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Southern Fried Chicken Recipe (Without Buttermilk)

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Discover the secret to perfect Southern fried chicken (soul food) with our easy recipe—crispy, golden, and full of flavor! Skip the buttermilk soak and embrace a salt, sugar, and water brine for juiciness. Our blend of flour, cornstarch, and seasonings guarantees an irresistibly crispy coating every time.

This recipe holds a special place for Marrekus, who fondly recalls his grandmother’s Sunday dinner feasts that featured her iconic soul food fried chicken. Inspired by those nostalgic memories, we experimented with different approaches until we discovered the secret to the perfect fried chicken!

Our Southern fried chicken soul food recipe is made without buttermilk (which is found in many Southern recipes) and opts for an easy brine of salt, sugar, and water. We also use this brine for our fried pork chops. To make this recipe kid-friendly, follow the same instructions but use chicken tenders (aka tenderloin).

The result? Crispy fried chicken that’s not only incredibly juicy but also boasts a crunch coating that’ll have you reaching for seconds. The dredge is a carefully crafted mixture of flour and cornstarch—our secret to achieving the ultimate crispiness—combined with a medley of seasonings that elevate each bite.

With our recipe and insider tips, you’re on your way to savoring the juiciest, crispiest fried chicken you’ve ever had! It’s not just a meal; it’s a celebration of flavor, family, and the joy of good eats. Be sure to also check out our Southern fried chicken wings recipe made with lemon pepper seasoning.

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • CRISPY TEXTURE – The seasoned flour and corn starch coating helps achieve a crispy exterior that many fried chicken enthusiasts enjoy.
  • MOIST & TENDER – The brining technique, even without buttermilk, contributes to the tenderness and juiciness.
  • FLAVOR – Granulated garlic and onion bring aromatic and savory notes, seasoned salt contributes a balanced saltiness, pepper adds a hint of heat, and paprika introduces a smoky and slightly sweet undertone.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (6 pounds, cut up; or 8 pieces of your favorite cuts of chicken)
  • Neutral oil for frying (e.g. peanut oil, vegetable oil, canola oil)

Brine

Seasoned Flour

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic (if using garlic powder, use a bit less)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion (if using onion powder, use a bit less)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Cayenne pepper (optional)

Egg Wash

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons water

Note: The basic brine used in this Southern fried chicken recipe involves dissolving salt and sugar in water. The salt in the brine works to draw water into the meat through osmosis, resulting in a juicier and more flavorful final product. The sugar in the brine also contributes to flavor and helps balance the saltiness.

How to Make Southern Fried Chicken

Here’s a step-by-step guide for making our crispy and flavorful Southern fried chicken recipe without buttermilk:

Step 1: Brine Chicken

This recipe uses a basic salt, sugar, and water brine that will infuse your chicken with a nice balance of flavor while helping to retain moisture during cooking.

  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a pot.
  2. In the same pot, add 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar to the boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Remove the pot from heat and let the brine cool slightly.
  4. Add 4 cups ice to the pot, stirring until the ice is mostly melted, and the brine reaches room temperature.
  5. Place chicken pieces in a large bowl or container.
  6. Pour the brine over the chicken, ensuring they are fully submerged.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor absorption.
  8. Before cooking, remove chicken from the brine, rinse, and pat the pieces dry with paper towel, Then, proceed with dredge and fry instructions.

Step Two: Dredge

  1. Put flour, cornstarch, granulated garlic, granulated onion, pepper, seasoned salt, paprika, and cayenne pepper (if using) in a large bowl and whisk ingredients to combine. Alternatively, add ingredients to a brown paper bag and toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl, add 3 tablespoons of water, and whisk them together. Set aside.
  3. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Remove chicken from the brine. Don’t forget to rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Dip chicken into the egg wash, ensuring that each piece is well coated. The egg wash helps the flour adhere to the chicken and creates a crispy coating during frying.
  4. Once coated with the egg wash, dredge it in the seasoned flour mixture, pressing the flour onto the meat to create a textured coating. Repeat with the rest of the pieces. Rest the battered chicken on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for 3-5 minutes.

