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Perfectly Crispy Fried Chicken

A cayenne-spiked buttermilk batter makes this classic fried chicken recipe golden brown and crisp on the outside, juicy and tender on the inside.

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perfectly crispy fried chicken on a platter shown with a bowl of sliced pickles and pickled cabbage.

The Perfectly Crispy Fried Chicken Recipe Your Culinary Dreams Are Made Of. And Everyone Else’s, Too.

We have a confession to make. We love fried chicken so much that two years ago, we set out to master the classic dish. A dangerous feat, it’s true, but one we conquered with pride. Tucking into the juicy, perfect chicken—fried to a perfectly golden brown crisp—was a highlight of our culinary journey for sure. We’re so excited to share this recipe today, and we promise it’s going to be a big hit in your home. You don’t need a deep fryer or anything fancy like that—all you need is a frying thermometer and a good appetite. We’ll walk you through the rest! Let’s get cooking.

Light blue platter of fried boneless skinless chicken thighs shown with sliced pickled and pickled cabbage.

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How To Make Fried Chicken

Gather your ingredients and—just as importantly—all of your deep frying tools. Fried chicken is easy to nail—really, it is!—but the key to making it just right is having the right kitchen tools handy before you begin. You’ll need:

  • A deep-fry thermometer to make sure that oil you’ll deep fry the chicken in reaches (and stays at) the proper temperature. FYI: a deep-fry thermometer is the same as a candy thermometer.
  • A good amount of oil (we used canola, but peanut is acceptable as well)
  • A good heavy bottom, indestructible, easy to clean stock pot.
baking sheet lined with a cooling rack with eight pieces of perfectly fried chicken on top.

How To Fry Chicken Thighs

OK so you’ve got your tools, you’ve prepped your batter. Now on to the deep frying itself. Let’s address all of your most burning (frying?) questions:

  • What is the best kind of oil to fry chicken in? You can use peanut oil if you’d like, but we prefer regular old canola or vegetable oil.
  • What temperature does the oil need to be at to fry chicken? You’ll be looking for an oil temperature of 325°F, and you’ll want to maintain that temperature as much as possible. That means not overcrowding the pan—just fry a few pieces of chicken at a time—and making sure to bring the oil back up to temperature at the end of each batch before starting a new one.
  • How long to deep fry chicken thighs? In general, it’ll take about 12-18 minutes. Checking the internal temperature is the best way to know if your chicken is done, especially if you’re new at this. 165 °F is the safe temperature for chicken thighs. Don’t be afraid to poke a meat thermometer through the crust to check the temperature—it’s worth it!
Chicken thighs in a metal dish with oil, eggs, spices along side a pitcher of buttermilk and a bowl of flour.
Buttermilk fried chicken batter in a glass bowl next to a bowl of spiced flour.
Hands dipping chicken thighs being dipped into buttermilk fried chicken batter.
Hands shown dipping buttermilk fried chicken into a bowl of spiced flour mixture.

How to Make Fried Chicken Batter

Our perfect, juicy chicken thighs get their crisp coating from first a dredge in a dry mixture that’s loaded with spices, and then a dip in an eggy buttermilk batter that also has a good handful of spices in it. That way, we’re making sure that every crispy bite has big doses of flavor! You may have heard a lot about “11 herbs and spices” over the years, but our fried chicken sings with huge spicy flavor, and we rely only on four spices to do the job. As ever, we find that simple is often better. Both the dry flour mixture and the buttermilk-based egg batter for our fried chicken batter are spiced with:

  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
Fried chicken on a light blue platter shown close up topped with flaky salt.

Is Fried Chicken Bad For You?

If you have to ask, well, just don’t. In other words, fried chicken is not what we’d call a healthy food. However, while perfectly crispy fried chicken thighs may not be healthy for your body, they are healthy (we think) for your soul and mind. They’re a treat, pure and total indulgence. They’re the kind of food that you feed to a big table full of people you love as an act of total generosity. And, last but not least, we would argue that homemade is always a little healthier than store-bought or restaurant-made fried chicken, so we do think that making this homemade fried chicken recipe is a healthier way to satisfy your craving than grabbing it at a drive through.

