Three pieces of buttermilk lemonade fried chicken garnished with whole basil leaves sit on a white plate

Chef Chris Scott's Buttermilk Lemonade Fried Chicken

The "Top Chef" season 15 finalist shares his professional preparation of fried chicken with Epicurious.

In its 4 Levels video series, Epicurious pits professional ICE chefs against amateur and home cooks with a final analysis from a food scientist. In this episode, Chef Chris Scott demonstrates his twist on an old-fashioned Southern sweet tea brine — using lemonade.

When it comes to fried chicken, Chef Chris leaves the bones inside a chicken for juiciness and breaks the bird down into eight pieces. He uses a vacuum seal bag for his brine, removes excess air to compress the flavor of the brine into the meat and refrigerates the bag for four hours.

He uses a buttermilk bath to tenderize the meat, "massaging that juicy buttermilk goodness into it," and dredges the bird with all-purpose flour, cornmeal for an extra crunch, cornstarch and baking powder.

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Chef Chris' pro tips:

  • When breaking down a whole bird, put the breast in the oil first since it takes the longest to cook
  • Get the internal cooking temperature of the chicken to 165˚F
  • Use sea salt, lemon and a microplane for one more layer of flavor

Watch the video to see Chef Chris demo his lemony, crunchy, flavorful approach to fried chicken, and get the full recipe below.

Related Read: Korean-Style Chicken Wings


Buttermilk Lemonade Fried Chicken


  • 12 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup dry granulated garlic
  • 1/4 cup onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup hot sauce
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch


  1. Combine the first 9 ingredients, minus the chicken, in a bowl. Whisk together until combined. Divide drumsticks in plastic bags and cover with liquid. Vacuum seal and let marinade for at least an hour, up to 4 hours.
  2. After the time in the vacuum bags, remove drumsticks from plastic bag and place in clean container. Cover with buttermilk and let sit for 1 hour.
  3. In a baking dish, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and cornmeal. Remove the drumsticks from the buttermilk and dredge in the dry mix. Fill deep fryer with oil and heat to 325 F. Carefully add the drumsticks, cooking in batches as to not overcrowd the fryer. Fry the drumsticks until cooked through and crispy, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest point registers at 165 F. About 12 minutes.

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