Expat’s Fried Chicken Recipe

This KFC style fried chicken is a cheaper and healthier alternative

Fried chicken isn’t just an American fast food, it’s a solid staple of Asian cuisine too.

Some consider brining (soaking in salted water overnight) too time-consuming, but it is key if you want to lock in the meat’s moisture and get the maximum favour. If you do this, you can use a ‘dry brine’ of spices, herbs and lemons, or a wet brine mixture of buttermilk, salt and spices.

There are also two camps for the coating – either a simple roll in cornmeal or a dip in buttermilk and then seasoned four.

To achieve the tastiest, crisp coating and tender flesh, I’ve found that the best method is to use a dry brine, then dip in buttermilk and four. The key to frying the chicken is to keep the oil at a low and steady temperature. If it is too hot, the outside will overcook before the flesh is done.

Personally, I prefer to use chicken breasts cut into four quarters but you can use whatever cut of the chicken you prefer.


  • 10 chicken pieces (about 1.25kg), on the bone, skin on
  • 300ml buttermilk (see below to make your own)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1-2 litres groundnut oil (depending on your pot)
  • grilled corn on the cob, skinny fries and coleslaw, to serve (optional)

For the dry brine:

  • zest 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • 1 tsp garlic granules
  • 1 tsp flaky sea salt

For the spiced flour:

  • 225g plain flour
  • 3 tbsp cornflour
  • 3 tsp garlic granules
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 3 tsp chilli powder or black pepper

Make your own buttermilk

Most supermarkets now stock buttermilk, but if you want to make your own, simply add 1 tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar to 250ml full-fat milk and set aside for 10 mins. It will curdle into a thick mixture, then it is ready to use.


  1. Put all the dry brine ingredients in a large dish. Add the chicken, toss to coat well, then cover and chill for 12-24 hrs.
  2. Put all the four spiced ingredients in another dish or a large bowl, add a good grind of black pepper and combine well.
  3. Put the buttermilk and egg in another bowl and lightly whisk until well combined.
  4. Start to coat the chicken. Using one hand, dip the pieces in the buttermilk, making sure they are completely coated.
  5. Using your other hand, roll the chicken in the spiced flour until covered all over.
  6. Place the chicken on a wire rack with a baking tray underneath. Now you’re ready to start frying.
  7. Fill a deep cast-iron frying pan or heavy-based medium saucepan half full of oil and heat until the temperature reaches 170C on a cooking thermometer. Put a wire rack* on a second tray, ready to drain the fried chicken.
  8. Heat oven to 150C. Place 3-4 pieces of chicken into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook for 10-12 mins. Poke your thermometer into the meat – it will be cooked when it reaches 73C.
  9. The oil temperature will drop when you add the chicken – adjust the heat to keep it steady at 140C during the cooking process. Once cooked, transfer the chicken to the clean wire rack* and keep warm in the oven. Bring the oil back to 170C before cooking the next batch. Serve with your choice of sides.

* You’ll need to cook the chicken in batches. A wire rack over a tray is better than kitchen paper for draining, as kitchen paper will make the chicken go soggy.

After cooling, clean the oil by pouring it through a funnel with a fabric coffee filter in it into a bowel. This will remove most of the flour and debris from the oil.

Bon appetit