Super-Crispy Pan-Fried Chicken


Instead of deep-frying chicken in a vat of oil, food writer Angie Mosier prefers pan-frying, which creates delightfully crunchy and moist chicken without requiring quite so much oil. "For a covered-dish dinner, there's nothing better than a tray of drumsticks, which are easy to eat standing up," she says.

Total Time:
9 hrs 15 mins
12 to 16 servings


  • 16 pieces of chicken (preferably drumsticks and thighs)

  • 6 cups buttermilk

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour

  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 ½ quarts vegetable oil, for frying


  1. In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the buttermilk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the chicken for at least 8 hours or overnight.

  2. In a large, resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Set 2 large racks over rimmed baking sheets. Working in batches, drain the chicken, scraping off most of the buttermilk against the side of the bowl. Add the chicken to the bag, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat completely. Transfer the chicken to the racks, pressing the flour to help it adhere as you remove the chicken from the bag.

  3. Pour 1 inch of oil into each of 2 large cast-iron skillets and heat to 350°F. Add about half of the chicken pieces to the hot oil, being sure not to crowd the skillet. Fry over moderate heat until the chicken is golden, crisp, and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes; an instant-read thermometer should register 165°F for thighs or drumsticks and 160°F for breasts. Line the racks with paper towels and drain the chicken. Continue frying the chicken in batches, being sure the oil temperature stays at 325°F during frying. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Supercrispy Pan-Fried Chicken
    © Robert Rausch

Make Ahead

The fried chicken can be kept at room temperature for up to 4 hours. Serve at room temperature or reheat in a low oven before serving.

Suggested Pairing

Crispy, juicy fried chicken needs a fairly substantial white wine as a partner. Look to Chardonnays from California's Santa Lucia Highlands — they're fruity and lush, but they also have a satisfying edge of acidity thanks to the cool breezes that blow in from the Monterey Bay.

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