Fool-Proof Fried Chicken

Fool-Proof Fried Chicken

Reading Time: 4 minutes

There’s something soul satisfying about biting into a piece of fried chicken that’s crackling crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. I use a two-part cooking method to fry chicken that tastes yummy hot, room temperature, or packed in a cooler for a picnic.

Get the chicken browned on all sides on top of the stove, then finish in the oven for a moist interior and crisp exterior. Cornstarch and baking powder are included for an ultracrisp crust. I used chicken thighs for this recipe. One whole chicken cut up, or your choice of skin on, bone-in chicken
pieces can be substituted.

Serve with a side of buttermilk biscuits and slaw and you’ve got a memorable meal.

Fried chicken
The spice and herb mixture seals in flavor and gives ‘zing’ to this recipe.



3 pounds chicken — I used bone-in, skin on, chicken thighs


  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons granulated dried garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder


  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons spice mixture

Flour Mixture

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 quart vegetable or peanut oil for frying


Spice Mixture

  1. Whisk together the paprika, black pepper, oregano, garlic, dry mustard, and cayenne pepper.
  2. Set aside 2 tablespoons of spice mixture to add to marinade.


  1. Whisk together the buttermilk, egg, salt, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons of the spice mixture in a bowl.
  2. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat all sides.
  3. Cover and let marinate in refrigerator for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Flour Mixture

  1. When ready to fry, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and the rest of the spice mixture in a very large bowl.
  2. With tongs, remove chicken from the marinade, and put it in the flour
  3. mixture, one piece at a time. When all the chicken is in the bowl, toss the
  4. pieces until thoroughly coated.
  5. Use your hands to press the flour mixture onto each piece so it sticks well. This will be messy but ensures the breading stays on the chicken when you fry it.
  6. Place chicken on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.

Cook Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Heat oil to 375 degrees in heavy, deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  3. Place chicken pieces in a single layer, skin side down in the pan. Don’t overcrowd. The temperature will drop to 350 degrees and that’s the best temperature to maintain. Cook in small batches and monitor the temperature.
  4. After approximately 5 minutes, the chicken will get a deep golden-brown on the first side. Reject the temptation to scoot it around in the pan for the first few minutes so the coating doesn’t flake off.
  5. Carefully turn the chicken over and cook until the other side is deep golden-brown, about 5 minutes longer.
  6. Put the chicken on a clean wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.
  7. Place in the oven and cook until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat registers 175 degrees. That takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and serve hot, room temperature, or chilled.


Why marinate in buttermilk?

• Buttermilk, with its acids and enzymes, helps break down the proteins in the chicken, making it tender.

Cook chicken to 175 degrees.

• Chicken is thoroughly cooked at 165 degrees, but I like to cook thighs and legs that have bone-in and skin left on to 175 degrees. This softens the connective tissue, making for a more tender piece of chicken.

Try different seasonings.

•Here’s some DIY seasoning blends for inspiration.

Fried chicken
What’s fried chicken without fluffy, homemade biscuits?


Fold the dough after the first rolling for flaky biscuits.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup chilled shortening
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Melted butter for brushing on top


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together.
  3. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. Make a well in the center and pour in buttermilk.
  5. Mix well. Dough may be slightly sticky.
  6. Dump out on very lightly floured surface. Knead just a bit to bring dough together.
  7. Pat or roll into ¾” thickness. Fold in half, then pat or roll again into ¾” thickness.
  8. Cut as desired.
  9. Brush tops with melted butter and bake in preheated oven about 13 to 15 minutes until golden.

Makes approximately 12 biscuits.


Toss with red and green cabbage and shredded carrots for a colorful slaw.


  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar
  • Up to ¼ cup lemon juice — start with 3 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Just whisk everything together until smooth. Keeps in refrigerator up to a week. If dressing separates in refrigerator, whisk before serving.

RITA HEIKENFELD comes from a family of wise women in tune with nature. She is a certified modern herbalist, culinary educator, author, and national media personality. Most important, she is a wife, mom, and grandma. Rita lives on a little patch of heaven overlooking the East Fork River in Clermont County, Ohio. She is a former adjunct professor at the University of Cincinnati, where she developed a comprehensive herbal course. column: rita@communitypress. com

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