Batter-Fried Chicken

This batter-fried chicken calls for the pieces to be quickly brined and then dipped in a seasoned batter for a crisp Southern-style crust. Simple as can be. This is the real deal. Includes secrets for that crunchy crust.

Pieces of batter-fried chicken piled on a white platter.

With its crisp, nubbly crust and insanely tender meat, this batter fried chicken recipe is fried chicken perfection. Those of you who are geeks for cooking technique wizardry, pay attention. The clever folks at America’s Test Kitchen carefully devised this Southern fried chicken recipe exquisitely well thanks to some clever tricks and tips. Wait’ll you taste it. Renee Schettler

What's the secret to crispy fried chicken?

The batter contains equal parts cornstarch and flour to ensure a shatteringly crisp crust.

The batter also calls for baking powder to create a crust that’s ethereally airy without a trace of doughiness or gloppiness.

The batter relies on black pepper, paprika, and cayenne for a “simple but unambiguous flavor” (just be forewarned, the amount of black pepper is intentionally heavy-handed).

The batter contains no dairy. They replaced the milk in the batter with plain old water. The logic behind this? “When wet batter hits hot oil, the moisture in the batter vaporizes, leaving behind the solids that adhere to the chicken. With milk, the sugars in the milk solids browned too fast and produced a soft crust.”

And, perhaps most critically, the batter-dunked chicken is then deep-fried in several inches of oil (a regular pot works just fine; no need to have a fancy deep-fryer) to ensure that the carefully constructed batter doesn’t scorch on the bottom as is often the case when you attempt to shallow-fry it in a skillet.

Batter-Fried Chicken

  • Quick Glance
  • (61)
  • 45 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
4.8/5 - 61 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook cookbook

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Special Equipment: Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer


  • For the fried chicken brine
  • For the fried chicken batter


Make the fried chicken brine

In a large bowl, whisk or stir together the water, salt, and sugar until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

Make the fried chicken batter

While the chicken is brining, in a large bowl, whisk or stir together the flour, cornstarch, black pepper, paprika, cayenne, baking powder, salt, and water until smooth. Cover and refrigerate the batter while the chicken is brining.

Make the fried chicken

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or other deep-sided pot over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F (176°C). Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet.

Pour the brine from the chicken down the sink and pat the chicken pieces completely dry with paper towels. 

Whisk the batter to recombine. (If the batter seems too thick, add some cold water, no more than 1 tablespoon at a time, until the batter becomes the consistency of pancake batter.) 

Place half the chicken pieces in the batter and turn to coat. Remove the chicken from the batter, allowing any excess to drip back into the bowl, and carefully place it in the oil. Fry the chicken and keep your attention on the oil temperature, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain the oil between 300°F and 325°F (149°C and 163°C). Cook the fried chicken until deep golden brown and the white meat registers 160°F (71°C) or 175°F (79°C) for dark meat, 12 to 25 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken pieces and the exact temperature of your oil. 

Place the fried chicken on the wire rack to drain. Bring the oil back to 350°F (176°C) and repeat with the remaining chicken. Serve the fried chicken hot, warm, at room temperature, even cold if there are any leftovers. Originally published October 17, 2013.

Print RecipeBuy the The Complete Cook’s Country TV Show Cookbook cookbook

Want it? Click it.

Recipe Testers' Tips

This recipe is an out-of-the-park home run. This is what fried chicken is supposed to taste like. The perfect combination of crisp, crunchy skin with a hint of spice, and moist, tender, juicy meat. It's good hot out of the fryer (my personal preference), room temperature, or cold for a picnic.

The spices are easily customizable to taste. Some like it hotter and spicier, so you can add some more cayenne. Some secrets to success are first—bring it up to temperature. Resist the temptation to just plop a batter soaked piece of chicken in the oil if it's not up to the proper temperature. Next—be sure to hold the batter coated pieces of chicken up over the bowl of batter until the excess batter stops dripping before you add it to the oil. Last, but not least—it's absolutely critical that you not fry too many pieces all at once. The temperature will dip too low and you won't get that toastiness and that sought after crispy crunchiness that fried chicken is famous for.

I jumped to test this recipe because I am a big fan of fried chicken and I’m missing my mother’s, since I haven’t been able to visit her recently. I typically don’t make fried chicken at home but the steps of the recipe seemed clear. The results were amazing! The salt level was perfect and the crunch factor was so enjoyable. When I heard the crackle of my son trying a piece, I knew the chicken would be delicious. All of the chicken was perfectly browned. I sent my Mom a picture and she approved as well.

Putting together the brine was easy. The chicken brined for 60 minutes in the refrigerator. I ended up using legs and thighs that were already portioned. I used volume measurements to make the batter. It was pretty loose, definitely a lot thinner than pancake batter, maybe closer to a thick salad dressing. My batter was in the fridge for an hour and there was very little change in the texture after sitting. I'd still describe it as a thin batter and I didn't need to add any water. It coated the chicken easily but still dripped off easily.

The note to check the heat of the oil was super helpful. I fried my chicken in three batches because I probably had between 4 to 5 pounds of chicken. For the first two batches of drumsticks, the heat was maintained between 300-325°F easily with a little tinkering. Overall the timing was accurate. For the drumsticks the cook time was 14 minutes. The thighs took a bit longer and I removed them at 17 minutes.

In my opinion, this is a great fried chicken recipe, straightforward-steps and the results are perfect for picnic season. I can’t wait to eat the leftover chicken cold, that is my guilty pleasure for some odd reason.

I’m someone who loves fried chicken as a midnight snack, pulling it from the icebox and eating it cold. Although this batter-fried chicken was alright straight from the fridge for a late-night snack, where it really shines is straight out of the fryer. The batter comes out super crunchy and crisp, the interior is juicy and moist, and there’s just the right amount of seasoning to give it a nice, memorable kick.

