Cajun Fried Chicken

This Cajun fried chicken recipe is bathed in buttermilk and turns out crisp, slightly spicy, perfectly deep-fried loveliness thanks to its Southern charm and Louisiana personality. Quite literally the best we’ve had.

A pile of Cajun fried chicken pieces.

This Cajun fried chicken is bathed in buttermilk and spiced ever so slightly, making it memorably moist inside, superlatively crisp outside, and gosh darn perfect through and through.–Renee Schettler

Cajun Fried Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • (6)
  • 35 M
  • 35 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
4.7/5 - 6 reviews
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Special Equipment: Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer



Pat the chicken dry. Place the chicken in a large bowl, season it with the salt, pepper, cayenne, white pepper, garlic powder, and hot sauce, and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Tester tip: The longer you let the chicken stay in the fridge, the more thoroughly the seasonings will permeate the chicken.

Remove the chicken from the bowl, allowing any liquid to drip back into the bowl, and place it in a clean bowl. Pour the buttermilk over the top.

Heat the lard, vegetable shortening, or bacon fat in a large cast-iron skillet until it registers 350°F (176°C) on an instant-read thermometer or a pinch of flour immediately sizzles when dropped into the fat.

While the oil heats, remove the chicken from the buttermilk, allowing any excess liquid to drip off, and place the chicken in yet another clean bowl. (We know. Yet another bowl to wash. But the end result is worth the dirty dishes. We swear.)

Sprinkle the chicken with the flour and toss to coat.

When the oil is ready, add the chicken pieces to the skillet in batches, starting with the larger pieces and shaking off any excess flour before adding them to the oil. Do not crowd the skillet. For the crispest results, you want ample room around each piece in the oil. Cook the chicken, using tongs to turn the chicken occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through, about 8 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on the temperature of the oil, making sure the oil doesn’t get too hot.

Transfer the fried chicken to a plate lined with paper towels or a brown paper bag. Return the oil to temperature before frying each subsequent batch of chicken. The smaller pieces will take about 6 minutes on each side.

Don’t be in such a rush to eat the fried chicken the moment it comes of the fat. If you let it sit for a few minutes, the chicken will still be hot but the juices will have had a chance to settle and it will be a far more pleasurable experience. Swear. Originally published June 26, 2011.

Print RecipeBuy the Real Cajun cookbook

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    *What You Need To Know About How to Cut Your Chicken Before You Fry It

    • You want to cut the chicken into 10 pieces instead of the more typical 8 by halving each chicken breast portion. You can ask your butcher to cut the chicken or you can do it yourself. All you need to do to create the extra 2 pieces is cut the breast in half crosswise, which will give you 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, and 4 pieces of chicken breast.

      This is a brilliant trick. Not only does it make for smaller pieces with more surface area—hence more of that coveted spiced Cajun coating—but it ensures today’s size D-cup chicken breasts cook relatively quickly, circumventing the problem of the coating becoming burnt while waiting, waiting, waiting for the innermost meat to cook through. As one of our recipe testers commented, “Bigger chicken is not better in fried chicken heaven.” The result? Perfectly fried, obscenely juicy, tender white meat with ample Cajun spiced coating.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    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 Cajun fried chicken! It was juicy and moist and the coating was crispy and so good. This recipe will be another memorable fried chicken go-to recipe!

    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.

    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 Cajun fried chicken recipe is an amazing example of how good fried chicken can be when you approach it from the inside out. This is really super yummy! My chicken was textbook golden and PERFECTLY juicy inside.

    As for temperature, the author is looking for a mellow bubble. I found that happy bubble at 300°F. I didn't know I could do that! I wish I could have fried it a little hotter just to stave off that slight excess absorption 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.

    I used vegetable shortening, a first for me, and I was surprised how much I liked it. I still prefer peanut oil, though. 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.


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    1. Is the lard called for that shelf-stable stuff in the white plastic tub? Or hopefully something of better quality, I always use peanut oil and get good results with it whatever I’m frying shrimp fish or veg. etc. I`m going to try this however finding birds around 3 lbs. is difficult, no impossible most are 4+. Your page jumping is really annoying. Thanks.

      1. If you’re using lard, we’d recommend you use the best quality you can afford, lowandslow. There are some good-quality brands available at many supermarkets now, or some artisan brands available online. Peanut oil will work well too, as it has a high smoke point. I agree that it is often difficult to find a smaller whole chicken, unless you purchase organic. If your chicken is a bit larger, the pieces may take a little longer to cook. We can’t wait to hear how it turns out!

    2. If you don’t mind me adding my 2 cents worth; for super crispy fried I always do a double dip dredge. That is, coat/dredge your chicken pieces and lay them on a sheet of parchment. After about 10 minutes or so, the flour has become a bit damp. If not, I give each piece a little sprinkle or spritz of the buttermilk and coat/dredge again and into the fryer. My son-in-law WILL NOT EAT CHICKEN but he eats this!! Thank you for the seasoning tips, going into my rotation as of now.

    3. I like my chicken really spicy. How do I infuse the spiciness into the chicken? I have added more spice and let it sit on it for 24 hrs. Still when I cook it there’s no heat to it. I go to Church’s and theirs is perfect. How can I get my chicken to turn out like their chicken?

      1. Roy, short of using a meat injector, you’ll have to up the ante on the coating. I’d suggest adding anywhere between 1 to 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper to your flour, depending on your taste. I think the best way would be to try 1 teaspoon and fry one piece, say a wing. If that’s not spicy enough, add more cayenne, and fry another piece. Keep adding pepper until you’re happy. Then make a note as to how much you added to the 3 cups of flour so that you can refer to it in the future.

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