5 Ingredients or Fewer

Judy Hesser’s Oven-Fried Chicken

April 30, 2021
77 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
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

Watch This Recipe
Judy Hesser’s Oven-Fried Chicken
  • Prep time 8 hours 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 4, or 3 big eaters
Ingredients
  • 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
Directions
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Bonnie
    Bonnie
  • RossB
    RossB
  • Juliette Horiuchi
    Juliette Horiuchi
  • Canuck
    Canuck
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

293 Reviews

Canuck April 10, 2021
Can I line up the sheet pan with aluminum foil and then pre-heat?
 
abevrob12 April 11, 2021
Absolutely does not interfere with the taste. I want as little clean up as possible and the foil really conducts the heat beautifully. I constantly make this chicken so I promise, you will be fine.
 
abevrob12 December 15, 2020
This was absolutely delicious!!!! I followed the recipe, no ad-libbing; it was crisp, moist and best of all, not fried. I would certainly make this again and again
 
girlwithaknife November 21, 2020
Excellent, with some major modifications: I took a page from I took a page from Kenji Alt-López and covered the skin with a baking soda/kosher salt mixture (1:3), Then laid the chicken in a baking dish and tipped the brine in so the skin was still dry. Only brined it for an hour. The chicken was baked in a hot baking sheet, per the video. I had six thighs weighing 2 pounds total and only required 30 minutes skin side down, then 15 minutes. The only thing I would do differently is reduce the salt in the brine. Otherwise just fantastic, a keeper. I served it with Amanda’s Brussel sprouts salad, subbing the pan drippings for the olive oil. So good.
 
Bonnie November 8, 2020
Just a question. I’m not a fan of dark meat. Has anyone successfully used breasts instead of thighs? If so, any adjustments to the recipe?
 
abevrob12 April 11, 2021
Yes, I love and prefer dark meat. As long as you follow the recipe you'll be fine. The only adjustment, because sometimes I forget, is the brining. Don't worry it still is the best oven fried chicken I've ever done and I am a personal chef.
 
Bonnie April 11, 2021
Thank you!
 
Kamala October 25, 2020
So, I am now at 70 minutes at 410 degrees ( I turned it up at 45 min) in a gas oven and the bottom of the chicken thighs are still not brown or crispy. I followed the instructions for patting dry and shaking flour off vigorously. Really don't know what I did wrong. I will turn them over and put under broiler to salvage the dish. Really disappointing.
 
ICanBurnWater October 26, 2020
In case you’d forgotten a step... preheat the sheet tray for about 10 minutes... then add your fat (butter, oil, etc.) to melt and heat it for a few minutes more. A preheated pan will help with browning. Also try a cast iron pan preheated the same way. Best of luck.
 
kathryn C. August 23, 2020
This is my all time favorite "fried" recipe. Having made it for 1.5 years now, it is my go to recipe and we love it. Crispy, flavorful and moist it is wonderful. I have added some flavors to the flour which knocks it up a bit but even in its original form, just great!!
 
Ellen L. August 14, 2020
I've made this recipe several times now. It's so easy and the chicken turns out moist and delicious. It's now a family favorite. My husband and son both prefer boneless chicken but make an exception for this. At the table we add a little Mike's hot honey or spicy maple syrup. But it's good without as well.
 
Becky August 10, 2020
I love fried chicken, but it's so dang messy! I like this recipe for many reasons. It's easy, it's delicious, and it's not dang messy! I've made it 4 or 5 times in the last few months. I'm making it tonight. The only changes I make (and as a trained cook, I make changes, and I'm unapologetic!) are I liberally season the flour with S & P, paprika, garlic powder, thyme, and onion powder. If you want to go all KFC with the 17 secret spices, I say DO IT! Live a little. It'll be delicious! In place of a roasting pan I use my largest cast iron skillet, an inheritance from my South Georgia MIL who was the "overnight, buttermilk soaked, fried chicken queen". (Did I mention messy preparation?) As a nod to my Texas grandmother, I've been known to make a quick chicken and mushroom gravy in that same cast iron skillet to go with the tater mash. Gramma didn't use mushrooms...but I do! And more herbage if I happen to have it growing around the house...which I do. Done right, you'd be hard pressed to figure out this isn't straight up fried chicken. And the last bonus? With all the quarankilos that I've put on in the last 5 months, I've convinced myself that this really is a healthier version of fried chicken. Crispy skin and all!
 
Gabby April 21, 2020
This recipe is great. I tipped the fat off the pan after half an hour because I thought it would stop the skin crisping, and I ended up with great crispy chicken. Amazing how simple ingredients can make something taste so good!
 
Joyce T. April 20, 2020
Tried this last night...only problem was so much smoke from the oven at 400 degrees. I followed the recipe step by step. Loved the flavor, but had to open windows...and house was still smoky this morning...
 
Joyce T. August 23, 2020
Same thing happened to me...turned my oven black and we had to air out the house...Chicken was great, but not sure I'd do it again like that.
 
