Restaurant Recipe: Buttermilk Fried Chicken from Ad Hoc

updated Jan 29, 2020
Ad Hoc's Buttermilk Fried Chicken
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(Image credit: Faith Durand)

It’s been quite the week for fried chicken. First we gave you Grandma’s recipe, then we showed you oven-fried crispy chicken. And now we’re giving you one more crispy, greasy, delicious recipe for fried chicken, and it’s from Chef Cruz of Thomas Keller’s restaurant Ad Hoc. Apparently great chefs love fried chicken too!

Thomas Keller’s Napa Valley restaurant Ad Hoc offers an daily changing menu of seasonal American cuisine. But at one point they offered fried chicken, and the guests loved it so much that now it’s offered regularly. Ad Hoc now features “Fried Chicken Night” every other Monday of the week – apparently it has drawn quite a following for locals and visitors alike!

Here’s the recipe that made Ad Hoc’s guests’ mouths water. Of course, this is a rather involved recipe — more involved than a more basic fried chicken. But as long as we’re going to the trouble of frying chicken, we might go ahead and use this recipe. We’re sure it’s outstandingly delicious.

We also appreciated these general chicken-frying tips from Dave Cruz, the creator of the recipe, and Chef de Cuisine at Ad Hoc:

• Be careful! The oil can spurt as the chicken is added and fried, making this is a perfect recipe to use a splatter screen.

• Place a thermometer in the oil to help monitor the proper cooking temperature.

• It is a good idea to make the brine a day ahead and refrigerate, so that the flavors fuse together fully.

• To avoid the chicken becoming too salty, do not add the chicken to warm brine and do not leave the chicken in the brine longer than the specified time.

Ad Hoc's Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Makes 16 pieces

Nutritional Info


For the chicken

  • 2

    2 1/2 pound chickens

For the Brine

  • 1 gallon


  • 1 cup

    kosher salt

  • 1/4 cup

    plus 2 tablespoons honey

  • 12

    bay leaves

  • 1/2 cup

    garlic gloves, skin left on, smashed

  • 2 tablespoons

    black peppercorns

  • 3

    large rosemary sprigs (about 1/2 ounce)

  • 1

    large bunch thyme sprigs (about 1/2 ounce)

  • 1

    large bunch flat leaf parsley sprigs (about 2 ounces)

  • 2

    large lemons, zested and juiced

For the Coating

  • 3 cups

    all purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons

    garlic powder

  • 2 tablespoons

    onion powder

  • 2 teaspoons


  • 2 teaspoons

    cayenne pepper

  • 2 teaspoons

    kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

For Frying and Serving

  • 1 quart


  • 10 cups

    peanut oil

  • Kosher salt

  • Rosemary and thyme sprigs for garnishing


  • 6

    quart saute pan with splatter screen


  1. For the brine: Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and cool completely before using.

  2. Rinse the chickens and place the chickens in the cold brine and refrigerate overnight or for up to 12 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat the chicken dry, removing any herbs or spices sticking to the skin. With a knife and pair of kitchen shears, cut the chicken up into 8 pieces: 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breast halves and 2 wings.

  3. For the coating: Mix the coating ingredients together in a bowl and place the buttermilk in a second container.

  4. Bring the peanut oil to 330˚F in the 6 quart sauté pan.

  5. Just before frying, dip each piece of chicken into the coating, patting off the excess, then into the buttermilk and back into the coating. Place the chicken on a parchment lined sheet tray.

  6. When the oil has reached the proper temperature, carefully lower the pieces of dark meat into the oil. The temperature of the oil will decrease. Adjust the heat as necessary to bring the oil to proper temperature. Fry the dark meat for about 13 minutes, to a deep golden brown, cooked throughout and very crisp. Remove the chicken to a tray lined with paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

  7. Carefully add the white meat to the oil and fry for about 6 to 7 minutes until cooked. Remove to the tray, sprinkle with salt and turn off the heat under the oil.

  8. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes to cool slightly.

  9. While the chicken rests, add the herb sprigs to the hot oil and let them cook and crisp for a few minutes. Arrange the chicken on the serving platter and garnish with the fried herb sprigs.

Related: Fried Chicken Cook-Off: Thomas Keller vs. My Mom