What's the Secret to Great Fried Chicken?

Art Smith's fried chicken. Erin Zimmer

Chefs are paying more attention to fried chicken—the seasonings, 36-hour brines, air-drying techniques, and fancy bread crumbs. There really doesn't seem to be a downside of a fried chicken boom. But at the end of the day, is it really any better than Popeyes?

We asked a few Southern food experts for their secrets to classic fried chicken.

"Salt. And using grapeseed or canola oil." Art Smith, chef of Table Fifty-Two in Chicago and Art and Soul in Washington D.C.

"Hot sauce. Egg. Frying it up in peanut oil. It's more money but worth it." Jamie Deen, son of Paula Deen

"Time and temperature." Ted Lee, co-author of The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook and the new The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern

"Buttermilk brine. It tenderizes and seasons the chicken through and through so that the flavor is not just in the crust and the chicken is moist and juicy! And, you have to shake the chicken in a brown paper bag of seasoned flour, just like my grandmother did. That's where the love and tradition comes in." Elizabeth Karmel, executive chef of Hill Country


Cold Fried Chicken Better Than Hot?
Eat for Eight Bucks: Japanese Fried Chicken

Get The Recipe: