Southern Fried Chicken: The best fried chicken is made up of two things: juicy meat and quality seasonings.
This Southern fried chicken recipe checks off the boxes. Get ready to take a mouth-watering bite into a perfectly fried, golden brown piece of chicken once you are done making this recipe.
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- It uses a few ingredients: You likely have everything you need for this recipe already on hand which is so helpful!
- It’s fairly inexpensive: Make this recipe super affordable by purchasing the cheapest cuts of bone-in chicken.
- Ready in only 40 minutes: Talk about a quick and easy dinner idea! This restaurant-quality fried chicken is ready in 40 minutes or less.
🧾 Ingredients Needed
I’ve highlighted a couple of ingredients below with some relevant notes. Aside from this, the ingredients needed are pretty basic.
- Bone-In Chicken – We used a whole chicken for this recipe (chicken breast, chicken thighs, and chicken wings)
- Spices – These are what make or break the recipe. Do NOT skip!
- Buttermilk – The key to some stellar fried chicken pieces is buttermilk.
While this recipe is originally prepared on the stovetop, you could also cook the fried chicken in the air fryer. We share the notes for such in the recipe card as well as here:
To air fry this fried chicken recipe, preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F. and then place the chicken in a single layer on the bottom of the air fryer pan. Bake for four minutes, turn, and bake for another four or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
Other recipe variations:
- Seasoning – you could easily add to the seasonings listed (We don’t recommend taking any out). Add in some cayenne pepper or chili powder for an added kick or something like Dan O’s for some more flavor.
- Turn up the heat – Add some hot sauce into the buttermilk mixture for some hot chicken!
👩🏻🍳 How to Make the Best Fried Chicken
Making this fried chicken recipe is broken down into 3 components:
- making the batter
- soaking the chicken
- frying the chicken
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for the full ingredients list & instructions!*
STEP 1. Make the marinade. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mustard, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. (Image 1).
STEP 2. Marinade the chicken. Place the chicken in the bowl with the marinade, toss to coat, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours. (Image 2).
Tip: Letting the chicken pieces hang out in the wet mixture for a bit will lead to more tender, juicier chicken. Highly recommend!
STEP 3. Make the breading. Whisk together the flour, onion powder, poultry seasoning, and garlic powder. (Image 3).
STEP 4. Dredge. Remove the chicken from the fridge and dredge each piece in the flour mixture before placing it on a wire rack. Let the chicken sit on the rack for about 15 minutes to allow the flour mixture to soak up the buttermilk mixture which will give you that great crispy flakey texture when frying your chicken. (Image 4).
STEP 5. Fry. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven to 350-360°F and fry the chicken for 8-10 minutes on either side or until a meat thermometer inserted into the largest piece reads 165°F. Do not crowd the pan. Fry in batches if you need to. (Image 5 + 6).
STEP 6. Drain the oil. Transfer the fried chicken to a plate lined with paper towels to allow the oil to drain off.
💭 Recipe Pro Tips
- Allow to slightly cool. Fried chicken right off the stovetop is HOT! Let it sit for a few minutes before eating.
- Correct temperature. Always make sure cooked chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. before removing it from the heat source.
📋 Recipe FAQs
Fry your chicken for 7-8 minutes on each side over medium-high heat in oil on the stovetop. Make sure the internal temp reaches 165 degrees F. prior to removing from heat.
We recommend garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, black pepper, salt, all-purpose seasoning, and dry mustard for the best flavor.
Absolutely! This is a common variation of this recipe. However, to get the best result for traditional Southern Fried Chicken, we suggest sticking with all-purpose flour.
A salty marinade is the key to tasty and juicy fried chicken. Add your salt right into your buttermilk mixture for the most flavor!
You can fry chicken in almost any oil with a high smoke point, but we recommend vegetable oil.
In short, it helps jumpstart the tenderization process.
We recommend buttermilk, however, you could also soak it in citrus juices, vinegar, or yogurt to get that tender, juicy chicken outcome.
