Salted Fried Chicken


Coarse salt balances the intense sweetness of honey in the brine for this chicken, which is fried in a buttermilk batter. Flakes of Maldon salt, "finishing" salt from the marshes of Essex, England, add a delicate crunch to each bite and a bit of visual flash.


For the Brine

  • 6 cups water

  • ½ cup coarse salt

  • ½ cup good-quality honey

  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces (with breast quartered)

For Frying

  • 10 cups safflower oil (or enough to fill pot halfway)

For the Coating

  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For Serving

  • Sea salt, preferably Maldon

  • Good-quality honey


  1. Make the brine: Bring water, coarse salt, and honey to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until salt and honey dissolve. Remove from heat, and let cool. Place chicken in a bowl, and pour cooled brine over top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 3 hours). Remove chicken from brine, and rinse under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.

  2. Prepare to fry the chicken: Fill a medium heavy pot halfway with oil (enough to cover chicken). Heat until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 340 degrees.

  3. Meanwhile, make the coating: Stir together buttermilk, eggs, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl. Whisk together flour, coarse salt, and cayenne in another bowl. Working in batches, dip each chicken piece into buttermilk mixture, coating completely (do not shake off any excess). Dredge in flour mixture, patting onto chicken to coat completely. Transfer to a plate.

  4. Working in batches, carefully place chicken in oil, and fry until deep golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes for small pieces, 9 to 10 minutes for large pieces. (As chicken is cooking, adjust heat as needed to maintain an oil temperature of 325 degrees. Return oil to 340 degrees before starting each new batch.)

  5. Serve the chicken: Transfer chicken to paper-towel-lined plates, and let drain. Season with sea salt, and serve with honey for drizzling or dipping.

Cook's Notes

Marinating the chicken in brine makes the meat juicy and flavorful. As you cook each batch, maintain the oil temperature at 325 degrees. This will ensure a crisp crust.

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