Classic Southern Fried Chicken

Classic Southern Fried Chicken on a plate

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 75 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1525 Calories
82g Fat
65g Carbs
123g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 1525
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 82g 105%
Saturated Fat 20g 100%
Cholesterol 527mg 176%
Sodium 3575mg 155%
Total Carbohydrate 65g 24%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 123g
Vitamin C 2mg 10%
Calcium 201mg 15%
Iron 12mg 64%
Potassium 1186mg 25%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This classic recipe is made-from-scratch Southern fried chicken at its easiest. Crispy and juicy, it's sure to be a family favorite. There's also no need for a long marinade in buttermilk, so you don't have to plan ahead.

The two-part batter simply consists of dredging the chicken in a milk and egg mix, then giving it a quick shake in seasoned flour. This dish calls for bone-in pieces—however, other recipes use boneless chicken breasts or boneless chicken thighs with equally delicious results.

Serve the chicken alongside mashed potatoes, coleslaw, creamed corn, or another vegetable side dish.

1:30

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"It’s easy to be intimidated by fried chicken, but it is fun to cook. There’s enough batter for extra chicken and preparing it is simple. The importance of maintaining oil temperature cannot be stressed enough. And thermometers are essential. Follow the recipe and tips and you’ll have classic, crispy fried chicken for dinner." —Colleen Graham

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups milk

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons salt, plus additional for sprinkling

  • 2 teaspoons black pepper

  • 4 pounds bone-in skin-on chicken pieces

  • Vegetable oil, for frying

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 200 F and place a rack in a large baking pan.

    Classic Southern Fried Chicken ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a medium bowl, combine the milk and eggs. Whisk to blend well.

    milk and egg mixture in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. In a large heavy-duty resealable plastic food storage bag, combine the flour, 2 tablespoons salt, and pepper. Seal and shake to combine.

    Southern fried chicken dry ingredients in a bag

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Dip the chicken pieces in the milk and egg mixture and let excess drip off into the bowl. Set already dipped pieces aside on a plate until you have three or four.

    chicken dipped in the egg and milk mixture

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Add the dipped chicken pieces to the bag of seasoned flour.

    chicken placed in the bag with seasoned flour

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Seal the bag and shake well to coat the chicken pieces thoroughly.

    chicken in a bag with flour

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

    Breaded chicken on a plate ready to be fried

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  8. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy skillet to 350 F. While it's heating up, set aside a large serving plate lined with paper towels.

    skillet with oil

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  9. Fry the chicken, a few pieces at a time, for about 10 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Be careful not to put too many chicken pieces in at once—even if they can comfortably fit—since this will dramatically drop the temperature of the oil, affecting the crispness of the final product. Note that chicken breasts will take a little less time than dark meat pieces.

    chicken frying in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  10. With a slotted spoon, move the done chicken pieces onto the paper towel-lined platter to drain. Sprinkle immediately with salt.

    chicken on a plate lined with paper towels

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  11. Transfer the drained and seasoned chicken to the prepared pan with a rack. Keep warm in the preheated oven while frying subsequent batches. Depending on the size of your pan, this recipe will require about 3 to 4 batches.

    fried chicken on a cooling rack

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Tips

  • If you're going to substitute the vegetable oil, make sure that it's suitable for deep-frying. Oils with a low smoke point will burn at the temperature this recipe requires and fill your kitchen with smoke rather than the tempting smell of fried chicken.
  • The best way to check for doneness is to use a meat thermometer. The minimum safe temperature for chicken is 165 F. Alternatively, you can pierce it with a fork to see if juices run clear.
  • Leftover fried chicken can be reheated with good results. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature. Heat the oven to 400 F. Put the chicken pieces on a rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 15 to 20 minutes until heated through and crisp. 

Recipe Variations

  • Buttermilk can replace the milk. Another version of Southern fried chicken soaks it in a buttermilk marinade for at least 6 hours. This ensures the chicken is juicy and can help the flour stick better.
  • Replace the milk with evaporated milk if you prefer.
  • Use a seasoned salt blend as a substitute for the salt and pepper.
  • Add more seasonings to the flour. Cajun seasoning is always a hit, and paprika, cayenne, and poultry seasoning are popular additions. You can also try the blend used in a copycat KFC chicken recipe.
  • Add about 1/2 cup of fine, dry breadcrumbs to the flour mixture.

Why Isn't My Fried Chicken Crispy?

Oil temperature is the main reason why fried chicken doesn't get crispy. If it's not warm enough, the chicken needs to cook longer and will get soggy from soaking up too much oil. When the oil is too hot you risk raw meat and burnt breading. Avoid crowding the pan and use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature to ensure it stays close to 350 F at all times. It will fluctuate but if you stay ahead of it and adjust the burner accordingly, the chicken will cook properly.