Ad Hoc Fried Chicken Recipe!

by arnold on September 27, 2007

When I heard that Ad Hoc’s lemon-brined fried chicken recipe was in Food & Wine magazine, I got extremely excited. Normally, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of making this because I’d rather go to Ad Hoc (picture below) and spare myself the work, but I just had to see if I could pull this off.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Excerpt from Entertaining Napa Style in Food & Wine magazine:

To make this juicy and delectably crisp chicken, Thomas Keller soaks it in a lemony brine, then coats and fries it. The chicken, which is served every other Monday at Ad Hoc, is one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant. “Since Fried Chicken Night only happens twice a month,” Keller says, “people have a wonderful sense of anticipation.”

UPDATE (2/25/08)
I’ve had the chance to make this fried chicken a lot in the last few months and have basically finalized it for myself in the updated recipe below. I’ve included a sous vide step, an updated ingredient list and double dredging. If you want to see the original recipe, see the link to Food & Wine magazine above.


16 chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (I prefer dark meat, substitute as desired)
Cooking oil for frying (peanut if you have it.)
Rosemary and thyme sprigs, for garnish

1 gallon cold water
1 cup plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons honey
12 bay leaves
1 head of garlic, smashed but not peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
3 large rosemary sprigs
1 small bunch of thyme
1 small bunch of parsley
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk


  1. In a very large pot, combine 1 quart of the water with 1 cup of the salt and the honey, bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Add the lemon zest and juice and the lemon halves and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Let cool completely, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts of cold water. Add the chickens, being sure they’re completely submerged, and refrigerate overnight.

    Lemony Brine
  2. Drain and rinse the chicken pieces and pat dry. Make sure the chicken is really dry and that you scrape off any herbs or peppercorns stuck to the skin.
  3. If you want to sous vide the chicken before frying, add two to three pieces of chicken to each Foodsaver bag, then vacuum and seal the bags. Place the chicken at 140F/60C water bath for at least 1 hour. Otherwise, skip to step 5.
  4. Remove the chicken pieces from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure chicken is very dry.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, ground black pepper and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Put the buttermilk in a large, shallow bowl. Working with a few pieces at a time, dip the chicken in the buttermilk, then dredge in the flour mixture, pressing so it adheres all over. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet lined with wax paper or use a wire rack. Let sit for 20 minutes and then redredge the chicken in buttermilk and flour before frying.

    The Dredge
  6. In a very large pot or dutch oven, heat oil to 360F. Use enough oil to deep fry the chicken. If you want, you can also pan fry the chicken, as seen below. Fry the chicken in 2 or 3 batches until golden and crunchy and the internal temperature is 160F/60C (about 20 minutes).

    Note: If you cooked the chicken sous vide, you can really just trust your judgement and fry until you’re statisfied with the color of the crust since the chicken is already cooked.

    Turn the chicken once
  7. Transfer the chicken to cooling rack to drain, and keep warm in a low oven (175–200F) while you fry the remaining chicken pieces. Transfer the fried chicken to a platter, garnish with the herb sprigs and serve hot or at room temperature.

    Ad Hoc's Fried Chicken


  • Cooking the chicken sous vide ensures that it’s moist and tender.
  • 140F/60C may seem like a low temp for the chicken (160F/71.1C is considered “safe”), but the internal temperature of the chicken will rise when it’s being fried.


  • Chicken should be at room temperature when you’re ready to cook.
  • You can add herbs (rosemary, thyme, etc.) to the oil as it’s heating to infuse it with flavor and then use the same herbs as a garnish.
  • This fried chicken is great the next day, cold and straight out of the refrigerator.
  • See comments below for more tips…some come straight from the source!

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Theda September 28, 2007 at 1:33 pm

Thank you for posting this recipe! We LOVE fried chicken!


Steph September 30, 2007 at 7:42 pm

my heart just lept


Steph September 30, 2007 at 7:44 pm

and wept


lainie September 30, 2007 at 9:15 pm


that looks amazing!!

damn, you don’t play! :)


Stacey November 20, 2007 at 11:57 am

Just made the trek from Palo Alto to Yountville last nite for this fried chicken. TOTALLY worth it! My friends and I planned to try to re-create this chicken and you’ve saved us ALOT of work!!! One comment…it appeared the rosemary and thyme garnish was fried also. Think it added a special something. Everything is better fried, isn’t it? =D



JT February 25, 2008 at 2:31 pm

I add rosemary and thyme to the oil before it heats up, to infuse the oil, and then remove the herbs and use as garnish.


