Authentic Buttermilk-Brined Southern Fried Chicken

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Traditional, authentic, deep-fried buttermilk-brined southern fried chicken by a true Southern Belle! Learn the secrets to the juiciest meat, the crunchiest crust, and most flavorful fried chicken you've ever had.


As some one who has lived all across the South, from Texas, to Maryland, to South Florida, and all in between, I would like to think I'm an expert when it comes to southern fried chicken.

I think every region of the world likes fried chicken. I have yet to meet someone who says, "We don't eat fried chicken where I come from." They may not fry it up like we do, but nonetheless, fried chicken is fried chicken.

Maybe somewhere in Europe they don't fry chicken, like in Greece or Sweden or something...they're pretty healthy, right? Probably don't fry chicken there.


The perfect southern fried chicken is golden brown, with tons of beautiful, beautiful crag, juicy, tender meat, with lots of flavor both in the batter and within the chicken. It's got a bit of spice (or a lot, depending on your tastes) and fantastically crispy skin.

But if you've never made fried chicken, you don't have a clue how easy it long as you have the right tools and the know-how.

Here are my tips, start to finish, for the perfect batch of authentic southern fried chicken:

Your Flavors

The flavors in your southern fried chicken are important, you guys.

You could just go the salt and pepper route, you could add a ton of really good herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme, you can do a mix like I do, but know what flavors you are using and how to use them. Too much hot sauce or rosemary can overpower, not enough salt won't work in the osmosis process of buttermilk or completely make your crust flavorless.

My recipe is my all-time favorite mix of flavors, giving classic fried chicken flavor with some oomph with the hot sauce, thyme, the minced garlic. It's full of delicious, well-rounded flavor, but I encourage you to try your own mix of flavors when you get comfortable.

Your Southern Fried Chicken's Perfect Brine

A brine needs three things: liquid, salt, and tons of flavor. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw me make this chicken brine on my Stories! It's such an easy thing to make but it's such an important thing to making sure your chicken is juicy and flavorful from the inside out.

My brine starts with buttermilk, of course. It's just not southern if buttermilk isn't involved. Buttermilk's acids help breakdown the proteins in chicken to make the meat very tender. Garlic, to add flavor, along with hot sauce, and some spices and fresh thyme. And, of course, salt to draw the moisture and all that flavor into the meat through osmosis (Yeah, science!). The chicken parts sit overnight in the buttermilk brine and are tender, seasoned on the inside, and ready to be breaded and fried.

Pretty sure that besides the chicken and the coating, that delicious southern fried chicken wouldn't be delicious southern fried chicken without a good brine.

Your Light, Crisp, and Flavorful Fried Chicken Crust

I'm excited about this part, your earth-shattering, crispy, craggy crust supreme. We don't just put flour on our chicken, and we certainly don't want to put UNSEASONED flour on our chicken!

That's blasphemy, and I'm judging you for the unseasoned plain flour on your southern fried chicken.

In this house, all-purpose flour is whisked up with cornstarch and baking powder! They make your crust light, crazily crisp, and give you that good crunch and that amazing crag (those nooks and crannies in your crust) so to me, these two magic ingredients are necessary for the perfect fried chicken.

As for the seasoning, you must make a well-seasoned crust. Period. Go with the same flavors you put in your brine, just in powdered forms. Don't put any fresh herbs or minced garlic in your flour, please. They will burn up and be bitter and gross, don't do it. Granulated garlic, onion powder, dried and ground herbs, those powdered spices are your friend here. They become sort of homogeneous with the flour, so you're not just covering the chicken in flour and then covering the flour in seasoning, but covering them in seasoning and flour together at once.

Splash some of your brine mixture into the flour, just a few tablespoons. This is the best kept secret to creating great crag.

The Dredging Process and Your Oils

Rest is so important when dredging. Period! I dredge twice, as I usually do when frying, to make sure there is a thick, crunchy crust, and between the layer and before frying, I let the chicken rest on a plate for 5 minutes. It lets the batter kind of settle down, come together (instead of sizzling off the chicken while in the oil), and it makes a real good crust.

I use vegetable oil to fry. It's flavorless, has a high smoke point, and it's a good base to fry with.

I'm allergic to peanuts, but if you're not feeding any peanut-allergy people, I suggest using peanut-oil when available. It's an industry standard to many.

The Grandma standard, however, is Crisco. Maybe I'll do a little post showing the difference in frying with different oils.

