Barefoot Contessa: Ina Garten’s Easy Trick for Crispy Fried Chicken

Ever bite into a piece of fried chicken and wish it had more crunch? Look to Ina Garten. The Barefoot Contessa has many chicken recipes and one of them is for fried chicken. She uses a two-step process so it’s crunchy and not greasy. 

Ina Garten quickly fries the chicken in a pan to get it crispy

Ina Garten cooks fried chicken on 'Today'
Ina Garten | Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

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The Barefoot Contessa’s fried chicken recipe isn’t a major “How easy is that?” moment. Originally featured in Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook, it’s a messy (but relatively simple) process. She begins by carving the chicken into pieces — an optional step — before leaving it to soak in buttermilk. 

After soaking for at least eight hours or overnight — the longer the better — Garten adds the coating and fries the chicken in a pan. This is step one in the two-part process, according to the recipe on The Food Network‘s website.

Frying it in a pan ensures the chicken gets crispy. First, Garten uses a candy thermometer to ensure the oil’s reached 360 degrees. Then she fries each piece of chicken for about three minutes on each side. 

Then the chicken’s removed from the pan and set aside before it goes in the oven to bake. Baking fried chicken? It’s all part of how the Barefoot Contessa gets the ultimate fried chicken. 

Then the Barefoot Contessa bakes the chicken to get it ‘crisp on the outside and incredibly tender on the inside’

Think baking chicken isn’t part of making fried chicken? It is when Garten makes it. During an episode of Barefoot Contessa, she once explained why she quickly fries it before putting it in the oven. 

“The secret of this recipe is instead of frying the chicken while everybody’s standing there waiting for dinner, I’m going to fry it really quickly [and] get the coating really crisp, Garten said. “And then I’m going to bake it in the oven so it’s going to crisp on the outside and incredibly tender on the inside.” 

An added bonus of cooking the chicken in the oven is that it gets rid of the grease. So, the result is crispy and tender chicken without all the grease. As Garten says, fabulous. 

How to make Ina Garten’s Oven-Fried Chicken

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Let the chicken soak overnight in the buttermilk or get it started first thing in the morning. Whatever the route, give the chicken ample time to soak in the buttermilk because, according to Garten, the acid in the buttermilk tenderizes the chicken. 

Next: coat the chicken with a mixture of flour, salt — Garten prefers kosher salt — and pepper. She keeps it simple but she says it’s OK to add other seasonings too. Then comes the frying. She heats a pan of vegetable oil to 360 degrees and tests it with a candy thermometer.

Then the Barefoot Contessa adds the chicken. Each piece cooks until browned (about three minutes) on each side. From there, the chicken goes in a 350-degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Make sure the chicken’s not pink on the inside and it’s ready to eat. 

Ingredients for Garten’s Oven-Fried Chicken: 

  • 2 chickens (3 pounds each), cut in 8 serving pieces
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil or vegetable shortening