I tried fried-chicken recipes from Guy Fieri, Ina Garten, and Alton Brown, and the best called for pickle juice and hot sauce

I tried fried-chicken recipes from Guy Fieri, Ina Garten, and Alton Brown, and the best called for pickle juice and hot sauce
  • I tried fried-chicken recipes from chefs Alton Brown, Ina Garten, and Guy Fieri.

  • Garten's recipe took the longest to prep, and Brown's added a bit of paprika for a kick.

  • I was most impressed by the strong flavors in Fieri's fried-chicken recipe.

It feels like fast food just keeps getting more expensive, so I've made it my mission to find delicious and easy recipes for my favorite comfort foods.

Next up: fried chicken. To start, I tried three fried-chicken recipes from Ina Garten, Alton Brown, and Guy Fieri to see which would be my new go-to.

Here's how the recipes stacked up.

Garten’s ingredient list was the shortest.

buttermilk, oil, flour, salt, and pepper on a wooden surface
Ina Garten's ingredients were very simple. Meredith Schneider

Although Garten's chicken recipe had the longest prep time (thanks to a buttermilk soak and two-step frying process), it had the simplest ingredient list.

I just needed chicken, buttermilk, salt, pepper, and oil for frying.

I bathed the chicken in buttermilk overnight.

raw chicken sitting in a bowl of buttermilk
I had to start the prep for this chicken the day before. Meredith Schneider

I cut two chickens into eight pieces as instructed, but if you're not up for dismembering a chicken, you can also purchase chicken breasts, drumsticks, thighs, or other cuts.

Because I needed to soak the cut chicken in buttermilk, I started this recipe the day before I planned to eat it.

I placed the chicken in a dish, covered it in buttermilk, sealed the container, and placed it in the fridge overnight.

The flour mix for the breading was easy to prep.

bowl of flour on a wooden surface
The flour mixture is just flour, salt, and pepper. Meredith Schneider

After removing the dish from my fridge the next day, I combined flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl.

One by one, I took each piece of chicken out of the buttermilk and coated it in the simple flour mixture.

Frying took two steps.

chicken frying in a pan of hot oil
I fried the chicken in oil and then baked it. Meredith Schneider

Next, I added oil to the bottom of a frying pan and set it to 360 degrees.

I gently placed each piece of prepped chicken in the frying pan for three minutes on each side before moving them to a metal rack on a sheet pan.

The frying process finished in the oven, so I set mine to 350 degrees and left the chicken in for 30 or 40 minutes.

I think Garten’s chicken is best suited for large groups.

three big pieces of fried chicken on a plate
I think Ina Garten's chicken would be better with sauce. Meredith Schneider

Garten's recipe is a good option for big groups. The flavor is muted — read: less polarizing — and it's a great base for a variety of sauces.

It was also pretty easy to make since most of the recipe time was spent waiting for the buttermilk to soak.

Right away, Brown’s recipe was more involved.

ingredients for fried chicken on a wooden surface
Alton Brown adds some spices to his flour mixture. Meredith Schneider

Brown kicks up the spice with his chicken.

His ingredients include everything in Garten's recipe (except the ground black pepper), but he adds paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper to the dredging mixture.

I also had to soak this chicken in buttermilk.

chicken in buttermilk next to a pan of flour near a deep fryer
I set up an assembly line to dredge and fry the chicken. Meredith Schneider

Like Garten's recipe, Brown also called for a buttermilk soak.

His instructions said to put the chicken pieces in a container, fill it with buttermilk, cover it, and refrigerate it for 12 to 24 hours.

Since I prepped both recipes together, I soaked mine overnight with Garten's for around 12 hours.

Brown's recipe had a two-step dredging process.

bowl of flour on a wooden surface
The flour mixture had extra ingredients, but it pretty much looked the same. Meredith Schneider

After removing the dish from the fridge, I drain the buttermilk using a colander.

As it drained, I combined the spices in a separate bowl.

To dredge the chicken, I first seasoned it with the spice mixture and then coated it in a layer of flour.

I fried the dredged chicken on the stovetop.

three pieces of chicken frying in a pan of hot oil
Alton Brown just fries his chicken until it's fully cooked. Meredith Schneider

I added oil to a pan and raised the heat to 325 degrees.

Then I simply fried the chicken in small batches, cooking each piece until golden brown. This took about 10 to 12 minutes per side.

The end result had a satisfyingly crisp exterior.

three pieces of crispy fried chicken on a plate
The chicken was super crispy. Meredith Schneider

Brown's breading was a bit crispier, and the meat was equally moist as Garten's.

The buttermilk flavor was more noticeable here, which surprised me since I drained it before dredging the chicken.

Fieri’s recipe had the most ingredients.

ingredients for guy fieri's fried chicken on a wooden surface
Guy Fieri called for some interesting ingredients. Meredith Schneider

Fieri's fried-chicken recipe is kicked up a notch with dill salt — and was, admittedly, far more involved than the other two.

In addition to the chicken, his ingredients included buttermilk, pickle juice, hot sauce, fresh dill, garlic, onion powder, black pepper, flour, cornmeal, paprika, mustard powder, and oil.

But it took less time to prep.

chicken in a buttermilk bath with spices
I added some spices to the buttermilk. Meredith Schneider

Unlike the other recipes, Fieri said to add the sauces and spices to the buttermilk and refrigerate everything for two to four hours.

It turned the buttermilk into a sort of brine for the chicken, which was intensified by the added pickle juice and hot sauce.

I had to let the chicken rest a bit before frying.

bowl of flour on a wooden surface
Guy Fieri's flour mixture was the most involved. Meredith Schneider

Once the chicken was properly brined, I combined more onion powder, garlic, and black pepper with paprika, cornmeal, mustard powder, and flour in a bowl.

I dredged the chicken in the flour mixture, but then I had to let it set and rest for 20 to 30 minutes before frying.

Like Brown, Fieri called for a simple stovetop fry.

chicken frying in a pan of hot oil
After frying, I still had to add the dill salt. Meredith Schneider

When my oil was heated to 350 degrees in my skillet, I fried the chicken pieces for about seven to eight minutes per side.

Once everything was fried, I sprinkled each piece with dill salt I made from fresh dill, salt, and pepper.

Fieri's chicken had the “wow factor" when it came to flavor.

pieces of seasoned fried chicken on a plate
I was blown away by Guy Fieri's chicken. Meredith Schneider

Fieri isn't known as the Mayor of Flavortown for nothing. The pickle flavor and dill topping really made his chicken pop.

Allowing the flour mixture to set before frying also made the breading extra textured and crunchy.

Because the prep time was shorter, Fieri's recipe is also great if you're in a pinch.

All three recipes were tasty, but Fieri’s flavors won me over.

three plates of fried chicken on a diagonal
I can't wait to make Guy Fieri's chicken again. Meredith Schneider

I think double- or triple-dredging would've boosted the texture for all three recipes. But that didn't detract from the fact that each piece of chicken I made was juicy and tender.

Garten and Brown's recipes were very good, but they were a little less dynamic for the taste buds.

Fieri's dynamic chicken had a unique boost of flavor that tasted more like something I'd order out. It was the clear favorite and will be a new staple in my kitchen.

Click to check out the other celebrity-chef recipes we've put head-to-head so far.

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