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The 10 Best Places to Eat Fried Chicken in the South

The 10 Best Places to Eat Fried Chicken in the South

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There are plenty of places around the country — and the world — that serve excellent fried chicken. But why not focus on the region that without doubt does country-style fried chicken the best? Here are the 10 best places to eat fried chicken in the South.

The 10 Best Places to Eat Fried Chicken in the South (Slideshow)

A month ago, we gave you our annual list of America’s Best Fried Chicken Spots, which ranged from Korean-style fried chicken in New York City to Serbian-style fried chicken in Barberton, Ohio, to good old Southern-fried chicken in places as unexpected as Colorado. But for those of you who’d rather skip all that and go straight to the South itself, we decided to select 10 amazing fried chicken spots for you to visit in that corner of the country. To read more about our detailed methodology for our annual list, please click here.

Some of you might be thrilled — and others may be scandalized — to find that half the places on this list belong to one state (and all but one of those to one city). Need a hint? It’s the state that is home to hot chicken. Perhaps it is this state’s proficiency in both hot and country-style chicken that makes it so exceptional. If you beg to differ, tweet @thedailymeal with your out-of-this-state preferences and tell us why. But please be nice.

So if you find yourself South-bound this summer, make sure you stop by one of these unforgettable establishments. But don’t arrive at these spots too hungry, as there will almost certainly be a line.

#10 Arnold's Country Chicken, Nashville

Arnold's Country Chicken has been serving homestyle "meat and three" platters (a meat entrée with three sides) and delectable fried chicken to Nashville for about 30 years. The secret to their famous fried chicken recipe is a kosher salt and ground black pepper brine, a Louisiana-style hot sauce wash, and a cayenne and garlic powder dredge. The result of those fancy culinary verbs is nearly perfect fried chicken that has folks lining up well past the door. Don’t forget to try the grilled cornbread and famously creamy banana pudding.

#9 Biscuit Love, Nashville

Husband-and-wife team Karl and Sarah Worley began Biscuit Love as a truck in 2012, but have since opened a brick-and-mortar brunch spot with more options. Their hot fried chicken is as good as ever, though, as is their “Easy Nasty”: fried chicken thighs with aged Cheddar and sausage gravy. In 2014, Karl Worley told The Daily Meal that house-made mustard and local honey play off the spices in the hot chicken; that might be why, in the few years that it’s been up and running, Biscuit Love has already become a Nashville institution.

Our 10 Juicy Picks for the Best Fried Chicken in Texas

C hicken, chicken, chicken what combo you pickin'?! Everybody loves fried chicken and if you don't, then you're probably a vegan. Everything is bigger in the Lone Star State, and the best fried chicken in Texas is so good, it's like biting into a
drumstick of heaven.

The perfect piece of chicken must be seasoned accordingly and juicy and tender. Here's our countdown of the 10 places you can find the best fried chicken in Texas.

Watershed on Peachtree (Atlanta)

An upscale restaurant that offers fried chicken as an only “sometimes” special (only available Wednesdays) is an inauspicious start when trying to determine the best fried chicken of *any* location, let alone the South. But as anyone who has sampled Watershed’s delicious chicken will tell you, this is one special that’s worth seeking out. The dish has survived multiple menu shake-ups, so don’t be scared off by the posh setting. Fried in a special ham hock fat bath after first being brined in buttermilk, this bird soars.

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken in a shallow dish or large zippable plastic bag, and add buttermilk. Cover or seal, and chill at least 2 hours (for best results).

Remove chicken from buttermilk, discarding buttermilk. Dredge chicken in flour.

Pour oil to a depth of 1 1/2 inches in a deep skillet or Dutch oven heat to 360°. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time cover and cook 6 minutes. Uncover chicken, and cook 9 minutes. Turn chicken cover and cook 6 minutes. Uncover and cook 5 to 9 minutes, turning chicken the last 3 minutes for even browning, if necessary. Drain on paper towels.

That’s it, simple as that and you have the best southern fried chicken there is.

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How to make crispy & juicy Traditional Southern Fried Chicken just like your Grandma (or mom)!

