From top chefs to Southern grandmothers, everyone has a different method and recipe for crispy fried chicken that they claim is the best. Some of these recipes advise you to add baking powder to the flour coating to give the fried chicken extra crunch. Baking powder creates very tiny air bubbles on the surface of the battered chicken when it is placed in hot oil. The bubbles expand the surface area of the batter, breaking up its thickness, which results in a lighter, crispier fried chicken.
Rinse the chicken parts under cold water and dry them thoroughly with a paper towel.
Combine flour with baking powder in a bowl. For 3 to 4 pounds of chicken parts, you'll need about a 1/2 cup of flour and 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder. Season the batter to your liking with salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. Pour the seasoned flour into a large brown paper bag.
Fill a wide bowl with buttermilk. The acid in the buttermilk will react with the baking powder in the fried chicken, which will help make make it even crispier. If you don't have buttermilk, you can add a tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to 1 cup of regular milk to create the same effect.
Fill a deep, cast-iron skillet a with about 3 inches of vegetable oil. Heat the oil to between 325 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Dip the chicken into the buttermilk one piece at a time, then place it into the bag of seasoned flour. Seal the bag and shake vigorously to thoroughly coat the chicken. You can dunk each piece of chicken back into the buttermilk for a second time, then into the flour again for a thicker coating, if you choose.
Carefully add the battered chicken into the hot oil with tongs, arranging them so that no pieces are touching one another. Adjust the heat if necessary so that the oil is bubbling gently around the chicken parts. It should not be bubbling violently, splattering oil onto you and the stove.
Allow the chicken pieces to cook until they are golden brown and crispy, turning them occasionally for even browning. Depending on the size of the pieces, it may take roughly 10 to 15 minutes per side to fully cook to 165 F, the minimum internal temperature recommended by the Food and Drug Administration for safe consumption. Insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of each chicken piece to determine the temperature.
Remove the fried chicken from the hot oil when the pieces are done with a slotted spoon and place them on a flattened paper bag to drain, or on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Serve hot.