Best-Ever Cold Fried Chicken

Food & Wine’s Justin Chapple likes making extra-crispy chicken that retains its crunch in the fridge, so it’s ideal for picnics or just eating right out of the icebox. Slideshow: More Fried Chicken Recipes 

Best-Ever Cold Fried Chicken
Photo: Con Poulos
Active Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 45 mins
4 to 6


  • 1 quart buttermilk

  • Kosher salt

  • Pepper

  • Two 3-pound whole chickens, cut into 8 pieces each

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon hot paprika

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • 48 ounces all-vegetable shortening or canola oil, for frying

  • Hot sauce and assorted pickles, for serving


  1. In a large bowl, whisk the buttermilk with 1 1/2 tablespoons of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper. Add the chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

  2. In another large bowl, whisk the flour, paprika, onion powder and garlic powder with 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper. Spoon 1/4 cup of the buttermilk marinade into the dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients look slightly shaggy.

  3. Remove 1 piece of chicken from the buttermilk, letting the excess drip back into the bowl. Dredge in the flour mixture, pressing to help it adhere. Transfer to a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces. Let stand for 30 minutes.

  4. Line a large baking sheet with paper towels and set a rack on top. In a large saucepan, heat the shortening to 325°. Fry the chicken in batches at around 320°, turning occasionally, until golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest piece registers 160°, about 15 minutes. Transfer to the rack to drain. Let cool, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Serve with hot sauce and assorted pickles.

Make Ahead

The fried chicken can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

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