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Skillet-Fried Chicken

The cover of this month’s Bon Appetit claims this is the only fried chicken recipe you’ll ever need. Mighty lofty claims I thought. I figured I’d better try it out and report back. Since Jim was going to be out of town tonight (he’s not a big fried chicken fan), I decided tonight was the perfect opportunity.

I have not made a ton of fried chicken in my life, but I’ve certainly made it a few times. It always seems very complicated. Lots of buttermilk, lots of soaking. This recipe wasn’t like that. There’s one cup of buttermilk used in the dipping liquid. The spices you marinate the chicken in overnight weren’t complicated. You didn’t even need a ton of oil. And for once I didn’t change, increase or decrease a single ingredient – I made the recipe exactly as it was printed.

Skillet-Fried Chicken

To learn the best way to cut a chicken into ten pieces and see a video of the recipe being prepared from start to finish, go to

4 Servings

Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen, published in the February, 2012 issue.

2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 3–4-lb. chicken (not kosher), cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Peanut oil (for frying)

Special Equipment:

A deep-fry thermometer


Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Place chicken in a medium bowl, cover, and chill overnight.

Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. After marinating in the spices for a day, the chicken was already looking tasty. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 Tbsp. salt, and remaining 1 Tbsp. pepper in a 9x13x2″ baking dish.

Pour oil into a 10″–12″ cast-iron skillet or other heavy straight-sided skillet (not nonstick) to a depth of 3/4″. Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.

Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess.

Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts. I was pretty impressed with how close I got to the perfect internal temperature!

Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.

Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

So what’s my verdict on the chicken? I think Bon Appetit was right and you can throw out all of your other fried chicken recipes. It was easy, crispy, a little spicy but not too much. My son, who for some reason hasn’t had much of an appetite lately, ate three pieces and claimed we should from now on have “Fried Chicken Friday’s”. When I said I didn’t think that was probably going to happen, he said that he at least needed to eat this every week and a half.

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  1. My husband’s the fried chicken fanatic in our house. He’s trying out the Bon Appetit recipe tonight for a little post-sledding supper. Hope we’re as successful as you were!

  2. Well, I’ll be! One of my food “resolutions” this year was to make fried chicken. I have been married to a man of southern roots for 6 years and I have YET to make the boy fried chicken! I shall have to try it.:)

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