Dueling Wings, Part 1: Lemon Buttermilk Fried Chicken

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The other day, I bought a huge package of beautiful, meaty whole chicken wings. I couldn’t decide on a single recipe, so I divided the chicken in half and whipped up two different marinades. I let each batch soak overnight.

Chicken wing battle, GO!

On the white plate in golden brown, our first contender: Lemon Buttermilk Fried Chicken Wings—marinated in lemon-y buttermilk, shallow fried in olive oil til crispy, then finished in the oven ’til the juices ran clear.

On the red plate, covered in sesame seeds: Chai Ginger Hot Wings. Look for this post tomorrow.

Lemon Buttermilk Fried Chicken Wings

2 1/4 lbs. whole chicken wings
2 cups buttermilk
1 Tbls. fresh parsley
hot sauce to taste
1 large lemon
1 Tbls. kosher salt
3 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. ancho chili pepper
1 Tbls. kosher salt
1 Tbls. garlic powder
1 Tbls. dried parsley
olive oil

Lemon Buttermilk Fried Chicken: The night before

Put the wings in a gallon-sized zip-top bag.

Grab your buttermilk and measure it out.

Pour it over the chicken in the bag.

Toss in the parsley.

Add hot sauce to taste.

Take your lemon and cut it in quarters.

Squeeze the lemon quarters over the chicken. Then toss them into the bag.

Add the salt.

Mince up the garlic or put it through a garlic press. Then add it to the bag.

Seal the bag up. (Check it twice, so you don’t get covered in marinade.) With your hands, smoosh the bag around to mix up all the ingredients.

When your marinade is well combined, the contents of your bag should look about like this:

Squeeze most of the air out of the bag and seal it up well. Stick it in the fridge to marinate overnight.

Lemon Buttermilk Fried Chicken: The next day

Line a sheet pan with foil and/or parchment paper. Set it aside. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Grab another gallon-sized zip-top bag. Add the flour to it.

Toss in the ancho chili powder, kosher salt, garlic powder, and dried parsley.

This creates a seasoned flour coating for your fried chicken. If you want to substitute or add any other flavors and spices, this is the time to do it.

Seal the bag up well and give it a good shake to mix up all the ingredients. Your goal is an even flour mixture that looks about like this:

Grab the marinated chicken from the fridge.

Take each chicken wing out of the bag, let the marinade drip off it for a few seconds, then drop it into the bag of seasoned flour. The wings will still be wet. That’s just fine.

(You want enough marinade on the wings so the flour sticks to them, but not so much that there are big clumps of marinade floating around in the four by themselves.)

Repeat this until all the wings are in the bag of flour.

Seal the bag up really well. Shake it around to coat the chicken well with flour on all sides. Your coated wings should look about like this:

Lay out a few paper towels on your counter. Remove each wing from the bag, give it a little shake to knock off excess flour, and set it down on the paper towels. Repeat this til all your wings are out of the bag.

If some wings aren’t coated in flour in spots, just put them back in the bag and shake them around a little til they’re covered.

Let them sit for a few minutes while you set up your frying pan and bring the oil up to temperature.

Lemon Buttermilk Fried Chicken: Shallow fry the wings

Add about a quarter inch of olive oil to a large frying pan. I use a double burner griddle, so I can fry all my wings in one shot. If you don’t have one of these, fry the wings in batches in a smaller pan.

Turn the heat on medium-high and wait a few minutes for it to get hot.

As your oil is coming up to temperature, set your prepared sheet pan somewhere close by. When your wings are fried, you want this close so it’s easy to quickly transfer them out of the oil.

One of the tricks to making fried food that’s not greasy is to fry in oil that’s reached the proper temperature (i.e. if it’s not hot enough, your food will absorb more oil than it should, making it greasy).

One way to tell is by checking the oil’s temperature with a candy or frying thermometer. (You’d want the oil around 350 degrees.) Another is to check visually.

