In the South, few things come even close to being as delicious as a perfectly crisp piece of fried chicken (well…maybe bacon!).  It is considered satisfyingly flavorful comfort food at its best and there are many recipes and techniques to choose from.  I have tried quite a few recipes but I always come back to this one adapted from Southern Living Magazine many years ago.

I pretty much kept the recipe in its original form with the exception of a couple of extra spices and the addition of allowing chicken to sit coated at room temperature.  Those tweaks helped turn a great recipe into an extraordinary one.  It is my family’s favorite and will become yours too!

Now let’s get this out of the way….this is NOT a healthy dish and we usually one have it a couple of times a year but oh, when I do make it, it doesn’t last long!  There are several important secrets to making perfectly fried chicken:

  • Brining the chicken in salt water
  • Allowing the chicken to sit out at room temperature an hour before frying just after coating it
  • Using some bacon grease in your skillet
  • Applying a combination of covered and uncovered cooking time

Those may seem like simple and insignificant tips but they truly do make a difference in the end product and definitely should not be skipped.  The end result will be a perfectly crispy outside crunch and juicy, tender bites of chicken on the inside.  Perfection every time…check it out!


3 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
1 (2- to 2 1/2-pound) broiler-fryer, cut up**
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable oil
1/4 cup bacon drippings
**Our family loves bone-in chicken thighs so that is what I used in the pictures used in this blog (6-8 thighs are perfect for this recipe)


Combine water and 1 tablespoon salt in a large bowl; add chicken. Cover and chill 8 hours. Drain chicken; rinse with cold water, and pat dry.

Combine salt, pepper, onion powder and cayenne. Season both sides of chicken with one teaspoon of spice mixture.  Combine the remaining 3 teaspoons with flour in a large freezer bag. Place 2 pieces of chicken in bag; seal. Shake to evenly coat. Remove chicken, and repeat procedure with remaining chicken, 2 pieces at a time.  Allow to sit coated on kitchen counter for 45 minutes to an hour.


Combine vegetable oil and bacon drippings in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or chicken fryer (I used an electric skillet); heat to 360°. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, skin side down. Cover and cook 6 minutes; uncover and cook 9 minutes.

Turn chicken pieces; cover and cook 6 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 to 9 minutes, turning pieces during the last 3 minutes for even browning, if necessary. Drain on paper towels.

Note: For best results, keep the oil temperature between 300° to 325° as you fry the chicken.

I like to drain my chicken on a wire rack

Chicken is ready to be served with all your favorite sides!

Crispy Fried Chicken served along side some mashed potatoes, pinto beans, freshly sliced garden tomatoes, and my awesome Turnip Greens recipe…I will blog on that soon!
Look at that perfectly piece of crisp chicken….Makes you want to make it right now!

Bottom Line:  I love this recipe and again, it is always the one I keep coming back to.  Sometimes I kick up the heat a notch with some roasted red pepper flakes or add a little twist by adding in a little garlic and it still come out perfectly with just a little different flavoring.  The key is to follow the cover, uncover, and flip exactly and your fried chicken will turn out perfectly every single time!  I hope you try this recipe in your kitchen and let me know what you think and stay tuned for my delicious Southern Turnip Greens recipe.  Until then, I am Chef Frankie..always in the kitchen, having fun, and cooking with Wild Abandonment!

For the original Southern Living Recipe this blog is based on, please visit

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