Last Updated on 5th August 2022 by Pauline Loughlin
Delicious, comforting buttermilk fried chicken is the reason a lot of people look forward to dinner. I like to pair mine with green peas, mashed potatoes, and cornbread for a Southern-style comfort meal, and when buttermilk fried chicken is made well, there’s hardly anything better.
How to make fried chicken with buttermilk? I have a recipe that I’ll share with you that I’m sure you’ll love. It’s super flavorful and made with a number of different spices, and I break it down step by step so you can make the same great-tasting buttermilk chicken at home.
How to Make Buttermilk Fried Chicken
- 3 1/2 pounds of chicken (1 whole chicken cut into pieces)
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon of thyme
- ¼ teaspoon of rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon of sage
- ¼ teaspoon of oregano
- ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 2 cups of buttermilk
To make the flour mixture:
- 2 cups of flour
- ½ teaspoon of paprika
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 of teaspoon of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
- 2 1/2 quarts of peanut oil to fry with
- Mix together the salt, black pepper, rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a bowl.
- Toss the chicken in the seasonings and coat well.
- Add the buttermilk to the chicken and coat. Allow the covered chicken to refrigerate for 6 hours.
- Make up the seasoned flour by mixing paprika garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.
- Take the chicken out of the buttermilk and dredge into the flour. Shake gently to remove excess flour and set the floured chicken aside.
- Heat up the oil in a Dutch oven, heating to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes at the same temperature.
- Flip the chicken pieces over and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Allow the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
This method for how to cook chicken soaked in buttermilk is a little lengthier than your average chicken preparation method, especially when you throw in the extra 6 hours of refrigeration, but the results will be well worth it.
How to Soak Chicken in Buttermilk
The buttermilk should soak into the chicken as much as possible, and to do that, the chicken needs to soak in the buttermilk for a while. The buttermilk is important for helping the seasoned flour stick to your chicken. What you’re trying to do with the buttermilk is essentially marinate the chicken, if you have time for that.
Instead of just a quick dip, you want to fully submerge the chicken into the buttermilk. That means you’ll need enough buttermilk to cover the chicken, and all the pieces of chicken that you’re going to cook.
The best method for how to marinate chicken thighs and buttermilk or other pieces of chicken is to put them into a bag with buttermilk. Use a resealable refrigerator safe bag and rest the chicken in your fridge for about 6 hours. You could also leave it in overnight, if you wanted to.
Once the chicken pieces have marinated, you can take them out of the bag and allow the excess buttermilk to drip off, and from there, you can dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour. The flour will stick to your chicken very well then, and the buttermilk will help create a crispy, buttery, tasty outer skin. This is how you get breading to stick to buttermilk chicken.
How to Prepare Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Preparing the chicken well means seasoning it first, dredging it in buttermilk, and then dredging it again in seasoned flour. If you do all that, using the spices and seasonings I listed above in the recipe, you’ll end up with very flavorful chicken with a flaky, crispy skin.
When the chicken comes out of the Dutch oven or the pot of oil, you’ll want to dry off the excess oil using a paper towel and then allow the chicken to rest for about 10 minutes. Don’t cut it open or serve it up until then. What this does is allow the juices to permeate the chicken.
If you cut it open too early or try to bite into it before the chicken has rested fully, then the juices will seep out, and you lose a lot of the flavor.
How to Cook Buttermilk Chicken
The mistake a lot of people make when cooking chicken of any kind, including buttermilk chicken, is to cook it at too high of a temperature. If you turn up the heat too high, you’ll end up burning the outside of the chicken and not cooking the inside properly. You could also dry out your chicken or make it tough and rubbery.
I recommend about 350 degrees Fahrenheit for the cooking temperature if you’re cooking on the stovetop. That’s going to be a medium high heat, if you don’t really have a way to check the temperature. Once the oil feels hot when you hover your hand over it, but it’s not bubbling yet, it should be about right to put the chicken in at that point.
If the outside of the chicken gets really dark before the inside cooks, your heat is too high. If it takes more than 30 minutes for the chicken to cook in the oil, then your heat is too low.
You don’t want to have the heat very low when cooking buttermilk chicken, as that can saturate the chicken with oil, making it overly soft, soggy, and mushy. You’re probably not aiming for oily chicken, so keep the temperature somewhat high, and 350 degrees Fahrenheit is that sweet spot.
You can use either a Dutch oven for this or a pot of oil on the stove. Either one of those will give you crispy fried chicken (although we do a have a guide to reheat fried chicken in the oven). You could use the air fryer as well, but what I wouldn’t recommend is baking buttermilk chicken in the oven. It just doesn’t give you the right texture to your chicken, and this dish really needs to be fried.