Well, that all comes back to personal preference! While we love the white meat of chicken breast, many people we know enjoy the dark meat pieces (such as chicken thighs) instead!
You can make this Southern fried chicken in the oven. Marinade and dredge the chicken as you normally would, arrange it on a wire rack set above a baking sheet, and bake at 425°F for 45 minutes. Flip the chicken 15 minutes before the cook time is up.
You are more than welcome to make your own poultry seasoning if you want a little more control over your flavor profile. Store-bought is just so convenient!
Yep! Seal the marinating chicken in a freezer-safe airtight container and store it in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready to fry, allow the chicken to thaw in the fridge. Once the chicken has thawed, whisk together the ingredients for the breading, dredge, and fry.
I used a 10 inch skillet but you could use a nice and sturdy, deep 12-16-inch skillet instead. You can use something smaller, you just might have to fry in more batches to prevent crowding the pan. You can also use a large dutch oven, this allows for a deeper fry because you can safely fill the dutch oven with more oil.
You can. Buttermilk does a wonderful job of tenderizing the chicken but, if you are dairy-averse (or in a rush and want to skip the marinade), go ahead and leave it out. Just dip each piece of chicken in some flour, then in an egg wash, and then dredge in the seasoned flour mixture.
I used 2 cups of vegetable oil in my skillet. You just need it to go two inches up the sides of the skillet. You could use enough oil to fill a Dutch oven halfway if you’d like to use one. You’ll get a more even fry that way but you will have to use a lot more oil and it will take longer to heat up.
Make sure you are adding the chicken to the oil when it’s already hot and ready! If you add the chicken to your oil before it’s ready, the breading will slide right off. Another thing, make sure you are not overcrowding your skillet. Every piece of cold chicken is going to bring down your oil temperature a bit.
🍽 What to Serve with Southern Fried Chicken
The only thing that can make this traditional fried chicken recipe any better are some good quality sides. Make sure to check out my recipes for Red Skin Potato Salad, Macaroni Chicken Salad, and Orange Fluff Salad for just that!
Refrigerator. Once the chicken has cooled completely, seal it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Freezer. Allow the chicken to cool to room temperature before sealing it in a freezer-safe airtight container and storing it in the freezer. It will stay good for up to 3 months. Allow the chicken to thaw in the fridge before reheating.*
* Note that the breading is likely to fall off of your chicken upon thawing. For this reason, we prefer not to freeze my fried chicken, but the choice is yours.
To reheat. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer in a baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.
🍗 More Chicken Recipes You’ll Love
If you love quality-made, juicy chicken recipes, we have you covered!
Did you make this? I’d be so grateful if you left a “star” rating below to let me know what you thought! Then, the next time you need a quick and easy recipe, come back to Fantabulosity to browse all of my easy recipes!
Southern Fried Chicken
- 2 cups flour
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 3 pounds bone-in chicken (7-8 pieces of breasts, thighs, and legs)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 tablespoons all purpose seasoning
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- vegetable oil 2 inches in a large skittle or Dutch oven
- Make the marinade. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mustard, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.
- Marinade the chicken. Place the chicken in the bowl with the marinade, toss to coat, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for 4-6 hours.
- Make the breading. Whisk together the flour, onion powder, poultry seasoning, and garlic powder.
- Dredge. Remove the chicken from the fridge and dredge each piece in the flour mixture before placing it on a wire rack. Let the chicken sit on the rack for about 15 minutes to allow the flour mixture to soak up the buttermilk mixture which will give you that great crispy flakey texture when frying your chicken.
- Fry. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven to 350-360°F and fry the chicken for 8-10 minutes on either side or until a meat thermometer inserted into the largest piece reads 165°F. Do not crowd the pan. Fry in batches if you need to.
- Drain the oil. Transfer the fried chicken to a plate lined with paper towels to allow the oil to drain off.
Nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.