved your recipe thanks for inspiration.

  5. 5 stars
    I finally made some good fried chicken! I used all breasts since that’s what we liked. The skin was so crispy and the meat was juicy. Soaking it in the buttermilk really made all the difference!

  6. 5 stars
    Absolutely flavorful and delicious! The soaking in buttermilk is absolute key! Don’t try to make the fake buttermilk with vinegar or lemon juice and milk. It’s just not the same. Buy the real stuff. This was so good!

    1. 5 stars
      I don’t know who writes like this but the whole “KFC” part is really confusing. Are you supposed to season each with the KFC imitation spices along with the buttermilk and then season the batter with the onion powder and other spices or do you not use the latter at all? Regardless it’s a very delicious recipe. Would definitely make again with a few tweaks.

      1. Well, first of all, I write like this as this is my website. What exactly is confusing about it? I have an FAQ section above that talks about the KFC seasoning if someone really wants to have chicken similar to KFC (keep in mind, KFC pressure fries their chicken so it will never be exactly the same). I prefer my original recipe seasonings but so many people wanted the KFC spices recipe so I included it above in the post.

  7. 5 stars
    Best fried chicken I’ve ever made. I also tried the KFC option. I assumed, with the extra ingredients, it would be more flavorful. No. Don’t bother. Just make the intended recipe. It’s awesome!

  8. 5 stars
    Hi,
    I am actually a European trained Chef, so I knew the importance of Buttermilk, I didn’t have any in the house and live in the country so I used Sheeps milk Kefir which was in my fridge (who knew?) for the marination., Its Milk acids that tenderize the meat. I let it sit for 8 hours. Now sheeps milk, like goats cheese does have a distinct flavour. It was good though – I thought it worked well.
    Talking of tenderization, when I worked in Noosa, Australia – we tenderized squid / Calamari in pureed Kiwi fruit over night- the kiwi leaves no flavour and my God the Calamary like butter… There ya go… ;0)

  9. 5 stars
    Flavor was very good and I am not a great cook. I did use my electric fryer because I’m terrible at making sure the temperature stays consistent on the stovetop. It worked fantastic. I think letting the breading stay on the chicken for a bit definitely helps to keep it nice and crusty without sliding off which is usually the problem I have.

  10. 5 stars
    Growing up in the south as a child I learned to love Southern cooking but didn’t necessarily learn how to cook it. Being a Northern girl and moving back to the Frozen Tundra I have learned on my own some of the Southern ways. This is hands down the best fried chicken ever! East, West, North or South!