How to Make the Crispiest Fried Chicken Thighs
Do you love dark meat and wish you could make a batch of fried chicken just like your favorite fast-food joint? Get ready, because these fried chicken thighs are restaurant-quality delicious.
It can be intimidating to try and recreate restaurant-style recipes at home—especially if it involves deep-frying. Don’t fret, though. If you love fried chicken, this simpler-than-you-think recipe will quickly become your go-to cooking method. Bone-in, skin-on fried chicken thighs are full of flavor, and they tend to stay miraculously moist and juicy. Pair with fried chicken side dishes like coleslaw, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese for the ultimate comfort food meal!
Fried Chicken Thighs Recipe
- 3 cups buttermilk
- 3 teaspoons salt, divided
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne, divided
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3-1/2 to 4 pounds)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 quart vegetable oil, for frying
Step 1: Soak in buttermilk
In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper and 1 teaspoon of cayenne. Place the chicken thighs in the bowl and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least eight hours or overnight.
Step 2: Dredge in flour
In a large resealable bag, combine the flour, the remaining 2 teaspoons salt, the remaining 1 teaspoon pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cayenne.
Set a large wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Working in batches, drain the chicken, scraping off most of the buttermilk against the side of the bowl. Add the chicken to the bag, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat completely. Transfer the chicken to the racks, pressing the flour to help it adhere as you remove the chicken from the bag.
Step 3: Fry the chicken
In a large cast-iron skillet with tall sides, add the oil until it is at least 1 inch high. Heat to 350°F. Set another rack over a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Add half of the chicken to the oil, making sure not to crowd the skillet. Fry until the chicken is golden, crisp and cooked through to 165°, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer the chicken to the rack to drain and cool (it’ll need about five minutes). Repeat with the remaining chicken. Here are a few tips for making fried chicken for a crowd.
What to Serve with Fried Chicken Thighs
This recipe pairs so well with classic, down-home southern side dishes. Think buttered corn on the cob, decadent mac and cheese, or fluffy buttermilk biscuits. Of course, warm and crispy fried chicken also pairs perfectly with an ice-cold beer, such as a pilsner. You can even serve fried chicken with sparkling wine! Seem strange? The acidity from a bottle of bubbly can cut the richness of an indulgent fried chicken dish, making it a surprising pairing.
How to Store Fried Chicken Thighs
While fried chicken tastes incredible hot and fresh from the fryer, many people look forward to leftover fried chicken just like they enjoy a leftover slice of pizza the next day.
Fried chicken should be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to four days or frozen for up to four months. To reheat fried chicken, place the thighs on top of a wire rack on a baking sheet. This will allow air to circulate around the chicken as it reheats to re-crisp the skin. Place in a 400° oven until heated through.
Tips for Making Fried Chicken Thighs
Kristina Vänni for Taste of Home
Can you use other types of oil to fry chicken thighs?
While this recipe calls for vegetable oil, there are other oil options for frying as well. Neutral oils with a high smoke point are recommended. Avocado oil, safflower oil, peanut oil and corn oil are all viable options.
How can you make sure your fried chicken thighs are juicy?
Like other meats, it’s important to allow the chicken to rest before cutting into it or taking that first bite. For fried chicken thighs, about five minutes should do it.
How can you make sure your fried chicken thighs are crispy?
Crispy skin is the hallmark of perfect fried chicken. To achieve this, don’t overcrowd the pan when frying. Also, cool the chicken on a rack. Cooling on a rack versus a paper towel will allow airflow to all sides of the chicken.