Chicken/ Finger Food

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

April 5, 2019 (Last Updated: April 17, 2021) by Chris Collins

This Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe is packed with all the tips you need to make EXTRA crispy fried chicken. Once you give this a go, you won’t have it any other way!

Oh boy, is this post a long time coming. I’ve been testing out this fried chicken recipe for a loooooong time, and I’m super excited to finally share with you the tried, tested and perfected recipe! Follow me…

Buttermilk Fried Chicken served with a pot of sriracha lime mayo and sea salt sprinkled on top

Extra Crispy Fried Chicken

I hope we’re all in agreement that the best fried chicken is mouthwateringly tender on the inside, tooth shatteringly crispy and flakey on the outside and bursting with flavour all over. This recipe will give you exactly that. I’ve packed this post with everything you need to know in getting perfect fried chicken, so let’s start right at the beginning.

What cut of chicken to use for fried chicken?

I always get a whole chicken and cut it up, just because I like the variety. From this, you’ll get 10-12 pieces of chicken (depending on if you split the wing in two or not, here I do).

Best chicken to use for deep frying?

If you opt not to use a whole chicken, just use a variety of different cuts i.e half thigh half drumstick. Just make sure you use bone in skin on chicken. This will result in the crispiest/juiciest fried chicken. I love drumsticks because they’re the easiest to eat, but thighs and wings are also a classic choices. If you’re doing breast as well just make sure you dice in half (keep on the bone) otherwise it’ll be too big to properly cook.

Whole chicken cut into 12 pieces on a wooden board

Buttermilk Chicken Marinade

The absolute KEY to getting tender and crispy fried chicken is using a buttermilk marinade. Marinating the chicken in (seasoned) buttermilk tenderises the chicken and injects a huge amount of flavour.

What does marinating chicken in buttermilk do?

Because of its slight acidity, buttermilk has the ability to tenderize the chicken, without it becoming tough and chewy. Using buttermilk also helps the chicken go nice and flaky when you dredge it through the dry mix. As such, buttermilk is great for fried chicken because it a) increases the chance your chicken will come out soft and juicy and b) increases the chances of your chicken coming out crispy.

How long to marinate chicken in buttermilk?

A minimum of 4 hours, a maximum of 24 hours. Personally I very rarely marinate the chicken for less than 12 hours. Some recipes suggest a minimum of 1 hour, but from experience you just don’t get the same results. Some recipes also suggest the marinade stops being effective after 4 hours, but again, from experience I tend to differ from this. Anyway, if you’re going to the trouble of making fried chicken why risk it and shorten the marinading time!?

Alongside the buttermilk you’ll want to add some pantry staple seasonings (all listed in the recipe card). This will be similar to the flour seasoning, just with a few adjustments. Mainly the inclusion of white pepper. This gives you that classic KFC style chicken taste, definitely don’t skip this!

How to marinate chicken in buttermilk (quick summary)

  1. Pour your buttermilk in to a suitably sized bowl and add your seasoning.
  2. Stir to combine.
  3. Add your chicken and fully coat.
  4. Pop over cling film and marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

How to marinate chicken in buttermilk - 4 step by step photos

How to prepare fried chicken

Once you’ve marinated the chicken, it’s time to coat it in seasoned flour.

The seasoning mix is similar to that of the buttermilk, with a few tweaks. The main one is the addition of baking powder. Using baking powder in fried chicken is another crucial ingredient in getting a crispy coating. When the baking powder hits the hot oil it creates lots of tiny air bubbles, which in turn creates an airy and crispy batter.

What is the best flour to use to fry chicken?

You’ll want to use plain/all purpose flour. Some recipes suggest the addition of cornflour, but I don’t think it’s needed here. Because you’ve got the baking powder, it works great with the flour to make a nice and crispy coating. Nothing else needed (apart from the seasoning – of course).

To dredge the chicken just shake off some of the marinade, then coat in the seasoned flour. Really make sure you rub the flour into every part of the chicken so absolutely none of the flesh is showing. It’s too often I see people roll the chicken in the dry rub a couple of times and be done with it. Really make sure you get in every crevice.

