Healthy Southern-Style “Fried” Chicken Recipe

Are you a lover of southern-style cuisine but want to cut down on the unhealthy saturated fats found in traditional southern fried chicken? Look no further than this healthy southern “fried” chicken recipe.

As a chef specializing in southern cooking, I understand the love and comfort that comes from the crispy, savory goodness of classic fried chicken. However, with this recipe, we’ve managed to create a healthier version that doesn’t sacrifice any of that delicious flavor.

Instead of deep frying the chicken, we bake it in the oven or air fryer with a special blend of herbs and spices, including thyme, marjoram, paprika, salt and pepper. The result is perfectly crispy and flavorful chicken that you can feel good about eating.

And don’t let the idea of “healthy” chicken scare you away – this recipe is just as easy to make as traditional southern fried chicken recipes, and won’t leave you feeling like you’re missing out on anything. Trust me when I say that this recipe will become a staple in your kitchen for years to come.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Healthy Southern
Healthy Southern “fried” Chicken

Attention all my fellow chicken lovers, I have a recipe for you that will blow your taste buds away! Introducing, the healthy southern “fried” chicken recipe. Yes, you heard that right. Healthy and fried chicken in the same sentence. Let me tell you why you’ll love this recipe.

Firstly, this recipe is a healthier alternative to traditional southern-style fried chicken. It omits the deep fryer which means it’s not drenched in saturated fat like its original counterpart. Instead, it’s oven-baked or pan-fried which gives it a crispy coating without all the extra oils.

Secondly, this recipe is full of flavor. I promise you won’t even miss the excess grease and salt from the classic version. Our seasoning blend includes pepper, thyme, marjoram, paprika and salt which pairs perfectly with any side dish you choose to serve it with. The combination of these spices brings alive the earthy notes of chicken like never before.

Thirdly, this recipe is incredibly versatile. You can use either chicken breasts or thighs for this dish depending on your preference. You can also change your cooking method from oven to air fryer or pan-fry depending on what you have available. It’s easy to customize according to your needs and wants without losing any of the goodness.

Lastly, this recipe isn’t only tasty but also great for weight watchers and low carb dieters alike. With just around 13g carbs per serving, it is perfect for those who are watching their carbohydrate intake without compromising on flavor.

So there you have it! A delicious healthy alternative to southern-style fried chicken that tastes amazing with fewer calories and saturated fats. Try out our healthy southern “fried” chicken recipe if you haven’t already; I assure you; You won’t be disappointed!

Ingredient List

 Golden brown and crispy without the grease!
Golden brown and crispy without the grease!

Here are your ingredients for this Healthy Southern “fried” Chicken Recipe:

  • Chicken thighs (4 to 6)
  • Salt (1 teaspoon)
  • Pepper (1 teaspoon)
  • Paprika (1 tablespoon)
  • Thyme (1 teaspoon)
  • Marjoram (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Water (1/2 cup)

Note that this recipe uses chicken thighs rather than the traditional chicken breasts. We also use a combination of salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, and marjoram to create that classic southern flavor without all of the saturated fat that comes with traditional fried chicken recipes.

The Recipe How-To

 A healthier twist on a Southern classic.
A healthier twist on a Southern classic.

Now, let’s get to the core of this recipe: cooking your healthy Southern-fried chicken!

(a) Prep Your Chicken

First things first, wash your chicken pieces with cold water and pat them dry with paper towels. If you’re using bone-in chicken, separate the drumstick from the thigh. For boneless chicken breasts, cut them into equal-sized pieces to ensure even cooking. Once the chicken is ready, set it aside on a clean plate.

(b) Mix Up Your Frying Blend

Next, it’s time to prepare the herb blend for coating your chicken. In a small bowl mix together (2 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of ground black pepper, 1 tsp of paprika, ½ tsp of thyme, and ½ tsp of marjoram). Don’t be shy – make sure that blend offers enough seasoning to properly flavor every bite!

(c) Coat Your Chicken

Then, grab two large mixing bowls; fill one with (1-2 cups of water) and one with a cup of flour. Dip each piece of chicken into the water bowl, ensuring it’s completely moistened. Then place it into the other bowl filled with flour and seasoning blend. Use your hands or utensils to thoroughly coat each piece before shaking off any excess.

Pro Tip: If you plan on cooking without buttermilk or eggs for this step, I suggest using Lo-Dough instead! It will give you that crispy fried texture while keeping it low calorie and low carb!

(d) Cook Your Chicken

Preheat your oven to 425°F (or air fryer to 400°F). While your oven heats up, prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper (do not use oil).

