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Sunny Anderson's Easy Buttermilk Poached and Fried Chicken

Mike Smith / TODAY

Chef notes

This recipe takes the mystique out of frying chicken and is a trick I used in catering: brine, poach and then fry! You ensure it is juicy, flavorful and cooked through by brining and poaching, then the final fry is all about the crunch! This way you can actually have fried chicken in minutes all week or use the poached chicken for other uses like in a salad.


  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 whole chicken, cut up, breasts cut in half
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce, preferably Frank's RedHot
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Peanut oil, for frying
To serve
  • Honey
  • Hot sauce


For the brine:

In a large bowl, whisk the buttermilk and salt until the salt is dissolved. Pour this into a large resealable bag and add the chicken, garlic and thyme. Press out as much air as possible. Refrigerate (in a bowl or on a plate, just in case it leaks) for 8-24 hours.

Pour the entire contents of the bag into a pot large enough to fit the chicken, but narrow enough to make sure the liquid from the bag mostly covers the chicken. Top off the pot with water to just cover the chicken, if needed. Raise heat to low and poach until cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. Remove to a plate and pat dry, allowing the chicken to cool down enough to handle.

For the chicken:


Set up two bowls. In one, whisk the eggs and hot sauce with a splash of water. In the second bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, paprika, salt and pepper. Dunk the chicken pieces first in the flour and tap off the excess. Then dunk in the egg wash and back to the flour mixture, this time not tapping off the flour. Rest the chicken on baking sheets fitted with wire racks for 10-15 minutes. The flour will look soaked into the skin a bit.


Using a deep fryer or a deep frying pan with straight sides, add enough oil to fry without spilling over. Heat oil to 370°F, so it rests just below that temperature when you add to the pot. Gently shake off any excess flour from the chicken and add a few pieces at a time, frying until golden (remember the insides are already cooked, this is just for color and crisp!). This should take about 5 minutes per batch.


Serve with a drizzle of honey and a shake of hot sauce.