Fried chicken

Try Melissa Thompson’s favourite method for cooking fried chicken inspired by the cooks she met while delving into this history of this classic dish

  • Prep:30 mins
    Cook:30 mins
    plus 6 hrs brining and overnight marinating
  • Serves 4
  • More effort

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 647
  • fat 31g
  • saturates 9g
  • carbs 36g
  • sugars 0g
  • fibre 2g
  • protein 54g
  • salt 1.1g


  • 80g salt
  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or 4 chicken legs, split into drumsticks and thighs)
  • 4 garlic cloves, loosely crushed in their skins
  • 10 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 spring onions, chopped
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper, cut in half
  • 200ml buttermilk (or plain yogurt mixed with the juice of 1 lemon)
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp white pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 200g plain flour
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying


  1. Dissolve the salt in 200ml hot water, then top up with cold water to make 2 litres. When the water has cooled completely, submerge the chicken in it. Add half the garlic, the thyme, bay, spring onions and scotch bonnet, then keep chilled for 6 hrs.

  2. Combine the buttermilk with half the spices and the remaining garlic in a large bowl. After 6 hrs, drain the chicken and add to the bowl with the spiced buttermilk. Chill overnight.

  3. The next day, mix the flour with the remaining spices. Fill a deep pan with a few centimetres of oil (you want the oil to come halfway up the chicken while frying it). Heat to 160C, or test it by dropping in a cube of bread. It’s ready for cooking when the bread browns within 30 seconds.

  4. Tip the spiced flour into a large shallow bowl. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk, shaking off the excess, and turn it in the flour to evenly coat. Set aside on a plate while you finish coating all the chicken (this helps the flour stick during cooking). When the oil is ready, carefully lower in the chicken using tongs (you may need to do this in batches). Cover with a lid and fry for 8 mins, then turn the chicken and cover again. Watch closely – make sure the oil maintains a gentle bubble. If it gets too hot, remove the lid or leave it ajar. If you have a gas hob, turn the heat off before removing the lid, then turn the heat back on after replacing the lid.

  5. Cook for another 8 mins, then remove the chicken to a plate. Turn up the heat until the oil reaches 180C (or test using the bread cube method in step 3), then return the chicken to the pan and fry for 3 mins on each side until golden and crispy. If using a temperature probe, the chicken should be at 70C. If not, cut into one of the bigger pieces and ensure the juices run clear. Transfer to a wire rack to drain and keep crisp. Season with sea salt, then serve hot.

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