A Simple Recipe for True Southern Fried Chicken

No matter what your loved one says, your current friend chicken recipe most likely doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

Trust us — we went south to the iconic Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and discovered the most delicious finger-licking twist on fried chicken. (Not only can they do barbecue damn well, but, shocker, they’ve got a lock on fried chicken, too.)

We reckon this simple recipe will forever replace your go-to concoction, and it only takes substituting one boring ingredient for loads of rich flavor — that same flavor that gave the American South its reputation as the fried chicken capital of the world.


While most fried chicken in the U.S. uses an egg (or egg and beer) to coat the strips before they’re breaded and seasoned, only true Southern fried chicken uses a buttermilk dip.

But why, you may be asking, is buttermilk better?

It’s because this secret ingredient contains lactic acid, which tenderizes the meat, especially when the chicken is soaked in buttermilk before frying. (In fact, one buttermilk substitute consists of regular milk and fresh lemon or white vinegar.)

But don’t just take our word for it. Cook up this Southern staple courtesy of the darlins’ from The Carolina Inn.

Southern Fried Chicken Recipe


  • 3-3.5 lbs chicken, broken into 10 pieces
  • 4 quarts oil
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat fryer to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Season the flour with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the flour into two deep bowls and place the buttermilk in a third bowl.
  3. Two pieces at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, then the buttermilk, and then the other flour. Take care to make sure each piece is thoroughly coated in each layer and that there is no exposed meat or skin. Once the pieces are breaded, place them on the lined sheet pan.
  4. One at a time, carefully but quickly, drop the chicken into the hot oil. Set timer for 5 minutes.
  5. When the timer goes off, gently separate the chicken pieces from each other and/or the bottom of the fryer. Set timer for another 9 minutes.
  6. Discard parchment paper and line half sheet pan with paper towels.
  7. When timer goes off, lift chicken one piece at a time and set them on the paper towels. The towels will soak up any extra grease.
  8. Season immediately with salt and pepper.
  9. Allow chicken to rest 4-5 minutes to finish cooking before eating it. This recipe serves three … unless you’re really hungry.

You’re welcome.

Article originally published July 5, 2017.

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