The Best Fried Chicken

To get the most delicious chicken, we dry brined it overnight so the seasonings could penetrate the meat right down to the bone. (Don't worry, the brown sugar doesn't make the chicken sweet, it only helps to bring out the flavor.) We also wet the seasoned dredging flour with buttermilk and hot sauce to achieve large shaggy pieces of flavorful crust once the chicken is fried. And the cornstarch in that dredge? It keeps the crust shatteringly crisp – more so than just flour would– even if you are serving the chicken at room temperature.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 4 hr (includes brining and chilling times)
  • Active: 1 hr
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
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Ingredients

One 3 1/2- to 4-pound whole chicken (or 3 1/2 to 4 pounds assorted chicken pieces)

Kosher salt 

4 teaspoons light brown sugar 

1 teaspoon baking powder 

3 cups all-purpose flour 

2/3 cup cornstarch 

2 tablespoons garlic powder 

2 tablespoons onion powder 

2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika 

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper 

2 cups buttermilk 

1/2 cup hot sauce, such as Frank's 

2 large eggs, beaten  

Vegetable oil

Directions

  1. Cut the chicken into 10 pieces. Cut off the wings. Remove the legs and separate the thighs. Remove and discard the backbone. Cut the breast into 2 pieces and then cut each breast in half.
  2. Mix 4 teaspoons salt, the brown sugar and baking powder in a small bowl until completely combined and no lumps of sugar remain. Sprinkle the salt mixture all over the chicken pieces. Place the seasoned chicken on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Wrap the baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate, at least 3 hours and up to 24. (Overnight works best.) 
  3. Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne and 1/4 cup salt in a large bowl until completely combined. Whisk together the buttermilk, hot sauce and eggs in another large bowl. Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour, turning to coat and packing it into any crevices. Shake to remove any excess and return to the rack. Repeat with the remaining chicken.  
  4. Pour 6 tablespoons of the buttermilk mixture into the seasoned flour and work it in with your fingers; it should feel like sand with some clumps. (These clumps will give the chicken a crispy, shaggy crust.) Dip the dredged chicken into the remaining buttermilk mixture, allowing any excess to drip off. Then pack the moistened flour firmly onto the chicken. Very gently shake off any excess and return to the rack. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours. 
  5. Pour enough oil into a large heavy pot to come halfway up the sides. Clip a deep-fry thermometer to the pot. Heat the oil over high heat until the thermometer registers 300 degrees F. Working in 3 batches, fry the chicken, turning often and adjusting the heat to maintain the temperature, until deep golden brown, about 8 minutes for the wings, 10 minutes for the legs and 12 minutes for the thighs and halved breasts (an uncut breast will take 15 to 18 minutes). Transfer to a clean wire rack set over paper towels to drain.