Spicy Mexican Southern Fried Chicken


Spicy Mexican Southern Fried Chicken

Spicy Mexican Southern Fried Chicken

Pollo Empanizado Mexa

Recipe Yield

4 to 5 Servings

Cooking time

4 hours 30 minutes

Rate this recipe

3.63 from 8 votes


  • 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.


79comments inSpicy Mexican Southern Fried Chicken

  1. Anonymous

    Apr 16

    when you took that chicken out of the pan on the show, i said OMG..i def need to try that chicken!!!..if it tastes anything like you chipotle ribs it will def be one of the most delish meals you will every have..thx marie from canada

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 24

      Yay, so happy that you liked the ribs Marie!

  2. Delia Linda Trainor

    Feb 09

    Making this for Superbowl this Sunday……super excited and cant wait to see the outcome!! I LOVE watching your shows!!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Feb 15

      Thanks so much Delia, hope everyone had a great time and enjoyed the Chicken!

  3. Sergio Vargas

    Jul 25

    I love this. I grew up on traditional Mexican food and the idea of putting a Mexican spin on American classics sounds amazing. Definitely will be trying this out.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Sep 04

      Let me know how you like it Sergio!

  4. Ida Washington

    Mar 02

    Pati , I love how you connect us all with trying new ways to share our food that brings us all together with all of our Mexican brothers and sisters in our county. KEEP TEACHING US PATI Jinich! HOW TO STAY CONNECTED WITH OUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS around us .
    Thank you for your sincere love of cooking for your family and sharing this with all of us. MAY BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Mar 13

      You are so sweet Ida, thanks so very much!

  5. Luann P Watson

    Nov 07

    Love that your boys are part of the experience! They’re a wonderful addition ♥️

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jan 04

      What can I say Luann? Yes, they are 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for following!

  6. Sharon B

    Mar 12

    Made this and it is delicious. I grew up on really good fried chicken. I will always love my mom’s but this recipe goes into the rotation. The spice and crisp is so good. Then you put the honey drizzle and “pop” goes the flavors.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Mar 20

      Thanks so much Sharon! Feel very honored to have my chicken right next to your mom’s recipe, gracias!

  7. Chris M.

    Aug 11

    I am new to your shows via Amazon Prime and have purchased the accompanying cookbook. Our family is hooked on your tacos and this honey habenero drizzle is fantastic.

    We roast poblanos, jalepenos, and habeneros all the time now. and toast dried chilis too.

    Thanks very much for sharing your ideas!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Aug 11

      Thanks to you Chris, so glad to read the family is enjoying these recipes 😉

  8. Jose Torres

    May 13

    Just made this chicken, it was fantastic. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes.

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 13

      Glad to read you liked it Jose 😉

  9. Bryan Edmonds

    Nov 07

    Darla n I saw this show on Tucson PBS 5 mins ago! Immediately copied this recipie to my Paprika app.. ! WE CANT WAIT TO MAKE IT!! Love your show(s) – fans forever. Used lots of your knowledge when I went to culinary school!! (I Killed in latin and mexican cuisines!!) You rock and your sons are awesome! Keep it up.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 08

      Amazing! You keep it up too, Bryan!

  10. Katie

    Oct 05

    Hi Pati!!! My three little girls and I absolutely LOVE your show. You are like a ray of sunshine and such an inspiring chef! We were wondering if you have a slaw recipe like you showed serving your boys alongside this chicken on the show. Everything had us drooling, it looked so delicious, and we can’t wait to try these recipes!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Oct 10

      Say hi to your three little ones for me, Katie! You can pair it with either of these slaw recipes: http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/creamy-green-slaw/ http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/creamy-slaw/

  11. Cristian Loera

    Jul 03

    Hi Pati, my family and I love your show. We are so excited to try the chicken! We just have one question, if we can’t marinate it for the full 48 hours, will it still taste the same? Thanks.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 03

      Oh you can marinate it for as little as 4 hours, and it will still be delicious, Cristian.

  12. Cristina Ramirez

    Jul 02

    Hi Pati,
    After frying the chicken, is it necessary to continue cooking it in the oven or is frying enough?
    Thank you! We love your show!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 18

      Hi Cristina, as long as the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165 that is okay.

      1. Anonymous

        Aug 21

        Thank you so much. We love your show! Can’t wait for the next season to start.

  13. Зоенъка

    Jun 23

    I stopped making fried chicken because it never turned out right…it was always so bland and not crispy enough either.
    This recipe made me want to try again.
    Except for having only 2 cups of buttermilk (going to use plain yogurt for third cup because it’s what I have on hand) I also see that you said vegetable oil (which, where I live always means soybean oil) and not canola oil. I do have both but I know the specific type of fat used can have a marked effect on the final texture, so I guess what I’m wondering is if you meant vegetable oil (vs. lard or shortening) or vegetable oil (specifically not canola or peanut oil, etc.).
    For the record, I love your show. Not only are your recipes and style beyond unique but you also have this sort of quality of genuine inner something, that comes through in your videos, and your writing. I really appreciate it.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jul 09

      That’s great that you will give fried chicken another try! For the vegetable oil, I mean not peanut oil or soybean oil…you can find vegetable oil (and it will be labeled as vegetable oil) at your local market. I hope you enjoy it!

