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Marcus Samuelsson's Fried Yardbird

Marcus Samuelsson
Nathan Congleton/TODAY

Chef notes

The great New Orleans Chef Leah Chase said to Julia Child, "I don't care where you're from or who you are. There's nothing like a good piece of fried chicken." I couldn't agree more! My signature fried chicken is moist, crispy, flavorful and satisfying.


Chicken Shake
  • 4 tablespoons berbere
  • 4 tablespoons hot smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons celery salt
  • teaspoons granulated garlic
  • teaspoons coarse sea salt
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup coarse kosher salt
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chicken shake, plus more for serving (recipe above)
  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup semolina flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground white pepper


For the chicken shake:

Whisk all ingredients together. Store in an airtight jar, in a cool dark place for up to 6 months.

For the chicken:


Put 2 cups of the water and the salt into the saucepan over high heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the salt. Pour into a large container, add the remaining 6 cups water, and cool to room temperature. Add the chicken, cover and refrigerate for 1½ hours. Drain.


Whisk the buttermilk, coconut milk, garlic and chicken shake together in a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Submerge the chicken in the marinade, cover and refrigerate overnight.


Fill a large saucepan one third full with peanut oil. Set over medium-high heat and heat to 360°F.


Put the flour, semolina, cornstarch and white pepper into a bowl and whisk to combine. Let any excess marinade drip off the chicken, then roll in the flour coating, packing it on. Place on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet (if the coating looks damp, roll it in the flour again).


Working batches, fry the chicken until it is a rich brown and has an internal temperature of 165°F, about 10 minutes per batch. Keep an eye on the heat and adjust it to keep the oil between 350°F-375°F. Drain on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.


Season the finished chicken with a sprinkle of chicken shake and serve.