This Southern Fried Chicken is perfectly crispy golden-brown on the outside with the most juicy, flavorful, and tender chicken inside. The recipe infuses flavors into the chicken to the bone. Trust me, this is the best Southern fried chicken ever!
After working on getting this recipe right over several years, I finally have a version that makes the juiciest chicken ever with an incredibly crunchy outside. That's my perfect fried chicken right there! It's packed with flavor in each bite.
You really can't rush good fried chicken, so set aside enough time when making this top-notch recipe. I promise it'll be well worth it for the incredibly delicious flavor and texture you'll end up with. This Southern-style fried chicken just hits the spot.
❤️ WHY YOU’LL LOVE THIS RECIPE
Easy to make: This southern fried chicken recipe is straightforward and simple, making it perfect for beginners. With clear instructions for brining, coating, and frying, you'll have delicious chicken ready in no time.
Family-favorite: This recipe is a tried and true family-favorite. The tender, juicy chicken legs, coated in a flavorful blend of spices, are sure to please both kids and adults alike.
Versatile: This recipe is versatile and can be adapted to your preferences. If you want a KFC-like texture, simply dip the chicken in the wet coating, then in the dry coating and fry. Or, if you prefer, you can omit the egg from the wet coating.
Delicious: The secret to this recipe's deliciousness lies in the brining process. It ensures the chicken absorbs the flavors of the spices, resulting in juicy, flavorful chicken with every bite.
Making this Southern fried chicken is so easy and fun! Plus you only need pantry staples to make it.
More details about the ingredients and measurements are in the recipe card below!
Chicken Legs with Skin: The star of the dish. Skin-on chicken legs are used to provide a juicy and flavorful bite. The skin also helps to hold the coating in place, giving you that satisfying crunch with each mouthful.
Lemon Juice (in the brine): This gives the chicken a tangy flavor and also helps to tenderize the meat, ensuring it is tender and succulent.
Spices: We'll be using classic spices such as garlic powder, black pepper, and paprika, and mix them into the flour to season the coating. This will give the chicken a savory and slightly spicy flavor.
Egg: Used in the wet coating to help the dry coating adhere to the chicken. If you prefer, you can omit the egg.
Milk: Mixed with the egg to form the wet coating. It tenderizes the chicken and helps create a smooth and even coating
Cold Water: This is used for a water dip, which hydrates the flour and creates steam when frying, helping to make the coating crispy.
🔪 HOW TO MAKE SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN
Wash and pat dry the chicken legs. In a large bowl, add the bay leaves, black pepper corn, sugar, and salt. Pour the boiling water and mix until the sugar and salt dissolve. Let this mixture rest for five minutes.
Add room-temperature water and lemon juice to the previous mixture. Make sure the chicken is fully submerged, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for three hours.
Create the dry coating by mixing flour with the specified spices in a medium bowl.
Prepare the wet coating in another medium bowl by beating an egg, adding milk, and beating again. Mix in a quarter cup of the dry coating until combined.
Prepare the water dip by pouring enough cold water into a deep bowl to fully submerge a chicken leg.
Heat the oil in a frying pan at (medium heat). Dry the brined chicken by removing it from the brine and patting it dry with a kitchen paper towel.
Dip the chicken first in the wet coating, allowing any excess to drip off, and then in the dry coating. Flip the chicken in the dry coating and press it gently to make sure it sticks.
Dip the coated chicken in the cold water for two seconds, then quickly return it to the dry coating. Make sure the chicken is thoroughly coated by pressing the dry coating on the chicken with your hand. This will create a beautiful texture on the chicken.
Fry the chicken in hot oil for about 12 to 14 minutes (or 10 minutes for medium-sized chicken), flipping it occasionally to ensure even cooking and prevent darkening.
Drain the chicken by removing it from the oil and placing it on a cooling rack. This will help get rid of excess oil and keep the chicken crunchy even after it cools.
Serve the chicken with your choice of sides, such as mashed potatoes, salad, or your favorite gravy. Enjoy your homemade Southern fried chicken!
👩🏽🍳 PRO TIPS
Brine Chicken Properly: Always brine your chicken for at least one hour, three hours is best. This will not only get rid of any smell in the chicken but also make the meat juicy and cook faster, even for larger chicken legs.
Dip Four times: For a beautiful texture, dip the chicken four times – once in the wet coating, then in the dry coating, followed by a quick dip in cold water and another round in the dry coating.
Keep the Frying Temperature Constant: When frying, keep the temperature at a steady medium heat. This prevents the chicken from getting too dark too quickly and guarantees even cooking.
Flip the Chicken Regularly: Don't forget to flip the chicken every few minutes while frying. This helps achieve an even color and guarantees the chicken cooks evenly.
Let It Rest: After frying, let the chicken rest on a cooling rack. This helps get rid of excess oil and keeps the chicken crunchy even after it cools.
Experiment with Two Dip: For a KFC-like texture, try dipping the chicken in the wet coating, then in the dry coating, and fry. This results in a lighter, yet still satisfyingly crispy texture.
Optional Egg Omission: If you prefer, you can omit the egg from the wet coating. This gives a slightly different, yet still delicious, flavor to your southern fried chicken.
Sweet and Smoky: For a sweet and smoky twist, try adding a tablespoon of smoked paprika and a tablespoon of brown sugar to the dry coating. The sugar caramelizes during frying, giving the chicken an irresistible sweet and smoky flavor.
Lemon Pepper: For a zesty twist, try adding the zest of one lemon and an extra teaspoon of black pepper to the marinade. The lemon zest will give your chicken a fresh and tangy flavor, while the extra pepper will add a nice kick.
