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Buttermilk Fried Chicken

A sugar-and-salt-spiked whole-milk brine makes Dave Arnold's chicken sweet and juicy; a mixture of buttermilk, flour, baking powder and baking soda yields an extra crisp crust.

Plus: More Chicken Recipes and Tips

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 6 to 8

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  • 1 quart whole milk
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Two 4-pound chickens, each cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • About 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart vegetable oil, for frying



  1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of the milk with 3/4 cup of kosher salt and the sugar and stir over moderate heat just until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a large, deep bowl and add the remaining 3 cups of milk. Add the chicken pieces and refrigerate for 4 hours. Drain the chicken and pat thoroughly dry.
  2. In a bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, 2 tablespoons of salt, the paprika, hot sauce and pepper. Whisk in the baking powder and baking soda. Put half of the flour in a large bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, tapping off any excess. Dip the chicken in the buttermilk, letting the excess drip off; return the chicken to the flour and turn to coat. Transfer to a rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken, adding more flour as needed. If the flour becomes too lumpy, sift it.
  3. Heat the oil in 2 large, deep skillets until shimmering. Working in batches, add the chicken to the skillets in a single layer, without crowding, and fry over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until deep golden and cooked through, 18 to 20 minutes; an instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should register 160°. Drain the chicken on wire racks lined with paper towels and fry the remaining pieces. Serve hot or warm.

Make Ahead

The chicken can be fried up to 4 hours ahead and reheated.

Suggested Pairing

A lively, fruity, low-tannin Beaujolais has the fruit and acidity to contrast with the pleasantly sweet chicken.

Contributed By Photo © Matthew Armendariz - mattbites.com Published June 2003

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