Best-Ever Oven-Fried Chicken Recipe
My children adore fried chicken, and I have to admit that after years of tweaking, I make some pretty amazing Southern Style Fried Chicken. It's the real thing —buttermilk and salt-brined overnight, seasoned and double dipped, then fried off to perfection in my grandmother's cast iron skillet.
It takes time though, and I usually just plain forget to brine it ahead of time, so I end up making if far less often than the children would like. My youngest two boys especially ask for it on a weekly basis. I don't mind running it off every few months, but I had to come up with a better "everyday" version.
After some playing around, my boy Bladen and I hit upon a pretty dang good compromise. I call it a compromise, but don't think of this dish as if you were having to accept less. This one packs as much flavor as the original. On top of that it's faster, far healthier, and can be thrown together in about 10 minutes. After that you just have some baking time. Use that to put together a big fat green salad, and you've got a budget friendly meal that is good for you, and tastes like great comfort food.
That's a winner all around. Healthy, fast, easy, kid friendly and inexpensive. This one will appear frequently at your house too!
- 1 1/2 pounds of chicken (less if using a boneless cut, more if it's bone in)
- 1 cup of bread crumbs
- 1 cup crushed garlic flavored croutons, crushed
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Coat the exterior of the chicken with the mayonnaise. I like to do this in a gallon sized baggie—it makes it easier, with a super simple clean-up.
- Shake off excess mayonnaise, and dip into the breadcrumbs. I employ another baggie, and shake it all together to coat well.
- Place coated pieces on a rack on top of a baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for twenty minutes for tenders, 30 minutes for larger boneless cuts, and about 45 minutes for bone in pieces.
- Remove from oven, and allow it to rest for at least five minutes, and preferably 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!
There's more! Of course I have a preferred way of making this dish, but there are very few ingredients that I'll list that can't be substituted in a hurry. If you find you're out of one of the ingredients on the list, check for one of the substitutions.
- Breading. For the breading, you can use all bread crumbs in place of the ground croutons. Or use Ritz or saltine crackers, seasoned bread crumbs, Panko breadcrumbs, or even crushed corn flakes. Mix it up and choose your favorite—they'll all be delicious. You can even crush up pecans, peanuts, or walnuts and use them in the breading.
- Mayonnaise. They purpose of the mayonnaise is two-fold—flavor of course, but it's also an easy way to make sure the breading sticks to the chicken. There are several things you can do here as well. Use half mayonnaise and half sour cream, whisked well together. Use low fat mayonnaise if you wish, or lighten the consistency with buttermilk (which is delicious) or regular milk. There needs to be a little bit of viscosity to the mayo mixture so that it holds on the breading, as well as adds moisture. But don't feel as though you're stuck using only plain mayonnaise. Not at all. Use whatever you have, and whatever fires your imagination.
- Seasonings. Any and all of the seasonings, with the exception of salt and pepper, can be altered at whim too. Oregano is not the only option at all. Dried rosemary or thyme are both great. Dried tarragon will give a lovely brightness. Onion powder, smoked paprika, and cumin also can be added. Even a touch of cayenne pepper, if you like the heat.
- Chicken. You can even change up the cut of bird. For the best budget option, pick the least expensive cut or what's on sale that week at your local grocery. The only real change you'll need to make is to vary the cooking time. Large, bone-in pieces can take up to 45 minutes or so, depending on the size. The best bet at that stage is an instant read thermometer if you aren't sure of doneness. Boneless, skinless pieces will take less time—chicken tenders are great after just 20 minutes, while boneless breasts can take about 1/2 hour or so. This will work if you leave the skin on ,but it won't be as crispy, and the mayonnaise does a great job of keeping it moist.
A final note: you can also use just a baking dish, but if so, the chicken won't be crispy on the bottom.
In a nutshell: chicken can be oven fried with any number of variations. Think of this as more of a method than a recipe, and play with your own favorites.