Keto Fried Chicken

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This is the crispiest keto fried chicken you’ve ever had! Each piece of chicken is less than 2 grams of carbs and is coated in a spice mix that’s almost a KFC copycat for amazing flavor in every crispy crunchy bite!

Creating the perfect, most crispy and flavorful low carb fried chicken recipe has been a labor of love (for you and for chicken!). Most keto chicken recipes rely on almond flour, like my parmesan crusted chicken, or pork rinds like my chicken strips, or simply keto breadcrumbs. While these methods are perfect for pan frying chicken, they just don’t cut it when it comes to fried chicken.

A hand holding a fried chicken thigh.

This recipe has key ingredients like keto buttermilk, whey protein powder, baking powder, and vodka to create the crispiest coating you’ve ever had on homemade fried chicken. And don’t get me started on the seasoning mix! If you love KFC chicken, this spice mix is a close alternative, and I’ve included directions if you want a real KFC seasoning copycat.

So, get that deep fryer out of storage and put it to work for a batch of the crispiest keto fried chicken you’ve ever had!

How to make keto fried chicken

  1. Prepare chicken – For the crispiest fried chicken, use chicken thighs, breasts, legs or wings with the skin on. Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Then season all over with salt. Let the chicken sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Spice mix – This keto fried chicken recipe uses a copycat KFC spice blend. Season all sides of the salted chicken with this delicious blend of spices.
  3. Prepare buttermilk wash – Make keto buttermilk by combining heavy whipping cream with vinegar. After 30 minutes mix this will egg whites, vodka and baking powder.
  4. Keto breading – The best keto breading on fried chicken is made using protein powder mixed with baking powder. This creates flaky layers of crust on the outside of the juicy chicken.
  5. Dip & dredge – Dip a piece of seasoned chicken into the buttermilk wash. Then transfer to a plate with the breading mixture. Press the breading into the chicken to evenly coat.
  6. Immediately fry the coated chicken in a hot oil heated to 350 degrees. Let fry for 12-15 minutes.

Crunchy fried chicken stacked on each other with greens in the background.

Key ingredients & substitution suggestions

To make fried chicken you can use any cut of chicken – chicken thighs, wings, chicken breast or drumsticks. Ideally you want the skin on for the crispiest chicken. It’s up to you if you want boneless or bone-in chicken.

For the Seasoning

This seasoning blend is a KFC secret spice copycat without white pepper or basil. If you want to include these spices, add 2 tablespoons of white pepper and 1 teaspoon of basil to the mix.

  • Seasoning mix – kosher salt, smoked paprika, garlic salt, ground ginger, black pepper, ground mustard, dried thyme, celery seed, dried oregano

The Buttermilk Wash

Making a keto-friendly buttermilk wash creates a thick paste that helps the breading stick to the fried chicken.

  • Heavy whipping cream – Heavy cream is higher in fat and lower in carbs than traditional buttermilk, making it a better choice for a keto diet.
  • White vinegar – Vinegar mixed with heavy cream will help to slightly curdle the cream, making a keto-friendly buttermilk.
  • Egg whites – Egg whites are preferred over a whole egg wash because the fat in the whole egg can give too much moisture which might cause the crust to not be as crunchy.
  • Neutral Spirit – Using a neutral flavored distilled alcohol like vodka helps to create flaky layers of breading.


  • Whey protein powder – Use unflavored whey protein powder. It’s zero carbs (unlike all-purpose flour, which is usually used for fried chicken) and sticks onto the chicken throughout the entire frying process for an extra crispy coating.
  • Baking powder – The addition of baking powder will help the skin get extra crispy as it helps to quickly dry the skin as it fries.
  • Extra seasoning mix

Keto Fried Chicken Recipe Video

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Keto Fried Chicken Seasoning Ingredients

  • 8 pieces skin-on chicken thighs or drumsticks
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Buttermilk Wash Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 2 eggs whites
  • 2 tablespoons vodka, optional
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

Keto Breading Ingredients

Keto Fried Chicken Directions

  • Keto Fried Chicken
  • A hand holding a crunchy piece of fried chicken.

