The perfect fried chicken has a beautiful golden brown, crispy, crunchy skin and is moist and juicy on the inside. Without a doubt, Cracker Barrel’s fried chicken hits it out of the park. It’s my favorite item on their menu.
But… you don’t have to leave the house for this classic Sunday dinner. We’ve figured out the secret to making the most irresistible fried chicken.
And the secret is… buttermilk! This keeps your chicken juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Just like grandma used to make.
But now you can bring the taste of Cracker Barrel right into your kitchen! Surprise your friends and family with how close it tastes to the original.
How to Make Cracker Barrel Fried Chicken
This copycat recipe of Cracker Barrel’s fried chicken is on point! And it’s so easy you can make it yourself.
oil for frying
4 chicken breasts (boneless and skinless)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup water
1. Fill up a deep fryer or a large pot with 3 to 4 inches deep of frying oil. Preheat the oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. For the seasoning, combine flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix well. In a separate container, combine buttermilk and water.
3. Skip this step if you have similarly sized chicken breasts. Otherwise, place them in a Ziploc bag or underneath a wax paper and beat them with a meat pounder until they become similar in size. This step will help ensure you're able to cook the pieces uniformly in the same time period.
4. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Season each piece with salt and pepper. Coat the chicken in the flour mixture, then in the buttermilk mixture, and once again in the flour mixture.
5. Deep-fry the chicken in the preheated oil. After 7 to 8 minutes, flip the pieces over and cook the other side for another 7 to 8 minutes.
6. Drain the chicken on a wire rack.
Tips & Tricks
- When it comes to frying oil, pick one with a high smoke point. To me, peanut oil is the best. It just makes the chicken so crispy! Lard is also great because it gives the chicken extra flavor. Other good frying oils include cottonseed oil, canola oil, and Crisco brand shortening.
- This dish only takes about 30 minutes to make, but if you’ve got more time, you may want to marinate the chicken in buttermilk overnight for maximum flavor. The acids and enzymes in the buttermilk help break down the proteins in the chicken, making it super soft.
- Double the breading for double the goodness! Make sure to coat the chicken again with the flour mixture after dipping it in the buttermilk mixture. This extra step makes all the difference in taste and texture. So yes, your fingers will get messy, but it’s worth it.
- Don’t place freshly cooked chicken on top of a pile of paper towels! Many of us are guilty of this, thinking it will help get rid of excess oil. Actually, it will just turn the chicken cold and soggy, and you don’t want that. Instead, let the chicken sit in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven until it’s time to serve.
- You might be tempted to experiment on the breading. While there are tons of recipes out there that make use of cornflakes, breadcrumbs, and beer batter coating, you should opt for the most simple and effective ingredient: flour. Flour sticks easily to chicken and fries beautifully every time.
- Salt the chicken before coating with the flour and buttermilk mixture. You can either do this 30 minutes before or the night prior to coating it. Dry brining the chicken in advance helps make it more tender and flavorful.
- Patience is key. Wait for the oil to heat to 350 degrees before dunking your chicken in. If it’s any less hot than that, you’ll get soggy and oily chicken – yuck! To get golden and crispy chicken, stick to the temperature specified. Also, note that the oil will drop once you place the chicken in, so adjust the heat to compensate.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. It may be tempting to just dunk the pieces in all at once but don’t do it! This will cause the oil temperature to drop too much, giving you sad chicken with soggy skin. Sure, it takes a lot longer to cook the pieces in batches, but again, it’s worth all the wait!
- Haven’t had enough buttermilk yet? Make a batch of buttermilk biscuits! These buttery treats taste so great with Cracker Barrel fried chicken.
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