Cajun Fried Chicken

Cutting the chicken into 10 pieces instead of the more typical eight results in smaller, easy-to-hold pieces with more crispy, crusty goodness.–Donald Link

LC How to Handle Size-D Breasts Note

How brilliant is that aforementioned trick of cutting each breast in half?! Not only does it make for smaller pieces with more surface area—hence more of that coveted Cajun-y coating—but it ensures today’s size D-cup chicken breasts cook relatively quickly, circumventing the problem of the coating becoming too burnished while waiting for the meat to cook through. Brilliant.

Cajun Fried Chicken Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 35 M
  • 35 M
  • Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

  • One 3- to 4- pound chicken, whole or pre-cut into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 dashes Louisiana hot sauce
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken well
  • 3 cups lard, vegetable shortening, or bacon drippings
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  • 1. Pat the chicken dry. Cut the chicken into 10 pieces instead of the usual 8. To create the extra two pieces, cut the breast off the backbone, and then cut each breast in half, which will give you two wings, two thighs, two legs, and four pieces of breast. (Editor’s Note: You really must partake of this nifty little trick.) Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl and season with the salt, pepper, cayenne, white pepper, garlic powder, and hot sauce, and toss to coat evenly. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day (the longer the better, to allow the seasonings to permeate the meat).
  • 2. Remove the chicken from the dry spices, allowing any liquid to drip back into the bowl, and place the chicken in a clean bowl. Pour the buttermilk over the chicken.
  • 3. Heat the lard, vegetable shortening, or bacon fat in a large cast-iron skillet to 350°F (176°C), or until a pinch of flour sizzles when it’s dropped in the fat.
  • 4. As the oil heats, remove the chicken from the buttermilk, allowing any excess liquid to drip off, and transfer the chicken to a clean bowl. Sprinkle with the flour and toss to coat.
  • 5. When the oil is ready, add the chicken pieces to the skillet in batches, shaking off any excess flour before adding them to the oil. Start with the larger bone-in cuts in the first round, as they will take longer to cook. Then fry the chicken breasts in the second round. For the crispiest results, it’s important not to overcrowd the pan. Fry the first batch of chicken about 8 minutes on each side, using tongs to turn it as necessary, making sure the oil does not get too hot. The oil should have a mellow sizzle, not a raging boil, or it will make the outside of the chicken too dark before the inside is cooked. Transfer the chicken to a plate lined with paper towels to soak up the excess oil. The breasts will take about 6 minutes on each side. Don’t be in such a rush to eat the chicken right out of the fat; it’s too hot, for one thing. And if you let it sit for a few minutes, the juices will settle and it will be more pleasurable to eat.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Sandy Hill

Jun 26, 2011

Mention “fried chicken” and everyone gets excited! Using my mother-in-law’s old and very used cast-iron skillets brought back lots of memories and produced delicious chicken! It was juicy and moist and the coating was crispy and so good. In the South, we always dipped the chicken in egg and milk before dipping in flour, but that step wasn’t needed in this recipe to get that crispy coating. The Cajun dry seasoning and hot sauce were still stuck to the chicken after refrigerating for a day. The only change I would make next time would be to add more of the dry Cajun seasonings to the flour to dip the chicken in. We couldn’t really taste the Cajun flavor and would’ve liked more of a kick from the dry Cajun seasonings. This recipe will be another memorable fried chicken go-to recipe!

Testers Choice
Karen Depp

Jun 26, 2011

If you are looking for moist, flavorful, CRISPY fried chicken, then this is the recipe for you! While there is a great amount of seasoning used, I think the use of the buttermilk just about canceled them all out. I would put some of the spices in the flour so that you would end up with more tasty chicken, but I am used to Popeye’s Fried Chicken and Cajun-style food. This might be just right for a bunch of Yankees! I also question the use of 3 separate bowls for preparing the chicken. It can all be achieved by using one bowl and the proverbial “brown bag” technique. All in all, this is a fabulously delicious fried chicken. All the testers at my table gave it a thunderous “10″ and asked to have the plate passed for seconds or thirds. Which is easy because of the cutting of the chicken into 10 pieces (after you figure out what the heck he is telling you to do.)

Testers Choice
Jo Ann Brown

Jun 26, 2011

As I try more and more fried chicken recipes, I’m convinced that seasoning the meat adequately is the secret to an outstanding fried chicken. This is an amazing example of how good fried chicken can be when you approach it from the inside- out. This is really super yummy! I used vegetable shortening, a first for me, and I was surprised how much I liked it. I still prefer peanut oil, though, and I’d like for us to provide an oil substitution so we don’t scare anyone off. Shortening is a thicker and stickier fat, and I felt like the chicken was just a hair greasy, and that becomes really apparent the next day when munching on the leftovers. I drained some of the pieces on a rack and some on paper towels. Not much difference in retaining underside crispness, but it’s best to use the paper towels. As for temperature, the author is looking for a mellow bubble. I found that happy bubble at 300°F. My chicken was textbook golden and PERFECTLY juicy inside. I didnt know I could do that!. I wish I could have fried a little hotter just to stave off that slight excess absorbtion of oil. The author neglects to instruct the cook to bring the oil temp back up to 350°F degrees between batches. As a side note: all fried chicken recipes cooked in oil deserve a note about the importance of using a fryer or broiler chicken and not a roaster. Bigger chicken is not better in fried chicken heaven.