Because my oil here was so shallow, I opted for the visual method, since you can get a false temperature reading from a thermometer that’s accidentally touching the side or bottom of your pan.

To check if your oil is hot enough, pick up one of the chicken wings. Holding one end, carefully lower the chicken into the oil. If bubbles start to form around the chicken immediately (i.e. it starts to fry right away), it’s hot enough. If you don’t see bubbles, remove the chicken wing and wait a minute or two more, then retest.

It’s kind of hard to catch this on camera, but this oil is hot enough to fry (you can see little bubbles where the chicken meets the oil):

When your oil is hot enough, add all the chicken wings to the pan. Place them in carefully, watching for splatters. (Oil burns aren’t fun.)

The oil should immediately start to bubble up around your chicken and fry it.

Fry the wings for 3-5 minutes on this side, until they’re golden brown and crisp on the bottom. When they are, flip them over carefully with tongs.

They should look about like this:

Depending on how hot your oil is, you may need to lower the heat a little (if the oil starts to sputter wildly), or raise it (if it’s not bubbling much). Keep a good eye on it.

Depending on how large your wings are, you may need to press the wings down gently into the oil so you can fry the crook of the wing. This isn’t essential, as any parts that are less browned will finish cooking in the oven.

When the wings are brown and crisp all over, transfer them to your prepared sheet pan.

Your wings should be brown and crisp, and not at all overly greasy.

Stick the pan into your preheated oven. Cook at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or so. Your final cooking time will depend on the size of your wings. They’re done when they start to let out clear juices and are brown and crisp.

Remove your pan from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Sprinkle them with a little kosher salt now if you like.

Serve and enjoy!

And with that, our first competitor stands ready. Stay tuned for our second competitor, Chai Ginger Hot Wings, tomorrow night.

Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse�/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

Stonewall Kitchen, LLC

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. Oh, my goodness! Mouse, Mouse, MOUSE! Those wings - I'll bet the angels in heaven fly with those. They look positively celestial. All my favorite flavors on my favorite meat and then fried. It could only get better if bacon were involved.
  2. Jessie! yet another awesome hungry mouse production :P You know you should compile your recipe posts together and then do an e-book calling it something like 'the appetite of a hungry mouse' or something, because the whole walk thru process is so helpful esp for beginners like myself, so I can have a printfriendly version in front of me while i follow your guide! I wud be your first customer :)
  3. Yum, yum! Me being a Southern girl and my husband being from Buffalo, you combined the best of both worlds! I do save my bacon fat in a container, then pull it out for recipes just like these-everything's better with bacon! I might have to cook up a batch this weekend!
  4. These look delicious! I can't wait for your 2nd recipe. I don't have a deep fryer so I always avoid fried recipes, but this I think I can do! We're having a comfort food recipe contest and would love to have you enter one of your favorite recipes. Check it out at http://marxfood.com. The prize is a $250 gift certificate to http://marxfoods.com (which will buy you a lot of grub!)
  5. Now there's a Saturday-night-in-front-of-the-TV-with-a-beer type of recipe, which, as everybody knows, is the best kind. You can keep all your fancy presentation and Michelin stars - we need chicken wings, dammit! And lots of them. And beer. I could happily eat chicken wings all the time - they're vastly under-rated, and contain the tastiest meat on the bird, apart from that little oyster on the back of the chicken, which is God's gift to every cook. The big problem I have is getting hold of decent wings...the state of the British poultry trade is lamentable. We apparently demand a chicken for about £2.50 (five bucks), and therefore, the standard fare is a bit, well, not free-range and generally crappy. Getting hold of a good free-range or organic whole bird is fine, but finding a decent sized pile of proper wings is impossible.
  6. Wow. It looks great. I just did a batch of fried chicken (not only wings) using buttermilk too but I'm not posting the recipe up yet as I'm trying to figure out the measurements of the ingredients. By the way, the chicken wings look positively 'evil'!