Afraid to fry chicken at home? Everyday Food editor Sarah Carey demystifies the process and shows you how to get this portable picnic fave perfectly crispy without all the grease.
In a wide, shallow dish or pie plate, whisk together flour, cornstarch, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Transfer 1 1/4 cups flour mixture to an airtight container; set aside. In a large glass bowl, whisk together buttermilk, 2 tablespoons salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Dredge chicken in flour mixture, then submerge in buttermilk mixture. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours (or up to overnight).
Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels. In a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet, heat oil to 350 degrees over medium (a small cube of bread should brown in less than 1 minute). Transfer reserved flour mixture to a wide, shallow dish. In batches, lift chicken from buttermilk, letting excess drip off, and dredge in flour mixture.
Fry chicken until golden brown and cooked through, 16 to 20 minutes per batch, flipping once (adjust heat if browning too quickly). With tongs, transfer chicken to rack to drain, 5 minutes, then serve.
There are endless ways to customize fried chicken. Try one of these options:
In Step 1, add 1/4 cup tomato paste, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, and 1 teaspoon ground oregano in buttermilk mixture.
In Step 1, add 1 tablespoon ground mustard, 4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning, and 2 to 3 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Tabasco, to buttermilk mixture.
In Step 1, add 1 teaspoon ground pepper, 3 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest (from 3 lemons), and 4 garlic cloves, finely grated, to buttermilk mixture.