How to Make Popeyes Fried Chicken at Home

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Start to Finish: 60 minutes, plus brining time

Servings: 6

Difficulty: Intermediate

Popeyes fried chicken, also known as Bonafide Chicken, is the restaurant chain's interpretation of Southern-style fried chicken. The chicken is known for its extra-crisp, craggy coating, which can be either mildly or strongly spiced. To replicate the chicken at home, use bone-in pieces that have been brined -- soaked in a salty and spicy broth -- and double coat the chicken before deep-frying it. This recipe is adapted from one by Wylie Dufresne for chicken tenders, published on serious eats and in Fried & True: More Than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides.

Ingredients

Chicken and Brine

  • 2 pounds chicken thighs, deboned but with skin
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon Tabasco
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Montreal steak spice
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Seasoning Mix

  • 3 teaspoons white sugar
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons dried onions
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Coating and Cooking

  • 3 whole eggs
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 6 cups self-rising flour
  • 2 cups cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons onion soup mix
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons Montreal steak spice
  • 4 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Directions

Brining

Mix the buttermilk and seasonings in a large mixing bowl. Add the boneless, skin-on chicken thighs, and mix well. Ensure that all of the pieces are well-coated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store it in the fridge for a minimum of eight hours or overnight.

Coating and Frying

In a medium-sized bowl, beat the two eggs and vodka. Grind all of the ingredients for the seasoning mix in a spice grinder, until they become a fine powder.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, salt and spices, including the seasoning mix. Stir well to evenly distribute the seasonings in the flour.

Pour vegetable oil into a medium-sized pot. Have at least 2 to 3 inches of oil in the pot. Heat the pot on medium-high heat until the oil reaches 350 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured with a quick-read or candy thermometer.

Lift one chicken piece from the brine, and dip it in the seasoned flour. Coat the chicken thoroughly with the flour.

Dip the flour-coated chicken in the beaten egg, and then again in the seasoned flour. Ensure that the chicken is fully coated each time, as undercoating it will lead to poor crust formation during frying.

Place the chicken into the pot for deep-frying using a pair of metal tongs. Cook the chicken until it is golden brown, turning the pieces halfway through the process. This will take roughly seven to 10 minutes, depending on the number of pieces cooking at once.

Warning

  • Do not overcrowd the pot when frying the chicken. Too many pieces will lower the temperature of the oil, which means the chicken will require more time to finish cooking.

Remove the chicken from the oil and place the pieces on a paper towel-lined plate. Let the chicken pieces rest for two minutes, sprinkle them with extra salt as needed, and serve them warm or at room temperature.

Variations

Increase the amount of cayenne in the seasoned flour if you want a spicier version of this fried chicken.

Use white meat instead of dark meat for a healthier choice. However, reduce the cooking time, as white meat cooks more quickly than dark meat. A chicken breast, deboned and halved, will be ready in roughly six to eight minutes.

Use skinless chicken for a less-rich version of Popeyes chicken. Similarly, to be closer to Popeyes version, use bone-in pieces. However, bone-in pieces will take longer to cook, requiring roughly 12 to 15 minutes.

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