Spicy Sumac Fried Chicken Recipe

Nothing beats fried chicken when you are craving some hot and satisfying comfort food. Juicy, crunchy, and aromatic, fried chicken is an all time winner which is bound to satisfy just about everyone. So if you are wanting to treat your family, friends, or even just yourself to some southern style comfort cooking, read on to grab all the tricks and tips for making your own fried chicken.

If one has never made fried chicken before, the thought of getting the batter right and the chicken cooked through, can be kind of daunting. But! Don’t be put off, because if done right, fried chicken is actually a relatively easy dish to make.

The two key components to making fried chicken are, as listed above, the batter and the cook on the chicken. Overcook the chicken pieces, and they will taste overdone and can even be dry, despite the deep frying. Undercook the chicken, and you will end up with raw meat on the bone, and be forced to re-cook the chicken. Not fun!

The way to nail the cook on the chicken pieces is to use a cooking thermometer to measure the temperature of the oil. When the chicken goes in to cook, the hot oil needs to be at 350°F. While the chicken is cooking, you need to keep the temps between 325°F and 335°F. If you cook the chicken pieces at this temperature for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown, they will be cooked right through. To add a further level of accuracy, you can also use a meat thermometer to measure the temperature inside the chicken when you take the pieces out. It should be at 165°F.

As far as the batter is concerned, there are a multitude of tricks and tips and best practices out there, and batter recipes can vary widely. In this batter we are going with a simple mix of egg whites and buttermilk. This gives a light batter, which crispens up really easily. To make the batter even more fail proof, it includes 2 tablespoons of vodka. Thanks to its high alcohol content, the vodka will evaporate out of the batter almost immediately, to give that uber crispy crust that makes fried chicken so delicious.

If you do not have buttermilk on hand, but want to make this recipe right away, here is a quick hack that you can use to make buttermilk in 5 seconds flat. Take 1 cup of milk, and add 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Stir through and you should begin to see the milk thickening. And voila! Instant buttermilk.

On the flavor side of things, mixed into the flour is a range of spices, including cayenne pepper and sumac. The sumac gives the fried chicken a slight tartness, which makes for great balance in the flavor profile. And the cayenne adds just enough heat to enhance the fried chicken. If you are very sensitive to heat, you can leave out the cayenne pepper. However hot sauce and chilli is a time honoured component of fried chicken, so if you are partial to a bit of heat, definitely leave it in the recipe.

To top things off, the batter also contains powdered bay leaves. Bay leaves compliment almost any meat dish, and add umami. To incorporate them into the batter and flour mix, you will need to powderize them in an electric coffee grinder. If you do not have bay leaves, or an electric coffee grinder, you can choose to omit these. However,if possible, include them, because they definitely add a wow factor in the flavor.

The recipe also calls for equals amounts of regular salt and celery salt. Celery salt contains celery extract, which is another umami building flavor. Kind of like natural msg. It enhances almost anything it touches, and this definitely holds true for this here fried chicken. If however you do no have celery salt on hand, you can substitute in regular salt. However, make sure that you substitute in only ½ a tablespoon of regular salt, and not the full 2 tablespoons of celery salt that you are taking out. Why? Because celery salt comprises of a fair amount of dried celery extract, and is much less salty than regular salt.

Before we start, a quick heads up on prepping. If you are going to be tight on time right around about when you will be frying and serving the chicken, you can prep beforehand to cut down on active cooking time. Do so by completing the recipe steps up to step five. This way you will spice the chicken, and make the flour and batter mix ahead of time. When it comes to cooking, all you will need to do is coat the chicken pieces, deep fry, and serve.

Are you ready to get started? If so, let’s jump in to the recipe.

Spicy Sumac Fried Chicken

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds assorted chicken pieces
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoon celery salt (if you sub in for regular salt use ½ tablespoon
  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoons white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons sumac
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons powdered bay leaves
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons vodka
  • 1 litre sunflower seed oil or vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. First up assemble all of your ingredients, separating the egg whites. In order to get everything ready you will most probably have to grind up some bay leaves, if you do not have any bay leaf powder on hand. An electric coffee grinder works best for this. Also, if you do not any buttermilk, you can use the instant buttermilk hack that I mentioned above. Simply add 3 tablespoons vinegar to 1 cup of milk and give it a stir. Once all of your ingredients are setup, you will be ready to go.
  2. In a bowl, mix together all of the seasoning ingredients. This includes the salt, celery salt, paprika, pepper, sumac, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, thyme, oregano and powdered bay leaves.
  3. Once your spice mix is ready, lay the assorted chicken pieces on a baking sheet. Sprinkle them with approximately ¼ of the spice mix, then turn them over and sprinkle the other sides with another ¼ of the spice mix. This way you will use up approximately ½ of the spice mix, and the remaining amount will go into the flour mix. If you use a little more or a little less than half, no stress. It will all end up together in the end and taste great! Once you have spiced the chicken pieces, set them aside for about 15 minutes.
  4. While the spiced chicken pieces are resting, in a large bowl combine the leftover spice mix, the flour and the cornstarch. Set aside.
  5. In another bowl, combine the separated egg yolks, the cup of buttermilk, and the 2 tablespoons of vodka. Whisk together briefly.
  6. At this point you can start heating up the oil for deep frying the chicken. Place a large pot or dutch oven onto the stove, and pour in about 1 litre of sunflower seed oil or vegetable oil. Before you start deep frying, the temperature of the oil will need to get up to 350°F (measure this using a candy or cooking thermometer). This will take about 15 minutes. During this time you can batter and flour the chicken pieces.
  7. Place a clean plate, the flour and spice mix, and the egg and buttermilk mix side by side, and you are ready to start battering. Simply dunk each piece of chicken in the egg whites and buttermilk, and then roll it in the flour. Repeat until all the chicken pieces have been battered.
  8. Once the oil has reached 350°F, you can begin frying. Using a pair of tongs, carefully place half of the chicken pieces into the hot oil. The other half will wait their turn to be cooked, otherwise the pot will most probably be too crowded.
  9. Fry the chicken pieces until the batter turns a golden brown color, or until an inserted meat thermometer reads 165°F. This should take about 12 minutes. During this time keep the heat of the oil between 325°F and 335°F. Turn the chicken pieces every two minutes or so to make sure that they cook evenly. Once the chicken pieces are done, remove and place on a wire rack. Replace with the remaining chicken pieces and fry those in the same way.
  10. Serve hot, while the battered exterior is nice and crispy!

