Beer and Buttermilk Fried Chicken


Beer and Buttermilk Fried ChickenP

 I’ve been wanting to make you some beer fried chicken for a while now, but it’s a bit intimidating.

The best fried chicken comes from the south, it’s a fact of sorts. As is the fact that, other than a few weeks in Atlanta, I haven’t spent much time in the Southern states. And, let’s be honest, a white girl from Washington State isn’t exactly your go-to when you want the worlds best fried chicken.

But I have some confidence in this recipes because it isn’t really mine. I’ve added a few things, but the heart and soul of it belongs to a woman who’s chicken was so incredible, Ruth Reichl spent weeks, and copious amounts of beer, extracting the recipe from her. Even 40 years after plying Claritha with enough beer to obtain said recpe, Ruth not only remembers it, she writes about it in Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table.

Like any great recipe, it travels. How I hope my recipes become your recipes. My Chocolate Stout Cake becomes your Chocolate Stout Cake, the one your boyfriend begs you to make him for his birthday and tells his friends, “My girl makes the best cake.” Because once your hands have cut the butter, stirred the batter and frosted the cake, it’s not my recipe any more, it’s yours. As it should be.

So, from Claritha, to Ruth to Random House to me and finally to you, is the best fried chicken I’ve ever made. I hope it becomes your fried chicken too.

Beer and Buttermilk Fried Chicken2

Beer and Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Adapted from Claritha's Fried Chicken, Ruth Reichl, Tender at the Bone


  • 3 lbs chicken drumsticks
  • 1 to 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups blonde ale
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • Yield: 4servings


  • Place chicken in a wide bowl. Cover with salt, place uncovered in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Remove chicken from the bowl.
  • Rinse the chicken well and clean the bowl to remove all the salt. Add buttermilk, beer and onion slices to the bowl, stir to combine. Add the chicken back in the bowl, cover and refrigerate overnight, 8 to 20 hours.
  • Add the flour, salt, cayenne, brown sugar, and pepper to a bag, shake to combine. Drain the chicken. add chicken to the bag, shake until the chicken is well coated. Place chicken on wax paper or parchment paper. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1/2 hour.
  • In a large skillet melt the vegetable shortening and butter over high heat. Add chicken (working in batches if necessary), cover and lower heat to just above medium. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown, turn and cook on the opposite side for about 8 additional minutes or until cooked through.

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35 Responses to Beer and Buttermilk Fried Chicken

  1. Averie @ Averie Cooks January 22, 2013 at 2:17 am #

    I lived in the South for 5 years. And boy, did I learn some things about how those ladies cook and what they like to serve. Quite a departure from growing up in MN or the SoCal vibe I have going on now. Great job on tackling this one!

    • Jackie January 22, 2013 at 7:42 am #

      Such delicious food! And I would be huge if I lived there, so much different from our produce heavy, salads and veggie diets we have in socal.

  2. Rachel @ Baked by Rachel January 22, 2013 at 4:19 am #

    I totally get where you’re coming from. Living in the north – I can try to make fried chicken and even enjoy it but someday I hope to have real southern fried chicken. Love this twist :)

  3. claire @ the realistic nutritionist January 22, 2013 at 6:34 am #

    I just freaking love this. I blame going to school in Georgia for my addiction to sweet southern food.

  4. claire @ the realistic nutritionist January 22, 2013 at 6:34 am #

    I just freaking love this. I blame going to school in Georgia for my addiction to sweet southern food.

    • Jackie January 22, 2013 at 7:43 am #

      It’s hard not to love it! If I had gone to school in the south the Freshman 15 would have been more like The Freshman 50.

  5. Ali | Gimme Some Oven January 22, 2013 at 6:43 am #

    Holy YUM. I’ve still never attempted making (real) fried chicken. This totally makes me want to try!!

  6. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet January 22, 2013 at 8:01 am #

    I feel quite intimidated by fried chicken but I would love to try this recipe! It looks amazing!

  7. Twila January 22, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    Hi, just wanted to say i liked this recipe. It reminds me of my grandmas and she was southern. looks authentic!

  8. Mary Jo January 22, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    Could you also deep fat fry this?

    • Jackie January 22, 2013 at 11:35 am #

      Of course. The crisco and butter method is what Ruth had published and I think it’s pretty traditional for Southern home cooks, but I’m sure a deep fryer would be perfect.

  9. Ashley - baker by nature January 22, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    My mom was raised in the south and I swear that woman can make the best darn fried chicken you’ve ever had. But since I don’t live home anymore, I rarely get to feast on it – this is where your gorgeous recipe comes in hand! Can’t wait to try this, Jackie :-)

  10. addie | culicurious January 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm #

    I love fried chicken. with beer, OMG YES! :) Another winner!

  11. laura h January 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    No veg shortening for me! I’d use peanut or/and lard and/or butter.
    Do you use the same coating for the for then onions?

    • Jackie January 22, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

      I did, but next time I’m going to do more of a battered dipped situation.

  12. a farmer in the dell January 22, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

    you may be from the North, but this recipe looks amazing!!! I trust you!!

  13. Cassie | Bake Your Day January 22, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    I love this! I nearly grew up on fried chicken. Beer could only make it better!

  14. Bree January 22, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    Dreamy. Seriously!

  15. Charlotte January 22, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    This is awesome! I love Ruth Riechl so this recipe is one I will try for sure.

  16. Kelly Senyei (Just a Taste) January 23, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    This looks so mouthwatering-ly amazing! I am drooling!

  17. jimmy January 23, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    The post is very appealing, you made some great chicken and i love the story behind it.

  18. Gerry @ Foodness Gracious January 23, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    Love buttermilk, it turns some foods into magic….like this chicken! Amazing…

  19. ruth January 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Is it safe to cook and eat those onion rings after they’ve been soaked with raw chicken? Something about that makes me apprehensive, although I’ve heard of using a buttermilk brine for onion rings before and it’s supposed to be wonderful!

    • Jackie January 23, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

      Great question! I didn’t even think about that. The FDA said salmonella would be killed at 180 degrees, but I think you have a valid concern.

  20. Noble Pig - Cathy Pollak January 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    I was lucky enough to hang out with Ruth at a small blogger event and she talked about this recipe. Awesomeness here!

    • Jackie January 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm #

      Really?! I’m so super jealous of that. I love that book, she is such a story teller. And the recipes are such a great addition.

  21. Megan {Country Cleaver} January 23, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    I love how recipes each become each cook’s or baker’s as soon as they make it in their own home with their own hands. What a road of memories it creates. And this will surely be a memory of a recipe.

  22. Katie @ Blonde Ambition January 23, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    This fried chicken sounds and looks amazing. You were brave to tackle it, but it seems like it worked out in your favor!

  23. Bev @ Bev Cooks January 24, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    I just love what you do to me.

  24. Jessica January 25, 2013 at 8:25 am #

    Nice work on this challenging recipe and well written post! I think fried chicken is one of those things that gauges how good a cook you are – like making a perfect poached egg or grilled cheese. Well done!

  25. Laurie {Simply Scratch} January 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    The crust on this chicken looks incredible Jackie! WANT IT NOW!

  26. Jen @ Savory Simple January 28, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

    WHAT THE WHAT. I am making this for my husband and he’s going to propose again. You’re amazing.

  27. Janette February 12, 2013 at 7:47 am #

    This was so good! I made it for guests and we stuffed ourselves, none left over!


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