I’m about to give you the crispiest, juiciest, tastiest, homemade fried chicken recipe of your dreams. My Spicy Pickle Fried Chicken took several tries to make perfect but when I say it’s perfect, it truly is. Chicken pieces are marinated in a brine made with buttermilk, spicy pickle juice and seasonings. Then it’s dredged in a seasoned flour and fried to perfection. I’m craving it again as I’m writing this!
If you are not a fan of spice, do not worry at all! The spicy pickle juice tenderizes the chicken but also adds so much flavor. The spice is barely there even with the spiciest pickles. If you do love spice, add cayenne to the flour dredge for an extra kick!
As he ate, my son (20) kept repeating that it was the juiciest chicken he’s ever eaten. That’s because of the brine! The acidity in the buttermilk and pickle juice tenderizing the chicken and keeps it moist during frying.
Your Grocery List
- 3 lbs any combination of bone-in chicken (drumsticks, thighs, breasts, wings)
- Spicy pickles (any brand – just look for ones that are labeled spicy)
- Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
- All purpose flour
- Baking powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper (optional)
- Vegetable oil
Brining the Spicy Pickle Fried Chicken
This step is super important and well, the whole reason for the title of the recipe – Spicy Pickle Fried Chicken. Brining in the buttermilk and pickle juice is a step I’ll never not take again.
These Suckerpunch pickles that I found were great for this. The actual pickles were so spicy I couldn’t eat them alone! Yet, the pickle juice flavored the chicken perfectly without an overwhelming spiciness. Add these three ingredients to a large bowl, whisk, then add chicken pieces.
Bone-in chicken is best for this but you could also use boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders. I used bone-in for a classic fried chicken dinner. You’ll need about 3 lbs total. I used six drumsticks and four thighs. Let this marinate for 2-24 hours. The longer the better!
Tips for Dredging and Frying Chicken
Prepare your flour mixture with all-purpose flour, baking powder, cornstarch, seasoned salt, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne. If you don’t want it spicy, leave out the cayenne.
Why the baking powder and cornstarch? The baking powder raises the pH of the surface which allows it to crisp better and the cornstarch absorbs moisture which also makes the batter crispier. I got the tip from Food Network Star Viet Pham who gave me his secret to amazing fried chicken. He is the master! If you’ve been to Pretty Bird in Salt Lake City you know!
Next, it’s time to dredge the chicken. Use tongs to grab the chicken out of the buttermilk brine, place in flour mixture, roll to coat, then place on a wire rack to rest. Continue with all pieces then place back in fridge for 15-30 minutes. This step is CRUCIAL. It allows the flour to adhere well to the chicken and will help the batter to stay put after frying. Do not skip!
Frying food can be so messy but it’s totally worth it!
Next, get your oil ready for frying. Use a large, deep pot and fill with about 2 inches of vegetable oil. Use a candy thermometer or instant read thermometer to heat oil to 350 degrees F.
Once oil is to temperature, place a few pieces of chicken at time in carefully to fry. Turn over as needed making sure all sides are browned. Adjust heat to keep as close to 350 degrees at all times. When a piece is done, I prefer to place the chicken on a wire rack on a baking sheet. Then keep the chicken in the oven on “warm” while I fry the remaining chicken. Make sure the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees before eating.
This Spicy Pickle Fried Chicken is going to blow you away and impress your friends/family so much. After years and years of making fried chicken, this will now be my go-to. Serve it up with mashed potatoes and a veggie and you have the perfect “All-American” dinner!
More Fried Recipes to Try
Spicy Pickled Fried Chicken
- 3 lbs bone-in chicken pieces – any combo (drumsticks, thighs, breasts, wings)
- 2 cups buttermilk (the real stuff – no substitutes!)
- 1 1/2 cups spicy pickle juice
- 4 teaspoons Lawry's seasoned salt, divided
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoons black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- Vegetable oil
- In a large bowl, add buttermilk, pickle juice and 2 teaspoons seasoned salt then whisk until combined. Add chicken pieces and make sure they are all submerged and coated. Cover with plastic wrap then place in the fridge to marinate for 2-24 hours (the longer the better).
- When chicken is finished marinating, add flour, cornstarch, baking powder, garlic powder, onion powder, 2 teaspoons seasoned salt, black pepper and cayenne to a shallow bowl or pan. Stir to combine well.
- Use tongs to remove chicken pieces (one by one) from the brine, place in flour mixture and turn to coat all sides. Once dredged, place chicken on a wire rack that's sitting on a baking sheet. Continue until all pieces are dredged. Place in fridge for 15-30 minutes. (crucial step)
- While chicken is resting, pour 2 inches of oil in a large deep pot. Heat to 350° F. Use a candy thermometer or instant read thermometer to ensure the temperature stays as close as possible to 350°.
- Carefully place chicken pieces using tongs into the oil. Do not overcrowd your pot because it will lower the oil temperature too quickly.
- Fry until golden brown, turning as needed to brown all sides, then place chicken on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet in the oven on "warm" while frying the remaining chicken. Make sure the internal temperature of the chicken is 165° F before eating.
- If you don’t have room in your fridge for the flour dredged chicken to rest before frying, you can leave out at room temperature instead. Cold is better for resting though.
- If you don’t have spicy pickles, add a few tablespoons of Tabasco sauce to the buttermilk brine.