Brined and Fried Chicken

Serves 4
While I prefer thighs fried, it’s hard to resist the moist and crispy breasts in this killer recipe. Brining meat, especially poultry, keeps the flesh moist and flavorful. Nowhere does this apply more than with white-meat fried chicken. The cornmeal in the “double dip” batter adds interesting texture and crunch and the hot pepper flakes give just enough kick to keep you on your toes.


  • 1 3 1/2 pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces


  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 2/3 cup coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves


  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup fine ground cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3 quarts vegetable oil, for frying


  1. Combine 1 cup water with remaining brining ingredients in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring just until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Combine brine mixture with remaining cold water in a large bowl or deep baking dish. Add chicken to bowl, making sure chicken is covered with the brining liquid. Store in fridge at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
  2. Remove chicken from brining liquid and pat dry. Combine flour, cornmeal, salt, and red pepper flakes in a shallow dish. Whisk eggs in another shallow dish. Coat chicken in flour mixture, then eggs, and again in flour mixture. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a cooling rack.
  3. Heat oil to 350 degrees in a large pot. Working in 2 batches, fry chicken for 15 minutes, turning once, until chicken is deep golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Serve hot or cold.
cook's note
Note: The oil will drop to 300°F when the chicken is added. That is the correct temperature for frying the chicken. Bring the oil back up to 350°F before adding the second batch.

Customize the Brine: Use the ratio of 2 quarts water and ²⁄³ cup each salt and sweetener as a base. You can alter the sweet to suit your own taste: honey, agave, barley malt, and mirin are good options. Partner the spices to complement the meat.
Need help with the ingredients? Check our pantry list: