Judy Hesser’s Oven-Fried Chicken

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

This smart recipe comes from our co-founder Amanda Hesser's mother Judy, and will give you the best fried chicken you can make without committing yourself to quarts of hot oil (this recipe only calls for 2 tablespoons of butter). Best of all, the process is simple and mostly hands off. As Amanda writes, "I sometimes add grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and grated lemon zest to the flour mixture. The cheese underlines the nutty flavor you get from frying and the zest brightens the dish. It is delicious without these, too. My family likes it at any temperature and at any time of day, even cold out of the fridge for breakfast." Adapted slightly from Cooking for Mr Latte (W. W. Norton & Company, 2003).

Genius Recipes

Serves: 4, or 3 big eaters


  • 3 tablespoons sea salt (divided, plus more for serving)
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (organic or natural, not Perdue or somesuch)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper (plus more for serving)
In This Recipe


  1. In the morning, combine 2 tablespoons salt and about a cup of warm water in a large bowl or container. Stir to dissolve the salt. Trim the chicken of excess skin and fat. Add the chicken to the bowl. Cover with very cold water and add a tray of ice cubes. Swish around with your hand to disperse them. Chill in the refrigerator until dinner time.
  2. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Remove the chicken from the fridge and pat dry completely with paper towels. Put the butter in a roasting pan large enough to fit the chicken in one layer (But remember, Judy says, "You don't want to crowd it or then it'll stew, like mushrooms"). Place the pan in the oven. In a 1-gallon freezer bag, pour in the flour, remaining 1 tablespoon salt and the pepper. Give it a good shake. Add the chicken pieces two at a time and shake them until thoroughly coated. As you lift them out of the bag, shake them off vigorously. This is vital. You do not want a gummy coating. Line them up on a plate, and repeat with the rest.
  3. Lay the chicken pieces in the roasting pan, skin side down, and oven-fry until a chestnut brown and crisp on the bottom, about 40 minutes (sometimes it takes as long as an hour). Don’t flip them until this happens. Use a thin spatula to scrape them up off the pan and turn them; cook the other side until the bottom is browned, which will take less time, around 20 minutes. Remove the pieces from the oven as they finish cooking, and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Just before serving, grind fresh pepper over top and sprinkle lightly with sea salt.

More Great Recipes:
Chicken|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Fry|Make Ahead|Father's Day|Memorial Day|Mother's Day|Spring|Summer|Winter|Fourth of July|Fall

Reviews (206) Questions (2)