You know what this batter-fried chicken reminded me of? Childhood. While my mother would make amazing fried chicken, some evenings it was easier for her to break out a box of frozen Banquet-brand fried chicken. Its thick, overly peppered crust wasn’t exactly a favorite, but you wouldn’t hear any complaints from us. So yeah, this recipe—at least for me—reminded me of that chicken in a serious way.

The batter came out way too thick after resting in the fridge for an hour. Even after beating it with a whisk for a bit, I ended up adding an additional 1/4 cup water to loosen it up a bit. The batter was still quite thick after the additional water was added and clung to the chicken easily. The cook times varied considerably from the recipe. I’d recommend checking your internal temperature after about 12 minutes in, then gauge the timing from there.

Next time I’d change the seasonings in the batter for personal preference. I’d remove all but 2 teaspoons black pepper as 5 teaspoons was way too much for me, and I’d add 1 more teaspoon salt for a total of 2 teaspoons. We also used some of the remaining batter to deep-fry some artichoke hearts we had from the garden. I’m looking forward to trying this one again.

Momofuku fried chicken, I DO love you, but I’ve found a new love! And I feel so very guilty for saying this. We all agreed that this is going to be our No. 1 choice for fried chicken. None of us could believe the taste and juiciness of each piece of chicken.

I must say that the chicken thighs I used ended up being in the brine overnight as we had to run to the ER just as I was about to start cooking. So both the brined chicken and the batter were in the fridge for more than 10 hours, and I was worried the batter fried chicken would end up being too salty. When I removed the batter from the fridge, it was overly thick. I tried mixing it, but ended up adding 1 more tablespoon water to thin it a bit, and that did the trick. I used gluten-free all-purpose flour. When tasting the batter alone, I was a tad worried it was a bit too peppery for my 4-year-old. I heated the oil, dried the chicken, and started to fry it.

I was able to fry 4 at a time, so as we were eating the first batch, the second was being fried. The final result was an EXTREMELY moist and juicy Southern fried chicken with a gorgeous, golden crust that had a nice little kick to it but nothing too strong that a kid wouldn’t enjoy it. I actually love cold fried chicken and this recipe also works well this way. After a few hours I decided to place one in a hot oven (under broil high), and not only did it warm up in 5 minutes but the crispness came back to life.


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    1. Iris, we’ve never tried this recipe in an air fryer, so we can’t recommend it. Most air fryer chicken recipe rely on a dry coating so I’d be concerned that the wet batter wouldn’t crisp up well in an air fryer.

  1. What did I do wrong??? Chicken came out with no skin really on it. Maybe some here and there. Most of the skin ended up being at the bottom of pot used to fry…. only 1 piece of 14 had skin an it and was crunchy

    1. Wow, Briana, it really did all fall off! There are a couple of things you can do to help your skin and batter stick. You want to make sure that you really dry the chicken after the brine, before coating it in the batter. Ideally, you also want to use a thermometer to make sure you keep your oil at the right temperature and don’t crowd the frying pot with too many pieces of chicken at once. The other tip that I’ve used in the past that seems to help is to let the battered chicken chill for 30 minutes or so before frying. I hope that helps!

  2. Hi everyone, I am Vichall from the island of Mauritius.
    Whoahh, just tried this recipe, first time using wet batter, sorry no pics available, only bones and bone mash !!!!
    An absolute wonder, I did this witth chicken wings marinated in same brine as explained above, and in the remaining batter, I sliced some onions and they were great as well.

    Thank you for this heavenly recipe…

    Cheers from Mauritius

    1. You’re welcome, Vichall! We’re delighted that you love this as much as we do, and appreciate you taking the time to let us know.

  3. haven’t made this yet, but it’s on my to-do list. I’ve been looking for a good batter fried chicken recipe, as I’ve only ever used breading when I fry chicken. I wonder if I could divide the batter and use half for dipping the chicken and half for making onion rings.

  4. DELICIOUS! Just made this fried chicken for my picky eating fiancé and myself along with some cornbread, mashed potatoes, and salad. What a treat of a meal! This fried chicken is a bit different than any other we’ve tried and we loved it. I will definitely be adding this recipe to my collection. Thank you for sharing you’re wonderful recipe!

    1. That does sound like a fantastic meal, Ellyse! We’re delighted that you enjoyed the chicken, and appreciate you taking the time to let us know.

  5. Just finished making your recipe for hubby and one yet..and i have been trying many…this is a keeper..I used my deep fryer and put the pieces right into the oil..20min. for the 5 pieces..juicy, batter was delish!!..ty so much…so glad your site popped up first when i was again searching for a good recipe..Happy seniors in Canada!!..huggzz

  6. What a wonderful fried chicken recipe. I am not a fan of black pepper so I left that out. I dipped it and put it on a rack to drip some of the batter off. I also substituted garlic powder for cayenne. I fried it in my deep fryer without the basket. It was WONDERFUL!!!! Golden brown. I put it in a brine for 6 hours. It was perfect.

    1. Thanks, Carol! We’re delighted that you enjoyed it so much. We can’t wait to hear what you try next.

    1. Good question, Bill. We’ve never tried it this way, so we really can’t say if it would work. Most air fryer fried chicken recipes rely on a dry coating mixture as opposed to a wet batter, so I’d be a little concerned that the wet batter won’t crisp up the same way in an air fryer.

  7. It is a great recipe! As today was National Fried Chicken Day, we gave it a try and were not sorry! Thanks for sharing this.

  8. I made this exactly as instructed, ohh damn it’s good. I went medium on the black pepper (2.5 tsp) and agree it can be kicked up. Perfect crispy thin shattery crust. Never ordering takeout chix again.

