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 thoughts on “Beer and Buttermilk Fried Chicken

  1. 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!

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

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

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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 :-)

  5. 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?

  6. 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!

    1. 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.

    1. 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.

  7. 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!

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