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Buttermilk fried chicken

Buttermilk fried chicken

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  • Preparation and cooking time
    • Prep:
    • Cook: -
    • plus at least 12 hrs marinating
  • A challenge
  • Serves 4 - 6

Follow this step-by-step recipe for foolproof fried chicken - dip in buttermilk batter for a golden, seasoned crust and sweet, tender chicken

Nutrition: per serving (6)


  • 10 chicken pieces (about 1¼kg/2lb 12oz), on the bone, skin on (use a mixture of thighs and drumsticks)
  • 300ml buttermilk (see tips to make your own)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 litres groundnut oil
  • grilled corn on the cob, to serve (optional)
  • skinny fries, to serve (optional)
  • coleslaw, to serve (optional)

For the dry brine

  • zest 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp flaky sea salt

For the spiced flour

  • 225g plain flour
  • 2 ½ tbsp cornflour
  • 2 ¼ tsp garlic granules
  • 2 ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 ¼ tsp chilli powder


  • STEP 1

    Put all the dry brine ingredients in a large dish. Add the chicken, toss to coat well, then cover and chill for 12-24 hrs.

  • STEP 2

    Put all the spiced flour ingredients in another dish or a large bowl, add a good grind of black pepper and combine well.

  • STEP 3

    Put the buttermilk and egg in another bowl and lightly whisk until well combined.

  • STEP 4

    Start to coat the chicken. Using one hand, dip the pieces in the buttermilk, making sure they are completely coated.

  • STEP 5

    Using your other hand, roll the chicken in the spiced flour until covered all over.

  • STEP 6

    Place the chicken on a wire rack with a baking tray underneath. Now you’re ready to start frying.

  • STEP 7

    Fill a deep cast-iron frying pan or heavy- based medium saucepan half full with oil and heat until the temperature reaches 170C on a cooking thermometer. Put a wire rack on a second tray, ready to drain the fried chicken.

  • STEP 8

    Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Place 3-4 pieces of chicken into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook for 10-12 mins. Poke your thermometer into the meat next to the bone – it will be cooked when it reaches 73C.

  • STEP 9

    The oil temperature will drop when you add the chicken – adjust the heat to keep it steady at 140C during the cooking process. Once cooked, transfer to the clean wire rack and keep warm in the oven. Bring the oil back to 170C before cooking the next batch. Serve with your choice of sides.

Most supermarkets now stock buttermilk, but if you want to make your own, simply add 1 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar to 250ml full-fat milk and set aside for 10 mins. It will curdle into a thick mixture, then it is ready to use. 
Hot oil can be dangerous, so take extra care and read our how to deep-fry safely guide to avoid accidents.
You need to use a heavy-based pan, as this makes it easier to keep the oil at a steady temperature. With a lighter base, the chicken could burn on the bottom. To help control the temperature of the oil, use a digital thermometer. You’ll need to cook the chicken in batches. A wire rack over a tray is better than kitchen paper for draining, as kitchen paper will make the chicken go soggy. 
I always use free-range chicken as I think it gives a better result – the meat is superior and the bird has had a happier life!

Goes well with

Recipe from Good Food magazine, August 2015

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A star rating of 4.2 out of 5.17 ratings

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