A flavorful crispy breading on the outside with a tender and moist center is what Southern Fried Chicken is all about. It's the sort of finger-licking-good comfort food that appeals to everyone. Serve it with your favorite homestyle sides and wash it all down with a glass of sweet tea for a taste of the South in your mouth.
Easy Southern Fried Chicken Recipe
How do you make fried chicken? Typically, the way fried chicken is seasoned in the South depends solely on how you grew-up eating it. Some cooks add herbs to the flour, some marinate chicken pieces in hot sauce, some add a variety of seasonings, in addition to table salt and black pepper for the breading. Some cook's season the dredge and not the chicken. Some cook's like myself, season every single layer starting with the chicken, the egg wash and the flour. I'm not one to say any of those ways are wrong, and feel that you should have some liberty to make it your way with the flavors highlighted that you enjoy. My rule of thumb is, if you like the flavor then it's a win. Not being a fan of bland fried chicken, I highly recommend seasoning every layer.
How to Make the BEST Southern Fried Chicken Recipe
Making tender and juicy fried chicken takes practice. There are variables and I wanted to mention a few pointers for you to keep in mind when making this fried chicken recipe:
- Ingredients you'll need to make homemade Southern Fried Chicken recipe: One whole chicken divided into 8 pieces, buttermilk, all purpose flour, cornstarch, seasoned salt and black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, large eggs, hot sauce and peanut or vegetable oil for frying.
- I prefer shallow drying this chicken in a cast iron skillet. Shallow frying in cast iron allows you to fry each side of the chicken pieces evenly. It also maintains the oil temperature more effectively.
- To make the best fried chicken, it's best to season each layer. Begin with the chicken, the egg wash and the breading for the best flavor.
- It's best to use a neutral tasting oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, canola or vegetable oil for making fried chicken. Skip the olive oil for this one.
- Never overcrowd the pan. It's best to fry the breaded chicken pieces in batches removing them to a rimmed sheet pan fitted with an oven safe rack. Skip the paper towels.
- Preheat the oven to 200°F and place the pan into the oven to keep chicken warm between batches.
- Don't guess the oil temperature, use a thermometer. Start each batch with the oil heated to 350°F knowing that the temp will drop to around 325°F as you add the pieces to fry. Adjust heat as needed to maintain the oil temperature between 325°F-350°F.
- Adjust cooking time depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Generally, dark meat takes longer to cook. It's also important to consider the size of large breast pieces and adjust accordingly.
- If you're concerned that the outside of the chicken is cooking too quickly and over-browning, chicken can be placed into a 350°F oven for a few minutes to finish cooking.
- Store leftover fried chicken chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- See how to make crispy and delicious Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken here.
Southern Style Side Dish Recipes to Serve with Fried Chicken
Don't stop at the best ever fried chicken. Take a moment to plan the entire menu with the best Southern side dish recipes to round out the meal. In the summer months when garden vegetables are in abundance, sliced fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden will do. It's good for the soul kind of food. Checkout these recipe for side dishes you may like to try:
- Creamy Buttermilk Ranch Mashed Potatoes are a natural fit.
- Homestyle Green Beans and Potatoes are especially delicious during garden season.
- Whip-up a batch of Homestyle Cole Slaw Dressing and toss it with freshly grated cabbage and carrots for crunch and texture.
- Homestyle Bacon Dill Deviled Eggs can be served as an appetizer or a side dish.
- Fluffy Southern Buttermilk Biscuits slathered with butter.
- Turnip Greens recipe from Southern Living.
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Helpful Kitchen Items:
Southern Fried Chicken
- 1 whole fryer chicken cut into 8 pieces
- 3 ½ teaspoon seasoned salt divided
- 2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper divided
- 3 cups buttermilk divided
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 6-8 cups vegetable or peanut oil for frying
- Season chicken pieces on all sides with 1 teaspoon seasoned salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Place into an oblong baking dish and cover with 2 ½ cups buttermilk. Turn to coat. Chill overnight, turning once.
- 30 minutes before frying: Remove chicken from buttermilk, discard marinade. On a plate sift together the flour, cornstarch, 2 teaspoon seasoned salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika.
- In a large shallow bowl whisk together the eggs, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ½ cup buttermilk and hot sauce.
- Dredge chicken pieces in flour, into egg wash then into flour again. Arrange on a baking sheet. Let stand for 30 minutes to bring to room temperature and set breading.
- To fry: Preheat the oven to 200°F. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with an oven safe baking rack. Set aside.
- Fill a 12-inch cast iron skillet about ⅓ full with oil. Heat to 350°F. Carefully lower chicken pieces in oil. Fry dark meat and white meat separately.
- Maintain oil temperature around 350°F. Fry chicken in batches cooking dark meat pieces and white meat separately. Cook for 10-15 minutes per side or until juices run clear and the internal temperature reaches 165°F. Turn carefully using tongs to avoid splatters.
