Today I’m going to teach you a very important lesson, how to make The Best Buttermilk Fried Chicken. It’s easy. All the steps are simple, they just require time. There is no sitting around the stove, it’s inactive time. The chicken itself cooks up pretty quickly. I enhance the flavor of the fried chicken in two ways. First I let the chicken pieces sit in a rub for 24-48 hours depending on how much ahead of time I’ve planned. Then before frying, the chicken pieces soak in buttermilk. The buttermilk helps the flour to adhere to the chicken and it also tenderizes the meat.Jump to Recipe
Let’s start from the beginning shall we? I use a high quality organic air chilled chicken. Bell & Evan’s is my very favorite brand and I buy that when I can. I love air chilled chickens because they have superior flavor to ones chilled with water. I promise you will not regret buying an air chilled chicken.
I buy a whole chicken and butcher it at home. It’s really easy to do and you can watch my video on doing it below. I cut the chicken into ten pieces. Each breast gets broken into two pieces. This makes the breast pieces cook around the same time as the dark meat pieces and it makes all of the sizes uniform.
You can absolutely buy a precut chicken if you would rather or have your butcher do this for you if you prefer.
After I have my chicken pieces I add them all to a large bowl and toss them around with a spice rub made of garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, and other spices. The chicken then sits in this spice mixture for 24-48 hours. The flavors of these spices get into the meat of the chicken. It does not overpower the end result at all, just adds a subtle hint of delicious flavor. It’s so worth doing and one of the reasons this is The Best Buttermilk Fried Chicken.
Two hours before I’m ready to fry up my pieces, I pull out some buttermilk and pour it over the chicken in the bowl. I stir everything around and loosen up the pieces of chicken. Just make sure they are covered by the buttermilk and set this on the counter. The chicken and buttermilk has been in the fridge and is very cold. Leaving it on the counter gives it a chance to get warmer which makes the pieces fry up and cook better. Trust me on this one.
I shake 5 pieces in flour then add them to the oil. The remaining five remain in the buttermilk until I am ready to fry.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Fill it half way up with peanut oil if you have it or good old canola oil works fine too. Once the oil is hot enough (I test this by putting a wooden spoon handle into the middle of the pan and press it into the bottom. If bubbles appear around the handle it’s ready to fry). Place five pieces of chicken into the oil and fry for 6 minutes. Then flip and fry an additional 5 minutes for the wings and 6 minutes for just about everything else.
Once the chicken reaches 165 degrees pull it out and let it sit on a plate, or cooling rack. I prefer a cooling rack. Then continue with the remaining five pieces of chicken.
I love using a Thermapen to test the doneness. It’s always accurate. Just make sure you aren’t hitting a bone.
Serve The Best Buttermilk Fried Chicken with your favorite side dishes. Ours are peas or Quick Cooking Collard Greens and my Creamy Mashed Potatoes. My kids love eating the legs and my husband and I prefer the thighs. What’s your favorite piece?
The Best Buttermilk Fried Chicken
- 1 whole chicken (4.5 – 5 lbs cut into ten pieces)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tbsp kosher salt (I use Morton’s)
- 2 tsp black pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika (regular or smoked)
- 3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- Peanut or Canola Oil
- Follow my instructions in the post to make ten pieces of chicken from the whole bird. Put the chicken in a large bowl. Whisk together the salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Pour over the chicken pieces and using tongs or your hands gently stir the chicken until fully coated in the spice rub being careful not to disrupt the chicken skin or tear it. Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for 24-48 hours. This is important to flavor the chicken. Two hours before you are ready to fry the chicken pull the bowl out of the fridge and set it on a counter. Pour in the buttermilk and stir the chicken around making sure the chicken is fully submerged in the buttermilk. Let this sit on the counter for 2 hours. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add in enough oil to fill the pan halfway. You will know when your oil is hot enough when you place the handle of a wooden spoon into the middle of the pan and press down on the bottom. If the oil bubbles around the wooden spoon with little tiny bubbles, the oil is ready. You can also use an instant read thermometer. It should be around 350 degrees. Place the flour in a large bowl or brown paper bag (my preferred method). Take five pieces of chicken out of the buttermilk letting any excess liquid drip off back into the bowl. Place the chicken in the flour and toss to coat. I enjoy using the brown bag and gently seal the opening and shake it over the sink to make sure the chicken is fully coated. Shake the excess flour off of the chicken and place the five pieces into the skillet to fry. Cook for six minutes on the first side, then turn the pieces over. The wings will only need five minutes on the second side and everything else will need about six more minutes. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Pull the five pieces out and allow them to drain on a paper towel lined plate or cooling rack. Then repeat the flour and frying steps with the remaining five pieces of chicken. Serve them warm with your favorite side dishes.