Spicy Mexican Southern Fried Chicken

Spicy Mexican Southern Fried Chicken

Pollo Frito a la Mex
4 to 5 Servings
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: chicken, chiles de arbol, fried chicken, Guajillo, habanero, honey, pati's mexican table, Recipe
Prep Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 30 minutes


  • 4 chiles de arbol, stemmed
  • 4 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 3-4 pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces
  • 3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sauce from chipotles in adobo
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, plus more to season the chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more to season the chicken
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup canned sliced habanero chiles

To Prepare

  • Heat a comal or cast iron skillet over medium high. Toast the chile de arbol and the guajillo until both sides are slightly charred. Remove from heat and let cool. Once the chiles have cooled, add them to a spice or coffee grinder and finely grind.
  • Add chicken pieces to a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon of the ground chile mixture (reserve the rest). Pour the buttermilk and sauce from chipotles in adobo over the chicken and mix gently to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours. The longer the chicken marinates, the more the flavors will soak in.
  • When you are ready to cook the chicken, fill a dutch oven or heavy bottomed pan a little less than halfway full with oil and preheat until the temperature reaches 365 degrees Fahrenheit on a fry thermometer (or test the oil by dropping in a small piece of chicken, it should actively bubble around it).
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a baking sheet with a rack.
  • Add the remaining chile mixture to a large bowl, along with the flour, paprika, salt and pepper, and whisk to combine. Remove the chicken one piece at a time from the buttermilk - shaking off any excess buttermilk - and put it into the bowl with the flour mix, rotating it to coat.
  • Once all the chicken is in the bowl and fully coated with the flour mix, one at a time, place 2 to 3 pieces into the hot oil, depending on the size of your pan. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes, then flip and fry for 3 more minutes, or until it is a dark golden brown. Transfer to the sheet pan with a rack and place into the oven. Let the oil return to 365 degrees Fahrenheit and repeat the process with remaining chicken pieces.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken. They should all be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If the chicken is not fully cooked, leave it in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
  • When chicken is ready to serve, heat the honey in a saucepan or in the microwave. Add habaneros with a little of their liquid and stir together. Place the fried chicken on a serving platter and drizzle the habanero honey over the chicken. Serve immediately with extra habanero honey sauce on the side.

42 comments on “Spicy Mexican Southern Fried Chicken

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  1. Came to look up the sauce in particular. Sounds wonderful.
    Thanks, Pati – I really enjoy your show.

  2. I watch your show all the time and have cooked many of your recipes, all of which have been fantastic, but this was one of the best. Thank you so much.

  3. I just watched this on Tv, her sons came and ate with her. Such handsome boys. I love her enthusiasm she has. I’m making this today so excited! I think I found my new favorite cooking show!💕

  4. My mouth was watering just reading the instructions…Pati is my FAVORITE everything…I read instructions with Pati’s accent & enthusiasm…
    …Headed to store to get exact ingredients…I’ll be leaving a comment hopefully soon…

  5. Hi Pati,
    Just wondering what neutral liquid could be substituted for buttermilk? Something which does not contain dairy. Or can that ingredient just be eliminated from the recipe?

  6. Made your fried chicken last week. Now it requested again for tonight. Awesome recipe and love your show. Greeting from San Diego!

  7. Dang, just saw your recipe and my I am almost drooling. LOL Can’t wait to try it. By the way, do you have an easy recipe for Tamale Pie ? Thanks a bunch.

  8. What do you think about using fresh habanero chilies? I couldn’t find canned ones in my area.

    We really enjoy your show!


  9. Hi Pati,
    One of the best things about your show is how you showcase your boys. I have two teenager boys myself, and its so nice to hear their perspective – their critique – if my boys are actually in the room, they are noticing that interaction, which is so cool.
    My husband and I enjoy the colors, the recipes and the passion that you cook with. It is so refreshing from other shows. We do not cook a lot of mexican food, but am willing to try this chicken recipe, minus some of the “heat”.
    I hope you have a Merry Christmas!

  10. I’ve just discovered your cooking show on PBS! I am so excited to connect with your web site for all the yummy recipes! It would be fabulous to buy ingredients from your website too, along with your cookbooks. Can’t wait to try everything!! Keep the recipes coming.