Pioneer Woman’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken


I know there are certain foods that I really shouldn’t mess with, one of them being fried chicken. And after all these years of cooking, last week was the very first time that I made real buttermilk fried chicken without tinkering, gourmetizing or ethnic-tizin’ with funky ingredients like panko, garam masala, five spice or corn flakes. Just fried chicken straight up. And it’s all thanks to my good friend Ree of The Pioneer Woman, who just came out with her very first cookbook called The Pioneer Woman Cookbook: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl.

One of the best parts of blogging is the sisterhood bond that blossoms between us gals. Ree is one of my bloggah-sistahs who will bring over a bunch of cheap single-serve generic wine from the corner market in a brown baggie and chocolate candy to our hotel room and giggle until the late hours with the gals. I love that we’re both on our book tours at the same time, me takin’ on the big cities of the two coasts and she taking her entire family to blanket the middle of the U.S.

If you are lucky enough to be near any of the cities that Ree and family will stop at, please do go seek her out. She’s loving, genuine and I promise she’ll make you giggle too.

I promised Ree that I wouldn’t ethnic-tize her fried chicken and she promised me she wouldn’t try to country-tize my Chinese Broccoli and Beef when she cooked from my book! I’m proud to say that despite all the temptations of my spice drawer, I kept true to my word.

How to make Buttermilk Fried Chicken

After mixing the flour with the spices, pour in the buttermilk and milk mixture. Use a fork to stir it up a bit until it’s a crumbly, shaggy mess. Shaggy is good. Shaggy means maximum crisp, crunch and happy times.

Now take a piece of buttermilk-soaked chicken and cover it in that flour mixture. Notice I didn’t say “dip” – you want to press that flour into that chicken good! More flour = more happiness.


Heat up your oil and in goes the chicken, just a few pieces at a time so that it’s not overcrowded.

Now cover the pan up. I’m soooo cowboy. I own a Lodge!


Fry for a few minutes, uncover and remove the fried chicken to a baking rack sitting on top of a baking sheet. Once all your chicken is fried, let it bake in the oven to finish cooking.

Do you now see how shaggy = the highest form of enlightenment? This is Buttermilk Fried Chicken, unplugged, unaltered, unethnic-tized, ungourmet’d


Directly after the buttermilk fried chicken dinner, Andrew and Nathan wrote Ree a little note:


Dear Mrs. Pioneer Woman,


We love your buttermilk fried chicken. If you have any openings at the The Pioneer Woman Ranch, we will come work for you if you feed us fried chicken every day.
We aren’t cowboys, but we sure learn fast. I think we have the right skills and in fact our lives are very much the same as yours.


You wrestle cattle. We wrestle and beat up each other:


We can brush your horsies like we brush our friend’s pet pot-bellied pig, Wilbur.


We’ll even scoop porch poop for you. We scoop poop from our hermit crab tank.


And if Oklahoma is anywhere near the ocean, we can even catch dinner.




Um, uh, okay, that letter actually worked.



Do you need some sides to go with that?

My very best mashed potatoes recipe.

Very Best Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Pioneer Woman’s Buttermilk Biscuits




Pioneer Woman's Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe

Servings: 6 Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cookbook: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond

There are a few secrets that I learned from Ree. The first is the buttermilk bath overnight (no, not you, the chicken). Second, mixing the flour with a bit of the buttermilk makes the breading a little shaggy, which is perfect for maximum crispiness volume. Lastly, baking the chicken after frying ensures that the chicken is cooked through without burning the skin.

serves 6-8 hungry ranch hands (halve recipe if you you're feedin' normal city folk)


2 cut-up fryer chickens
1 quart plus 1/4 cup buttermilk, divided
5 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons seasoned salt (like Lawry's)
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup milk
canola or vegetable oil for frying


1. In a large bowl (or 2 freezer bags) add the chicken with only 1 quart of the buttermilk. Refrigerate overnight. When ready to fry, remove chicken from bowl and let sit on counter for 30 minutes to take chill off.

2. Preheat oven to 350F. Stir together the flour, seasoned salt, pepper, thyme, paprika and cayenne in a very large bowl. In a small bowl combine the remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk and the milk. Pour the milk mixture into the flour and use a fork to mix until little lumps throughout.

