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Best Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe

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If you're a fan of fried chicken, then you've gotta try a classic buttermilk fried chicken recipe. With juicy meat, a perfectly crispy coating, and tons of flavor, it's easy to see why this dish is so beloved. Even if it's your first time making fried chicken, trust me, you can definitely handle this!

Crispy fried chicken served on a plate with a side of sauce.

The Secret Ingredient: Buttermilk

So, why the buttermilk? Well, there's a science to it! The buttermilk marinade not only adds a delicious tangy flavor but also works as a tenderizer. This means your chicken will be unbelievably juicy inside while keeping that amazing crunch on the outside.

My Simple Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe

Classic Buttermilk Fried Chicken – the ultimate recipe for the juiciest, crispiest fried chicken you'll ever make! Even novice cooks can master this classic! Our buttermilk fried chicken recipe uses simple ingredients and straightforward instructions for the best fried chicken of your life.

Here's the foolproof recipe I use for the best buttermilk fried chicken:

Buttermilk crispy fried chicken served on a plate with a side of dipping sauce.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Prep Time: 15 minutes + 30 minutes of marinating
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients for  preparation: raw chicken breasts, flour, spices, and a bowl of buttermilk batter on a kitchen surface.

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken drumsticks (or use chicken breasts, thighs, whatever you prefer!)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying (canola oil or peanut oil also work well)

Instructions:

  1. Marinating: Place chicken pieces in a large bowl. Pour buttermilk over them, add half the salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight for best results.
  2. Spice it Up: Combine flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, the remaining salt and pepper for your seasoned flour mix.
  3. Dredge Time: Take the chicken out of the buttermilk, let the excess liquid drip off, and generously coat in the seasoned flour mixture.
  4. Get Frying: Heat oil in a deep fryer or pot to 350-375°F (175-190°C). Fry chicken in batches for 12-15 minutes until golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
  5. Drain and Enjoy: Remove chicken with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels before serving.

Step by Step Directions Video

Tips for the Crispiest Buttermilk Fried Chicken

  • Don't Crowd the Pan: Frying your chicken in batches is key! Overcrowding the pot or fryer will drastically lower the oil temperature. This leads to greasy chicken instead of that perfect crispy coating.
  • The Right Oil Matters: Choose an oil with a high smoke point, like vegetable oil, canola oil, or peanut oil. These oils can handle the high temperatures needed for frying without breaking down or imparting unwanted flavors.
  • Temperature is Key: An instant-read thermometer takes the guesswork out of frying. Insert it into the thickest part of the chicken – it should reach 165°F (74°C) to be safely cooked.
  • Double Dredge = Extra Crispy: This technique is a classic way to get super crunchy chicken! Dip the buttermilk-soaked chicken in the seasoned flour mixture, then back in the buttermilk, and finally coat it in flour one more time.
  • Spice It Up: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to the flour mix for a little kick. You can also experiment with other spices like smoked paprika or your favorite hot sauce for a flavor boost.
  • Resting Time: After frying, let the chicken rest on a baking sheet lined with paper towels for a few minutes. This helps the juices redistribute, preventing them from running out when you bite into that delicious, crispy chicken.
  • Bonus Tip: A little baking powder in your seasoned flour dredge can enhance crispiness. The baking powder reacts with the heat to create extra bubbles and a lighter, crunchier coating.
A person holding a crispy chicken thigh with more pieces on a plate in the background.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken FAQs

  • Can I make buttermilk fried chicken in the air fryer?  Absolutely! An air fryer gives you a healthier alternative with much less oil while still achieving a satisfying crunch. Preheat your air fryer, spray the chicken pieces lightly with cooking oil, and cook at a slightly lower temperature for a shorter time compared to deep-frying.
  • How long will leftover fried chicken last? Properly stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, it should stay good for 3-4 days.
  • What's the best way to reheat this?  The oven or air fryer are your best bets to revive some of that crispiness. Avoid the microwave, as it will likely make your chicken soggy.
  • Can I freeze leftover fried chicken? While technically possible, the texture will suffer. If you must freeze it, do so before the chicken has been in the fridge for a long time. Thaw it fully and then reheat in a hot oven for the best results.
  • Can I use a different type of milk instead of buttermilk? If you don't have buttermilk, you can make a substitute. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to a cup of regular milk. Let it sit for about 5 minutes to curdle slightly before using.
  • How do I know when the oil is hot enough for frying?  If you don't have a candy thermometer, there are a few tricks. A wooden spoon dipped into the oil should create steady bubbles or a sprinkle of flour should sizzle immediately.
  • What sides go best with buttermilk fried chicken?  Classic sides include mashed potatoes, coleslaw, mac and cheese, corn on the cob, biscuits, or green beans. Get creative and try it with waffles for a sweet and savory combo!
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The Best Chicken for Your Taste

Remember, buttermilk fried chicken is all about making it your own! Whether you love the juicy tenderness of dark meat, the classic flavor of chicken breasts, or want to explore the possibilities of a whole fried chicken, this recipe adapts easily. Just be sure to use your trusty thermometer to ensure each piece is cooked to perfection.

Conclusion

Conquering buttermilk fried chicken isn't just about a delicious meal—it's about unlocking a whole new level of kitchen confidence. Whether you're feeding a crowd, cooking for personal consumption, or simply craving this ultimate comfort food, get ready for the crispiest, juiciest, most flavorful chicken you've ever made. 

Yield: 6

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe

Crispy fried chicken served on a plate with a side of sauce.

Imagine the satisfying crunch, the juicy burst of flavor, the aroma that fills your kitchen... This buttermilk fried chicken recipe is guaranteed to become a cherished family favorite.

Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

    Marinate the Chicken: Rinse the chicken drumsticks and pat them dry.
    Place them in a bowl and pour buttermilk over them. Add half of the salt and pepper. Make sure the chicken is coated, then cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
    Coat the Chicken: In another bowl, mix the flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, remaining salt, and remaining pepper to make a seasoned flour mix.
    Dredge the Chicken: Take the chicken out of the buttermilk, letting excess liquid drip off.
    Roll the drumsticks in the seasoned flour, ensuring they're well coated. Press the flour onto the chicken for a crispy coating.
    Heat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or a deep pot to 350-375°F (175-190°C).
    Carefully put the coated chicken pieces in the hot oil, a few at a time – make sure not to overcrowd your fryer. Fry for 12-15 minutes until they're golden brown, crispy, and cooked inside. The chicken should reach 165°F (74°C) inside.
    Use a slotted spoon to take out the fried chicken and place them on paper towels to remove extra oil.
    Let them cool a bit before serving. Enjoy your buttermilk fried chicken with your favorite sides!

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