206 Reviews

Geanine November 25, 2018
The best ever! It’s my go to quick dinner during the week ..I start the brining the morning before work ..then if don’t have time in evening to cook ..I keep it in the salt soak another day..everyone love this and have passed on recipe to friends!
Tracie August 27, 2018
This was so easy and delicious. I still can't believe there is only 2 tbsp of butter in it - so crispy. Mine took a little longer to brown, I think it didn't have enough space in the pan - so make sure the chicken has space! I transferred it to a baking sheet and it crisped right up.
lindsey July 25, 2018
*The best* fried chicken recipe out there. I'm not usually a recipe repeater but I've made this five times in the past year and it comes out perfectly every time.
Ken June 2, 2018
I've always wanted to make fried chicken but could never bring myself to heat all that oil and make a huge mess. After discovering this recipe, I don't see any need to actually go to the trouble to fry. Just made this for the third time tonight. The first two times I followed the recipe exactly as written and the results were fantastic. This time around, I decided to add a few twists based on some of the other comments. I added buttermilk to the brine. I added smoked paprika, dried thyme, and garlic powder to the flour. I used ghee instead of butter. My family and I thought the results were great. This is a really useful recipe because once you get comfortable with it you can certainly experiment to change things up. No need for any other fried chicken recipes in my humble opinion!!
Crystal May 29, 2018
Made this yesterday and it came out amazing! So little work too, which is great! I made it gluten free using gluten free AP flour. This is one of the best discoveries!
Monica B. April 16, 2018
I took a stab at making this and was shocked at my own failure to make this work. It took forever to get it to brown and by then the meat was over cooked. I am usually handy at oven cooking, meats, etc. I suspect it wasn't the recipe's fault. I did use organic chicken (previously frozen) but it was Purdue ;) So I think that the industrialized, supermarket chicken is too water logged. Maybe with fresh chicken from the butcher case? Also, I let the butter melt in the pan but took it out while finishing the flouring. I wonder if the pan needs to be hot and sizzling in order to get the crisping going. I am willing to try this again after all the rave reviews.
jack63 March 21, 2018
Why not Perdue?
karencooks February 12, 2018
Easy & delicious!!! I had four thighs and used a 12" cast iron skillet. Perfect browning!
Annette P. February 3, 2018
any one try this with margarine instead of butter? Or coconut oil? Should that work? I don't use butter when cooking meat.
anne R. January 31, 2018
This was so good and really easy to throw together. <br />I will make again and again for sure!
Kt4 January 31, 2018
Why the "(organic or natural, not Perdue or somesuch)" comment? Does it really matter in this recipe? I usually get the least expensive because it's what I can afford, and I don't trust those advertising labels anyway since there's little to no regulation on their definitions.
Kevin K. January 31, 2018
Not true. "Organic" has a legal definition. "Natural" does not. That said, use whatever you want.
Sarah January 31, 2018
The less expensive chicken usually has additional water added...
Kevin K. January 31, 2018
Not really "added" unless it is sold as brined. Water content in less expensive chicken comes from it being water cooled in huge vats. It's not really added per se but some ends up staying with the chicken when it is packaged.
Sharon B. February 1, 2018
Not necessarily--if you study the packages carefully, at some "discount" stores, I have seen water content as high as 13 percent!
Kt4 May 29, 2018
Still don't understand why the "organic or natural, not Perdue or somesuch" restriction. What exactly are they getting at here?
hplcman July 13, 2018
Since the recipe tells you to brine the chicken for 8-10 hours what difference does the initial water content of the chicken matter???
Sunski January 25, 2018
A keeper! I followed the recipe word-for-word and it was fantastic! I may try adding some thyme and paprika in the future, but my whole family was amazed by how good it was with just plain old salt and pepper.
Shanon November 3, 2017
This is the best recipe for oven fried chicken! It's not true fried chicken, but the meat is juicy and skin super duper crispy! I used brown rice flour, and would recommend using a rice or other gf flour as it has less chance of getting gummy. Winner for sure!
Robin September 16, 2017
This is the BEST and easiest oven fried chicken I ever made. I used ghee (higher smoking point) and sweet rice flour to make it gluten free. Excellent, excellent, excellent! Going to try it with chicken wings next time. <br />RF
Julie C. July 8, 2017
I made a paleo, gluten AND grain-free version of this last night. I will admit that I was a bit nervous as I've made the standard version MANY times since "Cooking For Mr. Latte" was first published, and it's probably my husband's favorite chicken dish, certainly far outstripping any fried chicken available here in NYC, even in the tonier joints. HUGE success. As good as the original, and virtually indistinguishable from the original. I will immodestly venture to say that the hack is practically a "genius recipe" in its own right.
Jared K. August 6, 2017
What did you swap in as substitutes?
Julie C. September 17, 2017
Cassava flour. Worked like a charm. You can use ghee instead of butter if you're avoiding milk solids, but I prefer the flavor of whole butter.
Nelson C. July 8, 2017
I made it and came out prefect! I must add that I started the brine two hours previous the cooking, I used a paper bag from the bread shop, two of the 8 pieces got dried as they were smaller in size that the other 6, cooked them on a 210 centigrade celsius, I add a tea spoon of red chilli pepper to the dried mix, and it turned out fantastic. Thanks for this easy and wonderful recipe. I hate fried food but I love fried chicken and what a saviour this recipe is!
Robert M. June 26, 2017
This recipe worked perfectly for me, with only one deviation from the recipe: I used ghee (clarified butter) to ensure that there was no smoke generation. The recipe is clear on the type of roasting pan needed. I used a simple rimmed baking sheet. I'm wondering if some of the failures below involved use of a deeper roasting pan or one of non-metallic construction. Either could preclude sufficient heat transfer (radiant in the first instance, transfer via conduction in the second) to brown and crisp the skin. My guests all agreed that it was some of the best chicken they'd ever eaten and wouldn't leave until they'd extracted a promise from me to make it again! I hope disappointed reviewers will give the recipe another try. This ridiculously easy, awesomely delicious dish is now my go-to recipe for casual entertaining on weeknights.
Shari R. June 26, 2017
I am making this right now. chicken has been in for almost 50 minutes and not brown at all! HELP!!1
LynneSteen June 26, 2017
I bake it for one hour skin side down and then turn it and bake for another 30 minutes. Could your oven be off?<br /><br />
Shari R. June 26, 2017
Thank you. Maybe I just need to be more patient. My oven is in pretty good shape :)<br />
Mary June 19, 2017
I'm afraid the only thing good about this recipe was that the chicken thighs were incredibly moist after brining....and this was after 1 hour, 20 minutes of cooking! The skin never browned appropriately in the "skin side down" portion of the recipe - even after an hour. I finally turned them over and drizzled some of the chicken fat/butter mixture over top to try and get the skin-side browner and crispier.<br /><br />I had also seasoned the flour mixture with more pepper than called for, paprika, and some dried thyme - and still found the overall result rather bland.<br /><br />So my search for a a really good oven-fried chicken continues.
Nelson C. July 8, 2017
That's a shame, I went with very little expectations and read my comment. Try it again and it's worth it. Good luck next time
wendy W. June 17, 2017
This method worked great, though I had to use what I had on hand - kosher salt, garlic butter and half white flour/half rye flour. Delicious - had it for dinner, a piece cold for a midnight snack, and warmed up for dinner the next night. All were great! Will definitely use this method again.