Your Temperature and Timing

I spent many a time wasting my time messing with the temperatures of my oil while frying chicken!

Too cold and the chicken will not only take forever to cook, but it will be heavy and greasy. Too hot (and I've had this problem many a time), you will end up with raw chicken inside and burnt, blackened batter on the outside. Oh, and smoke.

A lot of smoke.

And fire alarms.

325 degrees F, 20-22 minutes. It's the magic time and temperature I've found that cooks your chicken to juicy perfection, and fries up your batter to golden perfection. No burning, no rawness, no having to stand over your pot anxiously glaring at the thermometer. Just perfect.

  1. Get your brine right
  2. Plain flour is blasephemy
  3. Dredge twice, fry once.
  4. 325 degrees F, 20-22 minutes.

Oh, one more thing. Cut your chicken breasts in half (not length-wise, cut through the middle) so that the chicken breasts fry up around the same time as the rest of the pieces and don't dry out or burn up. One whole chicken, with your breasts cut into two pieces each, make ten pieces, but you can use ten individual chicken parts.

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📖 Recipe

Buttermilk-Brined Southern Fried Chicken

Traditional, authentic, deep-fried buttermilk-brined southern fried chicken by a true Southern Belle! Learn the secrets to the juiciest meat, the crunchiest crust, and most flavorful fried chicken you've ever had.
4.59 from 63 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 55 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Southern
Servings 10 pieces
Calories 300 kcal



  • 10 pieces of chicken
  • 5 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 3 springs fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Flour Coating

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • Vegetable oil


  • In a large bowl or two gallon-sized zip-top bags, put brine herbs and spices in. Pour buttermilk into the bowl and whisk up to mix buttermilk and seasoning together. Add chicken pieces and make sure each piece is submerged in the buttermilk. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, overnight most prefered. You can brine the chicken to up to 24 hours.
  • When you're ready to start frying, begin bringing a 6 quart enamel cast iron dutch oven (or any other large, heavy bottom pot) filled half-way with vegetable oil to temperature. Use a candy/oil thermometer to bring oil to 325 degrees F. When you place the stem of a wooden spoon in the oil, it should start to bubble around it. That's when you know it's ready. This is a good way to test the oil temperature if you don't have a thermometer.
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
  • While oil is coming to temp, in a large bowl whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and spices and herbs. Splash a bit of brine, about 4 tbsp, into the flour.
  • Take each piece of chicken out of the brine and coat well in the flour mixture. Let rest on a plate, repeat until each piece is coated in flour. Let rest for 5 minutes, then dip each piece back into the flour mixture and let rest again for 5-10 minutes.
  • Have a wire rack over a baking sheet prepared on a counter next to your range. Fry your chicken pieces, 2-4 pieces at a time, for about 20-22 minutes. When batch is done, place on prepared wire rack over the baking sheet and put into the warm oven. This will keep the batches warm while you finish frying. Repeat this step until complete.
  • Serve immediately.


Eat with baked macaroni and cheese, creamy mashed potatoes, sweet tea, and buttermilk biscuits. Drizzle with honey or serve with gravy.


Calories: 300kcal
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Traditional, authentic, deep-fried buttermilk-brined southern fried chicken by a true Southern Belle! Learn the secrets to the juiciest meat, the crunchiest crust, and most flavorful fried chicken you've ever had.

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  1. Leslie Moyer says:

    This fried chicken recipe is wonderful, yummy, man oh man!!! I am from South Carolina so fried chicken has always been a staple. No one has the recipe for my grandmother's fried chicken, yet I
    know she brined in buttermilk, but was basic on the seasoning (salt/pepper). I tested 🙂 because I am cooking this chicken for Thanksgiving! No one's fav is turkey, so I have agreed to make fried chicken, and there is no store bought food in our house at Thanksgiving. I haven't fried chicken in years. So, fried chicken it is, with some milk gravy!!! Thank you for the insight!

  2. Catherine says:

    Ok so does it matter what kind of chicken? I saw you mention cutting breasts, so is it breasts you use? I saw someone else mention leaving skin on… what kind of pieces of chicken do you use?

    1. Eden Westbrook says:

      Hi Catherine,

      This recipe is for every piece of chicken, doesn't matter what part you use. Cut the chicken breasts in half so they cook evenly and you won't risk any rawness or burning while frying. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. G'day from down under in sunny Perth, West Australia.....OMG! What a winner Eden! Had some chicken thighs I wanted to use up, searched for fried chicken recipes and stumbled across your recipe. I used these in brioche buns with slaw, cheese and homemade siracha mayo and my girls adored them. So glad I stumbled across your site! Cheers.

  4. I'm trying this in a couple of days for Thanksgiving. Do you rinse the brine off? I was concerned it might be too salty?

    1. Eden Westbrook says:

      After the osmosis process there is no salt to rinse off of the surface of the turkey. It’s a large bird, so all of the meat needs to be well seasoned. During the brining process all the salt will be absorbed into the meat and skin.

  5. I made the Mac and Cheese yesterday and took it to my friend’s house. They made smoked ribs. The ohh’s and ahh’s as they scooped into the dish was exciting . I could hardly wait to taste it! (Yes, I dared to make and take before I made it for me!!!). Well, someone beat me to tasting it and said, “oh my gosh this is delicious!” The compliments kept coming. The flavor was amazing and rich. This could definitely stand on its own for a meal with a light salad and a good bottle of Chardonnay! My suggestion would be Wohler Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley in California. Delicious!!!
    Thank you for this recipe. It will be on my list for holidays.

  6. I had high cholesterol. My doctor put me on a diet for 6 months. These were a tough 6 months to diet, but I did it and lowered my cholesterol significantly. To celebrate, I made your fried chicken (I earned it, right?).
    It was there perfect celebratory dinner! Just what I had been missing!! Thank you!

  7. Sarah Godbold says:

    I grew up in the south and learned to fry chicken from my grandmother. However, she did not add the wonderful seasonings you do. She did brine in buttermilk. You have stepped my chicken up many notches and I cannot thank you enough. It is just fantastic


  8. Pingback: Classic Southern Recipes That’ll Make Your Mama Proud
  9. Francisco Garay says:

    Oh man I am marinating this chicken overnight!

    Can't wait for tomorrow! Thanks for the recipe.

  10. This is the best fried chicken I've had in a very long time. It really took me back to old childhood memories. I've made this twice so far, and it is always a hit!! Even my picky 6 y/o loves it!!!! Thank you very much!

  11. Do you remove the skin? Making for my daughters graduation.

    1. Hi Melissa, we keep the skin on the chicken. It helps protect the meat and holds onto the crust better. I hope that helps!

  12. So I followed the recipe and this is SO SO SO good. I love cooking it's like meditation to me but let me tell you, this was HEAVEN. Trying the Mac n Cheese next.

    1. Thank you! I am so glad you loved it! Definitely try my Mac and cheese recipes, they are amazing!

  13. The chicken looks so perfect and delicious! I always fry chicken but it never looks the same, will have to try the buttermilk hack!

  14. Jessica Levinson says:

    This fried chicken looks perfect! Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside! I'm sure this disappears fast at dinnertime!

  15. Amy @ Little Dairy on the Prairie says:

    You made this just for me didn't you! I cannot wait to try this out!

  16. Jessica Fasano Formicola says:

    I must try this! I love a good fried chicken recipe! Total indulgence.

    1. Definitely! Fried chicken is that perfect indulgence.

  17. Comfort food at its best!

  18. That chicken looks absolutely perfect! Such a great recipe, I've always wondered how to make this style of chicken.

    1. Thank you! I hope you give it a try!

  19. This chicken, all day every day. Cannot get over how good this looks!

    1. Thank you. I agree, fried chicken all day everyday!

  20. Melissa | Bless this Mess says:

    What a fabulous tutorial on southern fried chicken! The pictures are mouth-watering!

    1. Thank you dearly, hon!

  21. Oh wow! Such wonderful flavors and gorgeous photos! That crispy golden brown crust looks so perfect. I can't wait to try this at home.

    1. Thank you! Let me know how you like it. ?

  22. I love southern foods! Buttermilk chicken is also my comfort food!

    1. The best comfort food around!

  23. Ashley - Forking Up says:

    I love love love fried chicken but have never made REAL fried chicken--I'm always scared of under-cooking! I literally bookmarked this so that I can try it soon 🙂

    1. I was the same way! 325, for 22-23 minutes, is the way to go with NO worries about raw chicken.

  24. This looks so crispyyyyyyy and delicious ?

    1. Thank you dear! ☺️

  25. Dee Samaan says:

    I love southern style fried chicken!!! It is the best!!!!