  9. This recipe is absolutely delicious!!! So flavorful! The only thing I did differently was to leave it brining for 3 hours and added more seasonings to my batter. Oh my god, it was so flavorful and delicious. Thank you!!!! I’m going to bookmark this recipe!!

  10. I’ve never made fried chicken before. I live in Florida with a Southern-raised hubby, so have assumed it would never measure up to what his mom made. I was WRONG! This chicken is freaking amazing! We didn’t use quite so much black pepper, and used 2 teaspoons of Everglades seasoning instead of 1 teaspoon of salt. OMG, I will make this again and again. Thanks for such a delicious, easy-to-follow recipe.

    1. You’re so welcome, Rhonda, and we’re delighted that you and your hubby loved this fried chicken!

  11. Worst recipe tried to date. Left a review 12 Months ago, came back to see if you posted it. Of course you didn’t. If you want to fry fish? Best fish batter ever. If you want to fry southern chicken?
    Worst recipe ever. To be crystal clear. Fish yes. Chicken no. Southern? Not in 100 country miles.

    1. Marc,
      I’m from a very small town in South Georgia and have written many Southern cookbooks (including one called Fried Chicken). I’ve found it so interesting on how many ways Southerners fry chicken and how the ways are so different depending on where you grew up. There’s a fried chicken served in Atlanta at Mary Mac’s Tea Room that I learned about years ago when writing a book for the restaurant. I was blown away because it was battered twice. It’s so crunchy that you can’t hear anything while you’re chewing! If the chicken is brined, it’s more likely to have a batter and if it’s soaked in buttermilk, a dusting of flour is more common. The buttermilk helps to form a thicker crust too. I’d love to know where you grew up and how you like to fry your chicken. (I could talk fried chicken all day long ;).
      I’m also a BIG fried fish fan. We always had fish fries growing up and my grandmother would cook grits all day to go with the fish.

  12. This is hands down the best brine and batter recipe I’ve ever tried, not only because the brine imparts wonderful flavor to the chicken, the batter allows me to sufficiently brown my chicken without the batter getting burned and my chicken ending up raw. I just made some additions to my brine by chucking in some bay leaves, pepper and onion leeks. Worked great and the chicken was oh so crispy outside but juicy and tender inside! Will be making this for the second time in two weeks 😅

  13. I don’t know how I never stumbled across this recipe before, but I loved it! the skin batter was crunchy and delicious. The chicken was a little salty, but I kept it in the brine for about 3 hours which was more than what was stated. I’ll cut back on brining time. I made the amount of batter that was called out, but I cooked about 5 lb of chicken and not 3 pounds. I still had plenty of batter left over, and I only use about 2 quarts of oil and not three. The oil did get darker the last batch but that just made the chicken look more golden to me. Next time I’ll make sure that I have more things to fry since I had batter and oil left over.

    1. Thanks, Alan. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it, and thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us.

  14. For me the batter was VERY thin, but still very tasty. I double-checked the amounts and gave it extra fridge time and extra whisking, then eventually a tbsp of additional flour, but it remained thinner than pancake batter.

    That said, I still dunked my split wings in it and it fried up great. Super delicious. Just not as much breading sticking to the pieces due to the battery consistency.

  15. This is a wonderful recipe. It works great for bone in chicken thighs. Next time, I’m going to make chicken fingers using this as I think it will be an excellent way to cook skinless chicken.

  16. Hello, looks like the batter fried chicken recipe is great! i was wondering if this can be baked in the oven? if so would you change anything?
    also do you have any amazing recipes for chicken tenders with corn flakes or any other cereal coating? something battery and very crunchy
    thanks a lot

    1. Hi Joey H and thanks for your questions! We haven’t tried this particular recipe in the oven so, while we’re curious to try it, we haven’t yet in our own home kitchens so I’m hesitant to recommend it. We do, however, have a couple recipes you may be interested in. This baked drumsticks recipe can be made with crushed corn flakes or potato chips or any of a number of various crunchy crushed things. And this chicken strips recipe can probably be made with crushed corn flakes in place of bread crumbs (and if you don’t have buttermilk, I’ll bet regular milk or egg white would work perfectly fine). Kindly let us know what you end up doing and how it worked out for you! Be well and safe…

  17. I just made this with 4 lbs of bone in thighs and 3 lbs of tenders, and both came out phenomenal. I did tweak recipe a little by using seltzer water and half all purpose, half brown rice flour. You’re def onto something here though with the cornstarch and baking powder and no dairy or eggs. Batter adhered to chicken post fry better than any other I have tried.

    1. Richard, I would refrain from doing that for food safety reasons since you already dunked raw chicken into the batter. That bacteria can multiply and even though it’s refrigerated, it’s still VERY risky. Sorry but always better to be safe!

  18. Brined huge chicken breasts for 16 hours using chicken broth, salt, brown sugar, soy and teriyaki. Did not pat dry. Used heavy cream (it’s what I had) instead of water or buttermilk. Used Mrs. Dash along with seasonings described. Cut breasts into strips, soaked, tossed, soaked again, tossed. They were FANTASTIC! I agree with the assessment that this recipe is best eaten right away. The sweet of the cream played fabulously with the pepper, and the crust is such a great bite considering the starch and powder. Thank you for the recipe!

    1. I’m glad your family enjoyed it, Cortessa. Make sure your oil is at temperature and give it time to return to temperature between batches. This will help with the extra oil absorption.

  19. Reading the intro to the recipe. Can you brine the chicken in buttermilk beforehand, but use water in the brine and still not lose that water/oil chemistry?

    1. Olivia, great question! Although we haven’t tried this with buttermilk and can’t guarantee that you’ll achieve as crisp a crust, we think it should work as long as you follow the directions to drain and pat the chicken pieces dry after brining. This should leave you with a minimal amount of dairy on your chicken. Do let us know how it turns out.

