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Perfect Fried Chicken

Perfect Fried Chicken
11 votes, 4.36 avg. rating (86% score)
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Fried chicken is having a renaissance. Of course, it never really went away. But this year, I’m hearing about fried chicken pop-up restaurants, seeing fried chicken recipes in every newspaper and magazine. My friend, Adeena Sussman, spent the past couple of years traveling the country to research fried chicken recipes for the cookbook she just co-authored with Lee Schrager, Fried and True: More than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken & Sides. Close to home, fried chicken is on the menu at many of the restaurants I’ve visited this summer.

One such restaurant, Commonwealth in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has a particularly delicious version. Chef Steve “Nookie” Postal soaks his chicken in a buttermilk brine for three full days before he fries it, leaving the meat melt-in-your-mouth tender and perfectly seasoned. I asked him for his recipe and found that even a 2-hour soak produced delicious chicken. My dinner guests raved. And because this recipe for perfect fried chicken calls for boneless thighs, the meat cooks quickly and still has plenty of flavor.

Using boneless chicken thighs ensures juicy, flavorful results
Photo/Art by Amy Traverso
Using a buttermilk brine and  boneless chicken thighs ensures juicy, flavorful results

Commonwealth Fried Chicken
Total time: 45 minutes, plus at least 2 hours brining time
Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

For the brine:

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons red chili flakes
  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

For the chicken:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil for frying
The ingredients
Photo/Art by Amy Traverso
The ingredients

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and chili flakes. Add the chicken and let sit at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Of course, you don’t have to brine the meat at all, but the results here are so good, it really is worth a little advance planning.

A buttermilk brine simultaneously tenderizes the meat, adds flavor, and keeps the meat moist during cooking.
Photo/Art by Amy Traverso
A buttermilk brine simultaneously tenderizes the meat, adds flavor, and keeps the meat moist during cooking.

Set a large skillet over medium heat and fill with enough oil to reach a 3/4-inch depth. You want the oil to be about 350° during frying.

Next, prepare the coating for the chicken: In a shallow pan (I use a cake pan), whisk together the flour, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and salt. Dredge the chicken pieces through the flour mixture to coat.

Coating the chicken
Photo/Art by Amy Traverso
Coating the chicken

When the oil reaches 350° on an instant-read thermometer, add the chicken, two or three pieces at a time and cook on one side until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn the chicken over and cook until browned on the other side, 1 or 2 more minutes.


Transfer cooked chicken to a sheet pan lined with paper towels or a brown paper bag. Cook remaining chicken as above. Serve immediately.

Perfect Fried Chicken Recipe Links

Amy Traverso


Amy Traverso


Senior lifestyle editor Amy Traverso oversees Yankee's Food and Home & Garden departments and contributes articles to the magazine. Amy book, The Apple Lover's Cookbook (W.W. Norton), won an International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) cookbook award for the category American. Follow !
Updated Friday, June 27th, 2014

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2 Responses to Perfect Fried Chicken

  1. Mark July 6, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    Way, way, way too much salt in the bring, I will try this again but with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt in the brine vice two TABLESPOONS of kosher salt.

  2. Amy Traverso July 10, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

    Hi Mark-

    I confess I have a salt tooth, so I liked the flavor, but considering your feedback, I’ve reduced the recommended amount to 1 tablespoon (it’s still a brine, after all).

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