I just love southern fried chicken, but I’m sure that you all know that by now. I don’t care if it’s a deep fried chicken recipe or a pan fried chicken recipe. I’m down for both! Although I’ve shared a recipe for southern fried chicken a few years ago ( I still think it’s better than Popeye’s y’all!), I actually have another southern fried chicken recipe that I use as well. A lot of traditional southern fried chicken recipes, are actually buttermilk fried chicken recipes. However, that is not the only way to make southern fried chicken. Instead of using buttermilk, they brine the chicken in a salt & sugar water. This method is actually my favorite, and my fried chicken always comes out extra moist & juicy whenever I use the brine. I actually shared the salt & sugar brine method in my crispy fried chicken wing post . However, I season the chicken differently in this post.

The first thing that I do when preparing chicken is clean in thoroughly. I make sure that there are no feathers, excess fat, excess skin, or anything else that I don’t want.

Most of the time I buy a whole chicken, and cut it into 8 parts.

After the chicken is cut & cleaned, I let it sit in the brine overnight. Again, the brine is just a simple mix of water, salt, and sugar. NO ….the chicken will not be sweet!

What does the brine do? It tenderizes the chicken, making it super juicy. It also enhances the flavor.

The next day, I simply remove the chicken from the brine. I DON’T rinse the chicken!

I then place all of the chicken in a large mixing bowl, and pour 1/2 cup of mild hot sauce all of the chicken. This doesn’t make the chicken spicy, but it add a ton of flavor!

The next step is coating the chicken in a mixture all purpose flour, cornstarch, and seasoning & spices.

Why do I add cornstarch? To make the chicken EXTRA crispy.

I prefer to fry my southern fried chicken in peanut oil, because it has a high smoke point. It also adds a nice light flavor to the chicken as well.

I fry the chicken in the peanut oil between 350 to 375 degrees .

10 Most Hype-Worthy Fried Chicken Restaurants

All of a sudden, fried chicken is taking over the culinary scene. If you’re ready to get in on this delicious trend, we’ve got 10 fried chicken restaurants that are not only worth the hype, but they’re worthy of a road trip. Yum.

Related To:

The Crack Shack

It&rsquos safe to say that Los Angeles went squawking wild when The Crack Shack finally opened a location in Century City, but make no mistake, this is no chicken joint. Celebrity chef Richard Blais (you know, from Top Chef) opened this fast-casual eatery in San Diego in 2015 to celebrate both the chicken and the egg, using only antibiotic-free, locally raised chickens. Today, there are four locations, with a fifth on track to open in Pasadena later this year, keeping patrons salivating thanks to its savory, and proprietary, &ldquocrack spice&rdquo blend.

Lucy’s Fried Chicken

A favorite in Austin, Lucy&rsquos Fried Chicken has been expanding, opening its fourth location in July, even adding an oyster bar to the newest restaurant in Cedar Park. Here you&rsquoll find all kinds of fried chicken, from chicken baskets to fried chicken spaghetti to chicken n&rsquo waffles. There&rsquos also the uber-popular Bucket O&rsquo Chicken that&rsquos served with pickles and jalapenos. Sides are all you&rsquod imagine, including black-eyed peas, fried okra, and collard greens. Pair your fried chicken with one of the multiple hand-crafted cocktails, like the Juicy Lucy, a frozen watermelon margarita.


Southern hospitality landed at the Jersey Shore in January thanks to the opening of Modine, a flavorful, homestyle restaurant in one of Asbury Parks&rsquo most historic buildings. Serving up crunchy fried chicken that is smoked, buttermilk-pickle brined, then fried, it&rsquos no wonder the chicken, which can be ordered half, whole, or on a biscuit, is receiving rave reviews. And, oh the hot honey drizzle. Yum. Make it a meal with a side of fried green tomatoes, crispy pork belly, or an heirloom cucumber salad. Modine makes an impressive vegan chicken platter, too.

Hattie B's

The hot chicken at Hattie B&rsquos is so incredible that you&rsquoll find multiple copycat recipes across the web. However, for the original hot chicken, you&rsquove got to go to Nashville, though the restaurant does now have outposts in Atlanta, Memphis, and Birmingham. The most recent opening in July in Atlanta garnered the expected out-the-door lines for made-to-order hot chicken available in six heat levels, ranging from Southern (not hot) to Shut the Cluck Up (extremely hot). Pair your hot chicken with a side of crinkle cut fries and finish off your meal with banana pudding.

