This Cajun fried chicken is bathed in buttermilk and turns out crisp, slightly spicy, perfectly deep-fried loveliness thanks to its Southern charm and Louisiana personality. Quite literally some of the best we’ve ever had.
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.–David Leite
Cajun Fried Chicken FAQs
How do you cut up a whole chicken?
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 to 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. The result? Perfectly fried, obscenely juicy, tender white meat with ample Cajun-spiced coating.
What does buttermilk do for fried chicken?
In this recipe, dipping the chicken into buttermilk before coating with spiced flour helps the flour stick, giving you that ultra-crisp coating. The buttermilk adheres to the chicken much better and allows for the breading to also have more sticking power. It also has fat and acids that help break down the outer skin for a crispy crust.
Should you let fried chicken rest before eating?
Don’t be in a rush to eat the fried chicken the moment it comes out 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.
Cajun Fried Chicken
- Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer
- One (3- to 4- pound) chicken cut into 10 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 (either low-fat or full-fat), shaken well
- 3 cups lard, vegetable shortening, mild vegetable oil, or bacon drippings
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 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.
- 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.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
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 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 paper towels.
If you’re looking for moist, flavorful, CRISPY Cajun fried chicken, then this is the recipe for you! All the testers at my table gave it a thunderous “10″ and asked to have the plate passed for seconds or thirds.
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.
My family found this Cajun fried chicken 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.
A brief dab with a paper towel removed the excess moisture. I then put the pieces in the buttermilk and heated the shortening. The coating on the leftover fried chicken wasn’t crisp the next day, but it was still really flavorful. This is going on the do-it-again list.
YUMMY! If you love fried chicken, you should give this Cajun fried chicken recipe a try.
I cooked my chicken in vegetable shortening, but 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 nice crunchy skin.
I enjoyed this Cajun fried chicken recipe 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.
Originally published January 28, 2021
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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 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.