Buttermilk Fried Chicken



Buttermilk Fried Chicken at Home - Eat Boutique

Buttermilk fried chicken is serious business. I’ve had the good stuff growing up in Georgia and in several cafeterias in Nashville, Tennessee, and some of my favorite local variety is featured at Highland Kitchen in Somerville, Massachusetts. They only serve it on Monday nights, but it’s worth the early week drop in.

Of course, there are a thousand recipes for good buttermilk fried chicken and I’d have a hard time trying to compete or comment on who’s recipe is tops. I did, however, set out on a mission to conquer a great recipe, because I see a picnic on a country hillside in my future, and I really do love the Pioneer Woman‘s version, well-seasoned and crunchy, the sort of crunchy that falls apart onto your salad, making for deliciously salty croutons.

There are two tricks I learned from restaurant style fried chicken that you have to try the next time you tackle fried chicken. First, 24 hours before you plan to make the chicken, soak the chicken in a salt and water brine (I omitted the sugar and spices from the brine to keep it easy, but you don’t have to). Keep it in the brine for 12 hours. This step is key and while it may seem a bit over the top, it just requires a bit of planning. But I know I always know when I plan to make fried chicken because it’s not necessarily a quick preparation so if you’re planning anyway, might as well do the soak.

Next, once the 12 hours are up, rinse and dry off all the brine from the chicken and place it in a new bath, a buttermilk bath. Soak it in the buttermilk for 12 hours or so. Once those 12 hours are up, remove the chicken from the buttermilk and let it set on the counter for 30-60 minutes to bring it all to room temperature.

After those two easy and pretty mindless steps, follow your favorite buttermilk fried chicken recipe. In the Pioneer Woman recipe, she forks in a little buttermilk into the spiced up flour mixture, making it so big pieces of breading stick to the chicken and crunch up. The more breading on your chicken, the more likely it’ll break off into tiny pieces in your mouth, on your plate and all over your side salad, making it way better.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken at Home - Eat Boutique

Buttermilk Fried Chicken at Home - Eat Boutique

Buttermilk Fried Chicken at Home - Eat Boutique

Buttermilk Fried Chicken at Home - Eat Boutique

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cookbook: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl


  • 2 cut-up fryer chickens
  • 1 quart plus 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned salt (like Lawry’s)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • canola or vegetable oil for frying


  1. In a large bowl (or 2 freezer bags) add the chicken with 1 quart buttermilk. Refrigerate for 12 hours, or up to 24 hours. When ready to fry, remove chicken from bowl and let sit on counter for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Stir together the flour, seasoned salt, pepper, thyme, paprika and cayenne in a very large bowl. Pour the 1/4 cup of buttermilk into the flour and use a fork to mix until little lumps throughout.
  3. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a deep skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat to 365F. Working in batches, thoroughly coat each buttermilk-soaked chicken piece with the breading, pressing to adhere the breading. Add the chicken to the oil 3-4 pieces at a time. Cover pan and fry 5-7 minutes, checking to make sure chicken isn’t getting too brown. Turn, cover and cook additional 3-5 minutes more. Monitor temperature of oil to make sure chicken doesn’t burn. Keep in mind chicken will finish cooking in oven.
  4. Place chicken on baking sheet and continue frying rest of chicken. When done, bake the chicken for 10-15 minutes, until chicken cooked through.

Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is now focused on opening her first permanent Eat Boutique​–​a food​-​retail concept space ​with a new way to the very best food. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: Recipes That Revamped My Pantry & Made Me Love Me, At Last, will be published by Roost Books/Penguin Random House in 2019. Her first cookbook, Food Gift Love, features more than 100 food gift recipes to make, wrap, and share and is available wherever you find favorite cookbooks.

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  • Jill

    I have been craving fried chicken, now I gave a good reason to make this! It looks and sounds so undeniably good! Definitely in my future!

    • Jill, it was a bit of work but so worth it. The mouths at my table went silent the moment they took their first bite. I forget how much people love and, frankly, are grateful when you put a bowl of homemade fried chicken in front of them. Such a great recipe!

  • Love this! Fried chicken is an art and this version looks perfect!

    I love the buttermilk and the spices, especially the cayenne.

    Fantastic post and recipe!!

    • Thanks Meagan, it was delicious!

  • Chez Us – Denise

    Maggie – I have had fried chicken on the brain for months, now you go and post this recipe and add 5 pounds onto my hips!  AMAZING!  I love the step by step photos.  I could not agree more, brining is the way to go before the deep fry.  Hmmm, how can I sneak fried chicken in this weekend?

    • I’ve been debating baking another batch and adding another 5 pounds to my hips! Put a few pieces in a bag and it will be a worthy reward after along hike. 🙂

  • Great fried chicken tips!  Isn’t Highland amazing?  It takes me almost an hour to get there from Boston but it’s totally worth it!  Have you had their fried brussels sprouts with hot sauce?!  They are off the menu for the summer, but I can’t wait for their return!

    • Highland is our go to spot, Emily! I am growing brussels sprouts this year precisely to deep fry them just like Highland – so good.

  • Anonymous

    Ive never had buttermilk chicken, sad i know! But this looks delicious, and im a massive fan of the great pioneer woman so will be saving this to give a go hopefully sooner rather than later! 🙂

    • So sad, but you can remedy that. Her recipe really is so flavorful, everyone loved it!


    Thank you soooooooooooooo much, dear maggie.
    Have a good time.