Notes: Try not to cover the fried chicken between cooking and serving. This will cause condensation and make the crispy battered exterior go soft. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the oven, on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet.

STEP ONE – ASSEMBLE ALL INGREDIENTS


First up assemble all of your ingredients, separating the egg whites. In order to get everything ready you will most probably have to grind up some bay leaves, if you do not have any bay leaf powder on hand. An electric coffee grinder works best for this. Also, if you do not have buttermilk, you can use the instant buttermilk hack that I mentioned above. Simply add 3 tablespoons vinegar to 1 cup of milk and give it a stir. Once all of your ingredients are setup, you will be ready to go.

STEP TWO – MIX TOGETHER ALL SEASONING INGREDIENTS


In a bowl, mix together all of the seasoning ingredients. This includes the salt, celery salt, paprika, pepper, sumac, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, thyme, oregano and powdered bay leaves.

STEP THREE – SPICE THE CHICKEN


Once your spice mix is ready, lay the assorted chicken pieces on a baking sheet. Sprinkle them with approximately ¼ of the spice mix, then turn them over and sprinkle the other sides with another ¼ of the spice mix. This way you will use up approximately ½ of the spice mix, and the remaining amount will go into the flour mix. If you use a little more or a little less than half, no stress. It will all end up together in the end and taste great! Once you have spiced the chicken pieces, set them aside for about 15 minutes.

STEP FOUR – COMBINE THE SPICES, FLOUR AND CORNSTARCH


While the spiced chicken pieces are resting, in a large bowl combine the leftover spice mix, the flour and the cornstarch. Set aside.

STEP FIVE – MIX THE BATTER


In another bowl, combine the separated egg yolks, the cup of buttermilk, and the 2 tablespoons of vodka. Whisk together briefly.

STEP SIX – HEAT THE OIL TO 350°F


At this point you can start heating up the oil for deep frying the chicken. Place a large pot or dutch oven onto the stove, and pour in about 1 litre of sunflower seed oil or vegetable oil. Before you start deep frying, the temperature of the oil will need to get up to 350°F (measure this using a candy or cooking thermometer). This will take about 15 minutes. During this time you can batter and flour the chicken pieces.

STEP SEVEN – BATTER AND FLOUR THE CHICKEN PIECES


Place a clean plate, the flour and spice mix, and the egg and buttermilk mix side by side, and you are ready to start battering. Simply dunk each piece of chicken in the egg whites and buttermilk, and then roll it in the flour. Repeat until all the chicken pieces have been battered.

STEP EIGHT – DEEP FRY THE CHICKEN PIECES


Once the oil has reached 350°F, you can begin frying. Using a pair of tongs, carefully place half of the chicken pieces into the hot oil. The other half will wait their turn to be cooked, otherwise the pot will most probably be too crowded.

STEP NINE – FRY UNTIL GOLDEN BROWN

Fry the chicken pieces until the batter turns a golden brown color, or until an inserted meat thermometer reads 165°F. This should take about 12 minutes. During this time keep the heat of the oil between 325°F and 335°F. Turn the chicken pieces every two minutes or so to make sure that they cook evenly. Once the chicken pieces are done, remove and place on a wire rack. Replace with the remaining chicken pieces and fry those in the same way.

STEP TEN – SERVE!

Serve hot, while the battered exterior is nice and crispy!

Fried chicken can be served at almost any time of the year. Summer weather and fried chicken go together like peas and pods, but cold weather can be a great time to enjoy some aromatic fried chicken as well.

For serving options, some great sides to serve along with fried chicken are dishes like coleslaw, potato salad, pasta salads, fries (of course!), steamed vegetables and green salads.

Do you have a favorite time of year to eat fried chicken? And what are some of your favorite side pairings? Let us know in the comments, we love hearing from you.