The Best Fried Chicken
The Best Fried Chicken
- The Chicken + Brine:
- 8 cups cold water
- 1 cup dill pickle juice (get this from a jar of pickles. Alternatively, if you don’t feel like using it, you can leave it out)
- 4 tablespoons seasoned salt (I use Lawry’s)
- 2 tablespoons Creole, Cajun or Louisiana seasoning (I use Tony Chachere‘s. If not using, add an extra 2 tablespoons of seasoned salt)
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (it won’t be spicy as it’s just for brining, but if you don’t want it, leave it out)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 3-5 pounds of any chicken pieces you prefer, skin-on and bone-in a must (I prefer thighs and drumsticks but you can absolutely use wings/drumettes and breasts – whatever you choose, the skin MUST be on the chicken for it to properly cook crisply and juicily)
- Crisping Potion:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon seasoned salt (Lawry’s if possible)
- 1/2 tablespoon Creole (Tony Chachere’s if possible), Cajun or Louisiana seasoning (if not using, use an extra 1/2 tablespoon of seasoned salt instead)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (it won’t be very spicy once mixed in, I promise – but you can also leave it out)
- Canola oil (preferred, but vegetable oil works too. The amount will vary based on the frying device you use but generally no less than 3 quarts)
IMPORTANT: FRY TIMES CAN VARY BASED ON THE PARTS OF CHICKEN USED. The darker the meat (legs and thighs), the longer the time (breasts cook a little more quickly). That said, all frying methods will slightly vary based on the fryer/pot/stove so ALWAYS make sure you use that thermometer to poke into the chicken before eating to make sure it’s at least 165° (around 12-14 minutes is a solid, good bet). Once at 165°, it’s ready and safe to eat. If the temperature of the chicken meat is NOT at 165° (or looks undercooked for whatever reason), simply continue to fry until it is.
When done frying, allow the oil to fully cool (overnight is best) and then take a funnel and pour it back into the oil container before re-using for later or discarding.
When letting the chicken cool, some like to let it rest on a wire rack with a paper towel under the rack to catch any drippings. This can prevent any softening of the crispy skin from resting/cooling against paper towl-sopped oil.
“Jeff! Can I use my air fryer for this recipe instead?” It’s a lovely thought, but no. Not for this one, folks. The reason being you cannot air fry a dry flour batter. This specific recipe requires the batter to be fully immersed in hot oil so it can seep fully into the batter and fry it to the perfect crispiness. I’ll do an air fryer version one day.
This is the amazing (and affordable) deep fryer I use and can fry about 4 pieces of chicken at a time. If you want a fryer that’s double the size to fry up to 8 pieces at at time, this is the best one to get. If you’d rather fry in a Dutch oven, this one is highly affordable.
This is the heat thermometer I use. It’s perfect and very affordable.
For the seasoned salt, try to get Lawry’s as it’s the best and highly affordable (also available in most markets and in a very large size at Costco).
For the Creole, Cajun or Louisiana seasoning, try to get Tony Chachere‘s as it’s also the best and available in many markets.
I personally think the mix for the crisping potion is perfect, but if you want to cut down on some sodium, shave it down to 1 tablespoon only of seasoned salt OR the Creole seasoning. And you can leave out the other spices if you wish.
Want it super spicy like a Nashville Hot Chicken? Add in 2 tablespoons of cayenne pepper to the crisping potion!
If you don’t want to fry all the chicken at once that’s brined, that’s fine! Re-cover it and place back in the fridge for up to another day and finish frying it then!
NOTE: Be sure to check out the yellow “Jeffrey Sez” section for key tips on this recipe, varied fry time for different parts of chicken, how to discard the oil, suggested items, etc.
- Add all the brining ingredients to a large bowl and mix until combined. Then, add the chicken and cover with a lid and set in the fridge for 8-24 hours (NOTE: Do NOT skip this step. Trust me. It’s how the chicken becomes loaded with incredible, juicy flavor).
- When the chicken is brined and ready to fry, either fill a deep fryer with the oil to the max line (about 3 quarts of oil in a 12-cup capacity fryer) or fill a deep Dutch oven (7 quart size) or large stock/soup pot halfway. Turn the deep fryer temperature to 375° and wait until ready (usually a light will indicate when it is) -OR- set your stove for the Dutch oven/pot at high heat until it hits 365°-375°. (NOTE: I’ve found it easiest and quickest to use a deep fryer for this if you have one – and, if not, you can get one for relatively cheap. But you can also totally use a Dutch oven or stock/soup pot to deep fry in as well. Just get a meat or candy thermometer and make sure the temperature is between 365°-375° before adding the chicken and frying. Whichever you choose, this chicken must be fully submerged in canola oil (or any frying oil of your choice) for it to achieve the spectacular results (no pan frying and flipping!)
- Once the oil’s heated, mix together all of the crisping potion ingredients in another large bowl. Take the chicken directly from the brining bowl, place it directly in the crisping potion bowl and roll each piece of chicken in the potion until tightly packed and fully-coated. Get every nook and cranny of the chicken coated with the mixture. However, ONLY coat the amount of chicken you are about to fry at this time. It should be coated ONLY before it is immediately fried.
- If using a deep fryer, in batches, add the chicken to the basket in one layer (nothing on top of each other) and carefully submerge into the oil, uncovered, for 12-14 minutes until a deep golden brown coating is achieved. Remove the basket when done and use the thermometer to poke the chicken and make sure the meat’s at least 165°, which means it’s safe to eat. If not, continue to fry until it is (NEVER eat raw/underdone chicken). Then, use tongs to transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined serving dish (NOTE: see yellow “Jeffrey Sez” section). If using a Dutch oven, use tongs to carefully place the chicken in the oil, piece-by-piece, until the pot is filled with one layer of chicken (you’ll do this in batches). Allow to fry for 12-14 minutes, uncovered, until a deep golden brown coating is achieved. Use the thermometer to poke the chicken and make sure it is at least 165° in temperature, which means it’s safe to eat. If not, continue to fry until it is (NEVER eat raw/underdone chicken). When done, use tongs to transfer the chicken to a paper towel-lined serving dish (NOTE: see yellow “Jeffrey Sez” section).
- Let the chicken cool for 5-10 minutes before eating.
- Enjoy with hot sauce, honey butter, ranch or any of your favorite fixins’!