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Judy Hesser's Oven-Fried Chicken

Four pieces of Judy Hesser's oven-fried chicken in a oval glass baking dish on top of a linen cloth.
This oven-fried chicken from Judy Hesser, momma of Amanda Hesser, is a classy Shake'n Bake. The chicken is brined, coated by shaking in a bag, and baked.
Amanda Hesser

Prep 25 mins
Cook 1 hr 10 mins
Total 9 hrs
4 servings
603 kcal


  • 3 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 cup warm water or a little more or less
  • 8 chicken thighs organic or natural, not Perdue or somesuch
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


  • In the morning, combine 2 tablespoons salt and the warm water in a large bowl or container. Stir until the salt dissolves. Trim the chicken of any excess skin and fat. Add the pieces to the brine, add enough cold water to completely cover the chicken, and then add a tray of ice cubes and swish around with your hand to disperse them. Refrigerate until dinner time.
  • Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Put the butter in a roasting pan large enough to fit the chicken thighs in a single layer. Place the pan in the oven to preheat.
  • Remove the chicken from the fridge and pat it completely dry with paper towels. In a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag, toss the flour, remaining 1 tablespoon salt, and the pepper. Seal the bag and give it a good shake. Add the chicken pieces, 2 at a time, and shake them until thoroughly coated. As you lift them out of the bag, shake them off vigorously to remove any excess flour. This is vital. You don’t want a gummy coating. Line them up on a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken thighs and flour.
  • Place the chicken pieces in the roasting pan, skin side down, and oven-fry until chestnut brown in color and crisp on the bottom, about 40 minutes (sometimes it takes as long as an hour). Don’t flip them until this happens. Use a thin metal spatula to scrape them from the pan and turn them. Then bake until the other side is the same way, 20 to 40 minutes more.
  • Remove the pieces from the oven as they finish cooking, and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Just before serving, grind fresh pepper over top and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Serve hot, room temperature, or even cold straight outta the fridge.


Amanda Hesser's Oven-Fried Chicken variation

Amanda Hesser mentions she sometimes glams up her mom’s recipe by adding finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and lemon zest to the flour coating.