I’ve always wanted to be able to make my own fried chicken, southern-style. It started when I found out how horrid a company Chick-fil-A® is, and I tried making their style of chicken at home. It evolved from there, and by now I have a recipe I can happily call my own, which I absolutely love to make and eat.
All my recipes are wibbly. I never do the same thing twice, so I don’t usually give exact measurements. Eyeball it, taste it, try new things! And remember, it’s always okay to mess up and try again!
Also, it’s always good to read the recipe all the way through before starting, so you know what to expect before it comes up.
Have fun! 😄
The Actual Recipe
Setup & Prep
I prefer chicken breasts, but other cuts will work if that’s what you have or prefer. If I’d kept it frozen, I also make sure it’s completely thawed before moving on to the next steps. Sometimes I like to let the meat sit in a salt brine overnight, but often I don’t have the patience for that. 😜
Once that’s ready, cut the chicken however you like. In the images below, I show how it turns out when I slice it into nugget-sized chunks, but I also like to make tenders and strips. It’s however you feel you wanna do it each time!
Remember that the smaller you slice it, the more breading you’ll use up, and the less time it’ll take to cook.
First I get out my cast-iron skillet. Any shallow pan/skillet will do, I just like using this one. I pour a quarter inch (about half a centimeter) of peanut oil into it and turn the burner to medium, so it’s hot enough to start cooking the chicken the moment the first piece touches it.
I also like to have a big lid so I can cover the pan while the chicken cooks. This reduces splatter and keeps the heat in, leading to a more thorough cook.
Next, I set out 3 bowls for the breading/batter. Like, cereal bowl size. Here’s what I put in each one:
- Some whole wheat flour to coat the chicken in before the next step (if you want a gluten-free version, I’ve had good results substituting Corn Starch here)
- An egg and a little bit of milk (just enough to turn the mixture opaque). I beat them together with a fork. Sometimes I’ll make enough to need 2 eggs and a little more milk, but that’s easy to add later.
- Equal parts:
- Whole wheat flour (if you want a gluten-free version, I’ve had good results substituting Corn Starch here)
- Unsweetened corn flakes (corn meal or corn flake crumbs also work well)
- Corn Starch
- Powdered Sugar (Confectioner’s sugar works well too)
I then place a fork in each bowl, and use these forks to make sure the second and third bowls are well-mixed. In the last bowl, sometimes I also put a dash of cayenne pepper or garlic powder, just ‘cuz.
Whatever I end up putting in the bowls, I keep the ingredients handy in case I need more halfway through.
When a piece of chicken is done, I choose to place it on a paper towel on a plate. This absorbs any excess oil that’s on the chicken. After I’ve finished with everything, I’ll transfer all of the chicken from that paper towel to that plate, and that’s how I’ll serve it.
I usually have a meat thermometer handy, just to make sure I’ve cooked the chicken long enough. I find this especially useful at the start and finish, when I don’t have the natural timing of the rest of the bowls.
Now that I have everything set up, it’s time for the fun part: frying the chicken!
I prefer to do this assembly-line style, one piece at a time, making sure all stations have chicken in them at all times. That is to say, starting with step 2, with each step, I go backwards through the recipe to repeat previous steps on the next pieces of chicken.
Place a piece of chicken in the first bowl, and roll it around in the flour (or lift and sprinkle the flour) until it’s lightly coated on all sides
Using the first bowl’s fork, place the floured piece into the second bowl. Use the second bowl’s fork to make sure the egg-milk mixture coats the chicken on all sides. I then repeat step 1 so that the previous bowl has a piece in it.
Using the second bowl’s fork, place the egged piece into the third bowl. Use the third bowl’s fork to make sure the breading lightly coats all sides. I then repeat step 2.
Using the third bowl’s fork, place the piece onto the frying pan. My cheap apartment stove’s burners lean in one direction, so I place the pieces in the deepest part of the oil. I then repeat step 3.
By the time I’m done working back through the previous steps to make sure all the previous stations are filled, it’s time to flip the cooking piece. I flip it so that it moves one slot away from the edge of the skillet, leaving room for the next piece, which I’ll promptly place there. I then repeat step 4.
Basically repeat step 5 so that it’s one slot further. In my skillet, it’s now 3/4 of the way to the other edge. I then actually repeat step 5.
Basically repeat step 6 so that it’s at the other edge of the pan. I then actually repeat step 6.
Once I’ve filled all the previous stations, it’s time to move the oldest piece to the paper towel on the plate! If I’m not quite sure if I’ve got the temperature/timing right, I’ll use a meat thermometer to make sure it’s gotten to 165ºF (74ºC) before transferring it to the plate. If I’m using a pan lid, this is where I’ll put it back on. Then I repeat step 7.
Continue repeating these steps backwards until there’s no more chicken left. Once there’s only 1 piece in the skillet, I turn the burner off and let the heat of the cast-iron and the oil finish the job. If you’re not using cast-iron, it might not retain enough heat to do this, so you can keep it on until you’ve removed the last piece.
As I cook, the oil turns dark, and some breading comes off. The end effect is that the oil and pan look brown andor rusty. This is normal and expected.
In case any of this confused you, here’s a video of me doing exactly this:
Here’s some pics of how one batch turned out! I tried to make sure the colors are as accurate to reality as possible.
Have fun making your own!