This Cajun fried chicken recipe is really crispy spicy deep fried goodness thanks to its Southern spices and buttermilk bath. Quite literally the best we’ve 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. Originally published June 26, 2011.–Renee Schettler Rossi
How to Chop Your Chicken Before You Fry It
In the recipe for Cajun fried chicken that you find below, the instructions tell you to cut the chicken into 10 pieces instead of the more typical 8 by halving each chicken breast portion. It’s brilliant advice that we encourage you to try. 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 on the exterior 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 pieces with ample crunchy goodness. Amen to that.
Special Equipment: Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer
Cajun Fried Chicken
- Quick Glance
- 35 M
- 35 M
- Serves 4 to 6
- 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 (either low-fat or full-fat), shaken well
- 3 cups lard, vegetable shortening, mild vegetable oil, or bacon drippings
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1. Pat the chicken dry. Ask your butcher to cut the chicken into 10 pieces instead of the usual 8 or do it yourself. All you need to do to create the extra two pieces is cut the breast off the backbone and then cut each breast in half crosswise, which will give you 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, and 4 pieces of chicken breast. [Editor’s Note: You really must try this nifty little trick.] Place the chicken in a large bowl and season 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. The longer the better as the seasonings will more thoroughly permeate the meat with more time.
- 2. Remove the chicken from the dry spices, allowing any liquid to drip back into the bowl. Place the chicken in a clean bowl and pour the buttermilk over the top.
- 3. 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 until a pinch of flour sizzles when it’s dropped in the fat.
- 4. While the oil heats, remove the chicken from the buttermilk, allowing any excess liquid to drip off, and transfer the chicken to 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.
- 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 and being careful not to overcrowd the skillet. For the crispiest results, you want ample room around each piece in the oil. Start with the larger pieces. 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 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 or to a brown paper bag that you’ve cut open. Return the oil to 350°F before frying each subsequent batch of chicken. The smaller pieces will take about 6 minutes on each side.
- 6. Don’t be in such a rush to eat the fried 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. Swear.