How to Fry Chicken in a Deep Fryer

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  • Start to Finish: 30 minutes plus overnight marinade
  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty Level: Beginner to intermediate

It's an all-American treat that has spread around the world, and it tastes even better when you make it in your own kitchen. Fried chicken is both comfort food and the sort of dish that enhances your reputation as a whiz in the kitchen. With this easy recipe -- and some of your own innovations -- it won't be long until friends and family are begging you to make your famous fried chicken.


The Marinade

  • 2 chicken breasts, halved and cut again crosswise, skin on
  • 4 chicken legs, separated at thigh joint, skin on
  • 1 quart buttermilk (full fat if you can find it)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco (optional)

Coating and Cooking

  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 tablespoons cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black or tri-color pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground sweet or hot paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 6 cups peanut oil (enough to fill the fryer halfway)


You can use another less-expensive vegetable oil but peanut oil makes for crispier chicken. Don't use olive oil.


In a large ceramic or glass bowl, combine the buttermilk, 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper, Tabasco and the chicken parts. Feel free to add other seasonings such as onion or aromatic herbs such as thyme or rosemary. Cover and refrigerate the marinade overnight or for at least four hours.

Thirty minutes before you want to start cooking, remove the chicken from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Fish out any bits of seasonings that may be floating about.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The amount of oil you use depends on the size of the cooker.

Combine the flour, cornmeal and seasonings in a large shallow bowl. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and dredge it piece by piece in the flour mixture and then place the pieces on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Allow the chicken to dry for 10 minutes and then dip it again, first in the buttermilk and then in the flour. Return the pieces to the rack and allow them to dry for another 10 minutes -- this makes the coating crisp better in the fryer.

Cook the chicken for 10 to 12 minutes, turning with tongs occasionally. You are shooting for an internal temperature of 165 F; after ten minutes, grab one of the pieces with the tongs and test it with an instant thermometer. Use one with a skinny spike so you don't lose too much of the juices.

Place the finished chicken on a rack over paper towels. Don't put the pieces right on the paper towels or they may get soggy. Allow to rest for several minutes before serving.


If you want to shorten the dredging process, just shake up the flour mixture in a large plastic freezer bag and add the chicken a few pieces at a time. Shake 'em up and let them rest on a rack for 10 minutes before deep frying.

Serving Suggestions

This chicken is perfect for the picnic basket -- the double dredging makes a thicker, crisper crust. Just don't wrap it up before it's cool. Cover it loosely with a dish cloth until you're ready to pack it up and then pack the pieces in layers separated by foil.

For a comfort food family dinner, serve your crispy chicken with an easy chicken broth gravy, a mound of mashed potatoes and cobs of buttery corn.