Spicy Mexican Southern Fried Chicken

Spicy Mexican Southern Fried Chicken

Pollo Frito a la Mex
4 to 5 Servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: chicken, chiles de arbol, fried chicken, Guajillo, habanero, honey, pati's mexican table, Recipe
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Spicy Mexican Southern Fried Chicken, from Pati’s Mexican Table Season 7, Episode 13 "Mex’d Up American Regional Favorites"


  • 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.

67 comments on “Spicy Mexican Southern Fried Chicken

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  1. 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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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. 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. 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.

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

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

  9. 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!!

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

  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.

  12. 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!💕

  13. 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…

  14. 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?

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

  16. 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.

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

    We really enjoy your show!


  18. 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!

  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.