  20. Hello, good afternoon. I hope everybody’s in good health. I’m wondering about this recipe again. Do you put the total 1 3/4 cup water in with the flour and baking powder? And I’m wondering: Flour and baking powder and salt makes self-rising flour, so is this what were using plus cornstarch? Thank you.

  21. Hello, my name is Glen. I’m wondering when using this batter does the chicken have to be fried or could I bake it in the oven thank you

  22. Outstanding. Best crust on home made chicken I’ve ever had. Super crispy crust and very moist meat from the brining! My wife’s eyes got real big when she took her first bite! She gave it a serious OMG! When I tasted the batter, it tasted extremely peppery, but a lot of it cooks out. The finished product was not too spicy at all. I might try a little more salt next time. Can’t wait to serve it my friends and relatives.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to share this with us, Paul. We’re delighted that it was such a hit!

  23. Coating very crispy, meat juicy and delicious. Only problem batter goes into fryer basket and sticks. Had to scrape off after cooking. (I mean…the chicken was stuck to the basket) good fried chicken.

    1. Thanks, Mitchell! Take care not to crowd your frying basket. That might help a little.

  24. it’s my first time to make fried chicken from scratch, without readymade batter or breading. followed every step, and it was a success. my kids loved it, my husband loved it. i love it! thanks so much for this great recipe. would make another batch very soon.

    1. Magnificent, maria lea b! It’s messages like this that are exactly why we do what we do! We so appreciate you taking the time to let us know what a success this is! Seems like our work here is done…

  25. A quick search of the internet for a good batter recipe, brought me here. After reading through pretty much all content on this page, I was quickly sold.

    My plans did not include bone-in chicken (I will be doing that soon), but rather making chicken “nuggets” at home. I sous vide cooked a couple of tubes of homemade chicken mousse (from tenderloins), and after snacking on one chilled and sliced with crackers, we realized the consistency was very similar to the insides of a popular fast food snack. So…I sliced the remaining tube-o-mousse into coins, lightly floured, and dipped into your delicious batter recipe, then quickly into hot oil for a short fry. These were NOT greasy and stayed crisp throughout our snacking, I was quite amazed.

    One thing I changed from the recipe, I split the water measure with vodka, 50/50. They came out absolutely perfect and ridiculously similar to commercially available nuggets. Bonus: we actually know what’s in them.

    Thank you for this recipe, it will forever be my go-to!

  26. Omg, I tried this recipe today and it was sooooooooo good. I double fried the chicken. I first dipped the chicken in the batter half fried it then again dipped in the batter and fried it to perfection 😍

  27. Can you use this recipe with an air fryer? It would be my first time frying chicken and I’m extremely nervous doing so!

    1. Cynthia, I wouldn’t use an air fryer for this recipe. If you feel you’d like to air fryer, I would search the Internet for a recipe that specifically designed for that.

  28. Hi. This recipe looks delicious! Just wondering if you could batter the chicken and then bake it in the oven, instead of frying it?

  29. Yum!! This was my first time frying chicken and I am a happy girl I used 4 teaspoons of pepper instead of 5 and added a little bit of sugar to the batter. (Per hubby’s suggestion) and a teaspoon of Tony’s seasoning. I had some batter left over so I dunked zucchini and mushrooms. Yum yum yum.

  30. The chicken came out incredible! My wife and in-laws were super impressed!!! Crispy and tender. Only thing I did different was that halfway through frying, I dipped in the batter again, then continued to fry. Loaded with flavor

    1. Love that this batter-fried chicken drew you acclaim at home, Norm! And love your double-dipping trick! Greatly appreciate you taking the time to let us know and looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

  31. This is the first time I’ve ever made battered chicken. The wife loved it. I’m making it again but this time I’m using spicy hot marinade instead of water.

  32. I used this recipe to make some chicken tenders, and I’m really picky and so are my kids. They all loved it (my husband and me included). I will be using this recipe over and over! The chicken was moist and the coating was perfect (even though I had to use a plate with paper towels, no metal rack)!

  33. I loved this fried chicken recipe. We had leftovers so we put it in the fridge, reheated it the next day, and it was still juicy and crunchy. Can’t get over this recipe! Highly recommended. I can make this every day of the week. I posted and shared it through Facebook as my one and only favorite fried chicken. I love cooking and this is one of my #1 fried chicken. Thank you.

    1. Wow, Amy! Thank you so much for your glowing review of the fried chicken. How wonderful that you found a new favorite and really appreciate all the social media love.

  34. Made this recipe tonight, and my family loves it. Sooooo juicy, crunchy and yummy. Would recommend this at all times. Thanks for the recipe. Easy to make and delicious.

  35. I found this recipe while doing a quick search of the internet. I had a taste for fried chicken but did not want to stop by my local Publix grocery to pick up a box. I have used my own recipe that was my go to until I read you comment about buttermilk vs water. I was unaware, but MAN, what a difference! Talk about CRISPY! Talk about MOIST! Talk about FLAVORFUL! I am not ashamed or too proud to admit…THIS IS OUR FRIED CHICKEN RECIPE OF CHOICE FROM THIS DAY FORTH!!! Thank you!!!

  36. I tried this recipe over the holidays. It is very tasty and the perfect blend of spices. The only problem I had is that when I took the chicken (strips of chicken breast cut into chicken fingers) out of the batter to fry, the batter mostly stayed in the pot. Very little adhered to the chicken. The chicken fried on its own, and what batter did stick to the chicken fell off in the fryer and stuck to the bottom. In the end, I tossed all the chicken fingers into a baking pan, poured the leftover batter over the chicken and baked it for 15 minutes to give the batter a chance to harden a bit. It did not come out crispy, but it was at least saved somewhat by the baking. I would appreciate learning what I did wrong, or how to make sure the batter adheres to the chicken before and during frying.

