Chicken Champions

The Pioneer Woman’s No-Fuss Fried Chicken Is Absolutely Worth Making at Home

updated Mar 18, 2020
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
fried chicken pieces on a baking tray
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

Ree Drummond, AKA The Pioneer Woman, knows how to feed a hungry family — and her fried chicken recipe is no exception. While most fried chicken recipes call for one chicken cut into eight pieces, Drummond doubles down and calls for two whole chickens.

This isn’t the only reason to love her recipe, though. Lots of buttermilk, loads of spices, and plenty of flour go into make Drummond’s crispy, juicy, tender fried chicken — making it one of the better fried chicken recipes I tried. Plus, her no-fuss approach makes beginner cooks feel like master chefs.

Here’s my honest review of the recipe, and what you can expect when you make it at home.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

How to Make Pioneer Woman’s Fried Chicken

As you might expect from Ree Drummond, this fried chicken recipe is very straightforward. Two whole broiler (or fryer) chickens are cut into eight pieces each and covered in buttermilk — no salt, no seasonings — to chill for 24 hours.

When it’s time to fry, you’ll mix up flour, seasoned salt, and lots of dried thyme and paprika in a large bowl. Then you’ll mix in a splash of milk and buttermilk before adding the chicken and tossing to coat.

Before the chicken hits the hot oil, Drummond has you warm up the oven and set a cooling rack inside a baking sheet. You’ll then fry the chicken in a deep skillet at 365°F. After all the pieces have been fried until golden, about 12 to 15 minutes, you’ll bake them in the oven for an additional 15 minutes. This is a smart move — it ensures the larger pieces of chicken are completely cooked through.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Pioneer Woman’s Fried Chicken

This recipe hits the sweet spot that frying chicken at home requires. It’s straightforward in technique, doesn’t require any special ingredients or equipment, and makes juicy, tender chicken that is deeply savory with a golden, crisp-tender crust. I was concerned that this recipe might make too much fried chicken and overwhelm a first time fryer, but anytime to you commit to the small mess that comes with frying, you’ll be glad to have a few extra pieces to eat cold the next day.

This recipe also employs two smart techniques: adding moisture to the flour mixture in the form of milk and buttermilk, and finishing the chicken in the oven. Both of these steps guarantee tender chicken that is cooked through but not overcooked, whether this is your first batch or your 100th.

Credit: Meghan Splawn

If You’re Making Pioneer Woman’s Fried Chicken, a Few Tips

1. Plan for plenty of chicken (and flour, and seasoning salt). This recipe makes more chicken than any of the other recipes we tested. While this isn’t a bad problem to have, it does mean you’ll need about twice as much flour and seasoning ingredients. You’ll also need to set aside more time to make the recipe.

2. Don’t skip Ree’s technique for crispy-crunchy breading. Adding just a few tablespoons of milk and 1/4 cup buttermilk to the flour mixture and then scrunching it onto the chicken will make for a better coating with a craggier texture.

3. Take advantage of the oven-finishing step. The best way to ensure that your chicken is properly done is to use a digital probe thermometer. If you don’t have one or this is your first time frying chicken, the additional fifteen minutes in the oven will all but guarantee that your chicken is cooked through.

Rating: 8/10

Overall, this chicken is certainly worth making, but I docked a few points due to the sheer volume of ingredients and longer overall cooking time. Plus, though it was effective, the extra oven cooking step made for more greasy dishes to wash after a long afternoon of frying.

Have you ever tried Pioneer Woman’s Fried Chicken? Tell us what you thought in the comments!