Fried Chicken

Photo of Fried Chicken with fries and potatoes and gravy

Fried Chicken with the most insanely crispy, thick craggy crustheavily seasoned with a KFC copycat 11 secret herbs and spices! Marinated with buttermilkSouthern style to make the flesh juicy all the way through, and a breadingsecret trickfor how to make fried chicken with an ultra crunchy, nubbly crust.

Photo of Fried Chicken with fries and potatoes and gravy

Fried Chicken

Im going to call it (obnoxious as it is) this fried chicken is better than KFC. Theres not a trace of soggy skin anywhere (all you closet KFC lovers know exactly what Im talking about!) and the crust is thicker and craggier.

Every inch of this crust is insanely crunchy, and theres loads of those nubbly bits that get extra crunchy.The seasoning is satisfyingly spot on strong but not outrageously overpowering the buttermilk marinated flesh is tender and juicy all the way through, and the deep golden colour is sheer perfection.

Seriously, what kind of human being could resist a piping hot pile of freshly made fried chicken?? {Vegetarians are excused}

Fried Chicken on a tray being kept warm in the oven

The seasoning for this fried chicken is a KFC copycat. 11 Secret Herbs & Spices!

What you need

Heres what you need.

11 Secret Herbs and Spices (lots of it). And not much else!

Ingredients for Fried Chicken

  • The Seasoning is a KFC copycat. Theres 1.5 tablespoons of pepper in it which sounds like a lot. But trust me, you need it for the KFC flavour and it doesnt make it spicy. Also, remember that only a certain amount ends up stuck to the chicken itself!
  • Buttermilk in true Southern style, the chicken is marinated in a salted buttermilk. Brilliant for tenderising the chicken and injecting it with salt;
  • Egg helps the flour stick better;
  • Cornflour / cornstarch makes the crust crispy but not tough. Pretty standard inclusion in fried chicken breading;
  • Flour just plain white, all purpose flour; and
  • Oil vegetable, canola or peanut oil, for neutral flavour and ability to heat to the temperature needed without burning the chicken or the oil smoking.

Marinating Southern Fried Chicken in buttermilk

No seasoning in marinade?

I dont put Seasoning into the buttermilk marinade. Reason being that the crust is quite heavily seasoned (its unsatisfying if its not flavoured enough) so if the chicken flesh is also seasoned, its just too much of the same flavour.

Its just tastier to have that awesome contrast of juicy chicken flavour inside (salted but not flavoured) and the wickedly crunchy, seasoned crust on the outside. Its the KFC way!

Close up showing inside of Fried Chicken

How to make Fried Chicken

And heres how to make it (video below super helpful I think!):

  • Marinate chicken overnight in buttermilk brine this salts the flesh all the way through and makes it beautiful tender and juicy (also gives you room for error in cook time);
  • Drizzle some brine in the seasoned flour and rub in to make lumps = extra nubbly craggy bits on crust. Secret trick that makes the crust so epic!
  • Coat chicken in flour then fry until golden.

How to make Fried Chicken

How long does it take chicken to fry?

Thighs and drumsticks take 8 minutes, or until the internal temperature in centre of thickest part is 75C / 167F. Breast takes around 7 minutes (internal temperature at thickest part 65C / 150F).

Reusing the oil

Typically, oil used for deep frying can be reused 3 times or so once its been cleaned. However, I find that for Fried Chicken, its usually only good for one more batch of Fried Chicken or similarly flavoured food. I think the oil just gets too tainted by the heavily flavoured breading and while the oil can be cleaned of all the bits in it, you cant remove the flavour.

To remove impurities, I find the best and easiest way is a Cooks Illustrated method using a cornflour/cornstarch and water method, cooked in the oil over low heat until it solidifies and captures all the impurities. Strain the cornflour jelly, then store the oil for another use. (PS Using a fine strainer isnt good enough to filter the oil, youd need to use a coffee filter or similar which takes ages).

Pile of Fried Chicken with sides - Coleslaw, fries, potato and gravy

What to serve with fried chicken

For the full homemade KFC experience, serve it with Coleslaw, chips, potato and gravy.

For a Southern meal, add a side of steamed or grilled corn, cornbread, Slaw, Potato Salad and Southern Baked Beans.

Some great sides for fried chicken!

I know deep frying is an effort. Preparing, cleaning up, disposing of the oil.

And well, you know. My hips prefer me to avoid fried foods.

Therefore I dont deep fry often. So when I do, I make sure its worth it.

THIS is worth it!!! Nagi x

PS Dont ask me for a chips recipe yet, Im still not happy with my homemade ones! But if you want KFC style potato and gravy (as seen in the video), drop a comment below and Ill be happy to share it.

Watch how to make it

Fried Chicken ultra craggy crispy crust!

Recipe video above.