    1. Yehuda, the recipe calls for skin-on chicken parts. The skin helps the batter to adhere and the chicken to be crispy, as the skin gets crispy, too. Chicken fingers, which have no skin, are best made with an egg and breadcrumb coating, which gets crispy and adheres better.

  37. Thanks for the recipe. I really love the way it tastes. I really love it!! Now I’m having requests for such Fried Chicken. If I may ask, if I’m going to cook these in greater batches for our family outing I know that there will be changes in taste for the last chicken drumsticks that I am going to fry. What oil can I use to combat these? Is there a way or technique that I can use so that the chicken will not taste rancid?

    1. Charmaine, so glad you enjoyed the recipe. The oil won’t go rancid in one sitting. Do you mean have a slightly burnt taste to it? I would use the oil suggested in the recipe and make sure that it’s kept at the proper temperature. Also, skim out the bits of batter that fall off, because when they start to burn that can alter the taste of the oil a bit.

  38. Perfect!!! I made this for my picky kids, and they actually had seconds! Keeping this crispy on the outside, tasty, juicy on the inside, fried chicken recipe for life!

  39. So glad someone asked about the type of kosher salt and amount. So important! Have found that 1 tsp Diamond kosher salt is equal to 1/2 tsp Morton kosher. And same difference for Diamond verses regular table salt. Now ready to try this chicken recipe!

    1. Merri, yes. Kosher salt can be a problem. We’re in the process of adding weights to all of our recipes where needed–and weight is greatly needed with kosher salt.

  40. It’s turkey hunting season here in Missouri, and my neighbor gave me a fresh, boneless, skinless wild turkey breast Tuesday morning. Until today, it relaxed in the refrigerator while I dithered over how to prepare it.

    My past experiments with cooking wild turkey have turned out dry and tough–thus my indecisiveness. But having had great success with this fried chicken recipe, I decided to use it for fried wild turkey strips.

    Holy cow, turkey hunters, THIS IS THE TICKET! Not only the does batter fry up crisp and tasty, but something about it (the cornstarch, perhaps?) seals in the moisture, yielding an exquisitely tender, juicy interior, even without the moisture-imparting benefits of bones and skin.

    Just a few pointers if you plan to try this with wild turkey breast. 1) After harvesting and butchering the turkey, be sure to refrigerate the meat for 4-5 days before prep/brining, to ensure that the rigor mortis has dissipated, 2) cut out any tendons and the thickest parts of the silver skin, 3) feel free to cut the breast WITH the grain, because any way you slice it, the end result will be tender enough to cut with a fork, 4) try to cut the meat into strips of uniform thickness so they brown evenly–but not TOO thick or the crust will burn before the meat is cooked. 5) dry the brined strips as thoroughly as possible so that the batter will stick.

    Note that I have not tried this recipe with wild turkey legs or thighs (with or without skin or bones), but if someone does try this technique on dark meat of wild turkey, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

    1. LOVE this, Lisa! Thank you so much for sharing the idea and the pointers! (And as an editor, I also appreciate that you used the word “dithered”!) Seriously grateful for this. Looking forward to hearing about the next recipe on the site that you try!

  41. I was curious if you know this is Carolina style fried chicken – similar to the old Pioneer chicken that used to exist in the West Coast back in the day. Also, is there any need to dredge the chicken in flour at all during the process? One last question, can we brine the chicken in buttermilk? Or will that turn the chicken darker like you mentioned earlier.

    1. Ed, thanks for sharing the Carolina origins of this approach to fried chicken! We are always thrilled to learn more about a recipe. Rest assured, there is no need to dredge the chicken at all. And we didn’t try brining the chicken in buttermilk, that may indeed make the chicken darker. If you’re curious to try it, go ahead and just keep a careful watch on the chicken as it’s in the oil. If it turns dark before it’s done, simply remove it and finish it in a hot oven—I’d say 375°F or so. And a word to the wise, cut each chicken breast half in half, so effectively you’ll have 4, not 2, pieces of chicken breast. The smaller size helps ensure the meat cooks through before the batter burns. Kindly let us know how it goes!

      1. Made this for dinner today. I was looking for something different to do with my chicken. It turned out great! I only used chicken legs. It was a big hit! Thanks for sharing!!!

  42. Thank you so much!!! After having severe issues with dairy it’s been hard to find a battered fried chicken recipe to rival the restaurants. This recipe made my husband who usually thinks my chicken is bland— want leftovers the next day. I love that I can control the salt so it’s not so bad. My whole family loves it!!!

    1. Looooooove to hear that, Ericka! Many kind thanks for taking the time to let us know. I have some dietary restrictions as well and I know well the relief that comes with finding a recipe that you love—and that others love, too, so that you can all share the same meal. Again, we so appreciate you taking the time to share this with us.

    1. Ashely, we didn’t test any substitutes, so I’m hesitant to say. Arrowroot is often substituted for cornstarch, but because this is such a large amount, I have no idea how it would turn out. If you do use it, please let us know what you think.

  43. Been experimenting with different fried chicken recipes for decades and never really happy with the end results, but today made this for the third time in a month. It’s here to stay. And don’t throw out that leftover batter while the oil is still hot. I discovered today that it makes wonderful onion rings, too. Might have to try it with shrimp next time.

  44. I’ve been looking for a good fried chicken recipe for years. There is a place that I have been going since I was a child (50 years ago). Its been a family tradition for years and I have never been able to duplicate their chicken. This particular place has a line out the building, down the block on a regular basis, so that should tell you how good their chicken is. Well, I’ve finally found a recipe that is just as good, I actually think even better. This recipe is spot on if you want a crisp, moist chicken with loads of flavor. I’ve come close in the past but I have finally found the recipe I’ve been searching for. Thank you.

