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

September 29, 2016

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.

You could say I am practically made of Southern fried chicken—certainly I grew up eating and cooking it.
Paula Deen

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).

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.

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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?

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."

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.

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Top Comment:
“Does the house seasoning use table or kosher salt? I'm guessing since it's Paula Deen that it's table salt.”
— parker

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 Photo by Tim McSweeney
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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • beejay45
  • parker
  • Negative Nellie
    Negative Nellie
  • Jim Ayres
    Jim Ayres
  • Ali Slagle
    Ali Slagle
Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.


beejay45 October 1, 2016
This is almost what I do when I'm in a hurry. Except I'm lazier still. ;) I put the chicken in a zipper bag with some dairy (buttermilk, yoghurt, sour cream, milk, whatever I have on hand) and a lot of hot sauce, start the oil heating in a saute pan, maybe half an inch, then mix sift some flour with baking powder, salt, powdered oregano and maybe some cayenne, if we want some serious heat.

By the time the oil is hot, the chicken is nicely coated in dairy/hot sauce, and I either roll each piece in the dry ingredients, or, if the pieces are small like wings or nugget-size, I just dump the flour in the bag with them and smoosh it all around to coat. The chicken's ready to cook.

Depending on how much liquid was in the bag, I either get a nice, thin coating of crispness on each piece, or a bit of batter-dippedness going on. And it takes about the same amount of time.

We each have our favorite ways of doing this - seasonings, brine/no brine but fried chicken is endlessly customizeable (is that spelled right?). This is almost my mom's recipe except she didn't "brine" at all, and everyone adored her fried chicken.
parker September 30, 2016
Does the house seasoning use table or kosher salt? I'm guessing since it's Paula Deen that it's table salt.
Negative N. September 29, 2016
Where's the recipe?
Ali S. September 29, 2016
Here you go: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/southern-fried-chicken-recipe.html
Negative N. September 29, 2016
Jim A. September 29, 2016
The recipe as originally published (in The Lady & Sons cookbook) calls for preseasoning the chicken and refrigerating for 2-3 hours. It also calls for Crisco rather than peanut oil. No hot sauce. I think I like FN's version better!