Really memorable fried chicken -- the kind that is moist enough to drip down your chin and crunchy enough that you can hear it from across the room -- builds its flavor in layers. The oil and frying temperature are crucial, the chicken itself must be of high quality and a brine acts as a tenderizer, but the spices you add to your dredging flour make the fried chicken your own creation.
Keeping It Simple
There is no rule that says you must add some elaborate mix of spices to your flour before coating your chicken. There will always be that "11 herbs and spices" story to try to emulate, but simple salt and fresh ground pepper also work just fine. Sometimes, simple is the way to go, and if you want to taste only that crispy coating with a little flavor enhancement, stick with salt and pepper. Of course, several other herbs and spices can also stand up to the heat of the oil if you're feeling adventurous.
Spicing It Up
With so many spicy variations of common foods and sauces out there, it's plain to see that a lot of people like it hot. To spice up your fried chicken flour mixture, cayenne pepper is a good choice. Add some paprika to the flour for more flavor and a reddish tinge to the coating. You will have to experiment a little with the amount of cayenne you use to find the right level of heat for your palate.
Garlic is one of those flavors that some people turn their nose up at and others can't get enough of. If you're in the latter group, you can make your fried chicken flour as garlicky as you like by adding garlic powder or garlic salt to the mix. Keep in mind that garlic salt is quite salty, so if you want to avoid the chicken tasting too salty, use garlic powder and salt it separately to taste. You can also add some onion powder and mustard powder to this one for even more flavor.
The Italian herbs work well as part of a fried chicken coating, so if you'd like to try an Italian version, add dried oregano, basil and thyme to your flour. Finding just the right balance may be a challenge, so use the dried spice mixture called "Italian seasoning" if you aren't sure. Dried parsley flakes can also go in to round out the taste. For this flour mixture, as with all of them, mix the herbs and spices in with the flour so they are evenly distributed before coating the chicken.