Here's how to make the very best Southern cast-iron fried chicken

Southern Kitchen

About the recipe

Fried chicken is the benchmark of Southern cuisine. For the best results, shallow-fry the chicken in a cast-iron skillet. You’ll find that the crust adheres better than if you were to deep-fry the chicken. We like to use Texas Pete hot sauce in this recipe.

Serves: 4

Hands On Time: 1 hour and 0 minutes

Total Time: 7 hours and 0 minutes


4 cups buttermilk

1/2 cup hot sauce

1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces

8 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup garlic powder

3 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

Vegetable shortening or peanut oil, for frying


In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and hot sauce. Add the chicken pieces and submerge in the buttermilk. Transfer to the refrigerator and marinate for at least 6 hours.

When you’re ready to cook the chicken, line two baking sheets with wire cooling racks.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne, Old Bay, paprika and onion powder. Transfer to a large, heavy-duty paper bag.

Remove the chicken from the buttermilk, allowing any excess to drain off. Place the chicken pieces in the bag with the flour. Clasp the bag at the top and vigorously shake the bag to completely coat the chicken with the flour. Remove the chicken from the bag, tap off excess flour, and transfer to one of the prepared baking sheets. Let rest for 15 minutes.

As the chicken is resting, fill a large cast-iron skillet one-third of the way up the sides with melted shortening or peanut oil. Place the pot over medium to medium-high heat and bring the oil to 325 degrees. Monitor the oil’s temperature using a fryer or candy thermometer.

When the oil is hot, add the legs and thighs of the chicken first, placing them around the sides of the skillet. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes before adding the breasts and the wings. Cover the skillet with a wire splatter screen to prevent excess grease from adhering to your kitchen surfaces. Fry, flipping occasionally until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes.

When the chicken has finished cooking, transfer to the second prepared baking sheet and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.