I’m a big fryer of chicken, and I’ve done it all kinds of ways. I’ve soaked chicken in buttermilk, I’ve flavored it with garlic powder and cayenne pepper, I’ve pan-fried it, I’ve oven-fried it. You name it, I’ve done it. This method, which is in many ways the simplest, is now my go-to method. Season the chicken with just salt and pepper, giving it some time to seep into the meat, then dip it in water, roll it in flour, and fry it in very hot oil. The water is the most unexpected and unusual step, but it’s one of those mysterious recipe things you just trust once you do it.–Adam Roberts
LC Singing Chickens Note
Shhh. Be very, very quiet. If you’re attentive, you can hear how the simmering of the oil changes its tune when the chicken is done. It’s a subtle, but certain, shift, one that’s literally music to our ears. And when it happens, we could swear there’s a singing chicken in our cast-iron skillet. Give it a whirl and let us know what sorta symphony you hear.
- Quick Glance
- 1 H
- 3 H, 45 M
- Serves 4 to 6
Special Equipment: Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer
IngredientsEmail Grocery List
- 1 to 2 whole (each about 4 pounds) chickens, cut into drumsticks, breasts, thighs, and wings
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 to 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 to 8 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 1. Three hours before you want to fry, clean the chicken. Get rid of any feather remnants (you’d be surprised, they’re there) and organs (including the heart and liver). Pat the chicken very dry with paper towels and then season it all over with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes.
- 2. Arrange 2 bowls, 1 with room-temperature water, the other with the flour, next to the stove. In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, pour in the oil until it reaches 1/3 of the way up, ideally, and definitely no more than halfway, as you don’t want the hot oil to bubble over. Heat the oil until it reaches 370°F (188°C).
- 3. Now, working piece by piece, dip the chicken in the water and then in the flour. (The water helps the flour stick.) Make sure the chicken is thoroughly coated in flour; you don’t want water to come in contact with the oil. Carefully lower the floured chicken into the oil, working in small batches so as not to crowd the pieces, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, turning the chicken every so often. The chicken is done when you cut into a piece and the meat is white throughout with no trace of pink. (The breasts will cook faster than the legs or thighs.) Use the thermometer to maintain the oil temperature between 365°F (185°C) and 370°F (188°C).
- 4. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to lift the chicken to a plate lined with paper towels or to a brown paper bag. Serve very hot or, if desired, let cool and serve tepid or at room temperature.
Recipe Testers Reviews
Have you, like me, been searching for the secret to the BEST Fried Chicken? Simply put, this recipe with the most common ingredients is IT.
I was intrigued by the water dunk for the chicken before flouring and frying. I followed the steps as outlined. The water really helped the flour stick and therefore gave it a nice crust. I used this recipe to fry some wings, which took a long time to brown. I will admit that I decided to fry them in a new, deeper pan, not my old, faithful, well-loved frying pan. That could be the issue with the frying time. I actually took them out when they were a light brown, then decided to put them back in the oil and brown them some more, which worked. The advanced seasoning (for several hours) is something I generally don’t do, but will definitely do again in the future as I think it does “marinate” the meat well. I will try this recipe again using my old faithful frying pan.
I love this recipe. Let me tell you why. It’s the simple, straightforward way of cooking, and that makes for the best recipes. The resulting chicken was crispy and mostly (see below) juicy.
You may be thinking, “Hey, if I dunk the seasoned chicken into water, won’t all my seasonings wash away?” The answer is that some of the salt and pepper do release into the water. However, I assure you, the finished chicken didn’t need additional seasoning. I tested this by salting a few pieces fresh from the oil, and those pieces were too salty. As long as you generously season the chicken to begin with, you’re good without any post-cooking seasoning.
Even in my 4 1/4 -quart Dutch oven I could only cook 4 pieces of chicken at a time. I used a fryer thermometer and was pretty good at keeping the temp at 370 degrees. With that I’d have to recommend lessening the cooking time to around 12 minutes instead of 15. My first batch, while crunchy, was also slightly dry inside from over cooking. For my second batch I reduced the cooking time to 12 minutes. This worked better, as that batch was crispy while also juicy and moist. I’m not a fan of cutting meat open to test for doneness so I would recommend using a meat thermometer instead. Remember the chicken will continue to cook after you pull it out of the oil. I rested the chicken for about 10 minutes. Believe me, it was still steaming hot on the first bite. I’d say this recipe is a keeper!