Batter-Fried Chicken

Batter-Fried Chicken Recipe

Using equal parts cornstarch and flour in the batter ensures a crisp crust on the fried chicken. And baking powder adds lift and lightness without doughiness. We flavor our fried chicken batter with black pepper, paprika, and cayenne for simple but unambiguous flavor. We replaced the milk in the batter with plain old water. (When wet batter hits hot frying oil, the moisture in the batter vaporizes, leaving behind the solids that adhere to the chicken. With milk, the sugars in the milk solids browned too fast and produced a soft crust.) As far as technique, deep-frying easily beats out shallow-frying for this fried chicken. With shallow-frying, the batter always burns on the bottom.–The Editors of Cook’s Country

LC Pepper To Taste Note

With its crisp, nubbly crust and tender, insanely moist meat, this fried chicken is fried perfection. Finger lickin’ good, actually. The only thing we’d consider changing? The amount of black pepper. It’s intentionally heavy-handed in this recipe, and that’s not a bad thing. Just essential for you to know going in that you have the right to add pepper to taste.

Batter-Fried Chicken Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4 to 6


  • For the brined chicken
  • 1 quart (4 cups) cold water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces (halve each breast crosswise and separate leg quarters into thighs and drumsticks)
  • For the fried chicken
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 2 to 5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 3/4 cups cold water
  • 3 quarts (12 cups) peanut or vegetable oil, for frying


  • Make the brine
  • 1. Whisk the water, salt, and sugar in a large bowl until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the chicken and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.
  • Make the fried chicken batter
  • 2. Whisk the flour, cornstarch, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, baking powder, salt, and water in a large bowl until smooth. Cover and refrigerate the batter while the chicken is brining.
  • Fry the chicken
  • 3. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or other deep-sided pot over medium-high heat till it reaches 350°F (176°C). Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.
  • 4. Pour off and discard the brine from the chicken. Pat the chicken pieces completely dry with paper towels. Whisk the batter to recombine. (If the batter seems too thick, add a little cold water, no more than 1 tablespoon at a time, until the batter becomes the consistency of pancake batter.) Place half the chicken pieces in the batter and turn to coat. Remove the chicken from the batter, allowing any excess to drip back into the bowl, and carefully transfer it to the oil. Fry the chicken, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain the oil temperature between 300°F and 325°F (149°C and 163°C). Cook the fried chicken until deep golden brown and the white meat registers 160°F/71°C (175°F/79°C for dark meat), 12 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Place the fried chicken on the wire rack to drain. Bring the oil back to 350°F (176°C) and repeat with the remaining chicken. Serve the fried chicken hot, warm, at room temperature, even cold if there are any leftovers (hah!).
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Mike S.

Oct 17, 2013

I’m one who loves fried chicken as a midnight snack, pulling it from the ice box and eating it cold. Although this chicken was alright for a late-night snack, where it really shines is straight out of the fryer. The batter comes out super crunchy, the interior is juicy and moist, and there’s just the right amount of seasoning to give it a nice, memorable kick.

Testers Choice
Alexander Cowan

Oct 17, 2013

You know what this chicken reminded me of? Childhood. While my mother would make amazing fried chicken, some evenings it was easier for her to break out a box of frozen Banquet-brand fried chicken. Its thick, overly peppered crust wasn’t exactly a favorite but you wouldn’t hear any complaints from us. So yeah, this recipe—at least for me—reminded me of that chicken in a serious way.

The batter came out way too thick after resting in the fridge for an hour. Even after beating it with a whisk for a bit, I ended up adding an additional 1/4 cup water to loosen it up a bit. The batter was still quite thick after the additional water was added and clung to the chicken easily. The cook times varied considerably from the recipe. My first batch took 23 minutes to reach an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C), with the oil staying at a constant 330°F (166°C). I’d recommend checking your internal temperature after about 12 minutes in, then gauge the timing from there.

Next time I’d change the seasonings in the batter. First I’d remove all but 2 teaspoons black pepper, as 5 teaspoons was way too much for me. I’d add 1 more teaspoon salt for a total of 2 teaspoons.

We also used some of the remaining batter to deep-fry some artichoke hearts we had from the garden. I’m looking forward to trying this one again—sans all that black pepper.

Testers Choice
Sofia Reino

Oct 17, 2013

Momofuku fried chicken, I DO love you, but I’ve found a new love! And I feel so very guilty for saying this. I must say that the chicken thighs I used ended up being in the brine overnight, as we had to run to the ER just as I was about to start cooking. So both the brined chicken and the batter were in the fridge for more than 10 hours, and I was worried the chicken would end up being too salty. When I removed the batter from the fridge, it was overly thick. I tried mixing it, but ended up adding 1 more tablespoon water to thin it a bit, and that did the trick. I used gluten-free all-purpose flour. When tasting the batter alone, I was a tad worried it was a bit too peppery for my 4-year-old. I heated the oil, dried the chicken, and started to fry it. The final result was an EXTREMELY moist and juicy chicken with a gorgeous, golden crust that had a nice little kick to it, but nothing too strong that a kid wouldn’t enjoy it. We all agreed that this is going to be our No. 1 choice for fried chicken. None of us could believe the taste and juiciness of each piece of chicken—even a couple that ended up a little too dark on the outside. Each thigh took about 11 minutes to cook. I was able to fry 4 at a time, so as we were eating the first batch, the second was being fried. Also, the 4 pounds would’ve been perfect for 6 people. We had some leftovers. I actually love cold fried chicken and this recipe also works well this way. After a few hours I decided to place one in a hot oven (under broil high), and not only did it warm up in 5 minutes but the crispness came back to life.

  1. Aleksandr Stankevic says:

    Yummy, that looks so great! I’ll have to try to cook that myself!

