Calabash Chicken Recipe

Calabash Chicken Recipe

Southern fried chicken is more than just a delicious dish; it’s a culinary tradition deeply rooted in the American South. The crispy, golden-brown exterior and tender, juicy interior of perfectly fried chicken are a source of comfort and joy for many. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about making the best Southern fried chicken. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a novice in the kitchen, this article is worth reading because it will equip you with the skills and knowledge to fry up chicken that’s as good as your favorite restaurant’s.

What is Southern Fried Chicken?

Southern fried chicken is a beloved Southern American dish known for its flavorful and crispy exterior, which encases tender and juicy chicken meat. It’s a dish that has been passed down through generations and holds a special place in Southern cuisine. Typically, it’s made by coating pieces of chicken in a seasoned flour mixture and frying them until they reach a perfect golden brown. The result is a dish that’s both indulgent and comforting, perfect for family gatherings, picnics, and Sunday dinners.

Calabash Chicken Recipe
Calabash Chicken Recipe

The Art of Frying Chicken

Frying chicken is a culinary art that requires patience, attention to detail, and the right techniques. The key to achieving that signature crispy and flavorful crust lies in the frying process. It’s not just about dunking chicken in hot oil; it’s about doing it right. Achieving the perfect fried chicken involves maintaining the right temperature, ensuring even coating, and knowing when the chicken is cooked to perfection.

Buttermilk: The Secret to Succulent Chicken

One of the secrets to achieving incredibly tender and flavorful fried chicken is marinating the chicken in buttermilk. Buttermilk not only imparts a delightful tangy flavor to the chicken but also helps break down the proteins, resulting in a more tender and juicy end product. Before frying, it’s essential to marinate the chicken in buttermilk for a few hours or even overnight, allowing the flavors to meld and the chicken to become incredibly moist.

Calabash Chicken: A Southern Delicacy

Calabash chicken, a regional specialty in the Carolinas, takes Southern fried chicken to a whole new level. It’s known for its ultra-crispy and incredibly thin coating, making it irresistible. The key to achieving this style of fried chicken is in the breading technique. The chicken is dipped in a seasoned flour mixture multiple times, creating a thicker and crunchier crust. Calabash chicken is a must-try for any fried chicken enthusiast.

Calabash Chicken Recipe

Recipe by Heather Smith


Prep time


Cooking time






  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste for spice)

  • 2 cups buttermilk

  • Vegetable oil for frying


  • Begin by heating a deep frying pan or cast-iron skillet with vegetable oil over medium-high heat. You'll want enough oil to submerge the chicken pieces, approximately 2 inches deep.
  • While the oil is heating, prepare the chicken. Slice the chicken breasts into strips or bite-sized pieces, ensuring they are of uniform size for even cooking.
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt, black pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper. Mix these dry ingredients thoroughly.
  • Pour the buttermilk into another bowl. Dip each piece of chicken into the buttermilk, allowing any excess to drip off, and then coat it evenly with the flour-cornmeal mixture. Press the coating onto the chicken to ensure it adheres.
  • Carefully place the coated chicken pieces into the hot oil. Fry them until they are golden brown and crispy, which typically takes about 5-6 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the fried chicken from the oil and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.
  • Serve your Calabash Chicken hot with your choice of dipping sauce or alongside classic Southern sides like coleslaw, hushpuppies, or mashed potatoes.

Nutritional Content:

Here’s an approximate nutritional breakdown for a serving of Calabash Chicken (4-5 pieces):

– Calories: 300-350 calories

– Protein: 25-30g

– Carbohydrates: 20-25g

– Fat: 12-15g

– Fiber: 1-2g

– Sugars: 1-2g

Keep in mind that these values may vary based on factors such as the size of the chicken pieces and the amount of oil absorbed during frying. It’s also important to note that frying adds calories and fat to the dish.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

1. What is Calabash Chicken, and where does it originate?

   Calabash Chicken is a Southern dish that originated in Calabash, North Carolina. It’s known for its crispy, seasoned breading and is typically served as fried chicken tenders or nuggets.

2. Can I use bone-in chicken for this recipe?

   While boneless, skinless chicken breasts are commonly used for Calabash Chicken, you can certainly use bone-in chicken pieces like drumsticks or wings. Adjust the cooking time accordingly to ensure they cook through.

3. Is there a healthier alternative to frying Calabash Chicken?

   If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, you can try baking the chicken instead of frying it. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and bake the coated chicken pieces on a greased baking sheet for 25-30 minutes, turning them halfway through for even browning.

4. What are some recommended dipping sauces for Calabash Chicken?

   Calabash Chicken pairs well with various dipping sauces, including ranch dressing, honey mustard, barbecue sauce, or a spicy sriracha mayo. Feel free to get creative with your sauce choices.

5. Can I make Calabash Chicken gluten-free?

   Yes, you can make a gluten-free version of Calabash Chicken by substituting the all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend or almond flour. Ensure that all other ingredients used, including the cornmeal, are also gluten-free to accommodate dietary preferences or restrictions.

Calabash Chicken Recipe
Calabash Chicken Recipe

Can I Use Amok Recipe for Calabash Chicken?

Yes, you can use an amok chicken recipe for calabash chicken. The flavorful amok chicken recipe adds an authentic and aromatic touch to the dish, making it a delectable choice. The combination of tender calabash chicken with the unique flavors of the amok recipe creates a truly satisfying culinary experience.


Perfecting the art of Southern fried chicken may take a bit of practice, but the results are well worth the effort. Whether you prefer the traditional deep-fried version or want to explore healthier options like air frying, there’s a Southern fried chicken recipe for everyone. 

Calabash Chicken is a delightful Southern dish that offers a unique twist on traditional fried chicken. With minimal ingredients and a straightforward cooking process, it’s a fantastic option for a quick and delicious meal. Whether you enjoy it as an appetizer, main course, or party snack, this recipe is sure to become a family favorite. So, roll up your sleeves, get your apron on, and start frying up some crispy, flavorful Calabash Chicken for your next gathering. Your taste buds will thank you!

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