You know you've made your way into a proper Texas eating establishment when you spot Chicken Fried Chicken on the menu. It's a poultry masterpiece that's pan-fried until golden and crispy on the outside and yields tender, juicy white meat perfection on the inside. This chicken comes almost as big as the plate itself, smothered under a ladle-full of creamy country gravy and it's always served with a heaping pile of mashed potatoes on the side.
Quick-cooking and crowd-pleasing, this is Texas Comfort Food at its finest, and you can bet your bottom dollar -- dinnertime just won't get a whole lot more delicious than this.
Love fried chicken? Bookmark our crispy, crunchy oven-baked Cornflake Chicken for next time!
WHAT IS CHICKEN FRIED CHICKEN?
This famous Texas dish features pounded-out boneless, skinless chicken breast, dredged and fried to golden, crispy perfection. It's typically served under a sea of country gravy with mashed potatoes on the side.
VS. FRIED CHICKEN VS. CHICKEN FRIED STEAK
While all three of these Southern dishes sound very similar, they are not the same things.
Fried Chicken is referring to plump, bone-in pieces of chicken, and doesn't cook nearly as fast as Chicken Fried Chicken. Chicken fried steak is a whole 'nother animal entirely and is actually made with cube steak (i.e., beef) and not chicken. However, it is cooked in the same manner and has a very similar batter to Chicken Fried Chicken!
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN FRIED CHICKEN
- Pound Out the Chicken
- Season and Dredge the Chicken
- Fry It
- Make the Gravy
1. POUND OUT THE CHICKEN
The first thing you'll have to do is pound out the chicken. The best tools for this job are:
- Ziploc Gallon-Sized Bags
- Mallet or Rolling Pin
Place a chicken breast in the ziplock bag (one at a time), remove as much air from the bag as possible, and seal it. Then, beginning at the thick portion of the chicken breast, firmly begin pounding it out using the flat-end of the mallet or the rolling pin.
Do this, working toward the thin end of the breast until it is about a ¼" in thickness. The goal is to get the chicken as thin as possible without tearing the meat apart.
Don't want to mess with pounding out the chicken breasts? Make our Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breasts instead!
2. SEASON AND DREDGE THE CHICKEN
Once you have your spices all mixed up, season the chicken with half of the spice blend, and save the other half for the seasoned flour.
Begin assembling your dredging station. The dredging station will consist of three shallow trays or bowls (such as a pie plate).
- TRAY 1 | Plain Flour
- TRAY 2 | Eggs, Milk, and Hot Sauce
- TRAY 3 | Seasoned Flour
To dredge the chicken, dip the seasoned chicken breasts in the plain flour and be sure to shake off any excess. Then, submerge it into the egg wash tray, and finally, into the seasoned flour. Make sure the entire breast is evenly and well-coated in the seasoned flour!
3. FRY THE CHICKEN
Chicken Fried Chicken is typically shallow-fried in a cast iron pan. Cast iron is not a necessity, but it does help to better maintain a consistent oil temperature.
Add about 2 cups of canola oil to the pan and allow it to come to a temperature in the range of 350-375°F.
Here are two helpful ways to determine when your oil is ready for frying:
- Use a thermometer. This is by far the easiest and best way to tell if your oil is at the right temperature. Digital and infrared thermometers are excellent kitchen helpers.
- You can also determine if the oil is ready by sprinkling a small amount of flour over the grease. If it does nothing (or barely sizzles) the oil is not hot enough. If the flour darkens and smokes right away, the oil is too hot. If the oil is right, the flour will simply bubble up and sizzle.
Once your oil is ready for frying, add the dredged chicken to the pan, one at a time, and fry each breast for about 3-4 minutes on one side, then flip it, and fry for 2-3 minutes on the second side. If you find your chicken is browning too fast, lower the heat slightly.
Cook the chicken until it is golden and cooked through. The safe internal temperature for chicken is 165°F.