Andy's Chicken

If you had no idea that there was such a thing as Korean Fried Chicken (you know, the other KFC), then you&rsquod best get to Andy&rsquos Chicken in Philadelphia. Since 2015, this take-out chicken joint has been serving up eight varieties of extra crispy chicken, including sweet chili, honey garlic, and golden soy. The chicken is so good, in fact, that you&rsquoll want to call ahead to reserve a half or whole chicken for dinner. Add a side of onion rings or butter egg rice to round out your meal.

Good ‘N Plenty

For delicious family-style dining, in a farmhouse no less, make a beeline for Good &lsquoN Plenty in Lancaster County&rsquos Pennsylvania Dutch Country. You can order from a menu, of course, but the most popular option is all-you-can-eat style among friends on a long dining table with a plastic checkered tablecloth. Eat all the crispy fried chicken you want, but save room for mashed potatoes, sweet corn, butter noodles, and shoo-fly pie. A popular stop among bus tour groups, you may find yourself rubbing elbows with guests from Ottawa, Pittsburgh, or even Baltimore.

Beasley’s Chicken + Honey

In Raleigh, North Carolina, the place to go for outrageously delicious honey fried chicken is Beasley&rsquos Chicken + Honey. Considered among the best restaurants in town, lines are frequently out the door, often for the classic chicken sandwich that comes on a potato bun and is topped with a special house-made sauce that so many wish they could replicate. For brunch, come for the chicken and waffles. You&rsquoll have no regrets, except maybe that you hadn&rsquot gotten there earlier and didn&rsquot have to wait for the sweet and savory deliciousness that is Beasley&rsquos.

Ezell’s Famous Chicken

For soul food in Seattle, the place to go is Ezell&rsquos Famous Chicken, a chicken joint visited (and loved) by both Guy Fieri and Oprah. A signed photograph of Oprah hangs next to the cash register noting she can&rsquot decide which she likes more, the fried chicken or the sweet potato pie. Order up a plate of their famous chicken and make it a combo with creamy coleslaw or mashed potatoes. Like Oprah, add a slice of their home-baked sweet potato pie to decide which you like best.

The Eagle

The Eagle may call itself a &ldquofood hall featuring fried chicken,&rdquo but don&rsquot be fooled, the fried chicken is a stand-out and a major draw. This Midwest restaurant mini-chain specializes in delicious comfort food and uses only cage-free, free-roaming chickens from local farms. Choose from a whole, half, or quarter chicken that&rsquos brined, double-dredged in seasoning, then fried. You&rsquoll be wowed by the spicy hot honey that sits alongside the chicken, as well as a la carte sides like collard greens, succotash, and homemade biscuits with blackberry jam and honey butter.

Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth

Less than 90 minutes from Detroit, Zehnder&rsquos of Frankenmuth is worth the drive for its &ldquoworld famous&rdquo family-style chicken dinners, which include golden fried chicken, egg noodles, mashed potatoes, soup, and soft serve ice cream. The delicious crispy chicken here may be famous, at least according to Zehnder&rsquos, but that&rsquos not keeping them from sharing the secret recipe with fans. In fact, you can buy a bottle of their chicken seasoning to make their world-famous fried chicken in your own home, just in case you&rsquore not up for making the drive to Michigan.

10 tips for perfect fried chicken

One of the biggest - and showiest - stars of Brandi Key's menu for Punk's Simple Southern Food in Rice Village is the tray of crispy buttermilk-bathed fried chicken. It can be ordered as a half bird (five pieces) or whole bird (10 pieces), and it's served, appropriately, with horseradish mash, redeye gravy and biscuits.

"It's one of those items to put in the middle of the table. It's something that's part of that complete experience of sides and sharing," Key said. "We never intended one person to sit down and eat five pieces of chicken."

But has it happened? "Oh yeah, it's happened," she said.

Easy to see why. Key's style of fried chicken sports a classic profile and an adherence to simplicity. And though Key's style is the type of fried chicken she grew up with, she recognizes and embraces the breadth of fried-chicken preparations throughout the country, especially in the South.

"They all have their place. It's like biscuits - there's so many ways to make a biscuit."

Key thinks there's something of a fried-chicken renaissance going on, owing partly to cyclical nostalgia and to the country's growing interest in Southern foods and foodways.