Testers Choice
Linda B.

Jun 26, 2011

I enjoyed this very much. It was mildly spicy with a lightly crispy coating. Even though I split the breast in two, it still took a little longer than 8 minutes per side for it to cook through.

Testers Choice
Helen Doberstein

Jun 26, 2011

My family found this to be one of the nicest fried chicken recipes that I’ve made. Marinating the chicken pieces in the rub before frying adds such a wonderful depth of flavor to the fried chicken. I did take the extra step of combining all the rub ingredients before adding the chicken. This makes it more of a moist paste than a dry rub. There was a little liquid left in the bowl, but this could be attributed to the salt in the rub drawing moisture from the chicken. Just allowing a brief dab with a paper towel to remove the excess moisture, I then put the pieces into the buttermilk and heated the shortening, following the recipe as written. The coating wasn’t crispy the next day on the leftovers, but was really flavorful. This is going on the do-it-again list.

Testers Choice
Bette Fraser

Jun 26, 2011

YUMMY! If you love fried chicken, you should give this recipe a try. While I cooked my chicken in vegetable shortening, I bet it is divine in bacon fat or lard. I just couldn’t bring myself to do that. The chicken was moist and juicy and had a nice crunchy skin.


Comments
Comments
  1. Dr. Kevin Moor says:

    This fried chicken tastes good, but I don’t know what hot sauce is.

  2. Saw this recipe while I was checking out my newsletter and my husband, who’s always looking over my shoulder, stopped me and said, “Make that tonight!” He actually went out and got me some buttermilk, lard, and fresh chicken (no lard in the house). Well, I made it and all I can say is that this was probably the juiciest chicken I’ve ever made. Not as hot as I thought it would be, but I could serve it with hot sauce on the side next time. But nice and crispy. I must say that you shouldn’t be in a hurry to fry this up, because my second batch was just a tad undercooked but that’s because my husband turned up the stove because he was just a little impatient! But, nonetheless, delicious! This will definitely be on my recipe rotation.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Hurrah! Judy, I just virtually hugged you and your husband. I love this kinda story. Many, many thanks for taking the time to share it with us. Very curious to hear what recipe from our site you try next….

  3. Ankit says:

    Love Donald Link’s recipes and as usual, this one was a hit! However, can someone explain how to keep the chicken spiced? When I poured buttermilk, it washed all the spices off the chicken.

    • Jo Ann Brown says:

      Hi Ankit,

      So funny you asked this question yesterday, I made the recipe again last night!

      Yes the spices do wash away but after marinating for some time before you coat with the buttermilk you should still get some great flavor. I found it best to let the chicken mingle with the spices overnight but if you miss that window you can do it in the morning and be ready to fry the chicken up at around 5:30pm. Also keep in mind the bigger the chicken parts the less the spices will affect the overall flavor so I would definitely stick to the recipe and use a 3-4 pound fryer chicken. In general this method of imparting flavor works to a depth of 1/4 inch into the meat. If the market only stocks roasters then double the spice recipe to ensure you are covering the additional surface area and definitely try to get the bird into the spice for an overnight spell in the fridge. Enjoy!

    • SuthernPhryd says:

      I would suggest dredging the chicken pieces in flour before the buttermilk to hold the spices. Then into the buttermilk and again into the flour.

  4. ruthie says:

    A couple suggestions for some of the issues the testers mentioned.

    I put salt and hot sauce in with the buttermilk for a bit more heat and flavor.

    Put the buttermilk in the bowl and add the chicken with the dry spices on it. You won’t wash off the seasoning so much that way.

    When I make this kind of crusty fried chicken, I set up a rimmed cookie sheet, with a cooling rack in it, in a 250 F oven. I fry the pieces in the order prescribed, at the highest heat level, but only until the coating is crispy and golden. Then it goes into the oven. By the time you get to the small pieces, the bigger ones are usually cooked through. But, never fear, do a temp check if you’re unsure. You can leave the chicken in the oven like that for an hour or more without it drying out — the coating protects the meat. Makes it easy to have everything ready at the same time and still warm and crispy.

    And for those of you who experienced oily chicken, the higher cooking temp, plus finishing in the oven will take care of that. The first time I did this, I measured the oil that had collected in the rimmed pan after the chicken was removed. Between a 1/4 and 1/2 cup with one chicken, correspondingly more when I did two chickens.

    That fry and hold technique is a Ruhlman-ism. I believe it was in Ruhlman’s 20, IIRC. Everyone I know who’s tried it swears by it. It just makes life simpler.

    • Beth Price says:

      Lovely advice, Ruthie! We so appreciate your tips and dedication to our site.

      • ruthie says:

        De nada, Beth. ;) I am a fried chicken lover and a Ruhlman evangelist. I love Popeye’s, and when I lived back East i loved Bojangles. When I gave Ruhlman’s technique a try, whatever the seasonings, it came out as close to theirs as I could imagine ever getting it. And not greasy, even with cold leftovers. /:) Ruhlman may be an Ohio boy, but he knows (and loves) fried chicken.

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