Thomas Keller’s Fried Chicken

Fried chicken

Update: I’ve revised this recipe to make it even better! Check out Azza fried chicken.

I’m slightly obsessed with fried chicken at the moment.

There was fried chicken on my birthday last month.
There was fried chicken after Christmas thanks to I-Hua and her awesome man.
There was fried chicken at St Katherine’s the other week.
And finally, on Sunday we had a Fried Chicken Party.

Mazzle, Bro and I recently had an email conversation where we sent each other fried chicken recipes that we found online. From there, it was only a small step to planning a Fried Chicken Party. We decided that Maz would make a batch of chicken using the St Katherine’s recipe (KFC) while I decided to follow in the footsteps of I-Hua’s man and use a Thomas Keller recipe from Ad Hoc at Home.

Fried Chicken

Both recipes were pretty similar – the chicken is brined beforehand, and then the meat is dipped into seasoned flour, buttermilk, and back into seasoned flour before frying. They were pretty easy to do, though frying over two kilos of chicken does take a while. A REALLY long time, in fact. I felt like I was standing at the deep fryer tending the bloody chicken forever, when all I wanted to do was eat all the crunchy, crunchy chicken.


It was so worth it though. Because the recipes were very similar, the results were almost identical – though naturally I preferred the batch that I made – bahahaha. But both versions resulted in juicy meat and a super crispy coating. So, so good. We ate both batches of chicken with the St Katherine’s BBQ sauce and Kewpie mayo, which was amazing. Seriously, if you haven’t eaten fried chicken with Kewpie mayo before – do it. I thought we would have lots of leftovers, but it turns out that the chicken was so good we scoffed it all!

Fried chicken party

Anyway – how about a recipe? It’s all pretty straight forward, though you do need to be organised and brine the chicken the night before. You’ll also need plenty of time to fry the chicken – a helper would be great at this stage: one person to flour the chicken and one person to fry. Thomas Keller’s original recipe used whole chickens, but I’ve simplified it a lot and adapted it to use chicken thighs. The recipe looks long, but I assure you that it’s pretty easy and it’s well worth doing, even if you’re not holding a Fried Chicken Party. Make this for people and they will be your best friends forever, I promise.

(Here’s the KFC recipe if you’re interested.)

Thomas Keller’s Fried Chicken

Rating: 41

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 7 hours

Yield: Serves 4

Thomas Keller’s Fried Chicken


  • 1.5kg chicken thighs with skin
  • For the brine:
  • 1.8 litres cold water
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 30ml honey
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly crushed
  • 1 tablespoon pepper corns
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • For the dredging and frying
  • Plenty of oil for deep-frying (I used canola)
  • 500ml buttermilk
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the coating
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 15g (30ml) garlic powder
  • 15g (30ml) onion powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • Plenty of freshly ground black pepper


    Brining the chicken:
  1. First, make the brine by combining all the brine ingredients in a large pot. Cover and bring to the boil. Boil for a minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. The brine can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
  2. When the brine is completely cool, pour into a large container and add the chicken thighs (leave them whole at this point). Make sure the thighs are completely submerged – pop a plate on top to weigh them down if necessary. Refrigerate for 6 hours – don’t leave it in the brine any longer than this or it will be too salty.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine, discarding all the brine liquid, and rinse under cold water. Remove any herbs or spices that may be stuck to the skin and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the chicken into smaller pieces – about 5-6 pieces per thigh (remember the smaller they are, the quicker they’ll cook). Set aside and let the meat rest at room temperature for 1.5 hours to come up to room temperature.
  4. Preparing to fry
  5. When ready to cook, fill a large pot (or a deep fryer if you have one) with plenty of oil – but don’t fill to more than 1/3 of the way up the side of the pot. Heat the oil to 160°C.
  6. Turn on the oven to keep the chicken warm while it’s frying – about 100°C should do it. Set a wire rack over a tray and line a second tray with baking paper.
  7. Coating the chicken
  8. Next, make the coating. Combine all the coating ingredients into a large bowl, stirring to ensure it’s all well combined. Transfer half of the coating to a second large bowl. Pour the buttermilk into a third bowl and season with salt and pepper. Set up a dipping station: the chicken pieces, one bowl of flour coating, the bowl of buttermilk, the second bowl of flour coating, and the baking paper lined tray.
  9. When you’re ready to start frying, dip a piece of chicken into the first bowl of coating, turning to coat and patting off the excess. Then dip it into the buttermilk, allowing any excess to run back into the bowl. Finally, dip it into the second bowl of coating and place it on the baking paper lined tray. Repeat until all the meat is coated – though you may want to start frying some chicken while this is happening. One person to fry and one person to dip the chicken would be a good idea at this stage to speed things up.
  10. Frying the chicken
  11. Carefully lower the floured chicken pieces into the hot oil. Do this in batches so the oil doesn’t get too cold. If necessary, adjust the heat to keep it at the proper temperature, and carefully move the meat around in the oil as they fry. Fry for about 7 minutes or it’s until golden brown, cooked through and crispy. (Remember that if you have large pieces of meat or meat on the bone it will take longer.)
  12. Transfer the fried chicken to the wire rack and place in the oven to keep warm while you fry the rest of the chicken.


Adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at home