Cajun Spiced: Looking to spice up your fried chicken? Try adding some Cajun seasoning to the dry coating mix. This will give your chicken a spicy, smoky flavor that's perfect if you're a fan of Louisiana-style cooking.
🍽️ HOW TO SERVE
- For a classic Southern dinner, serve your fried chicken with a side of creamy mashed potatoes and a dollop of gravy. The rich flavors of the gravy and potatoes perfectly complement the crispy, spicy chicken.
- Enjoy a picnic-style lunch by pairing your Southern fried chicken with a fresh coleslaw and sweet corn on the cob. The crunch from the coleslaw and the sweetness from the corn provides an excellent contrast to the savory chicken.
- Create a hearty sandwich by placing a piece of Southern fried chicken between two fluffy buttermilk biscuits. Add some lettuce, tomato, and mayo for an extra layer of texture and flavor.
- Add a serving of Southern fried chicken to a bowl of creamy macaroni and cheese for a truly comforting meal. The combination of crispy chicken and creamy pasta is simply irresistible.
- For a delicious breakfast or brunch option, serve your Southern fried chicken with fluffy waffles and a drizzle of maple syrup. The sweet and savory combination is a classic that never fails to impress.
💬 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The brine will infuse the chicken with flavor and make it incredibly juicy and tender. It will ensure you get the most moist and delicious chicken, even if you accidentally end up frying it longer.
Yes, you can brine the chicken for only an hour if you're short on time. You will still end up with delicious juicy and moist chicken, however keep in mind that brining for three hours will pack the delicious lemony flavors deep into the chicken.
Yes! The best part about this recipe is that it's highly customizable. Add other flavors to the brine if you like such as some garlic cloves. It'll infuse the flavor deep into the chicken.
The water dip serves to make the coating adhere better to the chicken, resulting in a thicker, crunchier crust. It's a crucial step if you want your fried chicken to have that classic, crispy texture.
Absolutely! While this recipe uses chicken legs, you can use any part of the chicken you prefer. Just keep in mind that cooking times may vary depending on the size and thickness of the pieces.
For a texture more like KFC, you can opt for a single dip process. Simply dip the chicken in the wet coating, then in the dry coating, and fry. This will give your chicken a similar texture to the popular fast-food chain's version.
Refrigerate: After enjoying your Southern fried chicken, place any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate them. The chicken should be good for up to four days.
Reheating: When you're ready to eat, reheat your chicken in the oven at a low temperature to prevent it from drying out.
Freezing: Unfortunately, the texture of southern fried chicken doesn't hold up well to freezing after it has been cooked. The crispy coating tends to become soggy once thawed.
📣 MORE SOUTHERN RECIPES YOU'LL LIKE
⭐PLEASE RATE AND REVIEW
If you have tried this recipe and liked it, please give it a 5-star rating and leave a comment below with your experience!
Southern Fried Chicken Recipe
- 6 medium chicken legs with skin
Chicken Brine for Tender Chicken (optional step)
- Juice of half a lemon
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 2 ½ tablespoon sugar
- 7 crushed black pepper corns
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups water at room temperature
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup seasoned flour from the dry coating.
- 3 cups or enough cold water to submerge the chicken leg.
For Deep Frying
- 5 cups Or enough cooking oil to deep fry.
Tenderizing the chicken and removing odor
- Wash the chicken legs with cold water or room temperature water.
- In a large bowl, add the bay leaves, crushed black pepper corns, sugar, and salt. Pour the boiling water and mix until the sugar and salt dissolves.
- Keep the previous mixture aside for 5 minutes, it will help the spices to release its flavor and oil.
- Pour the room temperature water over the previous mixture and then add the lemon juice and stir.
- Add the chicken legs, make sure to submerge them. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours. The mixture will remove any smell in the chicken, and the meat will come out juicy and cook faster even if the chicken legs are large.
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour with all the spices mentioned under the dry coating well.
- In another medium bowl, beat the egg then add the milk and beat well. Add quarter cup from the seasoned dry coating and mix until combined.
For the water dip
- In a deep bowl, pour enough cold water to cover the chicken leg.
Frying the chicken
- First, add enough oil to the frying pan to cover the chicken. Keep the temperature at medium.
- Remove the chicken from the marinate, you don’t have to wash the chicken again. Pat the chicken dry with a kitchen paper towel.
- Dip the chicken in the wet coating. Remove it and let the excess coating drip for a few seconds.
- Cover the chicken legs with the dry coating. Flip the chicken in the dry coating and press the coating on the chicken with your hands.
- Remove the chicken from the dry coating and dip it in the cold water for two seconds. Remove it quickly and coat it with the dry coating again. Remove the excess flour by tapping the chicken leg upside down on a plate, or you can place the chicken in a sieve and shake it gently. This will give a beautiful texture to the chicken.
- Carefully place the chicken in the hot oil and fry for 13 minutes (10 minutes if the chicken is medium sized). Flip the chicken every a few minutes to prevent it from getting darker and help it cook evenly.
- Remove the chicken from the oil and place it over a cooling rack. It will help in getting rid of excess oil and the chicken will stay crunchy even after it cools.
- Serve with mashed potatoes, salad, or your favorite gravy.
Two Dip Method
- If you want to have a texture more like KFC then, dip the chicken in the wet coating, then in the dry coating and fry. I have attached a photo in the post to show you how the chicken legs will look using this method.
- You can marinate the chicken legs for an hour instead of three, you will still get rid of the chicken smell, but the chicken will be more tender and juicy if left in the marinade for three hours.
- The chicken legs I have used were large and took around 14 minutes to cook.
- Regular size chicken legs should take 8 to 10 minutes to cook.
- Turning the chicken legs every few minutes, prevent it from getting darker, and cooks faster.
- You can omit the egg from the wet dipping and you will still get a great result.