The secret to our best fried chicken recipe is in the batter: the lactic acid in the buttermilk marinade tenderizes the meat, while the seasonings infuse it with flavor. Also, double dipping the chicken created a thicker, flakier crust — just be sure to dredge the chicken once you’re ready to fry, so it can go directly into the hot oil. We love this fried chicken warm, at room temperature, and even cold from the fridge the next day.
Fried Chicken with Spicy Honey
Time: 2 hrs 30 mins + marinating time
3 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 pounds dark meat chicken, drumsticks, and thighs
About 4 quarts neutral oil (canola or vegetable)
⅓ cup honey
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
5 cups all-purpose flour
1. Marinate the chicken:
In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, mustard powder, cayenne pepper, 2 tablespoons of salt, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Add the chicken and toss to thoroughly coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 6 to 12 hours (or up to overnight) to marinate.
2. Make the spicy honey:
In a bowl, combine the honey and as much of the red pepper flakes as you’d like.
3. Coat the chicken:
Set a wire rack on a large sheet pan. One hour before cooking, remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator to bring to room temperature. Reserving the buttermilk marinade, transfer the chicken pieces to a plate (letting any excess marinade drip off). In a large bowl, combine the flour, 1 ½ teaspoons of salt, and ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper; evenly divide between 2 bowls. In a large, heavy pot, heat 3 inches of oil on medium heat until it reaches 350°F degrees. Once the oil is ready for frying, working 1 piece at a time, return the chicken to the bowl of reserved buttermilk to coat (letting the excess drip off). Transfer to one of the bowls of seasoned flour and toss to thoroughly coat. Return to the buttermilk, then back to the other bowl of flour.
4. Fry the chicken:
Working in batches, immediately add the coated chicken to the hot oil. Cook, turning often, 9 to 14 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest piece of the chicken should register 175°F). Transfer the chicken to the prepared wire rack; immediately season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature with the spicy honey.
— Make sure to return the oil to 350°F between batches. Be sure not to overcrowd the pot, as the temperature of the oil will drop with each addition.
— Separate the chicken into small batches of thighs and drumsticks. Frying the same cuts at the same time ensures they finish at the same time.
— Don’t be afraid of the craggly bits or extra coating sticking to the chicken after it’s coated. No need to “tap off any excess” here!
— Seasoning immediately after frying. Salt absorbs better with hot oil.