  2. cjaw288lhr says:

    I love chicken! I could eat it 7 days a week. This has got to be one of the very best recipes I have ever come across!! Because I like a bit more black pepper, I added a teaspoon more to the batter, but other than that I followed the recipe exactly. The inside was moist and it was superb when cold. We decided that this is our go-to chicken recipe from now on. Actually, all of the David’s recipes are spot-on!!

    • David Leite says:

      cjaw288lhr, why thank you. I’m blushing. I have a wonderful team, from Renee who picks the recipes, to Beth who oversees the testing, to the testers who say yay or nay.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      So lovely to hear it, cjaw288lhr! Thanks so much for taking the time to drop us a note. Looking forward to hearing which recipe you try next…

  3. Carole J. says:

    This is THE best chicken recipe I have come across…it’s excellent hot and just as good cold. I like my chicken a little spicy so I doubled the black pepper. Don’t be intimidated by the recipe—it really is easy and I promise you, once you make it, you won’t want chicken any other way. Thanks, David!!

    • David Leite says:

      Carole, music to my ears, dear. Music! So glad you liked the recipe. It was a huge favorite with our testers, too.

  4. Wendy says:

    I made this batter fried chicken tonight and my family LOVED it! The battered skin was so deliciously crispy!! I went very light on the pepper because we’re not fans of lots of pepper. Can’t wait to make it again for get togethers over the summer. Some of the best fried chicken we’ve ever had! Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Nick says:

    This is awesome! The batter was GREAT, and my extra choice of seasonings still blended well. I’ve always been too cautious of getting the right temperature, but with a medium flame on my stovetop it all temped perfectly and was very juicy. Cant wait to show this off! Thank you!

  6. deborah_nicole says:

    I just pulled the first few pieces out of the skillet, they are amazing! i used 1 1/2 cups flour and just about 1/2 cup of cornstarch because that’s all the cornstarch i had. used 2 tablespoons tony chachere’s creole seasoning for all seasonings. I will never use a dry coating again. awesome awesome awesome!

  7. Diane says:

    Is using boneless chicken breast or thighs a possibility? From the reviews, my mouth is watering, but I am not a big fan of boned chicken parts. I am glad I stumbled upon this site:)

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Hi, Diane. Sure, it’s a possibility, but so is the chance of drying out the meat. The bone keeps things moist in there. How about frying with the bone in and then cutting off the meat? At least it will be moist. If that’s not an option, try the boneless meat. But definitely keep the skin on. Without it, the chance of further drying out the meat increases.

  8. Raytisha says:

    Thank you so much for this delicious recipe!!!! I just made it tonight and it was a total hit. I absolutely LOVED the crisp fried skin and flavors, way better than any fast food winglets’ I have had. I can’t wait to try this recipe on my extended family. I know it is going to be a big hit :)

  9. Sye Pritchett says:

    This was a really good batter, nice and crisp. I used Lawry’s seasoned salt and added some ground thyme to it. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks so much for the recipe.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      You’re so very welcome, Sye. Just doing what we do! But we really appreciate you taking the time to let us know how much you loved the recipe. We’ll be waiting to hear which recipe from the site you try next…

  10. david says:

    How long can you keep the batter in the fridge for considering it has baking powder in it? (Untouched by the raw chicken.)

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      david, Shuna Lydon, a pastry chef in NYC and blogger at Eggbeater, says that cake batter, which contains baking powder, can stay in the fridge up to four days. I’m not sure how that translates to fried chicken batter, but I do know we keep pancake batter in the fridge overnight to no ill effect. So I think you’re fine for a few days.

  11. david says:

    Hi David,

    Your recipe works great. I do have another question though, I’d put the chicken on a wire rack but the bottom side is still very oily, so I’d have to pat it down with a paper towel. How long do you normally leave it up on a wire rack before you serve it? Or would you know any reason why mine turns out oily?

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      david, you can never go wrong with a Cook’s Country recipe! Tell me: was your oil temperature correct? Did you add too many pieces at once? That can lower the oil temperature. Cooler oil temps make for oily fried foods. And there’s no problem with putting paper towel on the rack at first so it wicks up some of the oil and then removing it. I think the chicken can stay on the rack anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on whether you like hot or room temp fried chicken.

      But definitely, check the oil.

  12. Corine says:

    Okay so I just tried my own recipe. I was trying to copy what my mom used to do when I was a kid. Flour, MILK (omg big mistake) spices and chicken that I boiled. The batter turned brown fast, BUT it was all mushy!!! Then I saw the thing about not using milk but water (or beer)…kinda late. I tried saving them by throwing them in the oven but it was basically ruined, they turned tough :( Will water really make them not mushy? I crave homemade nuggets but tonight was a epic fail and a disappointment…

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Corine, so sorry to hear your attempt at your mom’s recipe wasn’t up to your expectations. As the headnote says, milk creates a soft, very brown crust. I think you’ll have much great success using water, which evaporates and leaves no milk solids behind that can wreak havoc in your crust.

  13. Chii-pet says:

    Hey, this recipe is looking really good. I can’t wait to make it tonight! I do have a question, though, well, two actually. How long can the chicken stay in the brine before it’s ruined? And is it ok to make the batter right before I fry the chicken, without it being refrigerated?


  14. Cynthia U says:

    I was tired of the same old way having fried chicken I wanted to taste a different crunchy taste, found your recipe, and tried it. Very simple to make. I had all of the ingredients and the taste is mouthwatering. I love it.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      That’s terrific to hear, Cynthia U! Many kind thanks for taking the time to let us know. You made our morning.

  15. Craig says:

    This is my first recipe to post on. Just wanted to say we really enjoyed it and to thank you for sharing this recipe.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Craig, welcome! And you are so very welcome. Really appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment and look forward to hearing which recipe you try next!

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