Place each coated piece of chicken onto the baking sheet leaving about 1 inch between each piece. For bone-in chicken cook for around 35-45 minutes on average, flipping halfway through. For boneless chicken cook for around 20-25 minutes. Remember to adjust the time according to your oven or air fryer!

(e) Enjoy that delicious healthy Southern Fried Chicken!

Once your menu is ready, and your house smells like a flavourful kitchen, it’s finally time to enjoy your healthier Southern Fried Chicken masterpiece! Turn up some soulful music and go old school authentic with delicious sides like mashed potatoes and collard greens.

Substitutions and Variations

 Who needs a deep fryer when you have this recipe?
Who needs a deep fryer when you have this recipe?

If you’re looking to switch things up or want to make adjustments to fit your preferences, this recipe is versatile enough to allow for some creative substitutions and variations.

– Chicken Thighs: For a juicier protein, swap out the chicken breasts for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. The results are irresistibly crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

– Paprika: While we love the smoky depth of flavor that paprika brings, feel free to experiment with other spices such as cumin, coriander or chili powder.

– No Buttermilk? No Problem!: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, simply add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar for every 1 cup of milk. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes before adding it to the recipe.

– Low Carb: Looking for a low carb option? Consider using Lo-Dough instead of breadcrumbs. It’s a great low carb alternative that provides a crispy coating without the added carbs.

– Hot Honey: Want to add an extra kick of flavor? Drizzle some hot honey over your baked chicken after it comes out of the oven. It’s a deliciously sweet and spicy addition that will take your taste buds on a ride.

Regardless of which substitutions or variations you choose, remember to keep an eye on cooking time and temperature to ensure you don’t compromise the final results. Experimenting with different flavors and ingredients can yield excellent results and help you discover new tastes and textures that you never knew existed in Southern-style cuisine.

Serving and Pairing

 Just as delicious without the added calories.
Just as delicious without the added calories.

Now that you’ve got your delicious healthy southern “fried” chicken cooked up, it’s time to think about how you’re going to serve and pair it. This dish is perfect for a weekend family dinner or potluck gathering with friends, but it can also be served as a hearty main course for a weeknight meal.

One pairing option that never fails is serving the chicken with classic sides like mashed potatoes, biscuits or cornbread, collard greens or green beans. These traditional Southern dishes complement the flavor of the chicken and create a well-rounded meal.

For a little bit of sweetness to balance out the savory flavors in the chicken, consider pairing it with honey mustard sauce or sweet potato fries. You can also give your guests different options to choose from by serving the chicken with BBQ sauce, ranch dressing or hot sauce.

For those looking for a lower-carb option, try serving the chicken with roasted vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli or cauliflower. You could also make some coleslaw as a fresh and healthy side dish.

Don’t forget to pair your meal with your drink of choice. A classic Southern sweet tea is always a great option. For something alcoholic, pair your meal with a beer or cocktail (if you’re over 21 of course!).

Regardless of how you serve and pair this healthy southern “fried” chicken recipe, it’s sure to be a hit at any gathering or mealtime.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Your new go-to weeknight dinner.
Your new go-to weeknight dinner.

As much as we love to indulge in Southern-style fried chicken, sometimes we just can’t finish it all in one sitting. That’s why it’s important to know how to properly store and reheat your leftovers for future meals.

Firstly, if you have any leftover fried chicken, wait for it to cool completely before storing. This will help prevent the chicken from becoming soggy once you store it. To store, place the chicken in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to two days.

On reheating day, there are several ways you can choose from: oven-frying or microwave reheating. For oven-frying, preheat your oven to 425°F and place the leftover chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, bake until crispy for around eight minutes.

If you’re short on time, microwave reheating is also an option. Place the chicken on a microwave-safe dish and cover with a damp paper towel to keep it moist. Reheat in 30-second intervals until the desired temperature is reached. However, be careful not to overheat as this will make the chicken dry out.

One tip to bear in mind is that reheated fried chicken may be less crispy than when first eaten fresh due to moisture buildup while stored. To avoid that, air fryer gives you an extra crispness like when first making the piece of chicken.

In sum up, take good care of your delicious healthy Southern-style recipe leftovers by properly storing and reheating them. Whether you want to oven-fry or microwaves reheat them, make sure they receive the attention they deserve so that they remain mouth-watering delicious even after a few days have passed since first made them!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Perfectly seasoned and full of flavor.
Perfectly seasoned and full of flavor.

To achieve that perfect crunch in your healthy southern “fried” chicken, here are some tips that will help you get the best results possible.

Firstly, make sure to pat the chicken dry with paper towels before seasoning it with the herbs and spices. Any excess moisture will create steam and prevent the breading from getting crispy.