  • 1.8 kg/ 3.6lb bone in, skin on small thighs (< 180g/6 oz), drumsticks, whole wings, breast (< 180g/6 oz) ((Note 1))

Buttermilk marinade:

  • 1 cup (250ml) buttermilk (Note 2 for sub)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 egg

Fried Chicken Breading:

  • 2 1/4 cups (365g) flour, plain / all purpose
  • 3/4 cup (115g) corn flour / cornstarch

KFC 11 Secret Herbs and Spices:

  • 3 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1.5 tbsp black pepper ((Note 2))
  • 1.5 tsp sweet paprika ((ie. not hot or smoked))
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (, optional)
  • 1.5 tsp onion powder
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano

To fry:

  • 1.5 2 litres / quarts vegetable oil ((or canola or peanut))

Buttermilk Marinade Chicken:

  1. Mix Marinade in a bowl until salt dissolves.
  2. Pour over chicken in ziplock bag, massage to coat chicken. Press out excess air, seal, refrigerate 12 to 24 hours, turning once or twice.
  3. Pour chicken and marinade into large bowl.

Breading mixture:

  1. Whisk together Breading and all Spices.
  2. Drizzle 4.5 tablespoons of Marinade into flour mixture. Use fingers to rub in so you get lots of pea sized lumpy bits all throughout (this creates extra super crunchy craggy bits).

  3. Spread out in a shallow dish or pan (easier to work with).
  4. Getting ready to cook (work in this order):
  5. Preheat oven to 80C/175F and place rack on tray to keep chicken warm. (Note 3)
  6. Add oil to a wide, heavy based pot to a depth of 6 cm / 2.5 (my 26cm/10.5 cast iron pot = 1.75L/quarts oil, Note 4)
  7. Heat oil over medium to medium high heat to 180C/350F maintain temp as best you can (Note 5).
  8. Cooking order: Start with thighs and drumsticks, wings next and cook breast last. (Note 6).


  1. Squidge a piece of chicken in remaining marinade, place in flour.
  2. Coat well, pressing firmly to adhere. Transfer to plate.
  3. Coat 2 or 3 more pieces just for one cooking batch, covering oil surface in single layer. (Note 7)


  1. Carefully place chicken in oil it will bubble energetically but it will not spit.
  2. Once chicken is in, oil temperature should drop to 150C/300C adjust heat to target this.
  3. Cook thighs and drumsticks for 8 minutes or wings for 5 minutes, or until deep golden brown and internal temperature at thickest part is 75C / 167F.

  4. Fry breast for 6 minutes or until internal temperature at thickest part is 65C / 150F (time depends on size).

  5. Place onto rack and keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining chicken, coating each batch just prior to cooking.
  6. Serve immediately!
  7. Classic sides: Coleslaw, mashed potato and gravy, steamed or grilled corn with butter, cornbread or soft rolls, fries, Southern Baked Beans!

1. Chicken I buy bone in thighs, drumsticks and wings for ease. For true KFC/Southern experience, cut up your own chicken so you get breast pieces as well ensure you keep the skin on and bone in. Cut breast into 2 pieces through the bone.

Small pieces for thighs and breast is better 200g/7 oz or less, to ensure they cook through so you dont need to worry about fuss with finishing them in the oven.Ive cooked 220g/7.7oz bone in thighs with no problems. If they get to 250g/8.8oz then you either need to take them to very deep golden in the oil OR finish in oven.

2. Buttermilk make your own if you cant find any. Add 1 tsp white vinegar into milk, stir, leave 10 minutes. Will curdle. Use per recipe.

3. Keeping chicken warm this is the temp at which chicken will stay warm, keep the coating crispy but will not continue to cook the chicken inside. Rack required to ensure underside of chicken stays super crispy.

4. Frying vessel I feel safe using a heavy cast iron pot. For most oil efficiency, use a wok shape means you will use about 30% less oil with same surface area for frying. If you have a deep fryer, I salute you!

5. Oil temperature use a thermometer or surface scanner thermometer. If you dont have one, test by throwing in a lump of breading should sizzle straight away but not burn quickly. OR stick a bamboo chopstick in and touch the base of the pot if bubbles rise from floor of pot, oil is hot enough.

Cook time will vary based on factors like chicken size, pot heat retention, stability of stove etc. Best to use thermometer to check internal temperature. The cook times provided in the recipe are for the chicken weights specified and heat oil temps provided, assuming a cast iron pot is used.Also use crust colour as a guide.

6. Cooking order thighs and drumsticks cook in the same time, cook together first. Then wings, then do breast last. Reason: dark meat stays juicier in warmed oven, and breast cooks faster.

7. Batch cooking dont coat all chicken then leave it lying around while you cook a batch, it will sweat and crust will be compromised

8. Recipe source: Some techniques adapted from Kenjis recipe on Serious Eatswith some steps simplified / amended based on my testing. Spices are myKFC copycat 11 secret herbs and spices mix.

9. Nutrition impossible to calculate so Im sharing the KFC nutrition for 100g / 3.5 oz KFC fried chicken (no bone)

Life of Dozer

He was booted out while I was deep frying. But other than that, he was firmly planted next to the shoot table for every second while I was filming and photographing this chicken!!!

Dozer panting over Southern Fried Chicken

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