A white plate with fried chicken thighs.
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4.67 from 3 votes

The Best Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

Southern Fried Chicken is a true Southern classic with its delightfully golden and perfectly crispy crust and tender, juicy meat. Marinated in buttermilk and cooked to perfection, the first bite is nothing less than a flavor explosion in your mouth. 
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Marinate4 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Southern
Keyword: how to make fried chicken, buttermilk fried chicken, southern fried chicken
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 382kcal
Author: Sharon Rigsby

Ingredients

  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup hot sauce I use Frank's Red Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce; you can also use Tabasco Sauce
  • 6 chicken thighs with skin and bones, or six assorted chicken pieces.
  • 1 quart peanut oil
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp ground black pepper

Instructions

  • Combine the buttermilk, garlic, and hot sauce in a large bowl.
  • Add the chicken, cover and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours or up to 24 hours. The longer, the better.
  • About an hour before you are ready to fry the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Doing this will allow it to cook more evenly.
  • Add the flour, salt, and pepper to a large gallon size plastic storage bag.
  • Pull the pieces of chicken out of the buttermilk one at a time and allow any excess to drip off. Discard the buttermilk.
  • Place the chicken in the bag, one at a time with the flour mixture and shake so that the chicken is evenly coated. Shake off any excess flour and place on a wire rack. Once all of the chicken has been coated with flour, allow it to sit on the rack for about 30 minutes to firm up the coating.
  • When ready to fry the chicken, pour the oil in a deep cast iron Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet. You may need a little less or more oil depending on the size of your pan. The oil should be approximately 1 to 1-1/2 inches deep.
  • Place the pan over medium-high heat and heat the oil to 350 degrees F.
  • Carefully add a few pieces of chicken and be sure not to crowd the chicken. I usually cook three pieces at a time.
  • The oil temperature will come down once the chicken has been added. It is crucial to continually monitor it and I have found; 315 degrees F. is the perfect oil temperature for frying chicken. You will probably need to adjust the heat under the pan to keep it at 315 degrees. If the oil gets too hot, the crust will burn before the meat is done, and if it is too low, the chicken will be greasy.
  • Fry the chicken for a total of 10-20 minutes. Dark meat and larger pieces of chicken will take more time to cook. White meat and smaller pieces of chicken will take less time to cook. Try to cook the same size pieces at the same time.
  • Both white and dark meat are done when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Use an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in the meat not touching the bone to determine the temperature. 
  • When the chicken is done, place it on a wire rack over some paper towels to allow it to cool slightly before serving. Do not put it directly on the paper towels or your crust will get soggy.
  • Repeat the steps above to fry the rest of the chicken.

Notes

Sharon's Expert Tips:
  • The temperature of the oil can make the difference between golden brown fried chicken and underdone chicken or chicken with a burned crust. It is imperative that you use a candy or deep-frying thermometer to monitor the oil temperature.
  • Your chicken will cook more uniformly if you remove it from the refrigerator about an hour before you fry it to allow it to come to room temperature.
  • I prefer to fry chicken thighs. One because dark meat is much more forgiving and more flavorful, and two, because the same size chicken pieces will cook in approximately the same amount of time.
  • If you prefer white meat and the breasts are large, I would cut them up into two or three pieces. For assorted chicken pieces, keep in mind they will each take a different amount of time to cook.
  • If the crust on your chicken browns too quickly, before the meat is done, remove it from the oil. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and place the underdone chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Cook the chicken for 5-10 minutes or until it reaches the correct internal temperature.
  • While a regular cast-iron skillet is perfect for frying chicken, a deep cast iron Dutch oven helps to minimize the chances of grease splatter.
  • To reheat the fried chicken, place it on a lightly greased rimmed baking sheet in a 400-degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Start checking it at 10 minutes.
  • In this recipe, I only used six chicken thighs because they were large and it's just my husband and me. However, if you are feeding a crowd there is more than enough buttermilk marinade, flour mixture, and oil to cook up to a dozen or so pieces. 
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Nutrition

Calories: 382kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 574mg | Potassium: 314mg | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 3.1% | Vitamin C: 2% | Calcium: 5.8% | Iron: 9.8%