Ultimate Buttermilk-Marinated Fried Chicken Breasts


2019 F&W Best New Chef Caroline Glover butterflies chicken breast for a quick and even cook in her buttermilk-marinated chicken breast recipe. To ensure a clean cut, pat the meat dry, and then place a clean paper towel under the chicken while you cut through the breast. Glover gives butterflied chicken breast an initial soak in a simple brine and a second soak in buttermilk to deliver juicy, perfectly seasoned chicken that fries up incredibly crispy. This recipe is delicious all by itself. If you like, take it to the next level by using it in her recipe for Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Anchovy-Garlic Dressing or her recipe for Fried Chicken with Root Vegetable Escabeche.

Fried Chicken Sandwich with Anchovy Garlic Dressing
Photo: Photo by Eva Kolenko / Food Styling by Carrie Purcell / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
6 hrs 40 mins


  • 4 cups water

  • ¼ cup plus 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • ½ tablespoon black peppercorns, toasted

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 5 cups ice cubes

  • 2 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 2 cups buttermilk

  • 2 cup all-purpose flour (about 8 1/2 ounces)

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • Neutral cooking oil (such as rice bran, grapeseed, or vegetable oil), for frying


  1. Stir together 4 cups water, 1/4 cup salt, peppercorns, and bay leaf in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. Meanwhile, place ice cubes in a large heatproof container. Once water-spice mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat, and carefully pour over ice. (This allows the brine to cool quickly and become ready to use.) Lay chicken breasts flat on a cutting board, and pat dry with paper towels. Working with 1 chicken breast at a time, place your non-dominant hand flat over top of chicken breast, and apply a good amount of pressure so the breast stays in place. Using a sharp knife, cut breast in half horizontally, stopping just as you get to the opposite side. (Do not cut all the way through.) Open chicken breast like a book. (Both sides should be of equal thickness to ensure even cooking.) Repeat butterflying process with remaining breast. Transfer butterflied chicken breasts to container with cooled water-spice mixture; cover and refrigerate 3 hours.

  2. Remove chicken breasts from brine, and transfer to a medium bowl; discard brine. Pour buttermilk over chicken breasts to cover. If needed, place a small plate on top of chicken breasts to keep them submerged. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 2 hours.

  3. Whisk together flour, onion powder, and 2 teaspoons salt in a large, shallow bowl. Remove chicken breasts from buttermilk, letting excess drip back into bowl. Dredge chicken breasts in flour mixture, shaking off excess; transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet. Reserve flour mixture in bowl. Cover chicken on baking sheet and flour mixture in bowl; transfer to refrigerator, and chill at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.

  4. Remove chicken and flour mixture from refrigerator. Dredge chicken 1 more time in reserved flour mixture, shaking off excess. (Chicken will be slightly moist; the second dredge is for soaking up the remaining buttermilk goodness.)

  5. Pour oil into a 12-inch cast-iron skillet to a depth of 1 inch, and heat over medium to 325°F, adjusting heat as needed to maintain oil temperature. Carefully add 1 chicken breast to hot oil, and cook until bottom side is golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully flip chicken, and continue frying until both sides are golden brown and crispy and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 165°F, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer fried chicken to a plate lined with paper towels, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Repeat frying process with remaining chicken breast and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve immediately.

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