Garlic Fried Chicken

Time1 hour 15 minutes
YieldsServes 4 to 8
Simple fried chicken needs only salt, pepper and a sprinkling of garlic powder to highlight the umami sweetness of the bird.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)
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Along with salt and pepper, garlic powder acts as the primary seasoning for this simple fried chicken, inspired by the one made by the mother of Kevin Bludso, owner of Bludso’s Bar & Que. This recipe uses only a double coating of flour as a crust, which lets the flavor of the chicken and seasonings shine through. If you prefer a thicker, crunchier coating, try the buttermilk-brined variation, below.


If using a whole chicken, first cut off the whole legs on each side and separate the thighs from the drumsticks. Next, cut out the backbone, then remove the center breastbone. Halve the breasts to separate. Then, cut each breast crosswise so that one piece has the wing with about a third of the breast and the other piece has most of the breast; remove the tips from each wing if you’d like. You will have 8 pieces total; save the chicken carcass for making stock or discard.


Set the pieces on a large cutting board and dry them thoroughly with paper towels. Season the chicken all over with 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons pepper and 2 teaspoons garlic powder. In a large bowl or brown paper grocery bag, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon salt and the remaining 1 tablespoon pepper; shake to combine. Add two chicken pieces to the bowl or bag and toss to coat evenly in the flour. Transfer the coated pieces to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and repeat dredging the remaining chicken pieces.


Let all the pieces sit on the rack for at least 10 minutes, then dredge the pieces a second time. Discard the flour in the bag, fold the bag flat and reserve the bag. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder and reserve.


Pour the oil or melt the shortening or lard in a large, deep cast-iron skillet or heavy-bottomed pot (it should come about ¾ inch up the side). Attach a deep-fry thermometer to the side of the pan and heat the fat to 375 degrees over medium-high heat.


Add half the chicken pieces to the fat and fry, flipping the pieces over every 2 to 3 minutes to prevent them burning where they touch the pan, until golden brown all over and an instant-read thermometer inserted into each piece reads at least 160 degrees, about 15 minutes. The temperature of the oil will drop once you add the chicken and might rise too high over time, so adjust the heat to maintain a temperature between 350 and 360 degrees throughout cooking.


Transfer the chicken to the reserved paper bag (or paper towels) to drain and repeat cooking the remaining chicken, allowing the oil to return to 375 degrees before frying. While the cooked chicken is still wet with hot oil, sprinkle it with some of the garlic-salt mixture, then let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Buttermilk-Brined Fried Chicken: After butchering the chicken in Step 1, transfer the pieces to a large bowl and mix with 4 cups buttermilk to coat. Season the buttermilk and chicken liberally with salt and pepper, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. Drain the chicken pieces thoroughly before dredging in the seasoned flour. For a thicker crust, return the dredged pieces to the bowl of buttermilk to coat, then dredge a second time in the seasoned flour. Let rest on the rack for 10 minutes, as in Step 3, before frying.