What Goes With Fried Chicken?

Classic fried chicken demands some truly classic, all-American side dishes. We like to go all out and serve this crispy fried chicken with:

Perfectly crispy fried chicken thighs show on a plate along with a small bowl of pickles and pickled red cabbage.

Get Frying!

We hope you fry up a batch of this fried chicken ASAP! And that you love it as much as we do. If you make it, let us know! Snap a photo of your crispy fried chicken thighs, and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you share it with (if you can manage to share). Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Perfectly Crispy Fried Chicken

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  1 hr
  • Calories: 879

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2½ cups buttermilk
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon plus ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 quarts vegetable oil, for frying
  • Spicy pickles, for serving (optional)

Method

  1. Season the chicken all over with 1 teaspoon of the salt.

  2. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the buttermilk. Whisk in 1½ cups of the flour, 1 tablespoon of the garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of the cayenne pepper, ½ teaspoon of the salt, and ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper to combine. In a separate shallow bowl, stir together the remaining 3½ cups flour, 2 tablespoons garlic powder, 1 tablespoon each salt and black pepper, and 1 teaspoon cayenne. Add the chicken to the buttermilk mixture and toss to coat well.

  3. Set a cooling rack inside a rimmed sheet pan.

  4. Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of a large, heavy pot. Add the vegetable oil to the pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil reaches 325°F, working with one piece at a time, begin removing the chicken from the wet mixture, allowing any excess to drip off. Roll it through the dry mixture, pressing to adhere. Carefully add the chicken to the hot oil, 2 to 3 pieces at a time, and cook, turning halfway through, until deep golden brown and the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the cooling rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining chicken, allowing the oil to return to 325°F between batches.

  5. Arrange the fried chicken on a platter. Serve with spicy pickles if using.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories879
  • Protein50 g
  • Carbohydrates62 g
  • Total Fat49 g
  • Dietary Fiber4 g
  • Cholesterol66 mg
  • sodium861 mg
  • Total Sugars5 g

Perfectly Crispy Fried Chicken

Questions & Reviews

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  • Amy

    Have you ever made mashed potatoes and chicken gravy with this?

    That would be delicious!

  • Duggan

    Can you make this without buttermilk

    We haven't not tested this exact recipe with anything but buttermilk.

  • George

    I'm living in Peru. Buttermilk is not available. What can I substitute for buttermilk?

    You can create a replacement for buttermilk by mixing 1 teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar per cup of milk. Hope you enjoy George!

  • Andi

    This was my first time making homemade fried chicken and it turned out incredible! This recipe is perfection!

    YAY! Thanks Andi we are so happy it was great!

  • Michelle

    Honey, this is off the hook! Cruchy and delicous. Everyone went back for seconds!

    Love this, thanks so much Michell! Glad everyone enjoyed it!

  • Sandor

    This recipe came out perfect, first time ever making fried chicken but I have spent a lifetime eating and loving it so I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur. Do everything except the cook time is off. I started with 12 minutes and my oil did not stay at 325 because I don't have a fryer, was just using a pot and modulating with the range top. At 12 minutes I felt like I could reduce the time, went to 10 mins, finally settled at 9 minutes for cooked yet maximum juiciness. My thighs were Bell and Evens boneless skinless thighs so nothing to thick. If there was bone in or thicker I might go to 12 mins but definitely not 18 mins. I used a food probe when I pulled then to ensure the insides were all over 165 degrees. Using this recipe again and again.

    Thanks so much Sandor, we are so happy our recipe pleased a fried chicken connoisseur! Queue happy dance!

  • jenn

    crispiest chicken I've made! everyone loved it!

    amazing! nice work!