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Classic Fried Chicken

"I'm a Southern girl at heart, so I love fried chicken in summertime. Sometimes I make a basic batch; other times I punch up the flavor with spices and seasonings. I always soak the chicken in buttermilk, which results in moist meat, while cornstarch and double breading create a crisp, crunchy crust." -- Heather Meldrom, senior food editor

Tools and Materials

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1 chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces, or 10 skin-on legs or thighs
  • 3 cups vegetable oil

Classic Fried Chicken How-To

1. 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).

2. 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.

3. 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.