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The Best Fried Chicken Recipe – Crispy On The Outside, Juicy On The Inside

Have you ever taken a bite into a piece of fried chicken and swear it is the best piece of chicken that you have ever had? Most likely it had the perfect balance of being crispy on the outside and nice and tender on the inside.

After many years of trying to replicate both the taste and texture of my favorite restaurant’s chicken, I have finally found the secret to getting that perfect balance. Although it takes a little time and planning, it is well worth it!

It all starts with the chicken pieces being placed in a marinade overnight. Although many people use buttermilk for tenderizing chicken, this recipe uses a combination of buttermilk and pickle juice.

best fried chicken on white plate

Soaking the chicken in buttermilk will tenderize the meat and keep it nice and juicy once it is cooked. Then the addition of pickle juice will make the meat even more tender but also give it a little extra flavor.

When it comes to the type of pickle juice to use, I prefer dill pickle juice. However, you can use any variety of pickle juice that you have on hand, including sweet or spicy juice.

Then when it is time to fry the chicken, it is coated in a seasoned flour mixture. This will not only make the chicken nice and crispy, the addition of the spices makes it extra delicious.

The Key Spice Ingredient

Although all the spices play an important role in the flavor of the breading, the key ingredient here is the Smoked Paprika. It is made from smoke-dried chili peppers that were dried over an oak fire before being ground into a bright red powder.

Smoked paprika provides a slight smoky flavor that compliments the chicken perfectly. It can be used in not only this recipe, but to make dry rubs for meat, and in my favorite Cajun Drunken Chicken Recipe.

So now that you have the secret ingredients that you need, let’s get to the actual recipe!

The Best Fried Chicken Recipe

*Complete recipe instructions including specific measurements, cook temperatures and times are located in a printable recipe card at the bottom of this article. However, be sure to keep reading for helpful tips and tricks when making this recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 pc. Chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
  • 4 pc. Chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 2 ¼ C. Buttermilk
  • 2 TBSP Pickle Juice
  • 3 C. Vegetable, Corn or Peanut oil for frying
  • 2 1/2 C. All-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • ½ tsp. Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp. Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Place the chicken thigh and leg pieces in a med-size bowl or in a large resealable plastic bag. Then pour the buttermilk, pickle juice and a generous pinch of salt on top of the chicken.

Coat the chicken in this mixture by tossing to coat in the bowl, or massaging the chicken in the resealable plastic bag. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap or seal the plastic bag and place the chicken in the refrigerator.

marinade made with buttermilk and pickle juice
The best way to tenderize chicken is to let it soak overnight in a mixture of buttermilk and pickle juice.

In order to make the best fried chicken the chicken pieces need to soak in the marinade overnight. At the very least, you want the chicken to tenderize for at least 8 hours.

However, do not let the chicken stay in the buttermilk and pickle mixture for more than 48 hours. Otherwise the chicken meat will break down too much and become mushy.

When you are ready to cook the chicken, be sure to remove it from the refrigerator and let the meat come to room temperature. This will take approximately 1 hour.

Frying Instructions

Pour the oil into a dutch-oven or a heavy bottom pot and place over medium-high heat. Heat the oil until it reaches 340°F (171°C) when measured by a frying thermometer.

Be sure that the thermometer is not touching the bottom of the pan. I just purchased this Digital Frying & Candy Thermometer that gets clipped to the side of the pot and is super easy to read.

While the oil is heating up pour the flour in a shallow plate or pie pan. Then add the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper, to taste. Whisk until the spices are well combined.

chicken frying in oil
Once the pot comes to temperature, work in batches to fry the chicken in the oil.

Working one at a time, remove a piece of chicken from the buttermilk, and let the excess drip off. Place the chicken in the flour mixture and coat both sides. Place the coated piece of chicken on a wire rack and then dredge the other pieces of chicken.

I find it best to use one hand to remove the chicken from the buttermilk, and the other hand to flip the chicken in the flour and spice mixture. This helps prevent my fingers from being coated in the breading.

When the oil reaches temperature, work in batches to fry the chicken in a single layer, being sure to not overcrowd the pot. While the chicken is frying, turn the pieces over several times.

Frying Time

It will take approximately 25-30 minutes before the chicken is finished cooking. Carefully remove the chicken and place the pieces on paper towels to remove any excess oil.

If you are making several batches of fried chicken, it is best to place the chicken on cooling racks placed over a sheet pan. Then place the pan in the oven set at 200°F (93°C) to keep the chicken warm.

Then when the oil temperature reaches back to 340°F (171°C), fry the remaining chicken. Serve warm with your favorite side dishes.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I store leftovers?

Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also freeze the fried chicken in an air tight container in the freezer for up to 6 months.

fried chicken on wire rack

2. What is the best way to reheat fried chicken?

It is best to place the fried chicken on a wire cooking rack placed inside a baking sheet. Then place in a preheated oven set at 400°F (200°C) for 10-15 minutes.

However, if you are only reheating a few pieces of chicken, you might want to use your air fryer instead. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes. Then preheat your air fryer set at 375°F (190°C). Cook for 3 minutes, flip, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.

3. Can I make fried chicken in the oven?

Although you won’t get the same exact texture, you can skip the frying process and make ‘fried’ chicken in the oven. Here is the recipe that I use: Oven Fried Chicken.

However, the best way to make Fried Chicken that tastes like the one that you order from your favorite restaurant, is to follow this recipe.

Enjoy!

Mary and Jim

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The Best Fried Chicken Recipe

best fried chicken

The best fried chicken recipe that gives you a light and crunchy exterior coating and moist and juicy meat in every bite.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 pc. Chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
  • 4 pc. Chicken drumsticks, skin on
  • 2 ¼ C. Buttermilk
  • 2 TBSP Pickle Juice
  • 3 C. Soy, Corn or Peanut oil for frying
  • 2 1/2 cups All-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. Smoked Paprika
  • ½ tsp. Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp. Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken pieces in a med-size bowl or in a large resealable plastic bag. Then pour the buttermilk, pickle juice and a generous pinch of salt on top of the chicken and combine well. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap or seal the plastic bag and place the chicken in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking so that it can come to room temperature.
  2. Pour the oil into a dutch-oven or a heavy bottom pot and place over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 340°F (171°C) when measured by a frying thermometer.
  3. Pour the flour in a shallow plate and add the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper. to taste. Whisk until well combined.
  4. Working one at a time, remove a piece of chicken from the buttermilk, and let the excess drip off. Place the chicken in the flour mixture and coat both sides. Place on a wire rack while you dredge the other pieces of chicken.
  5. Working in batches, fry the chicken in a single layer, turning over several times for approximately 25-30 minutes. Remove the chicken and place on paper towels to remove any excess oil.
  6. Once the temperature reaches back to 340°F (171°C), fry the remaining chicken.

Serve Warm

Notes

You can use any type of pickle juice that you prefer, however, dill pickle juice is used most often.

Recipe courtesy of Old World Garden Farms

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

2 pieces

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 932Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 287mgSodium: 727mgCarbohydrates: 92gFiber: 6gSugar: 12gProtein: 69g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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