4. MAKE THE GRAVY
As mentioned above, it's really not an authentic plate of Chicken Fried Chicken unless it's smothered in country gravy. Go ahead and ditch the packets, folks -- this stuff is seriously easy to make and way better from scratch.
To make the gravy, melt some butter in a saucepan (you could also use leftover frying oil, if desired). Add the flour to the pan and then whisk it into the butter. Once it has become one, you can begin adding the milk.
Make sure your milk is warmed or the sauce will not be smooth and as creamy as you'd probably like. Another tip for making the smoothest country gravy in town, is to add the milk one big splash at a time, whisking well after each addition. Do this until all of the milk has been added.
Lastly, you'll let the mixture simmer up and bubble, add the salt and pepper, and that's a wrap!
Ladle the gravy over your Chicken Fried Chicken, grab yourself a giant plate, a fork and a knife, and thoroughly enjoy!
WHAT TO SERVE WITH IT!
You can serve just about any Southern side dish alongside Chicken Fried Chicken and a have full-on dinnertime win on your hands -- just make sure you don't forget the mashed potatoes!
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST CHICKEN FRIED CHICKEN
- Use the right oil. This recipe calls for canola oil because of its high smoke point and truly flavorless profile. You could also substitute vegetable oil or peanut oil in its place.
- Know when the oil is ready. As mentioned above, you can determine if the oil is ready for frying by sprinkling a small amount of flour over the grease. If it does nothing (or barely sizzles) the oil is not hot enough. If the flour darkens and smokes right away, the oil is too hot. If the oil is right, the flour will simply bubble up and sizzle.
- Don’t fry ice cold chicken! Chicken straight out of the refrigerator won’t fry evenly and it will automatically lower the temperature of your oil.
- Set a timer. Once you know your oil is at the right temperature, use your microwave timer to keep track of how long your chicken has been cooking, and when it’s time to flip it over!
- Get the rack ready. Placing Chicken Fried Chicken on a rack rather than a paper towel fresh out of the oil will keep its underside from getting soggy.
5 MORE SOUTHERN CHICKEN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Blackened Chicken
- King Ranch Casserole
- Chicken and Dumplings
- Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti
- Crock Pot Chicken and Rice
Pounded out chicken breasts are dredged in a Southern seasoned flour mix and pan-fried to golden, extra crispy perfection! Top with a ladle-full of white country gravy and don't forget the mashed potatoes on the side.
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, separated
- 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
- ¾ cup milk
- 2 dashes hot sauce
- 2 cups canola oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or oil from the fried chicken)
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups warmed whole milk
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
To pound out the chicken breasts, place each breast one at a time in a gallon-sized ziptop bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Then, using either the flat side of a mallet or a rolling pin, begin firmly pounding on the large end of the breast, working your way to the other side. Do this until the entire breast is about a ¼ inch in thickness. You want the chicken as thin as you can get it, without tearing up the meat. Transfer the chicken to a work surface and set aside.
Combine salt, paprika, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl and set aside.
Have ready three shallow dishes for the dredging station. Add 1 cup of flour to the first dish. Add the eggs, milk, and hot sauce to the second dish. Mix to combine. Add 1 ½ cup flour and about ½ of the spice mixture to the third dish, and mix to combine.
Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture evenly over both sides of the chicken breasts and rub to adhere. Then, dip each breast in the plain flour and shake off any excess. Next, dip it completely into the egg wash mixture, and lastly, thoroughly coat it in the seasoned flour.
Add the oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil reaches between 350-375°F, begin frying the chicken breasts one at a time.
Fry for 3-4 minutes on one side, then flip the breast and fry for 2-3 minutes more on the second side, until golden and cooked through.
In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until combined. Allow to bubble for 1-2 minutes, but do not allow to brown.
Add milk a generous splash at a time, whisking after each addition until all of the milk has been incorporated.
Allow the sauce to bubble for 5-7 minutes, just until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper. Ladle over your chicken fried chicken, serve, and enjoy!