How to coat chicken in flour (quick summary)

  1. Add seasoning to flour and mix. I find this easiest in a small tray, but you could also use a bowl.
  2. Shake some of the buttermilk off the chicken and one by one coat in the dry seasoning. Really get as much flour in every part of the chicken.
  3. Give the chicken a little shake.
  4. Place on a tray ready to deep fry.

How to coat buttermilk fried chicken - 4 step by step photos

Deep Fried Chicken

Of course, to get truly crispy chicken, it’s got to be deep fried.

What oil to use for deep frying?

You want to use an oil with a high smoking point, which essentially means it can go to high temperatures without turning into smoke. You also want a neutral flavoured oil. We’ve already injected enough flavour into the chicken, so no need for a flavoured oil too. For this reason I use vegetable or sunflower oil.

What temperature to deep fry chicken?

You want to get the oil to about 350F/175C. When you drop in the chicken it will drop to about 320F/160C, and that’s fine. To maintain that heat a medium flame should be fine. If it becomes too hot simply pour in some oil to lower the temperature.

How long to deep fry chicken?

Anywhere between 10-15mins, depending on the cut of chicken. I.e wings will probably cook quicker than drumsticks. The crust should be deep golden and the inside white and piping hot. Work in batches of 3 (4 max) pieces at a time.

What is the safe internal temperature for chicken?

According to the safe internal temp of cooked chicken is 165F/75C. Do take into consideration it continues cooking slightly when removed from the oil.

How do you tell if fried chicken is done without a thermometer?

The chicken is done when the batter is golden and the inside is white (no pink insight) with the juices running clear.

1 piece of Deep Fried Chicken just taken out the oil with tongs

How to serve fried chicken

Once you’ve fried the chicken, place it on a wire rack to rest with paper towels underneath. I don’t recommend placing straight on to paper towels, this will cause the outside to steam and become soggy (not what you want after all the hard work!) From there, give the chicken a final sprinkle of salt to draw out the last bit of moisture from the batter for extra crispiness.

Sauce for fried chicken

Sides for fried chicken

Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken on a grey slate with dip and salt

If you’re looking for more fried chicken recipes then check these beauties out too:

Delicious Fried Chicken Recipes

How to make Buttermilk Fried Chicken (Full Recipe & Video)

Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken on a grey slate with dip and salt

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

This Buttermilk Fried Chicken recipe is packed with all the tips you need to make EXTRA crispy fried chicken. Once you give this a go, you won't have it any other way!
4.88 from 16 votes
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Servings (click & slide): 12 pieces
Course: Finger Food
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Marinating Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Calories per serving: 365kcal
Cost per serving: £3 / $4


  • Deep Pot & Tongs (for deep frying)
  • Large Mixing Bowl & Cling Film (for marinating)
  • Curved Tray or Large Flat Bowl (for dredging chicken)
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board (if dicing up whole chicken)
  • Kitchen Thermometer
  • Cooling Rack & Paper Towels

Ingredients (check list):

  • 3.3lb / 1.5kg Whole Chicken, divided (or individual bone in skin on pieces - see notes)
  • 4 cups / 1litre Vegetable Oil, or as needed for deep frying (see notes)

Wet Mix

  • 2 cups / 500ml Buttermilk
  • 1 tsp EACH: Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, White Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Salt

Dry Mix

  • 2.5 cups / 375g Plain/All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 2 tsp EACH: Oregano, Baking Powder
  • 1.5 tsp Salt, plus extra to sprinkle at the end
  • 1 tsp EACH: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper


  • In a bowl, combine the wet mix with your chicken, ensuring it's fully coated by the marinade. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for an absolute minimum of 4 hours, but the longer the better (up to 24hours). Remove at least 30mins before you intend to use it to bring to room temp (important - frying cold chicken causes it to seize up and go chewy).
  • Meanwhile, combine all of your dry mix. I find this easiest in a small tray, but you can also use a shallow bowl. Dip a piece of your chicken into the mix and fully coat. Really make sure you get the mix in every part of the chicken, this will give you those 'flaky' parts which make the chicken extra crispy. The more craggy/flaky the chicken is the crunchier it'll be. Place on a wire rack and repeat with the remaining chicken.
  • Heat up enough oil to comfortably cover the depth of your largest piece of chicken. Drop a piece of mixture in, if it slowly sizzles to the top you're good to go. You want the oil to be approx 175C/350F - 180C/356F. The temp will drop when the chicken hits the oil, and that's okay, just try to maintain a heat of around 320F/160C. A medium heat should obtain this.
  • In batches of 3 (4 max) gently place your chicken in the oil, making sure you add the same cuts at the same time so they cook at an even rate (thighs, drums, wings). Deep fry for 6-8mins on each side or until deep golden and white through the centre (see notes). Don't move the chicken for the first couple of mins, you need the batter to attach to the chicken. Timings will depend on the size of the chicken pieces, how many there are and heat retention, so just be vigilant. Bring heat back to 175C/350F - 180C/356F between each batch.
  • Place each piece on a wire rack with paper towels underneath when finished and sprinkle with salt to draw out the last bit of moisture and bring out the seasoning. The chicken should be piping hot with the juices running clear. In all circumstances the chicken internal temp 165F/75C (take into consideration it continues cooking slightly once out the oil).

Quick 1 min demo!


a) What cut of chicken to use? - I always use a whole chicken as I like the variety. If you do this I recommend cutting the breast in two so everything is evenly sized. I also cut the wings in half and deep fry them separately (as they cook quicker). If you don't want to use a whole chicken, just use 10 pieces of your favourite cuts i.e thighs/drumsticks/wings and make sure you use skin on bone in. Again, just make sure you fry similar sizes together. Try to avoid very large pieces to avoid the outside cooking before the centre does.
b) What oil to use for deep frying? - You want to use an oil with a high smoking point and a neutral flavour. For this reason I use either vegetable or sunflower oil. Olive oil is NOT suitable for deep frying.
c) How long to deep fry for? - Anywhere between 10-15mins, but this is dependent on how big the chicken pieces are, how well the heat is maintained and how many pieces are in the pan. When you drop the chicken in the oil the temp will drop from 350F/175C to about 320F/160C, so keep it at that temp. The chicken is done when the batter is golden and the inside is white with the juices running clear. The chicken will actually carry on cooking once it's taken out the oil due to carry over heat. Just make sure it's piping hot when it's stabbed. Also, try to cook similar sized pieces in the same batches so they all cook at the same rate.
d) How to prevent batter falling off - Firstly, just make sure you thoroughly coat the chicken, i.e really rub the flour into every crevice of the chicken. Secondly just ensure the temp of the oil is correct. If it’s too high the batter cooks in seconds and might break away from the chicken. If it’s too low, the batter just becomes sludgy and way slip away. Thirdly, just make sure you carefully place it in the oil and then don’t move it unless you’re flipping it or making sure it doesn’t stick to another piece.
e) Buttermilk - You can make your own buttermilk if you can't find it at the store. Just combine 2 cups milk with 2 tsp white vinegar. Allow to sit for 10mins (it will curdle slightly) then use as per recipe.
f) Calories - this is really difficult to calculate as it's difficult to tell how much oil and buttermilk is soaked up AND to know which cuts of chicken you'll use. This calculation is based on using chicken thighs only, on the assumption that 1/2 a cup of buttermilk sticks, 1 cup of flour sticks, 1 tsp of salt is absorbed and 2 tsp of oil per thigh is soaked up. Calories per thigh. Just take this calculation with a pinch of salt. Pun intended.


Nutrition Facts
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 365 Calories from Fat 158
% Daily Value*
Fat 17.56g27%
Saturated Fat 9.796g49%
Trans Fat 0.039g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.035g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.037g
Cholesterol 183mg61%
Sodium 429mg18%
Potassium 497mg14%
Carbohydrates 10.14g3%
Fiber 0.3g1%
Sugar 0.63g1%
Protein 39.63g79%
Vitamin A 150IU3%
Calcium 30mg3%
Iron 2.2mg12%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
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