Crispy Oven Fried Chicken is brined in buttermilk with herbs and spices, then coated in seasoned breadcrumbs and baked to golden brown perfection. The chicken is flavourfully seasoned while remaining moist under the crispy outer layer.
Chicken is one of the most popular proteins in North America and in this house! There are so many ways to cook this versatile protein, from smoking Chicken Thighs to roasted whole Lemon Herb Dry Brine Chicken and even Butter Chicken Meatballs using ground chicken.
Buttermilk Brined Crispy Oven Fried Chicken
What is not to love about this super crispy oven fried chicken? One bite through the crusty outer crumb layer and you’ll swear it’s deep fried! This chicken has the crunchy texture that everyone loves and the flavour to match.
The baked chicken is so tender, moist, and flavourful. It retains the characteristic ‘tang’ flavour of the buttermilk along with hints of garlic, rosemary, and paprika.
What is Buttermilk Brine?
If you look at the definition of a brine in the dictionary, you’ll notice it is primarily made up of salt and water (and sometimes extra seasonings, etc.). Buttermilk does not contain as much salt as an average brine does.
Buttermilk is also similar to a marinade…but not as acidic. Believe me, if you’ve ever left chicken marinating for too long, you know that the result is rubbery inedible meat.
Since buttermilk is only slightly acidic, it works in an entirely different way than just plain old salt water brine (click here for more in depth explorations of brines).
In addition, because it is slightly acidic, chicken can (and should) be left in the buttermilk for longer amounts of time. This allows the flavours to infuse deep into the meat.
The acids (and calcium) in the buttermilk naturally unravel or break up protein strands in the chicken over time. Then, the flavours are allowed to infiltrate the proteins.
The buttermilk brine used in this recipe is a mixture made of buttermilk, fresh herbs, and spices. However, it can be as simple as buttermilk combined with salt and pepper.
Why You Should Use a Buttermilk Brine
The secret to the most flavourful and moist oven fried chicken is buttermilk brine. In this recipe, the buttermilk brine does triple duty:
- It’s packed with that natural buttermilk ‘tang’ as well as fresh herbs and spices, all of which infuse intense flavour into the chicken.
- It tenderizes the chicken during the long brine period.
- The buttermilk sticks to the fat molecules of the chicken AND the breading which makes it the perfect ‘glue’ for the crispy outer coating. No need for an egg dip!
Ingredients for the Best Crispy Oven Fried Chicken
- chicken legs
- garlic cloves
- fresh herbs (such as parsley, chives, thyme, basil, rosemary)
- spices (such as cayenne pepper, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder)
- bread crumbs
The ingredients for this recipe are pretty basic. For uniformity I chose only skin on chicken drumsticks. Feel free to use chicken thighs or wings and reduce the cooking time accordingly. I would not recommend using chicken breasts.
I used a locally produced extra thick buttermilk but use any buttermilk you can find. If you need to make your own buttermilk using whole milk and vinegar, reduce the time the chicken is in the brine to a few hours. We don’t want tough chicken!
No need to finely mince the garlic cloves, just give them a quick chop before adding to the buttermilk. Garlic powder might be a bit too strong and overpower the buttermilk so I have used a very small amount mixed into the breadcrumbs only.
Use whatever herbs you have available. I love to use fresh herbs but this is not necessary and dried herbs will do just fine. Mix up the flavours as you prefer them.
Spices are your opportunity to add a bit of heat to the chicken. Feel free to add cayenne pepper to both the buttermilk and the breadcrumbs if you like. Also, go ahead and mix hot sauce into the buttermilk so that the heat penetrates into the meat.
Lastly, let’s talk breadcrumbs. I recommend using fresh breadcrumbs. Always. Buy them or make them yourself (see recipe here), they are really easy if you have a food processor. You might have noticed the odd dark spot on my chicken, it’s because I used my own homemade sourdough crusts to make breadcrumbs.
How to Make Crispy Oven Fried Chicken
Begin by making the Buttermilk brine. Mix buttermilk, garlic, fresh herbs, and spices together in a large freezer bag or bowl. Season with salt and pepper then add the chicken legs.
Give the bag a massage so the chicken is fully coated, then seal the bag squeezing the air out as you close it.
Refrigerate the chicken for at least 6 hours and up to 48 hours, ideally 24 hours. This gives the buttermilk a chance to work it’s magic on the chicken.
When you are ready to bake the chicken, preheat the oven to 375 F. Next, mix the breadcrumbs with garlic powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper in a dredging bowl.
Pick up a piece of chicken and roll it in the breadcrumb mixture. Fully coat the chicken before laying it on a baking rack over an aluminum foil lined baking pan. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
Bake at 375 F for 45-50 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 185 F. While it is true that chicken is considered cooked at 165 F I find that cooking to a higher doneness is necessary for bone in chicken.
What to Serve with Crispy Oven Fried Chicken
Since you are saving yourself a lot of calories and fat by baking this chicken instead of deep frying it, I wholeheartedly suggest serving this crispy oven fried chicken with a big old pile of Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes.
Of course, you can keep it entirely healthy by serving a side salad or some steamed green beans and cherry tomatoes like I have in the photos.
What would you serve this Buttermilk Brined Crispy Oven Fried Chicken?
How to Store and Reheat Crispy Oven Fried Chicken
Keep the leftover chicken in your fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for a month.
To reheat, take it out of the fridge while you preheat your oven to 400 F. Once it reaches room temperature (30 minutes), cover a baking sheet in aluminium foil and place the chicken on a baking rack. Place another sheet of foil loosely over the top to prevent browning.
Bake for around 15 minutes (and up to 20 minutes), remove from the oven and enjoy.