Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken – with the most insanely crispy, thick craggy crust heavily seasoned with a KFC copycat “11 secret herbs and spices”! This recipe uses a Southern buttermilk marinade to make the flesh juicy all the way through, and a breading secret trick for how to make fried chicken with an ultra crunchy, nubbly crust.

Fried Chicken 1

Fried Chicken Recipe

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

Every inch of this crust is insanely crunchy, and there are 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 color 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

What you need to make the best Fried Chicken

Here’s what you need.

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

KFC copycat 11 secret herbs & spices

  1. paprika
  2. cayenne
  3. onion
  4. garlic
  5. mustard
  6. ginger
  7. thyme
  8. oregano
  9. celery
  10. salt
  11. pepper
  • The Seasoning is a KFC copycat. There are 1.5 tablespoons of pepper in it which sounds like a lot. But trust me, you need it for the KFC flavor and it doesn’t 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 salted buttermilk. Brilliant for tenderizing 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 flavor and ability to heat to the temperature needed without burning the chicken or the oil smoking.

Fried Chicken 2

No seasoning in the marinade?

I don’t put Seasoning into the buttermilk marinade. The reason being that the crust is quite heavily seasoned (it’s unsatisfying if it’s not flavored enough) so if the chicken flesh is also seasoned, it’s just too much of the same flavor.

It’s just tastier to have that awesome contrast of juicy chicken flavor inside (salted but not flavored) and the wickedly crunchy, seasoned crust on the outside. It’s the KFC way!

Fried

How to make Fried Chicken

And here’s how to make it:

  • Marinate chicken overnight in buttermilk brine – this salts the flesh all the way through and makes it beautifully 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 the crust. The secret trick that makes the crust so epic!
  • Coat chicken in flour then fries until golden.

How long does it take a chicken to fry?

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

Reusing the oil

Typically, the oil used for deep frying can be reused 3 times or so once it’s been cleaned. However, I find that for Fried Chicken, it’s usually only good for one more batch of Fried Chicken or similarly flavored food. I think the oil just gets too tainted by the heavily flavored breading and while the oil can be cleaned of all the bits in it, you can’t remove the flavor.

To remove impurities, I find the best and easiest way is a Cook’s 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 isn’t good enough to filter the oil after this recipe, you’d need to use a coffee filter or similar which takes ages. But for other fried recipes like Honey Chicken and Sweet & Sour Pork, straining is fine).

What to serve with fried chicken

  • For the full homemade KFC experience, serve it with Coleslaw*, chips, KFC copycat potato, and gravy.
  • For a Southern meal, add a side of steamed or grilled corn, cornbread, Slaw, Potato Salad, and Southern Baked Beans. A fully loaded plate – my style!
  • If you or your hips are anti mayo, try the RecipeTin No Mayo Coleslaw – it’s very, very good!

 

Fried Chicken – ultra craggy crispy crust!

This is a fried chicken recipe that's made using a technique that yields an incredible super crunchy, really craggy crust with loads of nubbly bits that get extra crunchy! Seasoned with a KFC copycat 11 Secret Herbs and Spices – but it's better than KFC, there's no trace of soggy bits at all! The flesh is juicy all the way through thanks to a classic Southern buttermilk marinade (read in the post why there are no spices in the marinade!).

  • 1.8 kg/ 3.6lb bone in, skin on small thighs (< 200g/7oz), drumsticks, whole wings, breast (< 200g/7oz) (Note 1)

BUTTERMILK MARINADE:

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

FRIED CHICKEN BREADING (NOTE 9):

  • 2 1/4 cups flour , plain / all purpose
  • 3/4 cup corn flour / cornstarch

KFC 11 SECRET HERBS AND SPICES (NOTE 9):

  • 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 ginger powder
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano

TO FRY:

  • 1.5 – 2 litres / quarts vegetable oil (or canola or peanut, Note 8 for re-use)

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 KFC Secret Herbs & 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).

PREPARE TO COOK (WORK IN SPECIFIED ORDER OF STEPS):

  1. Preheat oven to 80°C/175°F and place rack on tray – to keep chicken warm. (Note 3)

  2. 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)

  3. Heat oil over medium to medium high heat to 180°C/350°F – maintain temp as best you can (Note 5).

BREADING:

  1. Cooking order: Start with thighs and drumsticks, wings next and cook breast last. (Note 6).

  2. Squidge a piece of chicken in remaining marinade, place in flour.

  3. Coat well, pressing very firmly to adhere. Transfer to plate.

  4. Coat 2 or 3 more pieces – just for one cooking batch, covering oil urface in single layer. (Note 7)

FRYING:

  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 150°C/300°C – adjust heat to target this.

  3. DO NOT TOUCH chicken for 2 minutes – to let the crust bond with the chicken skin. After this, you can move them around but oil should be deep enough that you do not need to flip (but you can if you want!).

  4. Thighs and drumsticks – cook for 8 minutes (wings for 5 minutes), or until deep golden brown and internal temperature at thickest part is 75°C / 167°F.

  5. Breast – fry for 6 minutes or until internal temperature at thickest part is 65°C / 150°F (time depends on size).

  6. Place onto rack and keep warm in oven. Repeat with remaining chicken, coating each batch just prior to cooking.

  7. Serve immediately!

  8. Classic sides: Coleslaw, KFC copycat potato and gravy, steamed or grilled corn, cornbread or soft rolls, fries, potato salad, Southern Baked Beans!

NUTRITION

  1. Serving: 100g Calories: 280cal (14%) Carbohydrates: 9.4g (3%) Protein: 21.8g (44%) Fat: 17.3g (27%) Saturated Fat: 3.7g (23%) Sodium: 589mg (26%) Sugar: 1.5g (2%)

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 the breast into 2 pieces through the bone.
Small pieces for thighs and breast is better – 200g/7oz or less, to ensure they cook through so you don’t need to worry about the fuss with finishing them in the oven. I’ve 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 the oven.

2. Buttermilk – make your own if you can’t 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 the 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 the 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 don’t have one, test by throwing in a lump of bread – 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 the floor of the 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 a thermometer to check the 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 color as a guide.

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

7. Batch cooking – don’t coat all chicken then leave it lying around while you cook a batch, it will sweat and the crust will be compromised.

8. Oil reuse – One reason I don’t deep fry much is that I hate oil wastage! I clean my oil using this simple cornflour/cornstarch method from Cooks Illustrated. Usually, I comfortably re-use oil 3 times once cleaned. Unfortunately with Fried Chicken, I find that it’s reusable only once more. Partly because of the strength of the seasonings and partly because you cook with it for a good 25 minutes which is using the oil a lot more than usual deep frying recipes.

9. Breading mixture notes:

  • Might seem like a lot of pepper, but it’s key to KFC flavor and doesn’t make it spicy. Remember that not much of the seasoning actually ends up on each piece of chicken.
  • Hot & Spicy version – just add 2 tsp cayenne pepper into the breading! That will give it a nice buzz (but won’t blow your head off)
  • There is more breading coating flour than you need, so you’ll throw out 1 cup or so. As wasteful as it sounds, I’ve tried using less and it gets messy/hard with the last pieces. So I conceded and upped the breading quantity – because this recipe is all about the crust!

10. Recipe source: Some techniques adapted from Kenji’s recipe on Serious Eats with some steps simplified/amended based on my testing. Spices are my KFC copycat “11 secret herbs and spices” mix.

11. Nutrition is impossible to calculate so I’m sharing the KFC nutrition for 100g / 3.5 oz KFC fried chicken (no bone)

chicken
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Fried Chicken

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