- Place fried pieces on rack and keep warm in oven between batches.
- Rest for 10 minutes before serving.
I love Indian Fry Bread and pinto beans.
Have you got a recipie for fry bread.?
Hi Loy, I love fry bread too, I'll add it to my ever growing "to do" list.
I’m definitely going to make this fried chicken. My husband has been wanting some southern fried chicken, and this one sounds like a winner!
Thanks For Sharing this Amazing Recipe. My Family Loved It. I will be sharing this Recipe with my Friends. Hope They will like it.
Thanks so much!
I am an older Native American Male that enjoys cooking for my family. I am glad to see you use buttermilk in your recipe here as it lends much more flavor than just milk. This recipe is very good and so very close to the one passed down by Native American grandmother. It's what I call true southern soul or comfort food. Keep up the good recipes and I will be following you and maybe even suggesting that you might try something different to give e you the Native American side of a recipe. Thanks!!!!
Hi Roy, thanks so much! I'm delighted you're finding some recipes to enjoy, and thanks for sharing your family's history. Visit often!
I used your recipe for southern fried chicken and it was so good and crunchy. Some of the breading feel off in the oil, but it still turned out great! Thanks a lot!
Erin K Johnson
Your showing the utilization of oven set at 200 degrees?,,,,,are you par cooking? or as your instruction say to use oven to finish cooking questionable pieces?....or using over as warmer after cooking each skillet full?
A 200°F oven is to keep the chicken warm, not to finish cooking it. Yes, you can finish the chicken in the oven if it's browning too quickly on the stove top in a 325°F oven for several minutes until the juices run clear.
after making it.....say a double batch can you freeze it "safely" and eat say X-days or week(s) later without getting sick?
Fried chicken can be frozen after cooling, sure. After cooking it fresh, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 days after cooking, if you enjoy eating it cold.
I am writing to you from Portugal and I am looking for the southern fried chicken flour supplier. We want to open a Take-Away and sell fried chicken. We want to use our own flour, which is manufactured for this purpose. Do you know any company that does it ?! I apologize for the frontality but in my search I found your page! Thank you for your attention.
Hi Eugenia, I'm sorry I don't. Thanks so much for visiting and best wishes on your venture!
Eugenia - Contact Dixie Fry. Home office is in Birmingham, Alabama. Been frying chicken for I don't know how long and their product has survived the test of time for us!
Alice Dailey Burson
Don't have buttermilk. What can be used instead?
Make your own. Add 1 Tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar to each cup of whole milk. Let it sit on the counter for 5 minutes then proceed with the recipe.
I avoided buttermilk recipes for many years. I recently tried this recipe using buttermilk. The chicken was great the first try. Then I tried a buttermilk pancake recipe. Easiest recipe, best pancakes I’ve ever made. Don’t be afraid of buttermilk
Is this in your cook book?
I do have a fried chicken recipe in my cookbook.
Also I have never made gumbo and always wanted to do you have a recipe?
Gumbo will be coming soon, stay tuned.
Great just need to use Crisco it does make a difference.
Everyone has their preference. One of my Grandma's fried chicken in butter. Butter she churned on their farm. Nothing beats that.☺
Oops! Accidentally put spices in buttermilk. Too late to save it or should I start over?
It's not too late. You can still add to the flour breading, perhaps just adjust amounts a bit.
Made this for my daughter's birthday dinner..my husband lived it so much I am making it three days later. Thanks so much..
I'm so happy you all loved this, thanks so much!
Hey Melissa! Tried your recipe tonight and it was great! The meat was so juicy and amazing! I made it for Sunday Supper for my mom and dad and they couldn't get enough! (I burnt two piece on accident. Oops.)
Awesome, thanks for letting me know!
Hello. Can i use this recipe with air frying instead of deep frying? Thank you
I've never tried this in an air fryer but, it should work. You may need to spritz it with cooking spray or something similar. If you try it, come back and comment to let others know how it turned out.
What brand of season salt did you use in this recipe. I find that Lawry's brand of season salt is too salty for me.
Hi Jackie, I've used both Morton's and Lawry's seasoned salt for this chicken. If you're salt shy, Paul Prudhomme's has a salt free Magic Seasoning that's good. Alternately, just use less.
All the correct ingredients. This is Southern Fried Chicken the way it should be. So glad you didn't drain on paper towels and ruin the crispy batter.
Glad you approve, thanks!
Can this be done in a air fryer if so temp and time
See how to make Air Fryer Fried Chicken here.
This is the ultimate comfort food! I make this all the time!
My kids loved it!! Thanks for the recipe!
SO CRISPY! Loved it!
I loved all the layers of seasoning! Best fried chicken I've made!!!