Arkansas-Style Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    8 to 10


Appears in

This recipe comes from a blue-blooded farming family in Tuckerman, Arkansas, who are as well known for their political parties as for the rice and pecans they grow and the dishes they serve famous and humble guests alike. So renowned is this buttermilk fried chicken, in fact, that Hillary Clinton included it in The Clinton Presidential Center Cookbook. When I learned that the chicken is fried in covered skillets and turned over and over, I bolted, but after I tried it I had to admit, except for it not being as crisp as I think Southern fried chicken should be, it was nonetheless utterly delicious—full flavored, silky, slightly tangy, and, yes, different.


  • Two -pound chickens, cut into serving pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 quart regular buttermilk
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¾ cup amber ale
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 quarts peanut oil


Season the chicken with the salt, let stand for 20 minutes, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, mayonnaise, ale, basil, oregano, and 1 teaspoon of the paprika. Add the seasoned chicken pieces to the bowl, turn to coat them, and refrigerate for 2 hours. In another large bowl, combine the flour, salt and pepper, and remaining 2 teaspoons of paprika and stir till well blended.

When ready to fry, dredge the chicken pieces well in the seasoned flour and place them on a platter. In 2 large, heavy skillets with tight-fitting lids, heat the oil to moderate, add the chicken, cover, and fry about 12 minutes. With tongs, turn the pieces over, cover, and fry 10 minutes longer. Remove the lids and continue frying, turning once or twice, till the chicken is deep golden and crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve hot or at room temperature.