"The South is in a revival and has been for a while," she said. "The country is embracing what it is and how we eat here."

Here are 10 tips for how Key prepares fried chicken:

1 Make the time commitment: Good things take time, and fried chicken is one of those things that deserves the time and effort.

2Learn to break down a whole chicken: Buying a whole chicken will always cost you less than chicken parts. Learning to butcher a chicken is a fundamental technique that will not only help your pocketbook, but open you to a multitude of other recipes and dishes that you can make.

3Make friends with the butcher: Really great fried chicken is only as good as the chicken itself. Making friends with your local butcher, who has access to the best-quality chicken, will make all the difference in your final product.

4Always brine: Brining is simply placing a protein in a water, sugar and salt solution for a period of time. Brining will help to season the chicken inside and out, making for a juicy, flavorful bird.

5Dry overnight: Brine your chicken the night before you plan to cook, then remove it from the solution and dry it off. Place on a cookie tray, uncovered, in your refrigerator overnight. This will help ensure that your breading sticks and stays extra crispy.

6Dunk and dredge: When you are ready to start making your fried chicken, simply dunk (in buttermilk seasoned with salt and black pepper) then dredge (in all-purpose flour seasoned with salt and black pepper). This will help to create a light and crunchy coating on your fried chicken.

7 Oil matters: Use a high-quality vegetable oil to fry your chicken, so that all the natural flavors of the chicken will be the star.

8Cast iron's a must: Always use a cast iron pan - because that's what your grandmother would have used.

9 Low and slow: Fill your cast-iron pan no more than halfway with vegetable oil then place over medium-low heat. Using a thermometer, bring the temperature of the oil to 275 degrees then add your chicken. Maintain the temperature by adjusting your heat up and down, but never go higher than 275 degrees. It will take close to 20 minutes to fry your chicken and bring it up to temperature, but the time is worth it. You will have crisp chicken, with breading that sticks but is moist and juicy inside.

10Let it rest: Fried chicken is always better when it has had a chance to rest. Hot out of the pan, it is almost unbearable to eat because it is so hot. Let it cool off. You'll be glad you did.

5 Shirley Mae’s Café

Fried Chicken lovers will also fall in love with Shirley Mae’s Café, a soul-food, family-owned restaurant with a lot heart. This little restaurant, hidden in downtown Louisville, prepares homemade staples that are just as good as our mother’s cooking (don’t tell them that, though). Shirley Mae’s restaurant is not only known for preparing fresh fried chicken but also for their water cornbread, which comes with every order.

Their flavor and texture is so good, that customers will be begging for more. Not only has Shirley Mae’s Café restaurant achieved fried-chicken and cornbread perfection but they also are the first Kentucky restaurant of its kind to have an open-kitchen. Not only will customers get the chance to eat great food, but they can see where the magic happens! This restaurant is definitely one to watch out for.

The South's Best Fried Chicken

From roadside shacks to highfalutin eateries, these top fried chicken restaurants have us fowl-mouthed and begging for seconds.

Southern food, despite persistent stereotypes, is about so much more than fried chicken. We revel in Louisiana gumbos and Lowcountry pilaus, oysters from Apalachicola and apple stack cake from the Appalachians. But let&aposs face it: We do love our browned bird, and our cooks excel at it. The seeming simplicity of fried chicken makes it a culinary tabula rasa open to interpretation. There are the basic variances: White meat or dark? Pan-fried or deep-fried? Marinated in buttermilk, brined, both, or seasoned only with salt and pepper? More broadly, though, the dish&aposs universality allows it to preen in every facet of our restaurant culture𠅏rom obscure soul food joints to white tablecloth pantheons, and at time-honored cafes as well as mom-and-pops that reflect the gamut of global cuisines arriving in our region. In the gospel of bird, we can honor tradition and herald change equally. This is our snapshot of Southern fried chicken right now, in all its many fine-feathered guises.

Down-home Classic Fried Chicken
The come-as-you-are golden (brown) standard

BARBECUE INN | Houston, Texas
Sure, this beloved time warp (in business since 1946) offers ribs and brisket, but don&apost let the name mislead: The kitchen&aposs fryers trump its barbecue pits. Take a seat in one of the candy-apple red leatherette booths at the family-run establishment and savor the greaseless, cocoa-hued crust that flakes off the chicken in rippling shards, revealing flawlessly seasoned meat beneath.