    1. You’re so very welcome, Darrell! LOVE to hear this! It’s remarkable just how potent a food memory can be, isn’t it? We’re always thrilled when one of our recipes recreates a treasured experience. Again, thank you so much for taking the time to let us know.

  45. glad i found your recipe!! tried it and i was amazed with the crunchiness and taste. i used the wings. we dip them in butter-ketchup-hot dip and it had the kick. thanks much! very good for snacking.

  46. Even shy a teaspoon of baking powder (I never recall running out completely), this turned out deliciously. Thanks for a weeknight winner for sale-priced breasts. Also, I can’t believe it took me this many years to figure this out, but to avoid having to carefully wrap and dispose of leftover cooking oil, I poured in the leftover batter and turned off the heat to allow it to absorb all the oil. When it was cool, I tossed the whole lot and had little to scrape out. Perfect.

  47. Hello I was wondering if this could be baked in the oven? I don’t have the proper tools to fry these yet, and my husband to be and myself are really eager to try this delicious looking recipe.

  48. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into strips. The batter wasn’t sticking to the chicken, so I dredged the strips in flour & then the batter. Batter stuck great after that! Chicken was not dry. I substituted sweet smoked paprika for the plain paprika. It made for a very tasty batter.

    1. Nice, Cheryl! Love to hear your trick. When you first tried to batter the chicken strips, before using flour, had you patted the chicken completely dry? Usually when I do this I have no problem with things sticking…

  49. Made this for a poolside family get together yesterday afternoon. In the summertime I always use my deep fryer outside for two reasons: 1. no grease buildup in the kitchen; 2. everything just tastes better when it’s cooked outside. LOL! This fried chicken was no exception. It was a huge hit! Everyone absolutely loved it! As other reviewer’s have said, the batter is crispy and crunchy, and the chicken inside is moist and delicious. This is now my go-to chicken batter recipe.

  50. I’m making this for the first time and just have 1 question, more like a confirmation. After dipping the chicken in the batter, you DON’T coat it in flour before going into the oil? It goes straight into the oil from the batter? Am I reading that right?

    1. Hi Ari, after brining the chicken is coated in the batter mixture which contains the flour. Once battered, it is placed in hot oil. Does this make sense?

      1. Yes I understand that. I always thought before going into the oil it should be covered in a dry coating (batter first the coat in flour). But with this method, if I understand correctly, it goes into the oil straight from the batter (wet and without a dry coating). That’s new to me and I just wanted to make sure I’m not doing it wrong. We are making it tomorrow night and I wanted to double check first.

        1. Hi Ari, yep, batter then hot oil. No additional flour coating. Let us know how this method works for you.

  51. I made this chicken for my family tonight. It was fantastic. My family loved the crunchy coating and moist meat combination. I used the batter to coat and fry onion petals. Yummy!!! I added some sage and smoked paprika. This added a wonderful nutty taste to the fried batter. Will definitely do this again. Thanks for sharing.

  52. Dear David,

    This is my very first time reviewing a recipe…the first time I truly felt compelled to do so. I followed the recipe instructions to “T” except that I used my mother’s 80+ y/o cast iron skillet. Thank goodness, I was prepared to change directions completely. I prepared a leg and a wing using your recipe….YES the batter was very crisp. However, it was the greasiest chicken that I have eaten since consuming a Swanson Fried Chicken TV Dinner. Frankly, it was just plain nasty.

    I stopped right then and prepared a similar dry flour mixture w/ an egg and half & half dip. Using the same oil and skillet, I fried up some very yummy, NOT GREASY, chicken.
    Too bad as I was looking forward to a positive cooking session from beginning to end.

    1. Cindy, so sorry to hear that, we’ve had many, many of our testers make this and without any complaint of it being greasy. I’m glad your trick worked, but I just want to confirm that you had the oil up to proper frying temperature? The only time I’ve had greasy chicken or anything fried is when the oil isn’t quite hot enough.

  53. The recipe sound wonderful however I haven’t tried yet. That leads me to my question about the batter. Can the chicken be battered ahead of time and refrigerated. I would like to assemble it a day ahead of time. I am happy I stumbled across your website and enjoyed reading it.

    Thank You, Sheilah

    1. Welcome, Sheilah! And thanks so much for the kind words! As for battering the chicken ahead of time, I would strongly caution against doing that. I am all for making things ahead of time when possible, but I really worry that two things may happen. I think that moisture from the chicken will be drawn out by the batter and that extra moisture may result in 1. the batter starting to fall off the chicken or not adhere as well as it ought to, and 2. the batter not crisping up properly when you fry it. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help but I just want you to have as ridiculously fantastic results as we did with this recipe!

    1. Hilda, absolutely. Make sure to set the printing options at the top of the print page to: “Recipe Only” and “without” images, comments, and Testers Choice. That should knock it down to 1 page.

  54. According to the directions, the first batch is fried between 300°F and 325°F, but for the second batch the oil is brought up to 350°F. Is this correct, or is it a typo? Thanks.

  55. I’ve been serching for a good alaround recipe that would work on chicken and fish, I had halibut in mind. Only thing I changed was the water instead I used beer. And added 1 teaspoon of Cajun seasoning. I’ve been experimenting with a 10 qt Magafesa low pressure fryer kind of like wearever chicken bucket only way better. the instructions are way off on times. After cutting up and brining ,coating the chicken I poured 2 1/2 inches of oil heated to 365 did the 2 breast first in the hot oil skin side down with long tongs slowly for 2 minutes until golden. Then quickly placed the lid on and tightened down the lid under the 2 side clamps and turned the heat up to high to boost the steam vent process. This speeds up the pressure to get the giggler working, you just want it to rotate slowly so once it starts turn down the heat to slow it up. Now for the times , as soon as the giggler started rotating start your time 8 minutes exactly. When times up with gloves release steam slowly by turning top knob counterclockwise slowly until all steam is realeased should take less than a minute, this is crucial that chicken is still cooking. Take off lid and remove lid , with long tong remove chicken and place on a wire draining rack and into a oven at 300 degrees. Next bring the oil back to 360 coat leg and thighs attached and wings use long tongs and place into oil for 2 minutes until golden and repeat the 8 minute process again to the letter. Warning Do not us a pressure cooker, to high of pressure. My unit is all 18/2 stainless steel with a locking pressure bar a cross the top an safety valves. Above all stay with your cooker and monitor the cooking process. This is the best recipe and the best chicken you’ll ever eat, thanks for sharing.

