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Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Pan Gravy

Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, Buttermilk Fried Chicken is the ultimate comfort food. Learn tips and tricks so you can make a perfect batch every time!

Whether your grandma made it, your mama or your favorite restaurant, there is something about a crispy, succulent buttermilk fried chicken that just screams comfort food.

Buttermilk fried chicken on a white plate with mashed potatoes, gravy and broccoli.

With a few tips, tricks and step by step photos. I’m going to show you how you can make perfect buttermilk chicken every time.

Let’s start with the basics of a buttermilk marinade first:

First, you may be asking yourself, why is buttermilk great for marinating? Buttermilk is great for marinating chicken because it is not too acidic. It is acidic enough to help tenderize the meat without making it tough. Which is exactly what you want when you’re making any kind of meat.

Chicken Marinating in a bowl with buttermilk, onions and garlic.

DES’ TIP: Don’t have your own buttermilk? You can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of vinegar to just under one cup of milk. Let it set for 5 minutes so that the milk will sour. And voilà buttermilk! I’ve used it when making this chicken, buttermilk ranch dressing and my favorite buttermilk waffles

While buttermilk is a great tenderizer on its own, adding some flavor is always a great idea. To add some extra flavor to this marinade, you’ll add some sliced onions, garlic and hot sauce.

Step by Step Instructions and Photos:

A collage of 4 photos. Photo of chicken in buttermilk marinade. Photo of seasoned flour in a dish. Photo of flour coated chicken. Photo of chicken frying in cast iron skillet.

STEP 1: To make buttermilk fried chicken, combine the buttermilk, onions, garlic and hot sauce together. Pour over chicken and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

STEP 2: Combine seasonings and flour together in a container with a lid or a resealable plastic bag.

STEP 3: Place chicken in the flour into container and shake to coat. Allow to set for 15 minutes.

STEP 4: This cooking method is the key to making perfect buttermilk fried chicken. Heat 1 – 1 1/2 inches of oil in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat to 350 degrees. Once the oil is hot lay 4 pieces of chicken in the oil, skin side down, and cover for 6 – 7 minutes or until browned. Turn the chicken and cook another 6 – 7 minutes. Remove the lid and cook an additional 2 minutes or until it is golden brown.

DES’ TIP: If you find yourself asking “Why is my fried chicken not crispy?” it could be that you are overcrowding the pan. When a frying pan is overcrowded the food tends to steam rather than fry. This is why I suggest cooking this chicken, and all fried food, in batches if you frying pan is not big enough.  

It is also important to place your fried chicken on a cooling rack instead of paper towels to drain. This allows air to circulate around the chicken which helps keep the skin crispy.

So this next part is totally optional, but you should totally give it a try. Buttermilk fried chicken is fantastic on it’s own but pair it with pan gravy, and you’ve got comfort food heaven!

Mashed potatoes and gravy on a white plate.

And really, how do you say no to gravy?

How to make Pan Gravy:

Whenever I make buttermilk fried chicken, I can’t let all those good pan drippings go to waste. Instead, I like to use them to make a pan gravy and it could not be easier.

A collage of four photos for how to make pan gravy. One photo whisking in flour in cast iron skillet. Second photo of flour cooking in cast iron skillet. Third photo pouring in chicken broth. Fourth photo whisking gravy.

STEP 1: Discard all but 3 tablespoons of the oil. Keep any of the brown bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan.

STEP 2: Whisk in the flour and allow it to cook for 1 – 2 minutes. Just until it starts to brown.

STEP 3: Slowly whisk in chicken broth.

STEP 4: Continue cooking until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

What to serve with buttermilk fried chicken?

For a comfort food meal that rivals any Sunday supper at Grandma’s, you have got to serve this with creamy homemade mashed potatoes and southern style green beans.

A hand holding a piece of buttermilk fried chicken

If you liked this Buttermilk Fried Chicken Recipe, you will love these other Southern Recipes:

Fried Green Tomatoes

Southern Fried Pork Chops

Pimento Cheese Recipe

Cajun Popcorn Shrimp

Looking for more ways to cook chicken? Here are some of my most popular chicken recipes:

Chicken Adobo Instant Pot 

Chicken Curry

Popcorn Chicken 

Dill Pickle Chicken Wings

Brined Fried Chicken 

Note: this post was originally published in 2009 and updated in 2020 with new step by step photos, tips and nutrition facts.