JT February 25, 2008 at 3:59 pm

Also, use a ziplock for the flour. less mess. shake and coat the chicken in the bag.

Reply March 3, 2008 at 9:48 pm

Hints and Tips..

Salt and Pepper is a STAPLE for the flour mixture

Fully Submerge the chicken in the oil when frying…

If you have the extra scratch to spend then I highly recommend using PEANUT OIL.

Let the chicken stand at room temperature on a baking rack for 20 minutes before serving…



Arnold March 3, 2008 at 9:53 pm

Thanks, blogthebacon…it’s always great to get tips from the source!


DKY April 19, 2008 at 11:12 am

It’s not just what the recipe here says, because one wonders, “How can Thomas Keller make friend chicken better?” Well, Ad Hoc pre-treats the quality chicken before doing anything, including partially deboning, and removing all/most of the cartilage, etc. so it’s easier to eat. This extra work might be fun to try at home. It is by-far the best fried chicken one can have on Earth.


lucy May 13, 2008 at 9:58 pm

Does halfing the ingredients work? I’d like to make this for a smaller number of people (using smaller pots!) :-) Thanks for these tips. This is great!


Arnold May 13, 2008 at 11:46 pm

@lucy: For something like this, halving should work, but why not make a full batch? Fried chicken is always good cold the next day. :-)


jf whiteside June 18, 2008 at 6:38 pm

try altering this recipe cos the keller group ALWAYS tweaks their recipes (for some reason they insist they dont, but ive eaten there enough and my brother used to work there).

heres another huge tip:


even in his books keller will “translate” his techniques for the home kitchen. this means


AFTER EACH BATCH BRING OIL BACK UP TO TEMPERATURE. THIS IS SO CRUCIAL IM USING CAPS. ok i’ll stop now, but this is the trick that gets your chicken right. you always want your oil to be clean and up to temp for each new batch of bird. or else it dont work. it just doesnt. use a candy/oil thermometer to measure heat



Veron August 4, 2008 at 11:58 am

I just made this chicken this past weekend from the Bon Appetit recipe which may be the same as the on in Food and wine. My chicken came out darker than what you have in the picture but it was delicious!


fred September 22, 2008 at 6:19 pm

try adding a little sage


Oliver September 23, 2008 at 1:19 am

Just wanted to make a correction to the recipe since you enjoy it so much.

The brine does not have any rosemary in it, and I would recommend putting everything in cheese-clothe since peppercorns can hide under the skin, and there not fun to bite into.

And in the dry batter has equal parts cayenne to paprika in it, At least at the restaurant.

Great site BTW.


SF_jeff October 1, 2008 at 11:44 pm

1) is there any harm in brining for 2 nites? I prepped the brine and chicken too early. not sure if i should remove and store dry or leave in brine.
2) has anyone tried baking instead of frying?
thx – I’m so excited to try this out!


Arnold October 2, 2008 at 12:07 am

@SF_jeff: I’d remove it from the brine. If you brine for more than a day, the chicken will end up mushy.

good luck!


SF_jeff October 5, 2008 at 2:53 pm

thanks arnold! I made the chicken twice this week. A suggestion: 1)1st try: i followed the recipe exactly – the batter turned out to have a very strong onion taste. 2)2nd try: i added another cup of flour and increased the paprika and cayenne pepper by 1 tbsp each and the batter was more balanced with less onion taste.


Jeff October 13, 2008 at 8:50 pm

good recipe. tested it out, came out great! the sous vide step is a MUST. and you should dry them out on racks (not paper towels).


fried chicken lover October 17, 2008 at 1:43 am

i made the fried chicken recipe version from food and wine and it was delish. chicken was juicy, flavorful and tender. although i found it to be a tad too salty so i will use a little less salt next time in the flour mixture. i will also try this version which is very similar.


SF_jeff December 21, 2008 at 3:02 am

hi arnold

love this recipe. I’m now seeking a healthier version. any thoughts on

1)boiling the chicken to fully cook first, then dredging and frying for a shorter period

2)removing the skin before dredging



easy recipes December 30, 2008 at 8:05 am

I just tried your recipe today and it was really tasty! :)


JT January 15, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Fried Chicken is not meant to be healthy…just saying.


David July 6, 2009 at 5:18 am

Was playing with this recipe a few times this month. In the brine I used buttermilk instead of water. Chicken came out fantastic! Adds another layer of flavor.


katiek @kitchensidecar July 9, 2009 at 12:44 pm

I really want to make fried chicken… even before this recipe was published. These look like great instructions.

