Southern Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Southern buttermilk fried chicken pieces on tray

The Spruce

Prep: 6 hrs
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 6 hrs 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings

Traditional southern fried chicken recipes are simply chicken dusted in flour and fried crisp, but this delicious variation uses a buttermilk bath for a tangy twist. This buttermilk fried chicken is great hot, but also makes a wonderful picnic item served cold. For a fried chicken recipe that is significantly lower in fat, try Southern fried chicken thighs.


  • 3 1/2 pounds chicken (cut into 8 pieces)
  • 2 1/2 quarts peanut oil (or vegetable shortening, for frying)
  • For the Marinade
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground dried herbs (or poultry seasoning)
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • For the Seasoned Flour
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for buttermilk fried chicken
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  2. Add the marinade ingredients to a bowl and whisk together.

    Add marinade ingredients to a bowl
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  3. Add the chicken parts and toss to coat well.

    Add chicken parts to marinade in bowl
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  4. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the chicken is submerged. Refrigerate for 6 hours. You can go overnight if desired.

    Plastic wrap covering bowl with chicken pieces marinating
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  5. Mix together the seasoned flour ingredients in a large baking dish.

    Flour lining bottom of baking dish
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  6. Drain the chicken pieces and toss into the flour.

    Chicken pieces in floured baking dish
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  7. Using your hands or tongs, toss to coat the chicken completely with the flour mixture. Shake off and reserve on a plate.

    Flour-coated chicken pieces on plate
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  8. Heat the peanut oil, or vegetable shortening, in a heavy Dutch oven to 350 F.

    Heated oil in bowl with thermometer reading 350 F
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  9. Carefully add the chicken and fry for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and you have reached an internal temperature of 180 F.

    Chicken fried in oil with thermometer reading 180 F
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  10. Allow to drain on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

    Fried chicken pieces draining on rack
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  11. Serve and enjoy!


  • You can also fry the chicken in a heavy cast iron skillet filled halfway up with oil. If you use this method, you need to fry pieces for 10 minutes, turn them over, and continue cooking until done.