basics/chicken thigh recipes/dinner/how to

Skillet Fried Chicken Recipe

Posted March 2, 2012 by Stephanie

We moved to Vancouver from Edmonton when I was eight years old. My mom was tired of the endless snowy winters and mosquito-filled summers. I didn’t want to move—my whole life was in Edmonton. My best friend and I spent the first part of the summer before I left practicing letter writing. I was worried I wouldn’t have any friends. My parents tried to convince us kids that we’d make lots of new friends in school—at the very least we’d have our cousins.

The summer we moved was scorching hot but there weren’t any mosquitos. My mom was right about that one. She was also right about the enthusiasm of our cousins. One of them excitedly told me that I would love living in Vancouver because of the fried chicken. Fried chicken seemed like a strange thing to be advocating for a city…but, we were eight.

Me: I’ve had fried chicken before. What’s so special about it here?
Cousin: It’s the best at church. It’s soooooooo good!

At the mention of church I was confused. I’d never stepped foot in a church as as far I knew, neither had my parents. But if they made good chicken, why not? My cousin kept pestering her mom to take us to church and one weekend she did. Boy was I surprised when we pulled into a parking lot with a teal, and orange sign that read “Church’s Chicken” A big “AH HA!” moment happened: my cousin wasn’t talking about church, she was talking about Church’s Chicken, a fried chicken chain that we didn’t have in Edmonton.

I wasn’t that impressed by Church’s chicken at eight years old, but I have to admit that now, as an adult, its definitely one of my guilty pleasures. One that Mike and I indulge in way too often. Church’s chicken skin is always crispy and the meat is always moist. And it’s so easy. A little too easy.

Whenever something’s a little too easy I like to make it hard for myself. So, the last time the craving hit, instead of heading to our favourite branch of Church’s chicken I decided to make a fried chicken at home. I’ve fried plenty of chickens before but they’ve never been as good as Church’s.

This time around I decided to go with a Bon Appétit recipe. They recommended frying in a cast iron skillet, something I’ve never done before. Usually when I deep fry I like to do it in a high-sided pot, just to keep splattering to a minimum. There was definitely a lot more splattering than I’m used to but it was worth it. The chicken was extremely juicy and the skin was shatteringly crisp. Was it as good as Church’s Chicken? I’d have to say no. I think the recipe needed a touch more seasoning, but I definitely wasn’t complaining and neither was Mike. We polished off all eight pieces in one go.

I am crunchy, I am moist: I AM SKILLET FRIED CHICKEN!

Skillet-Fried Chicken Recipe from
makes 8 drumsticks

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 8 pieces chicken (I used drumsticks)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • oil for frying (I used grapeseed)

Whisk 1 Tbsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small bowl. Season chicken with spices. Let chicken stand covered at room temperature for 1 hour. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and 1/2 cup water in a medium bowl. Whisk flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 tablespoon salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon pepper in bowl.

Pour oil into a 10″–12″ cast-iron skillet to a depth of 3/4″. Prop deep-fry thermometer in oil so bulb is submerged. Heat over medium-high heat until thermometer registers 350°. Meanwhile, set a wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet.

Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess. Place 5 pieces of chicken in skillet. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown, about 12 minutes for legs. Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack. Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


  1. rachel says:

    I saw this in Bon Appetit and thought I should give it a whirl. The cast iron intrigued me since I don’t use it as much as I would like. Thanks for sharing and inspiring me to give it a try! Wonderful blog, can’t wait to read regularly!

  2. K&B N. says:

    Oh my goodness, mouth watering. So delightful.

  3. Simply Tia says:

    Your photos are always so beautiful. And these chicken legs look soooo yummy!

  4. Karen says:

    I made this same recipe about 4 weeks ago using all wings. OMG they were the best. Your photos are wonderful. Can’t wait to make them again but I need a bigger cast iron skillet

  5. Rosa says:

    Back in the early 90’s, Church’s Chicken had a joint venture with Harvey’s, and I used to work there during my last year of high school. I remember my coworker telling that what made Church’s chicken better than KFC (which was across the street), was that the skin was removed. The pieces were dipped into a simple flour batter and then deep fried until golden. I don’t remember any spices added to the batter, but I do remember the line ups out the door! The chicken was so delicious. Too bad they don’t have it here in Germany! ;-)

    Hopefully this might help you to recreate Church’s chicken at home. :-)

  6. JM says:

    Oooh, I love the biscuits at Church’s…but their chicken is okay.

    Here’s a buttermilk fried chicken recipe worth trying from Fabio from Top Chef…

  7. Dirk says:

    Church’s fried chicken, on a personal note , is the worst, most greasy chicken I’ve ever had. We all have opinions, but your blog is amazing and you seem to have a great palette. So I’m just surprised you like it so much. Just saying’…….

  8. Robin says:

    One thing that makes a great chicken and is part of Church’s recipe is they soak their chicken in brine 24 hours. Take it out pat it dry then flour it with a/p salt and pepper. But the chicken must be patted dry prior to cooking. Also be sure your chicken is not “frigid” cold let it set for an hour before you flour and cook. Try it I bet you will love it.

  9. it lead me to think about Korea fried chicken haha!! YUM!!!

  10. Tracy says:

    Just made this and it was fantastic. The only thing I would change is to reduce the salt in the flour mixture. We found that the the salt in the “brining” and the salt in the flour, to be to much. All the other seasoning was perfect and not too spicy, even for our little ones. This one is for keeps!

  11. Ken Hellewell says:

    You mention that the chicken could use more spice. Your recipe missed a key step noted in the Bon Appetite recipe. After applying the spices, the chicken is supposed to be placed in the refrigerator overnight. This step provides flavor deep into the meat itself. I use smoked paprika which a adds a cured meat flavor to the dish.

    The sit in spices overnight will elevate the chicken well above church’s.

  12. 3GenWriter says:

    I love your photo’s, So clear, precise and enticing. What kind of camera do you use? My grandparents only fried in a deep cast iron skillet. I’ve noticed that a lot of people in the south use them.

  13. Charles A. says:

    Hi, try soaking the legs in buttermilk bath to cover for at least 1 hour in the fridge. I prefer overnight in the buttermilk bath, and do all the rest. Reserve some to do a second dip if you like thicker batter, or extra crunchy. I have also added 1/2 tsp of ground sage, oregano, and cook as above. When you remove ghe pieces give the oil a moment to reheat, this will help lock tyhe crispy. Hope thid helps.. trying to keep yhis going a bit to help others. Also churches was greasy, set on paper towels to absorb in layers

  14. S. Edwards says:

    I loved it. Thank you.

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