I have this uber rich whole milk buttermilk that is hungarian or bulgarian (?). I wonder if that is just too much…


Geoffrey Scowcroft July 10, 2009 at 11:13 am

Not to appear the Philistine, but can this recipe be cooked in a deep fat fryer?


Arnold July 10, 2009 at 11:25 am

Geoffrey, I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’ll probably be easier to maintain frying temp, as well.


Ross H. July 18, 2009 at 7:40 pm

“ [is a]…surprisingly good food blog” – Julia Reed, Newsweek, 20 July 2009


peter j August 2, 2009 at 5:36 pm

We just got done with dinner. Best fried chix we ever had!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


jan e September 10, 2009 at 3:07 pm

I just picked up a “Time” magazine at the Dr’s office. Great article called “Heaven, Fried”. Of course, the article is on Fried Chicken. That’s how I found your website. Great advertising for Inuyaki.


Chris October 22, 2009 at 1:14 pm

I like Stephanieâ??s Salt Seasonings on my chicken, it is all natural and all purpose with no anti-caking agents, fillers, sugar or MSG. It has a great taste unlike any other seasoned salt. Here is the website: Try it, you will like it.


Morrison December 1, 2009 at 3:29 am

So glad to see this, I am soooo happy.BTW, your blog is cool,I just feed your blog…So, how is the weather,lol…:)


sygyzy January 15, 2010 at 1:05 pm

In your pictures, the fried chicken looks really bready, probably due to the
double dredge. Do you think this tastes better than the single dredge?


Arnold January 15, 2010 at 1:52 pm

@sygyzy: I haven’t done a single dredge but I do like my fried chicken with a lot of breading.


Apici poster February 18, 2010 at 11:25 am

Congratulations for an unpretentious but serious site. ‘Just ran into it and was impressed by your clear, down to earth, interesting approach to a subject and/or discipline that has unfortunately become as commercialized and marketized as sex or politics. I find that you approach love for good eating and cooking the way I would if I had your obvious talent. Good show!! Carry .


Robbin Corlee March 10, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Hi webmaster – This is by far the best looking site I’ve seen. It was completely easy to navigate and it was easy to look for the information I needed. Fantastic layout and great content! Every site should have that. Awesome job


Jaime April 16, 2010 at 12:26 pm

My fiance and I went to Ad Hoc and bought the cookbook, and we’re making the fried chicken today – but I have to come to your blog to make sure I’m doing it perfectly (for us non michelin chefs)! We’ll be frying it tonight, but man this was one major production I think should be reserved for only very special occasions (aka, just going to Ad Hoc instead!) Thanks Arnold :)


Jim August 28, 2010 at 9:30 am

Chicken looks awesome. I find it hard to believe you cooked it at that high of a temperature. I would think for sure it would get too dark before it was cooked all the way through at 360 degrees.


Oliver October 13, 2010 at 10:57 pm

WHY DID YOU INCLUDE A SOUS-VIDE PROCESS? I’ve read from others who have tried the sous-vide-then-batter-and-fry a number of different ways, none of which have been entirely satisfactory in terms of giving a traditional fried product.
Their problem was: after cooking sous vide, it’s very difficult to get the batter to stick. You get the same problem when simply poaching and then trying to fry (or even when roasting and then trying to fry), but it’s typically worse with sous vide (presumably because of the longer cook times). The batter just doesn’t stick to poultry (or most other proteins) very well after the poultry has been cooked. You get the same problem if you try to deep fry sweetbreads, for instance, after having poached and pressed them to firm them up.

Still, that problem is not necessarily a dealbreaker. You’ll get a nice crust, and the chicken will be cooked nicely inside, it’s just that the crust will come off the chicken. Then you just put a little crust and a little chicken on each fork full, and you’re good to go. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, it just doesn’t turn out like traditional fried chicken, where the batter sticks pretty well to the chicken.


tim December 10, 2010 at 11:49 am

I agree. Don’t sous-vide for this. The skin is too fatty and tastes weird. Better to just fry the way Keller does.


Ramez August 4, 2011 at 11:37 pm

it the best, but u know we have no chance to cook such foods,


David Duik January 17, 2012 at 7:32 am

Delicious Recipe!

I have a homemade version for a number of KFC recipes among them the most famous finger licking good fried chicken and also the crispy-luscious, mouth watering buttermilk chicken recipe. While making the recipes one can fill the moist, crunchy and tasty chicken ever made. Visit my website…



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