A Simple Recipe for True Southern Fried Chicken

buttermilk southern fried chicken carolina inn

Your old recipe doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.

In honor of National Fried Chicken Day, we went south to the iconic Carolina Inn, located on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for a finger-licking recipe twist on average friend chicken.

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

Add Buttermilk.

While most friend chicken in U.S. is made with an egg or egg + beer marination to coat the strips before they’re breaded and seasoned, only true southern fried chicken uses a buttermilk dip or soak.

Why’s buttermilk better?

This secret ingredient is really just a combination of regular milk and fresh lemon or white vinegar. However, the unique presence of lactic acid from the lemon or vinegar brings forth tenderizing properties upon the meat (especially when the chicken is soaked in buttermilk before frying.) … And we all know tender is the name of the game with this dish.

But don’t just take our word for it. Cook up this true southern staple, courtesy the darlin’s from The Carolina Inn. Fill up until you’re full as a tick… (it’s a southern thing).

INGREDIENTS: (Serves 3… unless you’re hungry)

  • 3 – 3.5 Pounds chicken, broken into ten pieces
  • 6 Cups All Purpose flour
  • 4 Cups buttermilk
  • Kosher Salt & Cracked Black Pepper seasoned to taste
  • 4 Quarts Oil to fry chicken


  • Preheat fryer to 300 degrees. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper.
  • Season the flour with salt and pepper until lightly seasoned to taste. Divide the flour into two deep bowls and place the buttermilk in a third bowl.
  • 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 there is no exposed meat or skin. Once the pieces are bread, place them on the lined sheet pan.
  • One at a time, carefully but quickly, drop the chicken into the hot oil. Set timer for five minutes.
  • When the time goes off, gently separate the chicken pieces from each other and/or the bottom of the fryer. Set timer for another nine minutes.
  • Discard parchment paper, and line half sheet pan with paper towels.
  • When timer goes off, lift chicken one piece at a time onto the paper towels.
  • Season immediately with salt and pepper.
  • Allow chicken to rest 4-5 minutes to finish cooking before eating it.