Secondly, instead of using all-purpose flour, try using almond flour or coconut flour for a healthier option. These flours have a lower carb content and will still create a delicious crust on the chicken.

Thirdly, let the seasoned chicken sit for at least 15 minutes before cooking. This will allow the spices to penetrate into the meat and create a richer flavor.

When cooking in the oven, make sure to preheat it thoroughly and use a wire rack placed on top of a baking sheet. This will allow hot air to circulate all around the chicken, resulting in evenly cooked and crispy skin.

If you prefer pan-frying your chicken instead of baking it, use an oil with high smoke point like canola or avocado oil. And when placing the chicken on the pan, make sure to leave enough space between each piece to avoid steaming.

Lastly, when air-frying your chicken, be sure to follow the instructions of your specific air fryer model. Each one can have different cooking times and settings. And don’t forget to give the chicken a light mist of cooking spray before air frying for extra crispiness.

By following these tips, you’ll get perfectly crispy and delicious healthy southern “fried” chicken every time!


Before we move on to the FAQ section, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the importance of having a clear understanding of the recipe. While cooking, it’s only natural to have some doubts and questions. It’s crucial to get them resolved before proceeding so that you can create a delicious, healthy southern “fried” chicken that not only satisfies your taste buds but also contributes to your well-being. With that in mind, here are some frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers for this recipe!

Can frying chicken be healthy?

When it comes to cooking chicken, frying it in a pan filled with oil can be the unhealthiest option, according to experts. This cooking method adds excessive calories and potentially high amounts of sodium to your dish.

What is the difference between fried chicken and southern fried chicken?

If you’re craving for a crispy and juicy chicken that bursts with flavors, then fried chicken is the perfect choice for you. This iconic Southern dish involves coating chicken pieces with a blend of seasoned flour or batter and then frying it until the outsides are deliciously crisp while keeping the meat tender and flavorful inside.

Can a diabetic eat Southern fried chicken?

If you’re trying to maintain a diabetes-friendly diet, it’s wise to avoid breaded or flour-dipped and fried poultry dishes. These types of dishes are often high in carbohydrates, saturated fat, and calories, making them a poor choice for those with diabetes. Popular restaurants like KFC and Popeyes often serve these types of unhealthy meals.

What makes fried chicken unhealthy?

Eating fried foods on a regular basis can lead to the accumulation of plaque in your arteries, which may increase your chances of developing heart diseases like coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this recipe for healthy southern “fried” chicken is a great alternative to traditional deep-fried chicken that’s typically high in saturated fat. By utilizing oven baking or air frying techniques and using healthier ingredients, you’ll be indulging in a delicious crispy treat without any guilt.

This recipe has proven to be a favorite amongst those who enjoy southern style cuisine while still prioritizing their health goals. With tempting spices like paprika, thyme, marjoram and pepper perfectly balanced with the salt, and coupled with crispy skin and tender meat; you won’t even miss the grease! I assure you that this recipe delivers on its promise of low-carb and low-fat content without compromising on taste!

So instead of using old recipes that are hard-hitting on your health, try these healthier alternatives that are based on traditional black folks soul food recipes. You can even tweak it and make it your own by incorporating your own variations like adding jamie oliver’s hot honey chicken sauce, tweaking it for weight loss purposes or even turning it into an enjoyable side dish paired with potatoes or cornbread!

All in all, this healthy fried chicken recipe emphasizes how you don’t have to compromise on flavor to eat healthily. Be confident enough to indulge in delightful and healthier versions of the southern-style fried chicken for meals that tend to the body and soul alike!

Healthy Southern "fried" Chicken

Healthy Southern “fried” Chicken Recipe

Discovered this recipe years ago in a church cookbook and have been making it ever since. The recipe calls for 2 lbs. of frying chicken cut up, but I typically make it with boneless, skinless chicken breast. The grandchildren love it. The chicken bakes up nicely-- tender, juicy, and just, plain good.
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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Southern American
Calories 542.3 kcal


  • 2 lbs frying chicken, cut up
  • water
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 pinch pepper


  • Combine breadcrumbs and spices in paper bag.
  • Brush chicken with water.
  • Place pieces of chicken in paper bag (a few at a time); shake to coat.
  • Place on non-stick cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until tender.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 160gCalories: 542.3kcalCarbohydrates: 9.9gProtein: 44.1gFat: 34.9gSaturated Fat: 9.9gCholesterol: 170.2mgSodium: 403.2mgFiber: 0.7gSugar: 0.9g
Keyword < 60 Mins, Chicken, Inexpensive, Meat, Poultry
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