GUS&aposS FRIED CHICKEN | Mason, Tennessee
Franchises in Memphis, Nashville, and other cities are spreading the Gus&aposs gospel. Make the pilgrimage, though, to the original location in Mason, opened in 1953 about 45 miles from Memphis, for the juke joint vibe and the crusty, copper-colored bird, seasoned with a secret recipe that has a hot and spicy kick. 901/294-2028

MARTHA LOU&aposS KITCHEN | Charleston, South Carolina
Lightly dredged in flour and dipped in milk batter, then submerged in peanut oil until bronzed, chicken fried to order is the one menu mainstay at the bubblegum-pink soul food shack run by Martha "Lou" Gadsden and her daughter, Debra, since 1983. They cut steam vents into leg and breast meat to reduce the frying time to 20 minutes. The don&apost-miss sides: peppery, meaty lima beans and sultry okra stew. 843/577-9583

WILLIE MAE&aposS SCOTCH HOUSE | New Orleans, Louisiana
Rebuilt by volunteers after Katrina, this Treme &aposhood icon began as a bar in 1957. Willie Mae Seaton&aposs wet-batter method creates a coating that hugs each piece, holding in the juices until the first shattering bite. 504/822-9503

New Classic Fried Chicken
Hip new joints with old-school flavor

BEASLEY&aposS CHICKEN + HONEY | Raleigh, North Carolina
Ashley Christensen, the toast of Raleigh&aposs dining scene, uses newfangled pressure fryers to timeless effect: Her mottled, crackly fried chicken induces sentimental sighs. A drizzle of honey (which comes standard, though you can ask for it on the side) is an ode to Ashley&aposs father, a hobbyist beekeeper. Order buttermilk biscuits to complete the feast.

LITTLE DONKEY | Birmingham, Alabama
Southern charm with a dash of Mexican chiles: A paste of dried arbols and other fiery peppers infuses the bird while it brines, which registers as a mellow, earthy heat rather than a lashing blaze. Splash the nubbly crust with a house-made vinegar made from morita and habanero peppers, and pair the chicken with elotes: corn on the cob speckled with crumbly Cotija cheese.

MAX&aposS WINE DIVE | Multiple cities in Texas
Fried chicken infused with earthy-spicy jalapeño and tangy buttermilk headlines the menu of retooled comfort foods at Max&aposs, which has locations in Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas. (We&aposre partial to the funky-fun, brick-walled Austin outpost.) Staffers wear T-shirts that say, "Fried chicken and Champagne…why the hell not?" Sure enough, a glass of sparkly Perrier-Jouët tempers the bird&aposs unctuousness brilliantly.

In a city best known for Cuban empanadas and Jewish delis, this bustling hot spot, with its dining room lined in smoky woods, finally brings the South to south Beach. The bar stocks 75 bourbons𠅊nd makes seductive bourbon-fueled cocktails, including an invigorating mint julep—to prime your palate before chowing down on a brined half-bird enveloped in a smooth, russet coating that clings to the meat.

Upscale Fried Chicken
White tablecloth spots that aren&apost afraid of a grease stain

HARVEST | Louisville, Kentucky
At this rustic-chic restaurant with pictures of smiling local farmers on the wall, Coby Lee Ming cooks food mostly grown and raised within 100 miles—including fowl from nearby ranches and flour milled in Kentucky to make her pepper-flecked fried chicken. She arranges an airline cut (breast with wing attached) over a fluffy hoecake or savory bread pudding in a pool of milk-and-cream gravy and with a slick of homemade hot sauce sweetened with beets or carrots.

A new kitchen staff (helmed by Louisiana native Joe Truex), revamped menu, and relocation to Atlanta&aposs tony Buckhead community gave Watershed a slick makeover. But the fried chicken, made only on Wednesday nights and always sold out by 8 p.m., is the same brined, buttermilk-soaked, lard-and butter-simmered recipe that brought fame to the restaurant under Scott Peacock over a decade ago.

