Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

All-American Fried Chicken

Get a sharp knife ready and follow these step-by-step instructions for cutting up a fresh chicken and then frying it to perfection.

fried chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes

Photo: roboppy (flickr)

This fried chicken is served with mashed potatoes and biscuits. You can also pack it for a picnic, or bring a big batch to a potluck.

Fried chicken is one of America’s favorite culinary past times and was once a very popular picnic item. The bacteria craze of our century has conditioned people out of taking fried chicken along in the picnic baskets, but I am a full supporter of eating fried chicken in a park with my favorite beer!

My mom taught me how to fry chicken. I didn’t exactly retain her breading recipe, but it was the techniques that have stuck with me. I still use important ones like double-dipping, the clean hand method, cutting up a whole bird, and frying to golden brown perfection. These are all explained below and make your chicken frying experience faster, easier, and tastier.

First things first, start with one whole fresh, pasture-raised chicken.

Ingredients (Wet Mix):

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk

Ingredients (Dry Mix):

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup yellow mustard powder (like Coleman’s)
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 4 tablespoons salt

Ingredients (Frying):

  • Peanut or corn oil

  • Cutting Raw Chicken

    Image 1 of 5

    Photo: Clara Moore

    Step 1: Cut the chicken in half

  • Cutting Off A Chicken Leg

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    Step 2: Cut off leg section

  • Cutting Off A Chicken Leg

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    Step 3: Cut leg section in half

  • Cutting Off Chicken Wing

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    Step 4: Cut the wing section off

  • Cutting Chicken Breast

    Image 5 of 5

    Photo: Clara Moore

    Step 5: Cut the breast in half

Method (Preparing The Chicken):

  1. First, make sure you rinse the chicken well.
  2. Cut the chicken in half: cut the chicken down one side of the breast bone, through down to one side of the backbone. Cut it completely in half (A very sharp knife of the appropriate size is necessary, 8 inch blade or more.)
  3. Now work on each half one at a time. Lay the half skin side up on the cutting board.
  4. Cut off leg section: Grab the leg with you free hand and work the blade along the crease of the leg and breast. If you follow carefully, you should be able to slide right through the joint without hitting a lot of bone.
  5. Cut leg section in half: Grab the drumstick with your free hand and work the blade along the crease of the thigh and drumstick. Again, if you follow carefully you should slide right through the joint without cutting through bone.
  6. Cut the wing section off: Grab the wing tip with your free hand and work the tip of the blade along the shoulder joint, all the way around in a circular motion.
  7. Cut the breast in half: For fried chicken, I generally cut the breast in half while it is still on the bone – a whole breast is just too big to fry! This requires cutting through a lot of little bones, so brace yourself and use both hands.
  8. The next important step is cleaning and sanitizing of you work station, including all knives, cutting boards (it is safest to use wood or bamboo), and surfaces that the chicken has touched. It all needs be washed with soap and then sanitized with a weak bleach solution. This is the best way to keep you and your family safe.

  • Dipping Chicken Leg In Wet Mix

    Image 1 of 7

    Photo: Clara Moore

    Dip the chicken pieces in the wet bowl with one hand.

  • Dipping Chicken Leg In Dry Mix

    Image 2 of 7

    Photo: Clara Moore

    With the other hand, dip the chicken pieces in the dry mixture.

  • Redipping Chicken Leg In Wet Mix

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    Dip chicken pieces into wet mix again.

  • Redipping Chicken Leg In Dry Mix

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    And again, dip the chicken pieces in the dry mixture (with the other hand).

  • Breaded Chicken Ready To Fry

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    I like to bread all my chicken pieces before I begin frying.

  • Oil Ready To Fry

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    The oil is ready when it has reached 350 degrees or when a test piece is bubbling quickly.

  • Plate Of Fried Chicken

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    Photo: Clara Moore

    Place the chicken on a piece of paper or cloth and store in a 200-degree oven to keep them warm.

Method (Frying The Chicken):

  1. Next, mix together all your wet ingredients in one bowl and all your dry ingredients in another bowl.
  2. Then, set up your thick bottomed pot for frying with about 2 inches of oil. Turn the heat on medium. (I use a big cast iron dutch oven.)
  3. Using the clean hand method*, dip the chicken pieces in the wet bowl then the dry bowl, then back in the wet and in the dry again. This ensures a beautiful and crunchy crust.
  4. Set the breaded pieces aside while the oil warms. I like to have all the pieces breaded before I start frying.
  5. Once the oil is hot (about 350 degrees or when a test piece of chicken is bubbling quickly), carefully place just enough pieces of chicken to cover the bottom. Be sure to not crowd the chicken.
  6. Flip the pieces as necessary and fry until golden brown. Remove and place on absorbable paper. Once the pieces are done frying, I store them in a 200-degree oven to stay warm.

* The clean hand method: By using one hand in the dry bowl and the other hand in the wet bowl, this reduces the gunk build up on your digits.

Clara Moore

Clara Moore is a chef from St. Louis finding her way in Seattle, one plate of food at a time. She lives in a cedar cabin in the woods and cooks at home a lot more now than ever before.

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  • Anonymous

    A cup of mustard powder? Six eggs?

  • clara

    yes, 6 eggs and 1 cup of mustard powder.

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