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Perfectly Crispy Fried Chicken

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 1 hr
  • Calories: 787
perfectly crispy fried chicken on a platter shown with a bowl of sliced pickles and pickled cabbage.

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

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.

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: 787

Ingredients

  • 2-3 lbs Boneless, skinless, chicken thighs
  • 2 quarts Oil for frying (vegetable, canola or peanut)
  • Extra salt and pepper for seasoning chicken

Dry Mixture

  • 3 1/2 cups Flour
  • 2 tbsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Black pepper

Wet Batter

  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups Buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 cups Flour
  • 1 tbsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Black pepper

Method

  1. To make the dry mixture use a fork to mix together the flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a large shallow bowl. Set aside.
  2. For the wet batter first mix the eggs first with the buttermilk in a medium sized bowl. Add to the buttermilk mixture the flour, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
  3. Heat the oil in a large 6 quart heavy pot set over medium high heat until deep fry thermometer reaches 325°F. Plan on frying three pieces of chicken at a time.
  4. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip each piece into the wet batter, holding it above the bowl to let excess batter drip off, place into bowl of dry flour mix, rolling to coat it on all sides. Carefully place each piece into the hot oil.
  5. Fry chicken for 12-18 minutes (times vary depending on size of chicken pieces) until deep golden brown and the meat registers 175°F (160°F if using chicken breast) on an instant read thermometer. Adjust oil temperature after each batch of chicken.

    *To ensure your chicken stays crispy, never cool on a paper towel. Instead, place the chicken on a wire rack set over a cookie sheet to drain.