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Why do fried chicken recipes recommend marinating the chicken in buttermilk before frying? Is this absolutely necessary? If so, then How long should you marinate chicken in buttermilk before frying?

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Rich, slightly acidic buttermilk makes a good marinade for deep fried chicken for a couple of reasons:

  1. The acidity and milk fats help to break down the outer skin of the chicken so it gets crispier as it fries.
  2. It adheres to the chicken and helps the flour coating stick to it.

There is a discussion here that goes through all that and recommends a minimum of two hours marinade time.

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