Classic Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

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4 to 6 servings SERVINGS


  • 1 whole chicken (2-1/2 to 3-1/2 pounds)
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 to 5 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • Peanut oil, for frying


  • Cut chicken into 8 pieces – 2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, and 2 breasts. Reserve the back for making homemade stock.
  • Divide and place chicken pieces into two 1-gallon zipper-seal bags. Add equal amounts of buttermilk to each bag. Seal bags, squeezing out as much air as possible. Place in refrigerator to marinate for 3 hours.
  • Remove chicken pieces from marinade and place on a baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, to allow chicken to warm up.
  • In a large plastic or paper bag, combine flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika. Add cayenne, if using. Shake bag to blend ingredients thoroughly. Add a piece of chicken to the bag, and shake to coat. Remove chicken from the bag, and place on a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Let the pieces stand at room temperature for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to look wet. At this point, the pieces are either ready to fry or ready to be coated a second time.
  • When all chicken pieces are coated, pour enough oil in your frying pan so that the chicken pieces will be half-covered, and begin heating the oil to 375 F.
  • When the oil reaches 375 F, carefully add chicken pieces, being careful not to crowd them. Increase temperature and bring oil back up to 350 F as quickly as possible. Fry, turning pieces initially after 30 seconds, and then every 2 minutes, until chicken pieces reach the proper internal temperature. When using an instant-read thermometer, insert it into the thickest part of each piece, to make sure they're cooked through.
  • Remove chicken pieces from frying pan, and allow to cool on paper towels for at least 10 minutes before serving.