Step Three: Fry Chicken

  1. Fill a large deep skillet or Dutch oven with enough cooking oil to submerge chicken pieces (about 2 1/2 to 3 inches). Heat over medium heat to around 360°F (182°C) to 365°F (185°C). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to the lowest temperature (this is an optional step if you want to keep the cooked chicken warm while frying in batches).
  2. Carefully place the coated chicken pieces into the hot oil. Fry until it is golden brown and cooked through. Be sure to fry in batches to prevent overcrowding and temperature drop. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165°F (74°C). This takes about 8-10 minutes for white meat and 12-14 minutes for dark meat. 
  3. Once chicken is cooked, use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove it from the oil and place it on a wire rack set over a sheet pan to drain any excess oil. Let the fried chicken rest for a few minutes before serving. Grab some hot sauce and enjoy your crispy and delicious Southern fried chicken!

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Use a Thermometer: To achieve perfectly cooked chicken, invest in a kitchen thermometer. This ensures that the chicken reaches the recommended internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) without overcooking.
  • Maintain Oil Temperature: Keep an eye on the oil temperature during frying. Use a thermometer to monitor and adjust the heat as needed. Consistent oil temperature ensures a crispy and golden exterior.
  • Preheat the Oven for Warm Storage: If you’re frying in batches and want to keep the cooked chicken warm, preheat the oven to the lowest setting. Place the cooked chicken on a wire rack over a sheet pan in the oven to maintain crispiness.
  • Seasoning Adjustments: Feel free to adjust the seasoning in the flour mixture based on your taste preferences. Add a bit more of any spice, for example, cayenne pepper, that you particularly enjoy.

What to Serve with Southern Fried Chicken

Southern fried chicken pairs well with a variety of classic Southern side dishes. Here are some traditional options that complement the flavors of the fried chicken:

  • Collard Greens: Slow-cooked collard greens seasoned with bacon, onions, and garlic add a savory and slightly smoky element to the meal.
  • Green Beans and Potatoes: Whether cooked with bacon or seasoned with Southern spices, green beans make a vibrant and tasty side dish.
  • Candied Yams: Sweet and buttery and featuring brown sugar and warm spices. A traditional soul food candied yams recipe passed down from generation to generation.
  • Southern Style Braised Cabbage: Braised cabbage cooked with bacon, onion, and garlic in a savory broth, offering a flavorful and slightly tangy side that complements the crispy goodness of fried chicken.
  • Southern Fried Cabbage with Bacon and Sausage: A flavorful combination of cabbage, bacon, and sausage adds a unique and savory dimension to the meal.
  • Southern Cornbread: Our soul food cornbread recipe is easy to follow and yields a moist, tender crumb.
  • Sweet Potato Cornbread: This sweet potato cornbread is perfectly moist and flavorful, made with fresh, mashed sweet potatoes, a touch of cinnamon, and the magic of beaten egg whites.
  • Macaroni and Cheese: A rich and cheesy macaroni and cheese dish can be a deliciously indulgent side to balance the savory fried chicken.
  • Black Eyed Peas: Seasoned black eyed peas make a hearty and flavorful side dish, providing protein and a distinct Southern touch.
  • Creamed Corn: Sweet, tender corn kernels are simmered in a rich, creamy sauce, making this dish a true comfort classic that’s easy to prepare and impossible to resist.
  • Pinto Beans: This pinto beans recipe, adapted from chef and restauranteur Kevin Bludso, is made with smoked ham hock in a flavorful broth.

FAQ

What type of oil is best for frying?

Vegetable, canola, corn, and peanut oil are popular choices for frying due to their high smoke point and neutral/mild taste. Consider factors such as the smoke point, flavor neutrality, and your personal preferences. Additionally, always use fresh oil for frying to ensure the best results.

How do I know when the oil is hot enough for frying?

The most accurate way to gauge the oil temperature is by using a deep-fry or candy thermometer. Clip the thermometer to the side of the pot or fryer so that the tip is submerged but not touching the bottom. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can use visual cues. For most frying methods, the oil is typically ready when it shimmers and has a slight haze. You can also place a small pinch of the seasoned flour into the oil. If it sizzles, it is likely hot enough.

What’s the best way to store leftover fried chicken?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat without losing crispiness, use an oven or toaster oven rather than a microwave.

How to reheat leftover fried chicken?

To maintain crispiness, reheat leftover fried chicken in an oven or toaster oven. Preheat to 375°F (190°C), place chicken on a baking sheet, and warm for about 15 minutes. Avoid using a microwave, as it can make the coating soggy.

How long does fried chicken last in the refrigerator?

Properly stored, fried chicken lasts in the fridge for 3-4 days. Place leftovers in an airtight container to maintain freshness. For longer storage, consider freezing, where it can last up to 4 months.