  56. I need to know asap if toasted bread crumbs can replace corn starch soon it is my kids dinner. Help!

    1. Christina, we didn’t test it that way so I can’t say. But my instinct is no. It’s going to throw off the texture and I worry the batter won’t adhere and will crumble off too easily.

        1. Yes, we’d love to hear what you think, Christina. And sorry I didn’t have better news for you but I really think you’d have been disappointed if you’d tried that substitution.

    2. Canola oil works beautifully. It has a high smoke point, therefore it doesn’t burn. Heat the oil to about 350 degrees. Make sure the oil is at temp. Fry in a deep pot or fryer with 3 to 4 inches of oil.

  57. Oh my goodness this was sooo good, will be my new favorite for sure, moist crunchy and just the right spices….

  58. Have used this recipe for chicken wings many times and they come out perfect.

    Trying thighs today. I spice up my batter with a few more spices (just my preference). Made wings yesterday for a hen party and was worried about them staying crisp but no need to, they stayed crisp for hours. I did not cover with anything when I drove there and they were just as crisp as when they came out of the fryer. Thanx so much for a great recipe.

    1. You’re so very welcome, Janet. We so appreciate you taking the time to drop us a note and let us know how spectacularly crisp they remained. Terrific to hear you like these as much as we do. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…!

  59. First I must say I’ve never fried chicken. I cook almost every meal myself. I usually make everything from scratch. This recipe looked like it would fit in right with my family’s likes. I measured everything exactly. The batter came out a little thin. It tasted slightly spicy BUT since the recipe called for the consistency of pancake batter, I added a little flour. (The first few pieces were fried with thin batter, then I gradually thickened the batter and continued to fry additional pieces.) This did not change the taste or cook time. Overall this recipe was extremely easy. This brought back childhood memories for my husband. He said, “I haven’t had chicken like this since I was a kid, just like my mamaw used to make it.” I am very satisfied with this recipe. Anyone can make it. Successful on the first try, gotta love a recipe like that.

    1. That’s so spectacular to hear, Sandra K.! Love that this brought back old-time memories of fried chicken for your husband, just as it did for us when we first made it. I’m glad you trusted your instincts, too, and kept on going even though you were a little uncertain. Many kind thanks for taking the time to let us know. Already looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

  60. My first time making battered fried chicken. I chose this recipe because of its simplicity. The explanation at the beginning also helped. I did not need to change a thing. My batter didn’t get toó thick after being in the refrigerator. The outside of the chicken was nice and crispy. It didn’t get toó brown toó quickly. I will definitely be making this again.

    1. Terrific, Virginia! So glad to hear this recipe worked as well for you as it did for us! Nothing beats fried chicken in my book. Hope you made enough so that you could hide a few pieces in the back of the fridge to enjoy cold the next day!

  61. Thank you so much for this recipe. I have allergy kids and we love fried chicken. This recipe turned out perfect. I now make it at least once a week.

  62. I love this recipe, however, I have one question. For the batter can I use chicken broth in place of water? My thought it would add extra flavor.

    1. Hi Kia, we only tested the recipe with water but I bet you could replace a bit with stock. I’ve also seen recipes where a crumbled stock cube was added as a flavor boost. Please let us know if you give it a try.

    1. Trudy, many thanks for your query. Definitely kosher salt. I just edited the recipe above to clarify this in the ingredient list. As you’re probably aware, if you used table salt, the end result would be much saltier because of the difference in size and density between table salt and kosher salt. In terms of brands, my colleague Beth Price just reminded me that most chefs use Diamond crystal kosher salt. Fingers crossed you like this batter-fried chicken as much as we do!

      1. Thanks for the clarification! For those who can’t easily find Diamond and must use Morton kosher salt instead, I believe the correction ratio is: 1 tsp Diamond = 3/4 tsp Morton. I learned the difference the hard way and ended up with inedible (over salty) shrimp one time. Anyway, very grateful to have, finally, a great fried chicken recipe!!!

        1. Thank YOU for the equivalent information, Trudy. Very helpful information. And you’re very welcome for the fried chicken recipe. I feel the same way about the Momofuku Fried Chicken. A spectacular and reliable fried chicken recipe is, quite literally, life changing. I understand. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you you fall for next!

    1. Actually, you can do whatever you want, although since we haven’t tested the recipe with that amount of hot sauce there’s no way I can guarantee the results. Not quite certain if 1 cup is the appropriate amount, as that depends on personal preference. But give it a try and let us know!

  63. This is my first recipe to post on. Just wanted to say we really enjoyed it and to thank you for sharing this recipe.

  64. I was tired of the same old way having fried chicken I wanted to taste a different crunchy taste, found your recipe, and tried it. Very simple to make. I had all of the ingredients and the taste is mouthwatering. I love it.

  65. Hey, this recipe is looking really good. I can’t wait to make it tonight! I do have a question, though, well, two actually. How long can the chicken stay in the brine before it’s ruined? And is it ok to make the batter right before I fry the chicken, without it being refrigerated?


