Thomas Keller’s Fried Chicken

This is the best Fried Chicken I’ve ever had. It’s also the best fried chicken that world-renowned chef Thomas Keller has ever had. If you love fried chicken, you must make it!

“If there’s a better fried chicken out there, I haven’t tasted it.” 

Fried Chicken

When you read a statement like that from one of the world’s most respected chefs, you pretty much have to make that recipe.

And he’s right. This is the BEST FRIED CHICKEN EVER!

Several years back my brother bought me the cookbook Ad Hoc at Home (affiliate) for Christmas, and that’s where this recipe for Buttermilk Fried Chicken is from.

It’s incredibly juicy, crunchy, and flavorful, and it’s now become one of my go-to dishes for impressing guests and family who come to town for a visit.

Fried Chicken Recipe  

This recipe takes a little bit of planning, but it’s those steps that make the recipe so good.

Like any good fried chicken recipe, the chicken is brined, and it’s certainly worth the effort for that juicy and flavorful meat on the inside.

It also uses the whole chicken, so there is an assortment of pieces to choose from. 

However, if you want to do just chicken breast, or just thighs, or whatever your preference is, you can certainly tweak it to use your favorite cut.

How to Make Fried Chicken

How to Make Fried Chicken:

To get started, make the chicken brine, which is made with water, salt, herbs, citrus, honey, peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves:

Chicken Brine

Place the chicken pieces in the brine for 8 hours, then remove the chicken from the liquid and pat dry.

The chicken brine is essential for both flavoring and seasoning the meat, and it will keep the chicken juicy during cooking.

Next mix together a seasoned flour, with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne:

Deep Fried Chicken Recipe

If you’ve got it, adding smoked paprika gives it a slight smokiness that I love, but regular works fine too.

Split the seasoned flour between two bowls, then place buttermilk in a third bowl.

To batter the chicken, first coat the chicken pieces in the spiced flour:

Deep Fried Chicken

Then in the buttermilk:

Best Fried Chicken Recipe

Then back into the seasoned flour.

Deep fry the chicken pieces in batches for about 10 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown.

The cook time will vary slightly depending on what cut you’re cooking, but all instructions are in the recipe below.

How to Fry Chicken

You can hold the chicken pieces on a wire rack while you’re in between batches, to keep the outside crisp.

The chicken is absolutely flavorful enough to be eaten on its own, but you can also serve it with your favorite condiments.

Potato SaladColeslaw, and Drop Biscuits are some of my favorite recipes to make on the side.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Enjoy the best fried chicken of your life! 

And, I won’t tell you how I know this, but it’s also delicious cold from the fridge the next morning, haha.

More Favorite Chicken Recipes:

How to Store Fried Chicken: If you have leftovers (but how!), you need to store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container, for up to 3 days. Do not leave fried chicken out at room temperature for more than a couple hours.

How to Reheat Fried Chicken: First, know that fried chicken is never as good as when it’s freshly made. However, the best method is to re-warm it in the oven, as the microwave will make the breading soggy. Try 300F for 10 minutes, and check if it’s warmed through.

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4.86 from 7 votes

Thomas Keller’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken

This is the best fried chicken I've ever had. It's also the best fried chicken that world-renowned Thomas Keller has ever had. If you love fried chicken, you must make it!
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword best fried chicken, buttermilk fried chicken, fried chicken, fried chicken recipe
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Brine Time 8 hours
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 788kcal


For the Chicken Brine:

  • 8 cups water
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1/4 bunch flat leaf parsley
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 cloves garlic smashed

For the Fried Chicken:

  • 3 lb whole chicken cut into 10 pieces (breast cut in half)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1.5 tbsp onion powder
  • 1.5 tsp paprika
  • 1.5 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • vegetable, canola, or peanut oil, for frying (peanut is the best if you're willing to splurge)


  • Place all the chicken brine ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
  • Boil the brine for 1 minute, until the salt dissolves, then chill it completely.  If you’re in a hurry, you can place the mixture in a bowl and set that in an ice bath. Otherwise, let it chill to room temperature, then place it in the fridge.
  • Once the mixture is chilled, place the chicken in the brine for 8 hours. Try not to go beyond 8 hours or the chicken will get too salty. 
  • Discard the brine and pat the chicken very dry with paper towels. Let the chicken sit at room temperature for 1 hour while you prep the other ingredients.
  • Mix the flour with the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Split this between two bowls. Place the buttermilk in a third bowl, set in between the two spiced flour bowls.
  • Preheat a deep fryer to 320 degrees F, and right before frying, dip the drumsticks and thighs into the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, then the flour mixture again. 
  • Fry the drumsticks and thighs for 10 minutes, until golden brown and 170 degrees F inside, then drain on paper towels.
  • Raise the fryer heat to 340 degrees F, and dip the wings and breasts into the flour, then the buttermilk, then the flour again. 
  • Fry the wings and breasts for 6 to 7 minutes, until golden brown and cooked to 160 degrees F, then drain on paper towels.
  • For side dishes, I suggest Potato Salad, Coleslaw, and Drop Biscuits. Enjoy!


Make sure to get a small 3 pound fryer chicken (don’t go larger than 4 lbs), that way the pieces don’t overbrown before cooking through.


Calories: 788kcal | Carbohydrates: 73g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 1816mg | Potassium: 773mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 1185IU | Vitamin C: 19.4mg | Calcium: 220mg | Iron: 5.7mg

Post updated from the archives in March 2019. Originally posted February 2012