Photo by Gabriel Cabrera

Fried chicken involves three basic steps to build flavour and crunch: marinating, breading and frying. (Hot tip: if the thought of breaking down a chicken yourself makes you nervous, ask your butcher to do it for you.)

Don’t forget to whip up a batch of easy cream biscuits to serve on the side.


  • 1 whole 3- to 4-lb chicken, cut into 10 pieces (remove backbone and wing tips—save those for stock)
  • 1 tbsp coarse flaky or kosher salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • 1½ cups buttermilk, well shaken
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp coarse flaky or kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups peanut or canola oil, for frying


In a small dish, combine salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder and thyme.

Season chicken with it and refrigerate for an hour or so, or overnight. When you’ve ready to fry, take chicken out of the fridge and leave on the countertop for about half an hour to take the chill off. 

In a medium-deep bowl (a soup or cereal bowl works best), whisk together buttermilk, water and egg. In a shallow dish (pie plates work well), stir together flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper.

Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip in the buttermilk mixture, letting the excess drip off. Dredge in the flour, pressing any bits of coating that have absorbed some buttermilk onto the chicken pieces. (This is what will add ridges and crunchy nuggets to the coating.) Set aside on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. 

In a wide pot, heat a couple of inches of oil to 325 F. (It should be hot, but not smoking; a scrap of bread should sizzle when dipped in.) Cook a few pieces at a time, without crowding the pot, for 10 to 12 minutes (the larger pieces will take a few minutes longer), turning with a fork or tongs as they turn golden. Set aside on another rack, or in a shallow ovenproof dish or pan lined with paper towel. If you like, place in a 200 F oven to keep the cooked pieces warm while you finish the rest. The cooked pieces should register 160F on a meat thermometer—insert it into the thickest part, avoiding touching the bone.

Let cool slightly before serving.

Makes 10 pieces of fried chicken.