Overhead photo of fried chicken on a white plate with mashed potatoes and broccoli.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Pan Gravy

Crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, Buttermilk Fried Chicken is a classic. Learn tips and tricks so you can make a perfect batch every time!
5 from 7 votes
Prep Time 7 hrs 40 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 8 hrs 10 mins
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Southern
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 934 kcal


Buttermilk Fried Chicken Ingredients:

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce like Frank's Red Hot
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon dried summer savory or thyme
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • canola oil for frying

Gravy Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons reserved pan drippings
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper


  • Combine chicken, buttermilk, onions and garlic in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to warm setting.
  • Heat 1/2 inch of oil in a large heavy bottom skillet over medium heat.
  • In a bowl combine flour, salt, granulated garlic, paprika, black pepper, summer savory and onion powder. Dredge chicken so that it is completely coated. Shake off excess flour. Allow to set for 15 minutes.
  • Once the oil reaches 350 degrees place chicken in the oil and cover. Fry for 7 minutes. Turn chicken, cover and fry for another seven minutes. Remove cover and fry for 2 - 3 more minutes or until golden brown. You may need to do this step in batches as to not overcrowd the pan.
  • Transfer fried chicken to a cooling rack on top of a cooking sheet. Place in the oven to keep warm while you prepare the gravy.
  • Reserve 3 tablespoons of chicken pan drippings.
  • In the same pan that you fried the chicken in, whisk together the pan drippings and flour. Cook for 1 minute over medium heat. Slowly whisk in 1 1/2 cups of milk. Add seasoning salt and pepper. Cook until gravy thickens, stirring constantly. Add more milk if desired.
  • Transfer chicken to a serving platter. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve alongside gravy.


Nutrition facts are for estimation purposes only.


Calories: 934kcalCarbohydrates: 58.2gProtein: 36.6gFat: 61.6gSaturated Fat: 6.2gCholesterol: 86mgSodium: 1458mgFiber: 2.8gSugar: 7.9g
Tried this recipe?Mention @lifesambrosia or tag #lifesambrosia!
Keywords: buttermilk, buttermilk chicken, canola oil, chicken, chicken legs, comfort food, flour, Food, fried chicken, fry, fryer chicken, frying, garlic, johnny's seasoning salt, onions, Recipe, seasoning salt, southern food

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating

  • Reply
    May 15, 2020 at 8:52 am

    5 stars
    I do love a good fried chicken recipe! I cannot wait to try yours!

  • Reply
    Haley D. Williams
    May 13, 2020 at 10:10 am

    5 stars
    I don’t know which I like more… the chicken or the gravy!

  • Reply
    Allyson Zea
    May 13, 2020 at 9:12 am

    5 stars
    This chicken looks absolutely delicious, the gravy was a hit

  • Reply
    May 12, 2020 at 11:01 pm

    5 stars
    Made this for dinner and everyone loved it. Best fried chicken ever!

  • Reply
    Dorothy Reinhold
    May 12, 2020 at 6:47 pm

    5 stars
    I really want a good comfort food dinner! This will be perfect!!

    • Reply
      May 12, 2020 at 8:18 pm

      It will!

  • Reply
    May 12, 2020 at 6:19 pm

    5 stars
    This is seriously the BEST fried chicken recipe!! So crispy and flavorful!

    • Reply
      May 12, 2020 at 8:17 pm

      Thank you! It is!

  • Reply
    Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert
    May 12, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    5 stars
    This Buttermilk Fried Chicken looks absolutely delicious! Yummy!

    • Reply
      May 12, 2020 at 8:18 pm

      It is! Thank you!

  • Reply
    Mrs. L
    August 24, 2009 at 11:00 am

    How did you know I was craving home-made fried chicken? This sounds delish!

  • Reply
    Angelia McGowan
    August 24, 2009 at 9:46 am

    That looks delicious, I have actually never made buttermilk fried chicken, always with egg instead. I always use buttermilk with catfish. Never had the milk gravy for dinner, good idea. I get stuck in my ways, and am glad to find great recipes like yours to get me unstuck!

  • Reply
    August 24, 2009 at 9:08 am

    delicious! I need to try that pan gravy dip the next time I make chicken

  • Reply
    August 22, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    My family is a huge fried chicken fan and this looks just like what they crave. Will try – grand recipe.

  • Reply
    August 22, 2009 at 6:01 am

    This looks absolutely amazing! I am craving fried chicken for breakfast!

  • Reply
    August 21, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    O-M-G! This looks and sounds so good!!!!!! If I weren’t on my diet, I would make this right this second. YUM!! I love chicken and gravy with mashed potatoes.

  • Des

    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

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