Summary

Our crispy Southern fried chicken recipe is a cherished family tradition that brings crispy, golden goodness to our table. It has a delightful crunch on the outside, juicy tenderness within, and the perfect blend of seasonings. Elevate your fried chicken game today!

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Southern Fried Chicken Recipe (Without Buttermilk)

  • Author: cooks with soul
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Brine: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour (excluding brine)
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: main course
  • Method: deep frying
  • Cuisine: southern, soul food

Description

Discover the secret to perfect Southern fried chicken with our soulful recipe—crispy, golden, and full of flavor! Skip the buttermilk soak and embrace a salt, sugar, and water brine for juiciness. Our blend of flour, cornstarch, and seasonings guarantees an irresistibly crispy coating every time.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 whole chicken (6 pounds, cut up; or 8 pieces of your favorite cuts of chicken)
  • Neutral oil for frying (e.g. peanut oil, vegetable oil, canola oil)

Brine

Seasoned Flour

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic (if using garlic powder, use a little bit less)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated onion (if using onion powder, use a little bit less)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon seasoned salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Egg Wash

  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons water

Instructions

Brine Chicken

  1. Bring 4 cups water water to a boil in a pot.
  2. In the same pot, add 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar to the boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Remove the pot from heat and let the brine cool slightly.
  4. Add 4 cups ice ice to the pot, stirring until the ice is mostly melted, and the brine reaches room temperature.
  5. Place chicken pieces in a large bowl, container, or resealable plastic bag.
  6. Pour the brine over chicken, ensuring they are fully submerged. If using a bag, remove excess air before sealing.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor absorption.
  8. Before cooking, remove chicken from the brine, rinse, and pat the pieces dry with paper towels, Then, proceed with dredge and fry instructions.

Dredge in Egg Wash & Seasoned Flour

  1. Put flour, cornstarch, granulated garlic, granulated onion, pepper, seasoned salt, and paprika in a large bowl and whisk ingredients to combine. Alternatively, add ingredients to a brown paper bag and toss to combine. Set aside.
  2. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl, add 3 tablespoons of water, and whisk them together. Set aside.
  3. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Remove chicken from the brine. Don’t forget to rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Dip chicken into the egg wash, ensuring that each piece is well coated. The egg wash helps the flour adhere to the chicken and creates a crispy coating during frying.
  4. Once chicken is coated with the egg wash, dredge it in the seasoned flour mixture, pressing the flour onto chicken to create a textured coating. Rest the battered chicken on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper for 3-5 minutes.

Deep Fry

  1. Fill a large deep skillet or Dutch oven with enough cooking oil to submerge chicken pieces (about 2 1/2 to 3 inches). Heat over medium heat to around 360°F (182°C) to 365°F (185°C). Meanwhile, preheat the oven to the lowest temperature (this if an optional step if you want to keep the cooked chicken warm while frying in batches).
  2. Carefully place the coated chicken pieces into the hot oil. Fry until it is golden brown and cooked through. Be sure to fry in batches to prevent overcrowding and temperature drop. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165°F (74°C). This takes about 8-10 minutes for white meat and 12-14 minutes for dark meat.
  3. Once cooked, use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove it from the oil and place it on a wire rack set over a sheet pan to drain any excess oil. Let the fried chicken rest for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy your crispy and delicious Southern fried chicken!

Notes

Special Equipment: Deep Frying Thermometer

Keywords: fried chicken, southern fried chicken, fried chicken recipe without buttermilk

6 Comments

  1. I adore this fried chicken recipe! Brining the chicken added so much moisture and flavor to the chicken itself. I paired the chicken with your cabbage and mac and cheese recipes and had one tasty meal!

  2. I loved that I didn’t need to make an extra trip to the grocery store to buy buttermilk for this recipe. This fried chicken was crispy and juicy and filled with tons of flavor.

  3. I’ve been searching for a good southern fried chicken recipe for a while and yours ticked all of my boxes. It was crispy, moist and seasoned to perfection!

    1. Absolutely! You can use boneless chicken breast for the recipe. However, we recommend against using thin slices, as they may cook too quickly and risk becoming dry. Instead, we suggest using whole chicken breast or butterflying them to ensure even cooking throughout. For deep frying boneless chicken breast, we recommend maintaining an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C). This ensures that the chicken is thoroughly cooked while remaining juicy and tender. We hope this helps! If you have any further questions or need assistance, feel free to ask.

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