Buttermilk honey fried chicken

I had a choice. It was my wife’s birthday and she made it clear. I could buy her some expensive baubles or I could buy her a deep fryer. She knows me well. I may be stubborn, but I am cheaper than I am obstinate. You see she had been trying to convince me for years that a deep fryer was just what we needed. Being a stereotypical health conscious but uninformed dolt, I bought into the myth that deep-frying was bad for you. So here I was in checkmate. I wasn’t about to spend a fortune on diamonds, but I wasn’t willing to give in either. I have my pride. In stepped my good friend Jose. “Dude, deep frying is better for you than pan frying!” It took some convincing but he was eventually able to open my eyes. When done right the high temperature of the deep fryer sears the meat before the oil is absorbed. Who knew? Apparently everyone but me. So my wife got her deep fryer and instead of crow I got to eat some delicious fried chicken.


  • 1 chicken, cut into pieces. I recommend air chilled chicken
  • 1 pint of buttermilk
  • ¼ cup of honey
  • 2 cups of flour
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • 2 tsp of salt
  • Pepper – several good turns
  • 1 to 3 tsp of cayenne Pepper
  • Canola oil – enough to fill your deep fryer


  • Large bowl
  • Deep fryer
  • Large pan
  • Drying rack
  • Tongs
  • Paper towels


  1. Pour buttermilk and honey into large bowl and mix well. Add your chicken pieces. Cover and place in the refrigerator for anywhere from 2 to 12 hours. The buttermilk makes the chicken tender and moist while the honey adds some golden sweetness. The longer you let the chicken sit the moister and sweeter it will be. So if you can place the chicken mixture in the fridge before you leave the house in the morning you’ll be sure to have a delicious dinner when you get home.
  2. When you are ready to cook, fill your deep fryer with canola oil to the designated line. Be careful not to overfill, because you need the room for the excess oil to drip off when the basket is in the raised position. Turn on your deep fryer and set the temperature to 350°F.
  3. In a large pan mix your flour, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. If you like it on the spicy side use 2 or even 3 teaspoons of cayenne. If spice is not your thing use one teaspoon, but remember you want at least a little bit in there to contrast with the sweetness of the honey.
  4. Dredge chicken in the flower mix. You want a good light coating covering all sides of the chicken. Place the coated chicken in the deep fryer and lower the basket into the oil. Cook until golden brown – approximately 10 to 15 minutes. We recommend that you use a meat thermometer, as chicken should be cooked to at least 175°F for both safety and taste.
  5. Put paper towels under your drying rack. If you don’t have a drying rack, you can always borrow one of the metal racks from inside your oven. Remove the chicken from the deep fryer and let the pieces sit until they have cooled. Under all circumstances resist that temptation to pop the glistening-hot golden-morsels that fall off the chicken into your mouth until the oil has dried. Trust me on this one.
  6. Repeat until you have cooked all of your chicken. Serve warm or cool.

What you should know

Because most deep fryers are only big enough to cook 3 or 4 pieces at a time it is difficult to serve fried chicken hot. Thus, the Southern way is to serve the chicken after it has cooled. Whatever you do, don’t cover the chicken while it is cooling. The moisture will be trapped and it will soften that delightfully fried skin.

I like canola oil but you can use other oils provided they have a smoking point higher than 350°F. If you use oil with a low smoking point such as extra virgin olive oil, not only will your kitchen smell but also the chicken will taste acrid. Lard is possible too; I can’t shake my pseudo health consciousness enough to try it.

Once done with the chicken, I have the habit of throwing all kinds of things into the deep fryer. Olives – not so good. Sliced potatoes, floured oysters — delicious. So open your fridge and see what looks good for frying.

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