Let me walk you through the pleasure of eating this crispy, juicy fried chicken: You’ve got this glistening drumstick with a coating so full of crunchy ripples that it is hard to determine where to hold on. You decide fingertips are best for maneuvering this chicken from the plate to your mouth. As you bring it closer you can smell the spices — garlic, onion, pepper, and even the smoky paprika. That first bite is a real stunner. As you dig in, the crust cracks audibly and reveals juicy chicken that is as flavorful as that irresistible crust. You’ll taste the herbs that made that chicken so fragrant and enjoy a mouthful that is equal parts crispy and juicy. Pieces of the crispy coating fall away.
I’m going to need a bigger stack of napkins, you think to yourself, and then you grab another piece.
The very best part of eating this chicken is that you made it yourself. You didn’t swing by the local KFC, you didn’t fork over 20 bucks at some trendy chicken joint. Nope — you, my friend, made this honest-to-goodness, crispy, juicy, finger-licking delicious chicken at home. Whether you’re a first-time fryer or your skillet is well-seasoned, this is the step-by-step guide for making the very best fried chicken at home.
8 pieces bone-in chicken pieces (about 4 pounds total), preferably 4 drumsticks and 4 thighs
2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
3 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons ground white pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground mustard
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup buttermilk
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons vodka or another neutral spirit
2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil, for deep frying
Salt the chicken. Place the chicken pieces on a baking sheet and sprinkle all over with 1 tablespoon of the salt. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
Make the seasoning blend. Combine the paprika, white pepper, garlic powder, ginger, celery salt, black pepper, mustard, thyme, basil, and oregano in a large bowl.
Season the chicken. Coat the chicken all over with half of the seasoning mixture (about 1/2 cup).
Set up a dredging station. Add the flour, cornstarch, and remaining 1 tablespoon salt to the remaining spice mixture in the bowl and whisk to combine; set aside. Place the buttermilk, egg whites, and alcohol in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Fit a wire rack over a second rimmed baking sheet.
Dredge the chicken. Working with 1 piece of chicken at a time, dip in the buttermilk mixture to completely coat, then place in the flour mixture (don’t worry about letting any excess buttermilk drain off the chicken first). Shake the flour bowl as needed to completely coat the chicken, then use your fingers to press the flour coating onto the chicken.
Set the coating. Place the coated chicken on the rack and repeat dredging the remaining chicken. Set aside at room temperature for at least 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes while you set up for frying and heat the oil.
Set up for frying. Place the oil in a large Dutch oven, attach a candy or deep-fry thermometer, and heat over medium-high heat until the oil is 350°F, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, wash and dry the empty baking sheet the chicken was seasoned on. Line this baking sheet with paper towels and fit with a second wire cooling rack; this will be your cooling station.
Fry the chicken. Place 3 pieces of the chicken in the oil and fry, using tongs to rotate the pieces every 3 to 4 minutes and adjusting the heat as needed to maintain 325°F, until golden-brown with an internal temperature of 165°F (check by inserting a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken without touching bone), 12 to 15 minutes.
Cool the chicken. Transfer the chicken to the rack on the second baking sheet. Make sure the oil comes back up to 350°F before frying the remaining chicken in 2 more batches. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
Make ahead: The seasoning blend can be made and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. The chicken can be salted and refrigerated for up to 1 day.
Storage: Leftover chicken can be refrigerated in an airtight container on paper towels for up to 4 days.Open Next Page To See More!