Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe

From Homemade Rendered Lard

What better place to start a website entitled American Gourmand than with an oversized plate of Buttermilk Fried Chicken, fried in home rendered lard no less!

I take Fried Chicken seriously, but not seriously enough to make myself not enjoy it. Just seriously enough to appreciate the finer points of a good batch. Here are, what in my humble opinion, are some of those finer points, along with what helps to achieve them:

1.) A crispy crust is a must, but not so crisp that it shatters and falls back on the plate, or even worse falls off in sheets onto the plate. It should come off with the meat so that you can enjoy the crust to flesh ratio.

2.) Seasoning. As my Mom always says, “Fried Chicken needs Salt!” There’s nothing that ruins a good crust quicker than biting into bland, flavorless meat with no seasoning.

3.) The fat is where it’s at, and Lard is the best, with peanut oil being a close second. Sometimes I use peanut oil with a few spoons of lard added. Sometimes I add bacon drippings to the lard or peanut oil. Sometimes I even throw in a few strips of good bacon to fry alongside the chicken, which adds a slight smoky flavor to the finished product. If you’re using lard it has to be homemade rendered lard, not the junk they sell in the grocery store. Here is my recipe for making it at home:

From Homemade Rendered Lard

Homemade Rendered Lard Recipe

4.) Cast Iron is the only way to go. No pan creates a better crust, or maintains frying temperature better than cast iron. Period. I use one that my Mom passed on to me that she received on her wedding day in 1966.

Here is the recipe:

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe

The seasoning mix:

From American Gourmand

3 Tbsp Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Cayenne
1/2 tsp White Pepper
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Onion Powder

Combine the seasoning mix.

1 smallish Chicken (3 to 4 pounds) or a combination of Legs and Thighs. I’m a leg and thigh man!
1 Cup Whole Buttermilk (it must be whole, not the low fat stuff)
3 Cups All Purpose Flour (Seasoned with about 1 Tbsp of the seasoning mix)
Home Rendered Lard or Peanut Oil for frying.

Season the chicken very liberally with some of the seasoning mix, I use a spice shaker. Toss to coat evenly. You will have seasoning mix leftover. Cover the chicken with plastic and refrigerate overnight to allow the seasonings to penetrate the meat.

From Fried Chicken

The next day remove the chicken from the refrigerator, toss in the buttermilk, then dredge very well in the seasoned flour. When the chicken is well coated, shake off any excess, then set on a platter to let sit for about 1 to 2 hours. Flouring ahead like this will make for a crisper crust. Letting the chicken sit out will keep your fat temperature from dropping too much when you add the chicken to the pan. Putting it in right out of the fridge is like dropping in a handfull of ice cubes.

From Fried Chicken

Add enough of whichever fat you choose from to come about half way up the sides of a large cast iron skillet. Heat the fat until a sprinkle of flour sizzles, or when the temperature reaches about 350 degrees F on an instant read thermometer. Fry the chicken in batches, DO NOT overcrowd the pan or your chicken will not be crisp. Fry equal size pieces in batches together so that they will be done at roughly the same time.

From Fried Chicken

Turn the chicken often for even browning, maintaining a good sizzle in the pan, with a target frying temperature of about 300 degrees F.

The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Let cool for a bit to let the juices settle in. I personally like my Fried Chicken a little warmer than room temperature.


From Homemade Rendered Lard

Be sure and check out the sister site to American Gourmand, Nola Cuisine!

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8 Responses to Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe

  1. Cooking Man says:

    In most fried chicken recipes it calls for the chicken to marinate in milk or buttermilk for several hours before flouring and frying it. What does the milk or buttermilk DO? Is it necessary? Could I use something else…broth, juice, vinegar? Will the results be the same or does it have to be dairy to be good?

  2. DaveMod says:

    Legend is that the enzymes in buttermilk tenderize the chicken. Maybe, but it definately gives a flavor to the chicken and coating that you just can’t get any other way. (In my humble opinion). Whole buttermilk and overnight works best (as Danno said) Good fryin…… Dave

  3. Pingback: Crazy Cooking Challenge: Fried Chicken » I'd Rather Be Reading At The Beach

  4. Mary M says:

    This recipe was fabulous. I was used boneless, skinless chicken breasts so I was a little concerned the chicken would come out dry but it was extremely juicy and the breading was crisp and very, very flavorful. I used grapeseed oil for deep frying because I just happened to have it, but next time I’m going to try the lard. Excellent results! I’m so pleased.

  5. Shellie says:

    In answer to your question, Mark…below is a link that really explains how buttermilk affects not only chicken, but meats in general. Check it out! I found it interesting and informative.


  6. Shellie says:

    By the way…that chicken look absolutely fabulous! I am going to give ‘er a go very soon…first I gotta go find a butcher who will give me some clean pork fat! 😀

  7. Julie says:

    I always put my chicken in buttermilk overnight. You should try it along with a few pieces that you didn’t put in buttermilk so you can see the difference. I’m a Georgia girl and fried chicken and collard greens are my signature dishes, so they have to be perfect :)

  8. G carter says:

    Oh Lordy, I tried this chicken today. I even used lard for frying…..real lard….but was disappointed the crust was rather thick. It stayed together too well. WHAT did I do wrong? I did as per instructions. It browned almost too quickly for the thighs to be well done inside and even turned down the gas??? But the crust was NOT a flaky crisp so not sure that’s how it should be. Thanks

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