Extra Crispy Bourbon Fried Chicken

This extra-crispy bourbon fried chicken is the most flavorful and crispiest chicken that I’ve tasted in a long time.  It’s my ‘go-to’ chicken for picnics, parties, and family dinners.

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A tin of Extra Crispy Bourbon Fried Chicken

There is nothing more satisfying and delicious than biting into a piece of fried chicken that has a perfectly salty, crunchy coating and a flavorful and juicy interior.  As humans, we are programmed to crave such fatty, salty goodness.  I like to think that it’s biological to crave fried chicken.

This recipe uses simple pantry ingredients and packs a punch of flavor.

Why Should I Marinate The Chicken?

For the juiciest and most tender chicken, a full-fat buttermilk marinade is the way to go.  You’ll want to marinate the chicken for at least four hours, but the longer the better.

The buttermilk breaks down the protein fibers in the meat, thus making it very tender.  By adding seasoning to the buttermilk, you’ll be adding tons of flavor.

2 drumsticks of extra crispy bourbon fried chicken on a brown paper with biscuits on the side.

Ingredients For This Recipe

  • Chicken – I like using skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • Buttermilk – use full fat.  The fat in the buttermilk will help to keep the chicken moist while frying.
  • Eggs – to help keep the coating on the chicken
  • Hot sauce – I used Frank’s, but any will do.  Use your favorite.
  • Salt and pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Cornstarch – adding cornstarch to the dredge mixture will give you an extra crunchy crust.
  • Old Bay Seasonings, poultry seasoning, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, and cayenne – all for maximum flavor.  
  • Vegetable oil – I like using peanut oil for frying, but canola or any neutral oil will work.

How To Make This Recipe

Cleanup on this recipe is easier than you think because both the marinade and dredge ingredients go into zip-top bags.  

First, make the marinade by combining the buttermilk, eggs, hot sauce, salt, and pepper in a large bag.  Toss in the chicken and allow it to marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours, but overnight is even better.

Then in another zip-top bag, add all of the dry ingredients and shake to combine.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, shake off the excess liquid, and toss it into the bag of dry ingredients.  Shake it in the breading and pat the coating onto the chicken.

Fry those beautiful chicken pieces until they’re golden brown and crispy.

Tips And Troubleshooting

  • Don’t skip the cornstarch.  It really amps up the crunch on the coating.
  • Use full-fat buttermilk to add as much moisture to the chicken and allow the chicken to marinate for as long as possible – up to 12 hours.
  • Don’t skip the bourbon.  It adds just a touch of smokiness, but since it evaporates as soon as it hits the hot oil, it makes the coating even crispier!
  • When coating and dredging the chicken, shake off the excess marinade before dredging the chicken and then tap off the extra flour mixture. 
  • Pat the coating onto the chicken pieces to make sure that the flour mixture sticks to the chicken.
  • Use a thermometer to ensure that the oil reaches 350 degrees.  If the oil is not hot enough when you submerge the chicken, it will be greasy.  If it’s too hot, then the coating will burn before the meat is cooked through.  
  • Don’t overcrowd the skillet.  You want to make sure that the chicken pieces aren’t touching each other or the sides of the skillet because it will knock off the breading.
  • Only turn the chicken one time to keep the breading ON the chicken.  The more you fuss with flipping the pieces, the more breading may fall off.
  • Try to keep your oil temperature between 300 – 350 degrees.  When adding the chicken, only fry a few pieces at a time and continually check the temperature of the oil and adjust the heat accordingly.
  • Use a small meat thermometer to make sure the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

How To Reheat Leftover Chicken

This chicken is best eaten hot from the fryer, but sometimes you’re going to have leftovers.

So, how do you reheat the chicken without it becoming a tough, rubbery weapon?  First, whatever you do DO NOT MICROWAVE THE CHICKEN.  The meat will be tough and rubbery and the coating will be greasy and soggy.

Instead, wrap the pieces in foil and bake them in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes.  The coating won’t be as crunchy, but the meat will retain its moisture and flavor.  

Pan pan of extra crispy bourbon fried chicken with one piece that has a bite taken out of it

Make It A Meal

I like to serve Extra Crispy Bourbon Fried Chicken with Old Fashioned Macaroni Salad, Vinegar Based Cole Slaw, Cheddar Jalapeno Bread, and Red Velvet Cupcakes for dessert.

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Pan pan of extra crispy bourbon fried chicken with one piece that has a bite taken out of it


  • Author: Millie Brinkley
  • Total Time: 50 minutes + marinating time
  • Yield: Serves 4 - 6 1x


This extra-crispy bourbon fried chicken is moist, flavorful, and tender with a crispy, crunchy exterior.  It’s perfect for Sunday family dinners, barbecues, picnics, or parties.



For the marinade:

  • 6 whole chicken legs, separated into drumsticks and thighs
  • 2 cups full-fat buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • ½ cup hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

For the dredging mixture:


In a large ziplock bag, pour in the buttermilk, eggs, bourbon, hot sauce, salt, and pepper.  Add the chicken pieces and zip the bag securely.  

Use your hands to massage the marinade into the chicken pieces.  Refrigerate for 4 or more hours.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack over the baking sheet.  Set aside.

In a large cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven, pour enough peanut oil to reach about 1-inch in depth.  Use a thermometer to heat the oil to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, in another large zip lock bag, combine the flour, cornstarch, Old Bay Seasoning, poultry seasoning, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper, and cayenne pepper. Shake to mix thoroughly.
Use one piece of chicken at a time.  Remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade.  Shake off any excess liquid.

Add the chicken piece to the bag of coating and shake well.  Press the coating onto the chicken. Tap off excess breading.

Place the chicken on the wire rack over the prepared baking sheet and repeat the process with the remaining chicken.  Allow the chicken to sit for 10 minutes for the breading to ‘adhere’ to the meat.

Fry 3-4 pieces of chicken at a time. Don’t overcrowd the skillet or Dutch oven.

Try to keep the temperature as close to 350 degrees as possible.

Fry each piece of chicken for 12-15 minutes until the chicken turns a beautiful, deep golden brown,  turning each piece halfway through until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees.

Use a spatula or wire spider to remove the chicken and place on the prepared baking sheet and rack.  Keep warm in the preheated oven while you fry the remainder of the chicken.  Allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Marinating time: 4+ hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Fry
  • Cuisine: Southern

Keywords: extra crispy bourbon fried chicken, fried chicken, Southern food, chicken recipes, fried food, picnics, chicken legs

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