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