30 Of The Best Southern Fried Chicken Recipes We're Always Craving

Cajun Fried Chicken
Photo: Will Dickey Prop Stylist: Missie Crawford Food Stylist: Erin Merha

To put it in simple terms: Fried chicken is a crunchy, crispy, heavenly delight. Southerners are practically born knowing fried chicken and how it should look, taste, and smell—and we also know there's more than one way to make it taste just as good as Mama's.

These favorite fried chicken recipes are to be made over and over again, from our most simple recipes to the ones with all the bells and whistles. For a truly Southern take on fried chicken, fry up a batch of Mama's Fried Chicken—simply seasoned with salt and pepper and soak in buttermilk. It's the definition of "Don't mess with a good thing." From there, renditions are endless and equally crispy—from a batch that's brined with sweet tea to one that's covered in pepper gravy.

Too busy to deep-fry? Try one of our oven-fried chicken recipes that get all of the texture of deep-frying with half the hassle (and oil!). We even included a few surprises, like chicken biscuits, chicken and waffles, and crunchy chicken salad. These aren't just like your mama's, but they come with a flair all their own. However you sizzle it, these fried chicken recipes will have you savoring every golden, extra crispy bite of this classic Southern food.

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Buttermilk-Soaked, Bacon-Fried Chicken In Gravy

Buttermilk-Soaked, Bacon-Fried Chicken in Gravy
John Lee

Fried chicken doesn't get much more indulgent than this gravy-laden dish. The buttermilk marinade includes hot sauce. Not only is this dish a savory dream, it's got a little bite to it. Add some more spice to your marinade and turn up the heat, if you dare.

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Fried Chicken Wings

Fried Chicken Wings

This dish uses the classic double dredge method that is so tried and true for many Southern cooks. You can make these classic wings a day ahead and serve cold, if you like. When we think of tailgating, this might be the perfect approach.

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Homemade Fried Chicken Sandwich

Fried Chicken Sandwich
Photographer: Jennifer Causey Food Stylist: Rishon Hanners Prop Stylist: Christina Daley

We don't want to brag, but we might venture to say that this recipe will rival a certain well-known chicken sandwich. Don't forget that the key to frying chicken, whether it be magic sandwich or platter of drummies, is to get your oil to the right temperature and keep it there. You will master the method in no time.

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Pam Lolley's Crispy Chicken With Rice And Pan Gravy

Pam Lolley’s Crispy Chicken with Rice and Pan Gravy
Hector Manuel Sanchez

These chicken breasts are pan fried in butter and laid atop a bed of herbed rice. But the dish isn't right until you give this combo a nice coating of gravy. You won't find a tastier weeknight chicken dinner than this recipe. (And you can quote us on that.)

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Fried Chicken Sliders With Pimiento Cheese

Fried Chicken Sliders with Pimiento Cheese
Victor Protasio; Prop Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall

Serve a double header of Southern favorites and you'll be the queen of the cookout. Not only does this recipe include its own spin on beloved pimiento cheese, it instructs you to lay down pickled okra onto your sliders. Between the tangy flavors and entices textures, your guests will be hoping for seconds,

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Cajun Fried Chicken

Cajun Fried Chicken
Will Dickey Prop Stylist: Missie Crawford Food Stylist: Erin Merha

With this recipe, it's all in good taste. Simply add (or subtract) the desired amount of Cajun seasoning and hot sauce to suit your preferences. This recipe goes a little lower on temp for the oil, which tends to make the chicken juicier and slows the browning of the skin. The Southern Living Test Kitchen couldn't be more pleased with the results.

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Crispy Oven-Fried Drumsticks

Crispy Oven-fried Drumsticks
Ralph Anderson

Here, we take your deep fryer out of the equation with an oven-fried chicken recipe that just might turn drumsticks into your new favorite piece of poultry. In this recipe, you'll find a satisfyingly crunchy texture. We'd like two buckets, please.

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Lighter Pan-Fried Chicken With Green Beans And Tomatoes

Lighter Pan-Fried Chicken with Green Beans and Tomatoes
Stephen DeVries, Prop Styling: Missie Neville Crawford; Food Styling: Torie Cox

Meet your new everyday fried chicken. This crispy, golden chicken is done with a quick pan-fry rather than a deep fry, making it slightly less heavy than the traditional fried stuff. If you are trying to go light on oil-based entrees, this is an option everyone can enjoy.

