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Is Paula Deen’s Fried Chicken Recipe the Bestest of Them All?

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When you Google “best fried chicken recipe,” the top hit is Paula Deen’s Southern Fried Chicken on Food Network. And a lot of you did that: It was one of the top ten recipe searches last year.

It takes a total of 24 minutes to prepare, which means no overnight brine. There isn’t buttermilk; there isn’t cornstarch (what some say is the key to a crunchy crust).

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Instead, in one bowl, you mix eggs with hot sauce and a little water; in another bowl goes flour and pepper. You coat the chicken with a house seasoning blend (read below for more on that snafu), then dip the chicken in the egg and then the flour-pepper mixture. You fry the chicken in a vat of peanut oil, which Jamie Deen thinks is one of the keys to good fried chicken.

And voilà:

Two of our recipe testers, Anna and Kate, who have tested oodles of recipes for the website and have surely made fried chicken once or twice, were tasked with poking holes in this recipe and seeing how it fared. Sure enough, they raved—we mean raved—about it. Why?

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It’s just so good.

"This was a SOLID recipe!"

"I had my doubts, but this is some damn fine fried chicken. It came together so fast and was really moist and crispy and flavorful. I am a fan."

It's a dead-simple recipe.

Did we mention it takes 24 minutes to make? Or that there aren't any fancy, fussy ingredients or techniques?

"I think the fact that it was simple and yet the perfect plate of fried chicken made it the ultimate. This is definitely my go-to fried chicken recipe."

"This was a classic take and I was pleasantly surprised. It was so simple, no brine, no fancy tricks and yet, it was absolutely delicious."

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Its secret ingredient: self-rising flour.

Anna said the crust was "crisp and perfect." Perfect! We attribute the perfection to self-rising flour, the primary ingredient in the dredging. It's a mix of flour, salt, and baking powder, meaning that it streamlines your grocery shopping and evenly distributes the leavening agent (baking powder) on the chicken so that there's a nice, light crust all the way around.

If you don’t have self-rising flour on hand, it’s easy to make: 1 cup of all-purpose flour plus 1/4 teaspoon salt plus 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder, sifted five times, equals a cup of self-rising flour.

One flaw: the house seasoning blend.

Testers found that the house seasoning blend, a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic powder, was a worthwhile addition, but the quantities weren’t as clear as they could’ve been. The blend starts with a cup of salt, so it’s probable that you’re not supposed to use all of the blend, but some cooks might not know that. And the instructions don't help; it simply says: “Season the chicken with the house seasoning," which can be stored in an airtight container for 6 to 8 months. But how much to use for each batch?

If you make this chicken, know that you shouldn't use more than 1/4 cup of the blend. Any more and you’ll have some really salty fried chicken.

Internet, thank you for this recipe!

King Chicken
King Chicken Photo by Tim McSweeney

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