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The Secret To Fried Chicken Success? It’s All In The Buttermilk And The Brine

Fry up some fried chicken this National Fried Chicken Day! Whether it’s a buttermilk marinade or a salt brine (or both), there are multiple ways to get that perfectly tender inside, super crispy outside fried chicken. We’re sharing both methods (with a bit of a twist) to guarantee fried chicken success at first try. The first recipe uses leftover pickle juice from the bottle, instead of the usual salt bath. The pickle juice imparts a slight sweet-and-sour tinge to the chicken, plus keeps it moist at the same time. After brining, the chicken is coated with buttermilk for added tenderness. The second recipe calls for a buttermilk (or Greek-style yogurt) marinade which gently tenderizes the chicken without drying it out.

Note that both recipes use boneless thigh or breast fillets for easier frying. Of course, you can use boned chicken pieces as well, just adjust the frying time accordingly.


Pickle Brined Church Chicken

Recipe by Peter Ayson

Serves 4

  • pickle brine or juice from your favorite pickle brand, preferably Vlasic Bread and Butter Pickles
  • 1 kilo boneless chicken thighs and legs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour?
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika?
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper, to taste?
  • 2 cups buttermilk or a combination of milk and cream?
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • honey, for drizzling
  • rock salt?
  • hot sauce

1. Brine chicken in pickle juice. Place chicken and brine in a large resealable plastic bag and chill for 3 hours, or overnight for best results, in the refrigerator. Remove chicken from brine and chill until ready to fry.

2. Mix flour with spices and seasoning.

3. Coat chicken in buttermilk, then dredge in seasoned flour, dipping your fingers in buttermilk as you pack flour on to help create moistened, shaggy bits (the makings of a super-crisp crust).?

4. Heat vegetable oil. Fry chicken in small batches. Turn chicken pieces occasionally, frying until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and chicken is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes.

5. Drizzle chicken with honey. Sprinkle with rock salt and serve with hot sauce.


Buttermilk Fried Chicken Poppers

Recipe by Tina Concepcion Diaz

Serves 4

  • 1/2 kilo chicken thigh or breast fillets, skin on, sliced into bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk or Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour seasoned with salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying


1. In a bowl, combine chicken chunks, buttermilk or yogurt, salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, and paprika. Cover and let marinate for at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator.

2. Heat oil in a deep saucepan. Dredge chicken pieces thoroughly in seasoned flour, pressing to allow the flour to coat the chicken. Deep-fry over medium heat until golden. Drain and serve.



If buttermilk and Greek-style yogurt are hard to find, you may use plain yogurt or an equal amount of milk plus 1 to 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice.




Pickle Brined Church Chicken recipe first appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 1, 2017

Photo by Paulo Valenzuela

Styling by Pixie Rodrigo Sevilla

Set styling by Athena Fregillana


Buttermilk Fried Chicken Poppers recipe first appeared in FOOD Magazine, February 2015

Photos by Justin de Jesus

Recipe and styling by Tina Concepcion Diaz