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Sweet Tea-Brined Fried Chicken

Sweet Tea-Brined Fried Chicken
Hector Sanchez

This recipe is a marriage of Southern favorites. A salty-sweet brine of brown sugar and freshly brewed tea infuses this picnic-perfect chicken with juicy flavor before frying. The tannins in the tea act as a natural tenderizer. You'll be throwing this on the table more than once.

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How To Make Mama's Fried Chicken

This recipe will take you back to the days when your mother used to fry her famous chicken. Soak your chicken in buttermilk at least two hours before frying. We promise–it'll be nothing short of sheer Southern comfort.

Enjoying a heaping helping of Mama's Fried Chicken will be reminiscent of your childhood when Mama would tell you to play in the yard with your siblings after Sunday church while she prepared the meal. No doubt, it would be complete with mashed potatoes, collard greens, and mac & cheese. There isn't any other dish as quintessentially Southern.

Are you curious about the secret to this decadent recipe? It's the buttermilk. Soaking the chicken in buttermilk for at least two hours before frying will ensure the dish is perfectly golden on the outside and tender on the inside. Of course, don't forget to make chicken and waffles with the leftovers on Monday morning!

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Fried Chicken Biscuits With Rosemary Hot Honey

Fried Chicken Biscuits with Rosemary Hot Honey
Skyler Burt

We don't put this lightly: These chicken biscuits will make you fall in love. Prepared in a cast iron skillet, boneless chicken thighs deliver a tender bite beneath the crispy exterior, The rosemary-infused hot honey is Cupid's final blow. You'll wonder why you are not putting it on everything.

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Buttermilk Chicken Tenders With Roasted Potatoes And Green Beans

Buttermilk Chicken Tenders with Roasted Potatoes and Green Beans
Greg DuPree

One thing we know for sure: Buttermilk makes everything taste better. Biscuits, pancakes, and fried chicken...the list goes on. For this specific recipe, the chicken is marinated in seasoned buttermilk then dredged through some panko. The result is a healthy and tasty alternative to deep frying.

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"Man Catching" Fried Chicken With Honey-Pecan Glaze

"Man Catching” Fried Chicken with Honey-Pecan Glaze
Photo by Erin Adams

From the kitchen of Leah Stacey, Montgomery, Alabama: "I borrowed the recipe name from a former First Lady of Alabama who claimed her fried chicken had such powers." We cannot attest to these powers, and we'd also like to think that this chicken might have "lady catching" written all over it. Whether the chef be man or woman, surely this dish will do the job.

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Oven-Fried Chicken Salad With Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Oven-Fried Chicken Salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
Jennifer Causey; Prop Styling: Christine Keely; Food Styling: Torie Cox

This might be the only salad we want to eat as a dinner main. Ever. Grilled romaine lettuce gives this salad a smoky flavor. The chicken tenders taste like fried chicken—but with much less grease and mess.

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Buttermilk Chicken And Waffles

Buttermilk Chicken and Waffles
Jennifer Davick

Recipe: Buttermilk Chicken and Waffles

The chicken and waffles flavor combo cannot be beat, and as far as a food trend goes, it's classic enough to never wane in popularity. This bite-size version is perfect for a party, at any time of the day. Bonus: It makes it so easy for a big crowd to serve themselves.

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Pecan-Crusted Chicken And Tortellini With Herbed Butter Sauce

Pecan-Crusted Chicken and Tortellini with Herbed Butter Sauce
Jennifer Davick

You'll love every nutty, buttery bite of this chicken dinner—and that's a guarantee. Grab a few packages of cheese tortellini, and you're set in half an hour. Your family will wonder which Italian restaurant provided curbside pickup.

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Pan-Fried Chicken And Ham Parmesan

Top-Rated Main Dishes: Pan-Fried Chicken-and-Ham Parmesan
Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Rose Nguyen

When you need a quick family meal, look no further than this 30-minute meal. Serve over some pasta enhanced with garlic and herbs. Throw in a salad of fresh greens with bright flavors, and you've got everyone at the table.

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Chicken Fried Chicken

Peppery Chicken Fried Chicken
Southern Living

Serve this ultimate Southern dish at your next dinner party, and you'll be sure to get plenty of compliments. Chicken fried chicken is a particular favorite among kids and grown-ups, who especially love it for the ease with which it all comes together. Chicken Fried Chicken is a great weeknight meal to serve with any sides.

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Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Fried Chicken

Pimiento Cheese-Stuffed Fried Chicken
Southern Living

This award-winning recipe takes ordinary fried chicken up a notch by melting pimiento cheese inside the chicken breasts. In the South, pimiento cheese is practically a condiment, so the appeal couldn't be broader. Your guests will love the surprising indulgence inside the breast meat.