FEARING&aposS | Dallas, Texas
At Sunday brunch, Dean Fearing turns out his granny&aposs "paper bag shook" cast-iron skillet-fried chicken. The chicken, brined in apple cider and coated with a gossamer crust, sidles up to whipped potatoes, long-simmered bacony green beans, and luscious smoked tomato gravy. Ask to sit in the Sendero, the restaurant&aposs romantic, glass-walled room perfect for a languid meal.

International Fried Chicken
Jet-set fryers packed with herbs and spices

Garlic and za&aposatar𠅊 Middle Eastern spice blend that includes sesame seeds, sumac, and thyme—lend exotic zing to the chicken fried to order at this low-key Palestinian restaurant, a standout among the global eats along the city&aposs diverse, bar-heavy Richmond Strip. 713/787-0400

CARDAMOM HILL | Atlanta, Georgia
In a dining room regal with carved-wood walls and silk-covered partitions, Asha Gomez serves boneless, delicately battered chicken thighs imbued with the spices of her native Southern India: tiny black mustard seeds, citrusy fried curry leaves, and a tropical whiff of coconut oil. You can order a gluten-free variation made with rice flour, which imbues extra crunch.

SOO CAFE | Raleigh, North Carolina
Hanging wooden trinkets and plastic plants decorate this cozy storefront that specializes in the other "KFC": Korean fried chicken. A half or whole bird is fried to intense crispness and then coated in one of three sauces: sweet, hot and spicy, or, our favorite, a sticky, fragrant soy-garlic glaze. 919/834-2244

Fast Food and Supermarket Fried Chicken
It&aposs tender and juicy with seasoning that goes deep, all the way from crust to bone. (Get this: It tastes like chicken.) The Cajun version vaunts a balanced heat that starts up front with white pepper, followed by waves of red pepper for a subtle afterburn. Bonus: The paper packaging is vented, which keeps the crust from steaming to wilted flab inside the box. We wouldn&apost blame you for trying to pass this off as your own.

This fowl hits the fried bird trifecta for flavor (we detect celery salt), crunch (deeply satisfying and crust-shattering), and grease factor (extremely low—it&aposs eat-while-you-drive chicken). Leftovers held up well in the fridge, making this a prime candidate for picnics, family reunions, and church suppers.

The golden brown crust, a flour-coated relief map with a glitter-like smattering of black pepper, conceals supremely juicy meat. While fewer locations of this Georgia-founded chain dot the asphalt landscape than in years past, the chicken still holds court.

Modest-size thighs and legs are enveloped in a pale blond, almost buttery crust (our guess: the result of frying in vegetable shortening). At this 48-year-old franchise founded by Lee Cummings, nephew of KFC&aposs Colonel Harland Sanders, they hand-bread, dip in honey, and then pressure-fry every piece of chicken.

We&aposre betting "finger lickin&apos good" wasn&apost an accidental tag-line—this chicken was the greasiest of the test. The Original recipe didn&apost win any fans. But the Extra Crispy got high marks for its beautifully mottled crust and rich flavor. Among those top secret herbs and spices, we nosed out onion and garlic powder and heaps of black pepper.

Fair-Feathered Trend: Nashville Hot Chicken
Spicy Buffalo wings have nothing on Nashville-style fried chicken, slathered with cayenne-laced paste. The beloved specialty started in the 1930s with Prince&aposs Hot Chicken Shack (615/226-9442), where diners wait in line for mild (fiery for most), medium (expect tears), hot (pure masochism), or extra-hot, which the staff won&apost even hand over to first-timers. Newcomer Hattie B&aposs ( also offers four degrees of heat, though they don&apost quite climb the Scoville scale so mercilessly. And upscale restaurants now create their own riffs: The Catbird Seat ( hands out an opening snack homage of cayenne-spiked fried chicken skins gussied up with dill salt and mind-bending Wonder Bread puree.

Fair-Feathered Trend: Chicken and Waffles
The origins of coupling bird with griddled hotcake are murky. In the last few years, though, Southern restaurants have adopted the dish wholeheartedly. The combo makes for a soulful breakfast at B-Side (, a Little Rock joint that stacks made-to-order wedges with a boneless chicken breast. The sweet-savory duo translates to fine dining just as seamlessly: Richmond newcomer Mansion Five 26 ( serves a plump fried breast over a fluffy, concentric waffle. And the dish&aposs straightforward appeal begs for embellishment: Palm Beach Garden&aposs Coolinary Cafe ( gilds a jalapeño-cheddar waffle and buttermilk-marinated chicken with coleslaw, grilled lemon, and maple-Dijon glaze.

