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.
Cajun Fried Chicken
- Quick Glance
- 35 M
- 35 M
- Serves 4 to 6
Special Equipment: Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer
- 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.
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. 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. This recipe will be another memorable fried chicken go-to recipe!
If you're looking for moist, flavorful, CRISPY fried chicken, then this is the recipe for you! 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. All the testers at my table gave it a thunderous “10″ and asked to have the plate passed for seconds or thirds. 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.)
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! 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. As for temperature, the author is looking for a mellow bubble. I found that happy bubble at 300°F. My chicken was textbook golden and PERFECTLY juicy inside. 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.
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.