    Expert tips & tricks

    • If refrigerating the chicken over night, allow it to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before frying.
    • Work with only enough chicken at a time that will fit in your fry pot. This will ensure the entire surface forms a crunchy crust.
    • Tap off any excess of buttermilk wash before adding the breading.
    • Fry your chicken immediately after coating. If you let the chicken sit with the protein powder coating, it will start to absorb moisture from the buttermilk wash and get too mushy.
    • Gentle pat the breading mixture into the chicken to make sure it sticks to the buttermilk wash.
    • Don’t overcrowd your fry bath. If the chicken is bumping against each other, it may knock off pieces of breading.
    Fried breaded chicken on a plate with crumbs and parsley scattered around.

    Tips for extra crispy chicken

    Use buttermilk

    Buttermilk changes the way the fatty skin responds to hot oil, making it really crispy. Regular milk, just eggs, or water won’t give you the same level of crispiness. Buttermilk is often used to brine the chicken in order to make it tender and juicy.

    Egg whites instead of whole eggs

    The fat in the yolk of a whole egg can add moisture to the wash, making the coating not as crispy. Skip the yolks and just use the whites.

    Don’t skip the vodka

    While vodka is technically optional, it helps coat the crust and form flakey layers in the coating. Don’t worry about it making you drunk, the alcohol will evaporate off from the high temperature. If you don’t have vodka, any neutral spirit will work.

    Baking powder or baking soda

    For this recipe, either will work since the buttermilk acts as an acid, which would help activate baking soda. I like using baking powder as it adds a bit more puffiness to the coating and increases the browning/crispiness effect.

    Best cuts of chicken to fry

    This technique and the timing applies to chicken thighs, legs, wings.

    You can deep fry chicken breasts, but they will take much longer to fry since they are thicker.

    Whatever chicken you decide to deep fry, you can choose either bone-in or boneless, but make sure the skin is on.

    How to remove the thigh bone

    While you don’t have to remove the bone from chicken thighs, doing so will help them cook faster and more evenly.

    1. With the skin side down, feel for the center bone and cut through the meat to reveal the bone (but not all the way through to the other side of the thigh) with sharp kitchen scissors or a paring knife. Slide the knife down the length of the bone.
    2. Snip or cut the cartilage at the top and bottom of the bone, then run a knife along the bottom side of the bone to remove it from the meat.
    3. Gently remove the bone from the meat with your fingers.
    A bunch of fried pieces of chicken on a plate with parsley behind the pile.

    Other keto breading options

    While these options taste great, they don’t always stay on very well during the frying process. Watch my experiment to see what I mean!

    These other keto breading options work better for pan frying things like chicken schnitzel or chicken strips. While deep frying, the oil tends to peel the breading off instead of sticking to the chicken like this recipe does.

    Storage and reheating leftover chicken

    Store leftover fried chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-5 days.

    To reheat, air fry for 2-3 minutes and the chicken will crisp up again.

    Keto Fried Chicken: FAQS

    How long to cook fried chicken?

    Chicken thighs, wings, or legs will take between 12-15 minutes to cook in the deep fryer.

    What’s the best kind of oil for frying chicken?

    Avocado, canola, peanut, or sunflower oil are all good choices for deep frying chicken as these oils have a high smoke point.

    Can you reuse the oil from deep fried chicken?

    Oil from deep fried chicken can be reused up to 3-4 times if strained through a mesh strainer with cheesecloth before being stored at room temperature.

    Nutritional information & Macros

    Nutrition Information

    Keto Fried Chicken

    Servings: 8

    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 417
    Fat 26.6g
    Protein 40.7g
    Total Carbs 3g
    Net Carbs 1.9g

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