Southern-style Chicken Fried Chicken is a simple fried chicken recipe that uses only a few pantry ingredients. It’s full of flavor on its own, but top it with the homemade gravy to put this meal over the top!
Chicken Fried Steak gets its name from the way it’s breaded and fried, just like fried chicken. Coat it in flour, egg, and flour again, or use saltine crackers or bread crumbs instead. Chicken Fried Chicken uses the same method, but with actual chicken.
Country Fried Chicken is total comfort food, especially when you top it with the accompanying homemade gravy recipe.
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – if they are on the thicker side, you’ll want to pound them so they are even in thickness.
Buttermilk – help to keep the chicken moist and juicy.
Seasoning – paprika, salt, black pepper, garlic powder. Sometimes I’ll add some onion powder or cayenne pepper.
Vegetable or canola oil – for frying
For the country gravy – milk leftover flour from dredging, salt and pepper.
How to Make Chicken Fried Chicken
Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and detailed instructions.
Prepare the chicken. Pound lightly between two pieces of plastic wrap or in a resealable plastic bag so pieces are nice and thin for even cooking. Make sure to squeeze the air out and seal the bag. Season with kosher salt and black pepper.
Prepare dredging station. One shallow dish with flour, baking powder, and seasoning, one dish with whisked eggs and buttermilk, and a parchment paper-lined tray.
Bread the chicken. Pat chicken dry then dredge through the flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then back in the flour, and finally lay on the parchment paper sheet. Let the chicken rest for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, you can start heating the oil to medium-high heat.
Fry. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet lined with paper towels and keep it nearby. Add about a half-inch of oil to a cast iron skillet and heat it up. Add 1-2 pieces of chicken to the skillet, making sure there is space between them. Fry for a few minutes on each side, until both sides are golden brown and crispy.
Make the Country Gravy
To make the country-style cream gravy, drain off all but about 3-4 tablespoons of oil from the skillet. You’ll use the drippings and the bits of chicken and breading left behind to get all kinds of flavor into your gravy. If you don’t have that much, you can add some butter. Sprinkle in some of the leftover flour from the coating, and whisk it for a minute or two, until it’s golden in color. Pour in 2 cups of milk and whisk well to combine, then let simmer until thick.
The gravy may have a slightly pink hue from the paprika. If you prefer, you can use fresh flour and just season with salt and pepper.
What Side Dishes Go With This Recipe?
This chicken dinner is comfort food at its best. It pairs perfectly with mashed potatoes, but also with these great side dishes.
Make sure your chicken is close to room temperature for frying. Cold chicken could result in a drop in the temperature of the oil and the breading will soak up the oil instead of getting crispy.
Heat your oven to 200 degrees and keep the tray with the finished chicken warm while you finish the rest of the batch.
You can simply drain on paper towels if you want. I recommend setting fried chicken on a wire rack so the breading doesn’t get soggy.
If you don’t want to pound the chicken breasts, you can slice them in half or buy cutlets if your store carries them. Pounding lightly does help tenderize them though.
For a spicier breading, add a teaspoon cayenne pepper.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the difference between country fried chicken and fried chicken?
Both use a dredging method of flour and egg to coat the chicken, but fried chicken is deep fried, while country fried chicken is fried in a skillet, like Chicken Fried Steak.
Why isn’t my fried chicken crispy?
It’s likely that your oil isn’t hot enough to crisp up the coating. The oil should be about 350 degrees F. Since you’re not deep frying, it’s hard to test with a thermometer. Instead, try carefully sprinkling a few drop of water or flour in the hot oil. If it sizzles, it’s good to go.
How do you know when fried chicken is done?
Anytime you’re cooking chicken, the internal temperature should register 165 degrees F for it to be safe to consume. Keep a digital meat thermometer handy for testing.
Storage and Reheating
Storing leftovers: To store, you’ll want to make sure that the chicken is cooled completely, but store within 2 hours of cooking. Place in an airtight container with layers separated by parchment paper and keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
Freezer: To freeze, follow the same directions as above and store in a freezer safe container for up to 3-4 months.
Reheating: Do not re-fry chicken as it will soak up the oil and become greasy. We love fried chicken cold as a salad topper or in a wrap, but if you want to warm it up, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until warmed to your liking. Keep in mind that fried chicken is best eaten fresh, and won’t have the same texture when reheated.
2poundsbonelessskinless chicken breasts (4-5 medium sized breasts)
2cupsfloursave leftover for gravy
½cupcanola or vegetable oil for frying
Salt and pepper
Homemade Chicken Gravy
1/3cupflour leftover from dredgingabove, or use fresh
Salt and pepper to taste
Place chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap or in a plastic resealable bag and lightly pound to even thickness. Season both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a shallow dish or bowl, whisk flour together with baking powder, paprika, salt, garlic powder and black pepper.
In another shallow dish or bowl, whisk together buttermilk and eggs.
Set up a breading station in the following order: chicken breasts (on on a plate or in a bowl), the flour mixture, the egg mixture, and finally to a parchment paper lined tray.
Dredge chicken in the flour mixture on both sides, then dip both sides in the egg mixture, then back in the flour, then place it on the wire rack. Once all the chicken is coated, let it sit for 15 minutes before frying.
Heat oil in a large (12-inch or larger), deep cast iron skillet or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chicken a few pieces at a time, without crowding – at least 1-2 inches apart. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden and crispy. Transfer to a wire rack over a baking sheet. (Pro Tips: set up the wire rack and baking sheet before the chicken starts frying. Heat your oven to 200 degrees and to keep the tray with the fried chicken warm). Chicken will get a little darker and crispier as it cools but must register 165 degrees F.
Remove all but about 3-4 tablespoons of oil from the pan (or use whatever is left). Reduce heat to medium-low.
Sprinkle about ⅓ cup of your leftover seasoned flour evenly into the pan and whisk until the mixture is golden brown. If the mixture seems oily add additional flour a tablespoon at a time. Keep whisking and slowly add 2 cups of milk. Let the gravy come to a simmer. It will thicken gradually, about 5-10 minutes. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if desired. (Note – you can also just use fresh flour if you don't have enough leftover).
Storing leftovers: To store, you’ll want to make sure that the chicken is cooled completely, but store within 2 hours of cooking. Place in an airtight container with layers separated by parchment paper and keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.Freezer: To freeze, follow the same directions as above and store in a freezer safe container for up to 3-4 months.Reheating: Do not re-fry chicken as it will soak up the oil and become greasy. We love fried chicken cold as a salad topper or in a wrap, but if you want to warm it up, place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until warmed to your liking. Keep in mind that fried chicken is best eaten fresh, and won’t have the same texture when reheated.
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Kristin Maxwell is the creator and main recipe developer, writer, and photographer of Yellow Bliss Road. A self-taught cook and self-appointed foodie, she specializes in easy, flavorful and approachable recipes for any home cook.