5 Ingredients or Fewer

Judy Hesser’s Oven-Fried Chicken

July 10, 2021
4 Stars
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).

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- OXO Measuring Cups and Spoons
- Five Two Roasting Pan
- GIR Silicone Spatulas

Genius Recipes

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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
  • Sue Bernstein Brodsky
    Sue Bernstein Brodsky
  • Sara Gillis
    Sara Gillis
  • Jayne Pearson
    Jayne Pearson
  • Risottogirl
    Risottogirl
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

322 Reviews

beth F. May 21, 2022
This is perfection in its simplicity and flavor. Confession- I can never leave anything alone, and I did add some dill pickle juice to my brine mixture as well as some garlic powder to my flour.. but beyond those flavor enhancers, the method was just the best. RAVE reviews at dinner last night. It took a solid 50 minutes for the skin to get browned before the flip, plus one pan rotation due to an obvious hot spot in the oven. This is just a terrific recipe that I highly recommend. One thought if not making 8 thighs is to use an oven safe large chef pan or cast iron (preheated with the same method)- my bet is that it will crisp and brown a bit faster.
 
Melissa H. March 27, 2022
I’ve made this recipe four times in the last six weeks. Easy and delicious. Couple notes: I have never brined the chicken longer than four hours, once only 90 minutes. Don’t think it makes any noticeable difference as long as you do it for one hour minimum. I use rice flour. I place the baking sheet in the oven when I turn it to preheat. Once the oven is at temperature, then I put the butter in the hot pan and put back in the oven until it melts. I have to bake one hour before it’s brown enough to flip. I brine the excess skin and bake with the chicken, makes great crunchy salad topping.
 
Sara G. April 12, 2022
I was going to ask if anyone had success with a gluten free version but I saw your review right away. Glad to read that rice flour worked for you.
 
Melissa H. April 13, 2022
I started using rice flour a while ago for any recipe that calls for a flour coating. It works well for pan frying fish, or a recipe I have for eggplant parm where the eggplant is oven fried. The rice flour results in a crispier crust, which I prefer. Decided to use it for the chicken as well, some other reviews recommended as well. Works great!
 
Sara G. April 23, 2022
Great to know! I’ve used cornstarch previously with not great results.
 
Bonnie February 10, 2022
Has anyone used bone in skin in chicken breasts or boneless skin on chicken breasts? I’m not a fan of dark meat.
 
abevrob12 February 10, 2022
I am and have actually made it that way, doing it this morning. The recipe is so good and flexible in terms of the part of the chicken you use, do what you like. You will not be disappointed in this recipe, I promise.
 
Bonnie February 10, 2022
Thanks so much. I’ve been wanting to try this for a while. About how long did you bake the breasts ?
 
abevrob12 February 10, 2022
My best answer is I always follow the cooking instructions, however since you will be using breasts make sure you use your thermometer, remember ever when you remove whatever it is your baking, it continues to bake once out of the oven. It will turn a beautiful golden color, this is my favorite chicken recipe and I don't think you will be disappointed. The recipe is really foolproof
 
Bonnie February 10, 2022
Thanks for the info. Yummy!
 
abevrob12 February 10, 2022
I forgot, because I keep a kosher home, I don't use butter but instead olive oil
 
Mwoj288 February 9, 2022
Love this recipe. Have made it multiple times and each time it’s great!!! Have been wondering if I could sub in gluten free flour?
 
ICanBurnWater February 9, 2022
Yes I used King Arthur measure for measure flour and it works well. It just will not brown as much. If you try another type of flour please let me know how it comes out!
 
Melissa H. April 13, 2022
Rice flour works very well also.
 
Arlene January 7, 2022
I'm about to make this recipe using drumsticks (that's all I have). Any advice for how to get them brown and crispy all over?
 
LizzieB December 12, 2021
I can't understand any rating other than 5 stars. I have made this recipe now dozens of times and it is a huge hit, hot or cold. I love to make extra for lunches.
I think the key are the following steps: shake off extra flour, put the butter in the hot sheet pan about 2 minutes before the chicken so it doesn't burn, LEAVE it for 40 minutes without peeking! I usually cook the second side a bit longer than the 20 or so minutes called for after flipping.
:)
 
Deejay October 28, 2021
My family couldn't believe how delicious this turned out--the meat was juicy, tender, and perfectly seasoned, and the skin crispy and delectable. I followed the instructions pretty much as written but incorporated some helpful suggestions from other reviewers - specifically I used rice flour in place of all-purpose, ghee in place of butter to avoid the problem of smoking, and used parchment paper on the baking pan to prevent sticking. The chicken thighs emerged from the oven cooked to perfection with a golden crust and flavorful meat. Rave reviews from my family - this is absolutely going into regular rotation. So easy and such great results! Thanks for such a family-friendly recipe.
 
dr B. October 11, 2021
This recipe is solidly in our rotation. We use Publix Greenwise thighs and the recipe never fails.
 
Sue B. September 8, 2021
Great, delicious, and fairly easy. Just thinking ahead: anyone see any reason I could not substitute matzo meal for the flour? Please advise. Ty!
 
alamalveaux September 5, 2021
Tried this recipe for the first. Oh my gosh!! How I wish I had known about this cooking method years ago. Well, this is my new way of frying chicken for my family.

Has anyone ever tried this same recipe with fish? If so, please share your thoughts?
 
Deanna June 6, 2021
This is super delicious - my chicken was very crisp, moist, and flavorful. I made it per recipe/video and now can’t wait to try different herbs & seasonings as recommended by other reviewers. I do recommend watching the video because it explains melting the butter in a pre-heated pan (not stated in the written directions).
Also - as recommended by another reviewer - the Brussels sprouts salad (Merrill Stubbs) goes great with the chicken. I took the advice in the video and used some pan drippings for the dressing. Yum.
Throw in a nice French white wine and wow, winning chicken dinner!
 
Arrxx June 3, 2021
Has anyone tried this with a buttermilk brine instead of water?
 
Jayne P. July 7, 2021
Please could you try it, then report back. I am sure it would be extremely good.
 
Risottogirl July 30, 2021
Not buttermilk, but I have used feta brine! And pickle juice! Both were fantastic. Pickle juice maybe a tiny bit better because they were spicy dills :)
 
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.
 
dr B. October 11, 2021
I prefer using parchment paper. If the butter/fat is not quite enough the foil will peel with the chicken when turning over. I preheat with other recipes but have never found the need with this one.
 
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.
 
John1986 December 7, 2021
May be the pan itself. I found this video very enlightening. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrufGZsP-jo
 
Melissa H. April 13, 2022
That video was fascinating and makes so much sense, I’m glad someone finally went to the trouble to document and test out seasoning baking sheets. And warping. Thanks for highlighting the video.
 
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!