Southern Fried Chicken

Southern Fried Chicken is so good.

I mean, really, really good.

When the Loon hears that Southern Fried Chicken is on the menu…he gets giddy.  I mean, really giddy, but that’s another story.

Southern Fried Chicken on a white platter with a glass of iced tea nearby

THERE A FEW SECRETS TO MAKING PERFECT FRIED CHICKEN

There are some key steps that you need to make sure you follow to get perfectly cooked fried chicken at home.

Watch us show you how to get “crispy-on-the-outside” and “tender-on-the-inside” Southern Fried Chicken at home!

We find that marinating the chicken with seasoning and a few dashes of hot sauce makes the meat super flavorful.

You’ll want to let the marinated chicken rest in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour, or overnight for best results.

Then, bathing the chicken in good-quality buttermilk, mixed with a couple eggs, gets you ready for crispy fried chicken!

Buttermilk pouring onto chicken for Southern Fried chicken

SEASON THE CHICKEN AND THE BATTER FOR BEST FRIED CHICKEN

We find that not only seasoning the chicken delivers amazing taste, but the batter needs to be seasoned as well.

Some folks like to toss the floured chicken in a paper bag.

We just add the flour to the chicken and buttermilk, and then gently toss to combine.

A hand hold a piece of chicken dredged in flour for fried chicken

We have tested many different ways of frying up Southern Fried Chicken, and we have found that our sturdy Lodge 12-inch Cast Iron Skillet works best.

Two extremely important steps to keep a close eye on: Use a candy thermometer to keep the oil at 350°F. And DON’T OVERCROWD THE PAN! As you add the chicken, the oil temperature will lower, and if you add too much chicken, it will not cook evenly and not yield good results.

We like to cook with lard, but shortening, or vegetable oil works great, too.

3 chicken pieces frying in large black cast iron skillet

IF NECESSARY, FINISH COOKING THE FRIED CHICKEN IN THE OVEN

Each time you make fried chicken, it seems like it cooks a little differently every time.  Don’t worry!  That’s normal.  Just remember, as the chicken pieces are frying, don’t let the skin get too brown!

Remove the chicken pieces just when they reach the perfect golden color. This usually is about 7 minutes per side, except for large pieces, such as breasts, that will take closer to 8 to 9 minutes per side.

Set your oven temperature to 300°F. Then, after removing the chicken from the hot oil, preferably using an instant-read thermometer, check the internal temperature of the fried chicken. It should be around 160°F. (Remember, it will continue to cook a little longer as it rests, until it reaches 165°F). If it’s not quite there yet, place the fried chicken pieces on a baking sheet (with a rack is best) and place in the oven while you fry the rest of the chicken. This will finish off the cooking, and the skin will remain perfectly golden and crisp.

A fork pulling meat from a piece of Southern fried chicken

SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN IS GOOD HOT OR AT ROOM TEMP

Fried chicken is such an American classic dish.

I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t have fond childhood memories of learning that she or he was going to be treated to fried chicken for dinner!

This recipe and step-by-step instructions will enable you to make perfect Southern Fried Chicken…in your own kitchen!

A basket turned on its side with Southern fried chicken

When you are getting your chicken from the meat department, or butcher, ask if you can have the breast split in half. Otherwise, you’ll have a huge piece of chicken (the breast), compared to all the other pieces.

If your butcher, or meat department, won’t cut the breast for you, it’s easy to do at home. Just get a large sharp knife (a chef’s knife works well), and carefully cut the breast in half.

Southern Fried Chicken. Start making memories with this iconic dish today!

A white platter holding 10 pieces of fried chicken

Southern fried chicken on a white platter
5 from 2 votes
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Southern Fried Chicken

This Southern Fried Chicken is the real deal. Serve hot or at room temp. So classic. So perfect. So yummy.  Follow these steps and instructions, and you'll have perfectly fried chicken every time!  Enjoy!

Course Entree
Cuisine American Southern
Keyword Fried Chicken
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 496 kcal
Author Kris Longwell

Ingredients

  • 1 3 to 4 lb chicken cut into 10 pieces (cut the breast in half)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tsp garlic powder divided
  • 6 dashes hot sauce Crystals or Tobasco is good
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 3 cups lard, or shortening
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken pieces in a mixing bowl and sprinkle on: 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp garlic powder, and hot sauce. Toss to coat evenly.

  2. Cover with plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator, and marinate for at least one hour, or up to 24 hours (the longer the better!)

  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir the eggs into the buttermilk. 

  4. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and take off the plastic wrap.  Pour the buttermilk/egg mixture of the chicken and gently toss the chicken to ensure chicken is fully coated. 

  5. Heat the lard (or shortening, or oil) in a large cast iron skillet to 350° F.  A candy thermometer is best.  Otherwise, toss a little flour in once hot, and when it sizzles, it's ready.  Don't let oil get too hot.  (If smoking, turn down the heat!). 

  6. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the flour with 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 2 tsp garlic powder. 

  7. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk, allowing the excess liquid to drip off, and place in a new, large bowl.  Add the flour over the chicken and then toss to completely coat the pieces. 

  8. When the oil is ready, add a few pieces of chicken, making sure to not overcrowd the skillet.  You'll be cooking the chicken in batches.  Always cook pieces that are similar in size, per batch. 

  9. Large pieces cook for about 9 minutes per side, 16 to 18 minutes total. Smaller pieces will take 12 to 15 minutes, total. Keep an eye on them, use a pair of tongs to see the bottom side, if getting too dark, then flip, and adjust the heat on the stove. Gently increase the oil temperature back to 350°F.

  10. Remove the chicken pieces once they reach the desired golden, crunchy skin exterior.  Place on a plate lined with paper towels.  Check internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer.  If not at 160°F, then place in an oven that has been pre-heated to 300°F on a baking sheet and baking rack. This will finish cooking the chicken as you prepare the remaining pieces.  Finish with the wings last, since they will cook through in the hot oil, and most likely won't need to finish cooking in the oven. 

  11. Remove cooked chicken and let rest for at least 5 minutes, to cool and let the juices settle in the meat.

Recipe Video

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5 Comments

  • That chicken looks so delicious, I could eat the whole plate. But since I live alone, I decided to cook several breast pieces and amend to be oven baked. I seasoned chix, refrigerated, covered in buttermilk, let sit a little, dipped in seasoned flour and drizzled with olive oil, and baked. It was fabulous. I know it’s not as good as true fried, but a delicious second best!

    • Hi Sarah! Sounds absolutely wonderful and delicious!! Oven baked is great, too!! Thanks for letting us know, we truly appreciate it! Stay in touch! All the best, Kris & Wesley

  • Oh myyy…it is really difficult to find southern fried chicken at a restaurant anywhere. There was a very small one in yakima wa..but sadly they aren’t there any more. Such a shame,but I guess it is too much work compared to deep fry. But there is no comparison,none at all. My mother used to make skillet fried southern fried chicken. Yes a mess to clean up afterward,but we could never get enough! What’s so funny is,I was looking at the bottom of your post where recipes for watching “The Help” is,and that’s exactly what I was thinking…she was teaching blondie how to make fried chicken with
    LARD…YES my mother used shortening,which I have not used in decades. I must try this again. Fond memories of picnics …yum.

    • HI Bernice, yes! yes! yes! This dish really brings back wonderful childhood memories. Let us know when you make this dish and what you think! We feel sure you’ll be pleased! All the best, Kris & Wesley

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