Learning how to make fried chicken is a deeply personal mission. This is the sort of recipe that’s passed down from generation to generation, with minute nuances added along the way that will help make this dish truly yours. Of course, if that heritage isn’t there, you have to start from somewhere. That’s where we come in.
For me, this recipe reflects what my grandmother was taught to make back in the 1930s by her grandmothers. Is it right? Or universal? No. It’s simply what I know. That’s the wonder of fried chicken. It feels very straightforward yet there’s a lot of space for variation and nuance. I like dry brining, buttermilk soaking, dry coating, and then shallow frying in an old wok (my grandmother used an old cast iron skillet). Some folks don’t brine and then dredge in a batter. Sometimes you’ll find chicken fully submerged (deep-fried), sometimes it’s skillet fried, sometimes it’s oven fried. All of it is “right.”
The key to making great fried chicken at home is using the tools you have on hand to create something delicious. With that in mind, let’s walk through what works for me. Hopefully, that’ll help you start to master this recipe at home. Try, fail, and try again. The good news is you’ll get to eat fried chicken every time you attempt to master this one.