  66. Okay so I just tried my own recipe. I was trying to copy what my mom used to do when I was a kid. Flour, MILK (omg big mistake) spices and chicken that I boiled. The batter turned brown fast, BUT it was all mushy!!! Then I saw the thing about not using milk but water (or beer)…kinda late. I tried saving them by throwing them in the oven but it was basically ruined, they turned tough :( Will water really make them not mushy? I crave homemade nuggets but tonight was a epic fail and a disappointment…

    1. Corine, so sorry to hear your attempt at your mom’s recipe wasn’t up to your expectations. As the headnote says, milk creates a soft, very brown crust. I think you’ll have much great success using water, which evaporates and leaves no milk solids behind that can wreak havoc in your crust.

  67. Hi David,

    Your recipe works great. I do have another question though, I’d put the chicken on a wire rack but the bottom side is still very oily, so I’d have to pat it down with a paper towel. How long do you normally leave it up on a wire rack before you serve it? Or would you know any reason why mine turns out oily?

    1. david, you can never go wrong with a Cook’s Country recipe! Tell me: was your oil temperature correct? Did you add too many pieces at once? That can lower the oil temperature. Cooler oil temps make for oily fried foods. And there’s no problem with putting paper towel on the rack at first so it wicks up some of the oil and then removing it. I think the chicken can stay on the rack anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on whether you like hot or room temp fried chicken.

      But definitely, check the oil.

      1. I have heard that draining fried products on paper towels contributes to a soggy crust – that if a crispy product is desired, a rack is preferable.

        It makes sense to me. When placed on a mat to drain, the atmosphere right next to the product has a denser humidity due to the escaping remaining moisture adding to whatever the current kitchen humidity is at the time of draining. Conversely when draining on a rack, the humidity is equal all around the fried food.

        When I keep the oil between 350 to 375 degrees and drain this is way, I get a consistently good result. The extra bonus is that I use less oil. What do you think?

        1. Richard, I always use a rack to drain my fried foods. It definitely prevents sogginess. I don’t know if you use less oil, but you might consume less oil this way.

  68. How long can you keep the batter in the fridge for considering it has baking powder in it? (Untouched by the raw chicken.)

    1. david, Shuna Lydon, a pastry chef in NYC and blogger at Eggbeater, says that cake batter, which contains baking powder, can stay in the fridge up to four days. I’m not sure how that translates to fried chicken batter, but I do know we keep pancake batter in the fridge overnight to no ill effect. So I think you’re fine for a few days.

  69. This was a really good batter, nice and crisp. I used Lawry’s seasoned salt and added some ground thyme to it. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks so much for the recipe.

    1. You’re so very welcome, Sye. Just doing what we do! But we really appreciate you taking the time to let us know how much you loved the recipe. We’ll be waiting to hear which recipe from the site you try next…

  70. Thank you so much for this delicious recipe!!!! I just made it tonight and it was a total hit. I absolutely LOVED the crisp fried skin and flavors, way better than any fast food winglets’ I have had. I can’t wait to try this recipe on my extended family. I know it is going to be a big hit :)

  71. Is using boneless chicken breast or thighs a possibility? From the reviews, my mouth is watering, but I am not a big fan of boned chicken parts. I am glad I stumbled upon this site:)

    1. Hi, Diane. Sure, it’s a possibility, but so is the chance of drying out the meat. The bone keeps things moist in there. How about frying with the bone in and then cutting off the meat? At least it will be moist. If that’s not an option, try the boneless meat. But definitely keep the skin on. Without it, the chance of further drying out the meat increases.

      1. i actually used this recipe for my daughter’s birthday party — cut up 18 chicken breasts into bite sized pieces (it took me about 2 hours to deep fry them all); so boneless meat — but not a single bite left. not one person complained about it being dry, and i have guests texting me that they’ve been dreaming about my chicken poppers.

      2. I also used boneless chicken breast cut them in strips and followed the recipe. Delish! I laid them on top of waffle and drizzled with some maple syrup. Its a yay! The leftovers we ate during dinner with rice! Now it’s a fave! I actually left mine in brine for 2 hours and it didn’t taste too salty. My husband loved it! He loves pork chops and I just brined half a pound. Hope it will do wonders in pork as well.

  72. I just pulled the first few pieces out of the skillet, they are amazing! i used 1 1/2 cups flour and just about 1/2 cup of cornstarch because that’s all the cornstarch i had. used 2 tablespoons tony chachere’s creole seasoning for all seasonings. I will never use a dry coating again. awesome awesome awesome!

  73. This is awesome! The batter was GREAT, and my extra choice of seasonings still blended well. I’ve always been too cautious of getting the right temperature, but with a medium flame on my stovetop it all temped perfectly and was very juicy. Cant wait to show this off! Thank you!

  74. I made this batter fried chicken tonight and my family LOVED it! The battered skin was so deliciously crispy!! I went very light on the pepper because we’re not fans of lots of pepper. Can’t wait to make it again for get togethers over the summer. Some of the best fried chicken we’ve ever had! Thanks for the recipe!

  75. This is THE best chicken recipe I have come across…it’s excellent hot and just as good cold. I like my chicken a little spicy so I doubled the black pepper. Don’t be intimidated by the recipe—it really is easy and I promise you, once you make it, you won’t want chicken any other way. Thanks, David!!

  76. I love chicken! I could eat it 7 days a week. This has got to be one of the very best recipes I have ever come across!! Because I like a bit more black pepper, I added a teaspoon more to the batter, but other than that I followed the recipe exactly. The inside was moist and it was superb when cold. We decided that this is our go-to chicken recipe from now on. Actually, all of the David’s recipes are spot-on!!

    1. cjaw288lhr, why thank you. I’m blushing. I have a wonderful team, from Renee who picks the recipes, to Beth who oversees the testing, to the testers who say yay or nay.

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