Arnica December 26, 2020
When my house flooded during Harvey, I had an opportunity to change some things in my house. The biggest change that I made was installing a vent over the oven so that I could cook using high heat. I will never go back. It makes the best everything. I even did the Thanksgiving turkey this way. I cannot stand white meat, but even I can eat white poultry meat cooked using a high-heat method. It's a game changer.
 
mcd411 April 19, 2020
This did not come out like the picture. After I cranked the temp and broiled the top it did get crispy Even Amanda said In the video that it did not look like her chicken . Be true to the recipe , don’t alter the picture. There is no way at 400 degrees in an electric oven that the chicken gets that crispy. Be patient and crank the heat.... it is delicious and worth trial and error.
 
Etta April 17, 2020
Came out just like the video - crunchy crispy skin - beautiful looking and smelling. Will make again, but OMG WAY, waytoo salty. Next time, will probably go down to 1t of salt in the flour mixture (as opposed to 1T per the printed recipe), and then salt to taste after cooking. As it was, I could barely eat 1 piece this time, my lips still feel like I’ve been swimming in the ocean for hours.
 
TomCooper April 19, 2020
Just to ask but did you dry the chicken well before costing it with the seasoned flour? If you left it wer, perhaps a lot more salt stuck to it. I felt it needed a bit more of both salt and pepper. Good luck to you.
 
Etta April 19, 2020
Thank you for your thoughts. I did pat dry well. I have considered that it might have been leaving in the brine too long (though the skin/breading was what was salty - and not so much the chicken). I also used unsalted butter per the recipe, so it’s either too long of a soak in brine, or just too salty for my taste. I’ll get to the bottom of this though because it was my husband’s favorite recipe.
 
Tinsnip March 26, 2020
No, no, no. Unless you can get her mom to come over and do this for you, it’s not going to work. There are so many great chicken thigh recipes. This was a disaster like I haven’t had in years.
 
TomCooper March 26, 2020
Tinsnip, Not sure how you turned this recipe into a disaster, but, I humbly submit you did something wrong. I have made this three times in only a month and it has been great each time. My 18 year old son requests it all the time. Give it another try, please.
 
Tinsnip March 27, 2020
I don’t know what I did wrong either. I watched the video 3 times, followed directions to the letter and it just plain didn’t work. Since people have different ways of learning and approaching new information, it’s very possible that I have a genetic brain block to the way the process is described. In any case, I ruined 6 expensive organic chicken thighs and won’t risk another attempt when I know there are so many other delicious ways to prepare them.
 
ICanBurnWater March 22, 2020
Thank you Amanda, Judy, and Food52 for this keeper of a recipe. Thanks for sharing this foolproof favorite family recipe, for releasing it to us.

I read a bunch of reviews to get tips from users. For me, I used an aluminum half sheet pan on the bottom rack of oven, at 410 on convection. I followed the recipe very closely. For 10 thighs I used 3T of fine grain Himalayan pink salt, and it could have been dialed back just a little bit. Avoiding overcrowding, I also used a cast iron pan on the middle rack, and although it works fine, those had to cook slightly longer. I will come back to this recipe many times, trying rice flour (GF), Parmesan, and lemon zest. A+++
 
TomCooper February 3, 2020
First recipe I made from this website but it was a definite winner. My teenage son loves fried chicken, and I never make it at home, due largely to the mess it makes. This turned out awesome, really great crispy skin on both sides, and he couldn't get enough of it. I will use two large pans next time, as the leftovers are great as well. In contrast another recipe for oven fried chicken use a rack but not turning the chicken, turned out with a not-so-crispy crust on the bottom.
 
RossB January 12, 2020
Perhaps the only time I’ve successfully prepared oven fried chicken. My modifications: I brined thighs in seasoned vinegar water; I used 1/2 rice flour; not aiming for the Colonel’s standards, I did season the flour with many herbs and spices; I replaced butter with buttery margarine. I’ll be making this again soon!
 
colleen D. August 30, 2020
Thanks for the gluten free idea, now everyone in our fam can enjoy 'fried chicken'!
 
caroline0ne January 10, 2020
I made these twice in two weeks. First time using a preheated Cuisinart stainless steel Dutch oven, they took an hour to brown; and the skin was a bit messed up when turned. I used a preheated cast iron skillet this time and they were overly browned at the forty minute point - edible but hard as cardboard. The pan used and the temperature of it appears to make an amazing difference. If I make them again, I will use a baking sheet and see what happens.
 
Amy November 11, 2019
This was excellent. I was a bit confused but watched the video - brined for about 3 hours (all the time I had). Dried the chicken thighs and let them sit at room temp for about 45 mins. Preheated the oven with the baking tray inside, dredged the thighs then took out the pan and spread the butter. Thighs took about 50 minutes before I flipped them. Crunchy and juicy. Will add to the rotation!
 
Juliette H. October 29, 2019
New family favorite! Thank you for the original recipe + the many wonderful suggestions: I used the buttermilk bath instead of brine, I used brown rice flour (soooo crispy), and I popped the room temperature thighs into uncrowded, super-hot, parchment-lined pyrex rectangles (425 degrees). Pure perfection!
 
Tam October 9, 2019
Wow this is a simple and delicious recipe. I made 4 thighs but used the same amount of salt, next time I will reduce by half. Other than the saltiness (my fault), the chicken came out delicious. I used a 12" cast iron skillet because it is easy to clean. Heated up in the oven while preheating, followed the rest of the recipe to a T. I love fried chicken without a greasy mess on the stovetop. Thank you.