3. Heat 1 1/2 inches of oil in a deep skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat to 365F. Working in batches, thoroughly coat each buttermilk-soaked chicken piece with the breading, pressing to adhere the breading. Add the chicken to the oil 3-4 pieces at a time. Cover pan and fry 5-7 minutes, checking to make sure chicken isn't getting too brown. Turn, cover and cook additional 3-5 minutes more. Monitor temperature of oil to make sure chicken doesn't burn. Keep in mind chicken will finish cooking in oven.

4. Place chicken on baking sheet and continue frying rest of chicken. When done, bake the chicken for 20 minutes, until chicken cooked through.

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Comments 76

  1. Brenda S 'Okie in Colorado'

    Jaden, I just met Ree at her book signing here in Denver. Are you coming to Denver? I would love for you to sign my book and meet you. I’ve been a fan for some time. I’ve been frying chicken for about 43 years. I think you did a heck of a job. Looks just like the way we Okie’s do it.

  2. cookeaze

    Festive and beautiful, as always.This was very delightful dish and it is one of my favourite too.Done a good effort in sharing a gorgeous and delicious recipe for us.

  3. Jennifer

    Jaden–I made the beef with broccoli recipe that Ree shared on here site. It was excellent (and so fast!). Thank you. I plan on getting your book!

  4. Joanne

    I use a recipe very close to this except I omit all the spices and use a packet of Ranch dressing mix. Mmmmm….my family loves the seasoning blend! Very flavorful:-)

  5. temple2

    My way is similar. If you let the chicken sit in the seasoned flour or on a cooling rack for half an hour before frying, the flour absorbs the buttermilk batter, so the breading will adhere to the chicken a lot better, and you get a thicker, crispier coating of breading. 🙂

    I don’t even use seasoned salt, thyme, or paprika. I use plain Celtic sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, and a bit of cayenne, and I add some crushed garlic to the buttermilk the night before. It’s very simple and very good.

  6. Buffalo

    I did not have good look with this recipe. I followed it exactly and the chicken burned on the outside. Plus I just didn’t think this had great flavor or was worth all the work. Next time I’ll just get a bucket of KFC.

  7. Kim

    I agree with Buffalo. Exactly what she said. Very disappointed in this recipe. I usually love Pioneer Woman’s recipes but not this one.

  8. JG

    I made this the other day and I can see how people might get burned chicken.

    I kept a close watch on my pieces in the fryer and took them out after about 2-3 minutes, not 5-7. The oil was so hot (electric fryer, so moderated temperature) that the breading cooked up much faster than the recipe said it would.

    Just take it out when it gets a nice pretty light golden brown, then bake according to the directions. Perfect fried chicken.

  9. Kelly

    I made this for dinner tonight with the intention of eating it over a few days. It is delicious! I found the cooking times to be fairly accurate, but I kept a close eye on it. Also, I think next time I will add salt and pepper directly to the chicken to give the meat more flavor. Thanks, Ree!

  10. Christy

    I made this last night but was disappointed- the breading was nowhere as beautiful as the ones pictured here! Whazzup with that? I’m a pretty good chicken fryer if I do say so myself. This was just…eh. I’ll go back to my normal dredge, egg wash, batter-fry method.

  11. Janell

    My first attempt at fried chicken and this was an epic fail. I agree with the above posts it browned up way faster than the 5-7 minutes, tried to adjust the temp but then the breading kept falling off into the oil Even after I baked my chicken it still wasn’t done. Not sure it was worth all the work. The is my first pioneer woman recipe failure…

  12. Amy

    I’ve made this recipe twice now. Hands down the best fried chicken acorrding to my family, and I agree!

  13. Lyn

    The absolute worst fried chicken recipe ever written. This is not the pioneer women’s recipe and if it was she needs to try something different. Going back to my mother in laws recipe was far more complex but at least I don’t ever throw out food, like I did with this one. Perhaps wall paper paste might be more to its use.

  14. Amanda

    I just made this tonight for dinner and it was not good at all. The breading just tasted like flour and the chicken wasn’t cooked on the inside. Lots of work, smelled good but ended up having pizza for dinner instead.

  15. Stephen kizik

    I have failed previous bmilk recipes but its all about temp and
    Timing just used a deep fryer for
    8 min and marinated 14 hrs used
    Toaster oven to finish.
    Perfectly crunchy very good!
    Some people just do stuff haphazard and fail no surprise !

  16. Little Cooking Tips

    This looks AMAZING Jaden! Buttermilk isn’t available here in Greece, can we do the vinegar-milk trick that creates a similar result?
    Thanx for the wonderful recipe!
    Panos and Mirella.

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