Fair-Feathered Trends: Fried Chicken and Champagne
There&aposs no better pairing than Champagne and fried chicken𠅊nd not just because it&aposs the perfect mix of high and low we Southerners love so much. Its effervescent acidity works as the ultimate grease cutter, keeping your palate crisp and clean as you chow through the salty deliciousness of fried yardbird. You don&apost have to spend big, but do opt for a dry sparkling wine, such as Spanish cava. Prosecco, with its frothy bubbles and higher sugar, just doesn&apost cut the fat.

How to Make Classic Southern Fried Chicken

Good ole southern fried chicken. Can't imagine living without it! Admittedly, fried chicken is not an easy dish to get down right without practice - and unfortunately, not something we can eat regularly enough to get that practice - and. frankly, it's a mess. It's a mess to prep, it's a mess to cook, it's a mess to clean up, and then there's all that oil to contend with afterward too. Given the fact that we have KFC and Popeye's these days, it's not surprising it really isn't made much at home anymore, but. it is so good, that it is something we Southerners certainly deem worthy of all that trouble, at least on occasion.

This recipe is a basic fried chicken sans the buttermilk but utilizing a salt brine. I am a true believer in brining chicken so definitely allow time for that step. It produces a tender and juicy fried chicken and is worth the time. Season the chicken pieces with the salt and pepper and allow it to rest in the fridge for at least one hour, two or three if you have the time. You can also add some garlic powder if you like.

Some people would say who needs all that fuss? Our grandma's didn't fuss with a fried chicken like that! Well, let's not forget our grandma's very likely went out in the backyard, caught a chicken and well. you know the rest. If they didn't do that, they likely bought a chicken fresh from a chicken farmer up the road. They didn't buy or eat these huge, mass produced chickens like we do these days, and I find that our chickens today need a little bit of help.

As far as frying, I like to use a large cast iron skillet or my cast iron dutch oven and you can't go wrong really if you use a thermometer. You can regulate the temperature so much easier with one and I really think it is a must-have for perfect fried chicken. Dark meat takes roughly 14 minutes white meat around 10 minutes, but of course it depends on the size of the pieces too. When cooking mixed chicken, be sure to place the larger, dark meat pieces in the center of the skillet.

For more of my favorite fried chicken recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!

Recipe: How to Make Classic Southern Fried Chicken

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish

Marinade time: 6 hours | Cook time: 15 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings


  • 3-1/2 pounds chicken (white, dark, mixed), cut into 8 or 10 pieces
  • 1 heaping tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups milk or buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Lard, shortening or cooking oil , for frying

Add the chicken to a large Ziploc bag. Whisk a heaping tablespoon of salt into a near gallon of water and pour water over chicken. Seal well and place the bag into a bowl (in case of leaks) and refrigerate for about 6 hours, or overnight.

Drain the chicken, pat dry with paper towels, and arrange on a large plate or baking sheet sprinkle generously with pepper on both sides. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, longer if you have time.

Set up a dipping station with one medium sized bowl for the egg and milk mixture, a second medium sized bowl for the flour and a large plate or platter to hold the breaded chicken. Whip the egg, milk and hot sauce together. In a large bowl, whisk flour with all the seasonings. Dip the chicken into the flour mixture, then the milk and egg mixture, allowing excess to drip off and back into the flour, gently shaking off excess flour. Transfer to a large platter. Set aside to rest.

Fill a 12 inch or larger cast iron skillet about halfway with oil and using a deep fryer thermometer, heat oil over medium high heat until it reaches around 360 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, the oil is generally ready when a pinch of flour tossed in sizzles. Very carefully slide the pieces of chicken in, one at a time, and skin side down, slowly laying it into the hot oil. Remember, you are working with extremely hot oil on a fire here, so take care not to allow the oil to overflow as you add pieces, since the oil will rise with each piece you add. Also, don't overcrowd the pan - you'll only want to fry about 4 or 5 pieces of chicken at a time.

Cook on the first side about 8 minutes, trying to keep the oil at about 300 degrees F by regulating the temperature up or down turn and cook another 6 minutes or until golden brown and juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Adjust time as needed depending on cuts used and their size. Drain on a paper bag or a rack over paper towels. Hold the first batch in a low oven while you finish the next batch. Serve immediately.

Cook's Notes: I use White Lily self rising flour. For a little extra bump of flavor, add 1/4 cup of hot sauce to the egg and milk blend. If you by chance find your chicken to be underdone, you can finish it in a 350 degree oven, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until juices run clear.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken: In a large non-reactive bowl, whisk together 2 cups of buttermilk with 1/4 cup of hot sauce. Add all of the chicken pieces, turning to coat completely, cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 8 hours. Remove and shake all of the excess buttermilk off. Continue as above with dredge and frying.

For the Air Fryer: I used chicken legs in the Power Air Fryer Pro Elite, which has moveable mesh racks. For a basket air fryer you'll have to do this in batches. Prepare chicken as above, dipping in flour then milk (or buttermilk) and egg, then again in the flour. Spray racks and chicken on both sides cook chicken on lower two slots of oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove, spray and turn chicken, spray again and swap racks cook another 10 minutes. Remove, spray and turn chicken, spray again and swap racks. Increase heat to 400 degrees and cook for 5 minutes longer, or until an instant read thermometer registers 165/170 degrees F. I recommend the EVO sprayer <affil link> for air fry cooking.

Fried Chicken Tips:

Honestly, getting to that perfect fried chicken just really takes making it a few times really. Everything depends on your range (gas or electric), the kind of chicken you're using (whole chicken you cut up, one you buy cut up already or all of the same type of pieces), the type of skillet (stainless, cast iron etc.) But don't let all that scare you. Here are a few tips that might help:

  1. Maintaining the thermometer at around an average of 300 degrees F roughly is just a good range to shoot for - too much over that and the oil gets too hot and you'll end up with burned crust and undercooked chicken, too much under that and the oil is too cold and you end up with chicken that is greasy. Eventually you get to the point of where you can listen to the oil and the chicken and know when it is ready.
  2. It takes some practice and knowing your range as far as regulating that temperature. You may need to turn the fire up when you first drop the chicken in and then turn it back down not too long after, before the oil gets too hot.
  3. Make sure you're not overcrowding your skillet - even with my larger 12 inch cast iron skillet I still do a whole chicken in two batches. There always needs to be plenty of room in the skillet for the oil to bubble up around the pieces. If the pieces are too close together, it will bring the temperature of the oil down too quickly meaning you'll have to cook the pieces longer and they will absorb more oil, making it more greasy.
  4. Cast iron is good for chicken frying because it distributes the heat more evenly across the skillet with less hot spots, but with an electric range you'll still get those hot spots, usually right in the middle of the skillet. Start with the thighs and legs there, with the bigger part of the leg toward the center of the skillet, breasts next, but while your chicken is frying, keep checking the undersides and rearrange the pieces as needed, moving it to a different part of the skillet or turning it toward the outside of the skillet if its getting too brown.
  5. Don't be afraid to turn the pieces several times to prevent burning until you get comfortable with the process. Always use tongs to handle the chicken - don't pierce it with forks.
  6. I also prefer to buy a whole chicken and cut it up myself, but either way, if the breast pieces are super large, which they almost always are anymore these days, cut those evenly in half, so that you end up with four breast pieces instead of two.
  7. If you have a preference of pieces, you don't have to cook a whole chicken either - just do all breasts or all legs or all thighs, whatever you like. They are usually about the same size so that they cook in about the same time, making it much easier.
  8. While brining is optional, I highly recommend it. Not only does it improve flavor, add moisture and helps to tenderize, that extra moisture barrier also provides some insurance against overcooking.

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Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (2 to 3 pound) whole chicken, cut into pieces

Heat the shortening in a large, cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.

In a brown paper lunch bag, combine the flour, salt, and pepper. Shake two chicken pieces in the bag to coat, and place them in the skillet. Repeat until all of the chicken is coated and in the skillet.

Fry the chicken over medium-high heat until all of the pieces have been browned on both sides. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 25 minutes. Remove the lid, and increase heat to medium-high. Continue frying until chicken pieces are a deep golden brown, and the juices run clear.