Light & Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken

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My husband has a secret (maybe not-so-secret?) penchant for KFC.  I have a not-at-all-secret deep loathing of KFC, stemming from a particularly horrible food poisoning incident when I was eleven years old.

That said, I do appreciate really delicious fried chicken – a crispy, golden exterior hugging an impossibly juicy, perfectly seasoned drumstick.

Light & Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken –

I was planning a beach picnic a couple of weeks ago on his birthday, and I already had my deep fryer sitting on the counter.  See, I’d made moules-frites (Belgian mussels and fries) for a dinner party a few nights before, and really didn’t want to waste the oil.  I love having a deep fryer – it’s a really fun kitchen toy – but I use it maybe twice a year, so the oil (although it can be reused several times) is usually about 6 months old by the time I bust it out again.  Ick.

I ended up employing it again to make a batch of onion rings for a party (always a HUGE hit!), but I thought I’d like to use it one more time before turfing the oil and tucking the machine back into the hardest-spot-to-reach part of my pantry.

Anyway, I bought a package of chicken drumsticks and a carton of buttermilk, and that’s the story of my discovery of how insanely delicious, quick, and dangerously EASY it is to make fried chicken at home.

Seriously, that fryer can’t get buried under the pasta roller, ice cream maker, stand mixer attachments, etc. fast enough. 

Light & Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken –

The chicken is bathed in buttermilk and salt for as long as you have time for (I marinated it two hours, but one should be fine – or you could do overnight).  The one important thing with frying is that you bring the pieces back up to room temperature before you cook it – otherwise the coating can end up dark and overdone while the chicken is still pink and undercooked at the bone.

Light & Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken –

For the coating, I tossed some dried parsley, garlic powder and paprika with flour and added a secret ingredient: baking powder; it creates air bubbles, making a deliciously light and flakey coating rather than a heavy one.

After a quick shake to coat in a freezer bag, I dropped the pieces into the deep fryer in batches (overcrowding will lower the oil temperature, making a greasy end result – take your time).  The chicken was done in only 8 minutes! (I really recommend using a thermometer to check, my drumsticks were particularly small.) Hot and juicy and crispy and so, so, soooo yummy.

Light & Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken –


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Light & Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken

A secret ingredient keeps the coating super light and crisp on this juicy buttermilk fried chicken.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 4


For Chicken & Marinade:

  • 12 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • undefined

For Coating:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • canola or peanut oil for frying
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  • Whisk salt into buttermilk in a shallow baking dish.  Add chicken, turning to coat.  Cover and refrigerate, allowing chicken to marinate at least an hour (up to overnight).  Bring chicken to room temperature before frying (that means taking it out of the fridge 30 minutes prior).
  • Meanwhile, add all ingredients for coating into a large zippered freezer bag and shake to combine.
  • Heat oil in a deep fryer to 350ºF, or 3/4" deep in a large cast iron skillet. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place a wire cooling rack on top.
  • Remove chicken a piece at a time from the marinade, letting excess drip off.  Add chicken to the bag with flour mixture and shake to evenly coat. Cook chicken in two batches, flipping once, until golden brown and cooked through (165ºF internal temperature), 8-12 minutes.  Transfer to wire rack in a single layer.  Serve hot, or cool completely on the wire racks before refrigerating.
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  1. Patricia Doede says:

    This sounds really great. Can I make it earlier in the day and warm up for dinner