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.

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 Rossi

Cajun Fried Chicken

A pile of Cajun fried chicken pieces.
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.
Donald Link

Prep 35 mins
Total 35 mins
4 to 6 servings
4.67 / 6 votes
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  • Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer


  • One (3- to 4- pound) chicken cut into 10 pieces* [see * below]
  • 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. (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.
Print RecipeBuy the Real Cajun cookbook

Want it? Click it.


*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.

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. 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).

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 a 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


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  1. 5 stars
    LOVE THIS .. I just do .. no white pepper, only 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, add 1/2 teaspoon onion powder & 1/2 more of cayenne lard only for this (just my take on it )

  2. 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.

      1. 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.

  3. 5 stars
    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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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!

  4. 5 stars
    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.

    1. 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….

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