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Oven-Fried "Everything" Chicken Drumettes

Oven-Fried “Everything” Chicken Drumettes
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christina Daley

Adorable, hand-held, and bite-sized, our Chicken Drumettes are the fun finger food that will score big at your next party. The "everything" seasoning blend—which you would traditionally find on bagels—delivers big flavor. Keep this simple dish on repeat all year long. It's as easy as it gets.

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Crunchy Pan-Fried Chicken

Crunchy Pan-Fried Chicken
Southern Living

The crispy, golden exterior is guaranteed to be irresistible. Our secret? A mixture of breadcrumbs and cornmeal. This coating combination also works well on pork chops and boned chicken thighs. Home cooks who master this simple crust can get creative with other dinner dishes, too.

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Fried Chicken Tacos With Buttermilk-Jalapeño Sauce

Fried Chicken Tacos with Buttermilk-Jalapeño Sauce
Iain Bagwell; Styling: Buffy Hargett Miller

It's supper made easy by picking up your favorite chicken tenders and then running home to whip up this simple (but delicious!) Buttermilk-Jalapeño Sauce. With the help of some ranch dressing, this creamy condiment pulls together even the quickest of dinners.

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Easy Southern Fried Chicken

Easy Southern Fried Chicken
Southern Living

New to the fried chicken game? Try this easy recipe that even a beginner is sure to nail. It'll be on its way to your recipe tin in no time. This no-fuss recipe is a hurried cook's dream, but the results still stand above the rest. Use a cast iron pan instead of a normal skillet to retain heat and cook the chicken more evenly. 

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Instant Pot Fried Chicken

Instant Pot Fried Chicken
Photography: Caitlin Bensel, Prop Styling: Audrey Davis, Food Styling: Rishon Hanners

Yes, you read that right. Use your Instant Pot to make this crispy, juicy, tender fried chicken and you'll never look back. You will still get the satisfying crunch of fried chicken skin.The multi-cooker cooks the chicken and renders some of the fat and water, leaving the meat tender and juicy.

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Pinewood Fried Chicken

Mee McCormick’s Pinewood Fried Chicken
Johnny Autry; Prop and Food Styling: Charlotte L. Autry

Mee McCormick's fried chicken recipe is one for the books. It's one of the most popular dishes on the menu of her restaurant, Pinewood Kitchen & Mercantile in Nunnelly, Tennessee. Made with a crispy gluten-free cornmeal crust, the chicken is every bit as good as the traditional kind breaded in flour.

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Fried Chicken Salad With Basil-Buttermilk Dressing

Fried Chicken Salad with Basil-Buttermilk Dressing
Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

Lighten up your usual fried chicken by throwing it into this fresh basil salad. Adding basil leaves into the buttermilk dressing not only turns it a lovely light green color, but also adds a pop of freshness to a dressing that could be heavy otherwise. Bump up the color (and health factor) by adding extra vegetables to this flexible recipe.

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Air Fryer Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

Air Fryer Buttermilk Chicken Tenders
Caitlin Bensel; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

This recipe, which the Southern Living Test Kitchen developed using the air fryer, makes chicken that is crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. We love the outcome and that this alternative method still yields a delicious result. This will land in your regular dinner rotation, especially with the inclusion of our tangy dipping sauce.

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Crispy Chicken With Sweet Potato Fries And Green Beans

Crispy Chicken With Sweet Potato Fries And Green Beans
Photographer: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Stylist: Christine Keely; Food Stylist:Ruth Blackburn

We're sneaking in some healthy suggestions here. This crispy chicken is baked, not fried, and the accompanying vegetables take the healthy factor up a notch. Not only is this beautiful when it's plated, your family won't have any trouble devouring what you've crafted.

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Perfect. Fried. Chicken.


This recipe for fried chicken is all about the dredge, which uses basic seasoning, flour, and water. Simplicity is the key. The star of the show is the chicken, after all. Preparing the chicken in the manner we offer here will yield a very thin, crisp coating and juicy, tender chicken beneath.

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Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings

chicken wings in air fryer
Caitlin Bensel

These wings, made in the air fryer, couldn't be easier. Thanks to the air fryer's fan, heat circulates evenly for the same crispy skin as fried wings without the added mess of frying oil. These are some of our favorite game day treats, and when you are using such an efficient appliance, entertaining is a cinch.

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