      1. Зоенъка

        Dec 03

        For the record I did make it and it was the BEST fried chicken both my husband and I have ever had in our lives…and he grew up in southern America eating a lot of fried chicken, so that means a lot. I’ve used all buttermilk and I’ve done it with part yogurt and it didn’t change a thing. Thank you, thank you from my heart for helping me to be able to make fried chicken at home again. I love it but I hated buying it at restaurants because there is so much weird crap in fast food.

        1. Pati Jinich

          Dec 04

          So glad you enjoyed it!

  14. D Marlo

    Jun 09

    I have a question regarding the arbol and guadillo pepper they are dried already do they still need to be charded

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 19

      Even though they are dried peppers, I recommend you char them.

  15. Roberto

    Jun 07

    I can’t wait for tomorrow night dinner
    I have el pollo marinating now
    Ohhh next time I’m roasting the chilies outside hahahahaha

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 10

      Hahaha…yes. Enjoy your dinner, Roberto.

  16. Karrol

    May 31

    Really looking to cook this chicken… thx for recipes!!

    1. Pati Jinich

      Jun 03

      Enjoy the chicken, Karrol!

  17. Shelley

    May 28

    I made this yesterday, OMG so very good! Love the flavors of the peppers & adobe sauce – the peppers smelled so good when I grinded them up in the blender. I thought the salt w/be too much so only used 1tsp – will make sure to use both next time. I made my own buttermilk using whole milk & lemon juice probably not as good of a result as the thick store brand so I will get that next time! This recipe is a keeper and I will be making it again & using that spice mix blend for other recipes!!!
    I love watching your shows and how you take us to such beautiful places!! I have made several of your recipes and just loved them all – thank you!!

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 29

      Happy to hear it is a keeper, Shelley!

  18. Rosemary Molloy

    May 12

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

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 13

      Thank you, Rosemary!

  19. Allen Lawrence

    May 11

    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.

    1. Pati Jinich

      May 12

      So happy to hear this, Allen. Thank you.

  20. Lisa

    Apr 06

    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!💕

    1. Pati Jinich

      Apr 13

      Aw thank you so much, Lisa!

      1. Misty

        Apr 13

        I think you and your show are amazing. Thank you for so much inspiration in cooking ❤️

        1. Pati Jinich

          Apr 14


  21. Roxsan Ambrosini

    Feb 19

    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…

    1. Pati

      Feb 19

      I look forward to comment, Roxsan!

  22. Frank

    Feb 17

    I just made this recipe and it was fantastic! I was just wondering what sides would be traditional with this dish.

    1. Pati

      Feb 19

      Oh you can put fried chicken with so many things…like my mac and cheese: http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/recipe/mac-n-cheese-mexicano/ or a salad to lighten it up a bit: http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/recipe/everyday-green-salad/

  23. Nicole Garcia

    Feb 17

    Just saw this episode and the chicken looks so good! What size Dutch oven did you use?

    1. Pati

      Feb 19

      I usually like to use my 5 qt Dutch Oven. Enjoy the chicken, Nicole!

  24. Michael

    Feb 15

    Are the chiles de arbor and guajillo chiles used here meant to be dried or fresh?

    1. Pati

      Feb 19

      They are both dried chiles, Michael. Here’s some more info: http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/guajillo_chile/ http://patijinich.com/pati_2020/chile_de_arbol/

  25. cheryl herbstman

    Feb 03

    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?

    1. Pati

      Feb 14

      You can try the recipe skipping the buttermilk and let me know how it goes, Cheryl!

  26. Cheryl Hildreth

    Feb 03


    1. Pati

      Feb 04


  27. Joaquin

    Feb 02

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

    1. Pati

      Feb 03

      I’m so happy to hear that it was requested again, Joaquin.

  28. Anonymous

    Feb 01

    So excited to try this for my Super Bowl Party!!! I know it will be a hit and very tasty!!

    Thank you!!!

    1. Pati

      Feb 02

      Yay! Have a yum time tomorrow.

  29. Anonymous

    Feb 01

    Sounds good will try soon thanks Pati

    1. Pati

      Feb 02


  30. Kimberly

    Feb 01

    Trying this for Super Bowl Sunday. Looks delicious. Can’t hardly wait for a little something different.

    1. Pati

      Feb 01

      Awesome! Have fun this Sunday, Kimberly.

  31. Sandi Curry

    Jan 31

    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.

  32. Juan flores

    Jan 23

    What side dish did you make to go with this meal?

    1. Pati

      Jan 25

      So many options…from salad to mac and cheese…go with what you are craving, Juan.

  33. Bill Rawley

    Dec 31

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

    We really enjoy your show!


    1. Pati

      Dec 31

      Go for it, Bill!

  34. Mary DesRoches

    Dec 22

    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!

    1. Pati

      Dec 23

      So happy to hear the whole family enjoys the show, Mary! Have a yum holiday…and enjoy the chicken.

  35. Danell Smith-Wright

    Dec 19

    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.

    1. Pati

      Dec 20

      Oh I’m so glad you discovered the show, Danell. Enjoy all the recipes!

  36. bob

    Dec 15

    I was wondering if you could use a air fryer with this recipie

    1. Pati

      Dec 16

      Give it a try, and let me know how it goes, Bob.

  37. Edward Harwood

    Dec 12

    Love your receipt

    1. Pati

      Dec 13

      Thank you Edward!

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