Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken Recipe

Willie Mae’s Scotch House (often referred to as simply Willie Mae’s) is a very popular restaurant located in Louisiana.

They became well-known for their delicious country-inspired foods and have been featured on numerous television food shows and even won awards for the best ‘Classic American Restaurant’.

Their menu includes things such as red beans and rice along with country-fried pork. But by far the most popular dish is their famous fried chicken, which is so delicious that The Times wrote an article about just how good it is.

If you want to try your hand at making this yourself, we got you covered with this Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken copycat recipe.

How to make Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken

If you’ve ever fried chicken before this recipe isn’t going to throw anything new at you. The key to this meal and what really makes it special is that we will first brine the chicken for about 3-5 hours before cooking it.

This will help to keep the chicken moist after frying and add a delicious extra flavor to it. 

It’s a good idea to prepare this in the morning time so the brining process will be finished by dinner time.

Ingredients:

(4 servings)

For the brine:

  • 8-12 chicken thighs
  • 5 cups of Coca-Cola
  • 1 tbsp of kosher salt
  • 10 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic (peeled and diced into small bits)
  • 4 tsp of mild hot sauce (any brand you prefer)

Seasoning for the flour coating:

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour (self-rising flour also works)
  • 1 tbsp of kosher salt
  • 2 tsp of ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp of smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp of garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp of onion powder
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper

For frying:

    • 3 cups of peanut oil (olive oil or lard also works)

Instructions:

We first have to start with the brine before we can move on to frying the chicken thighs. Many people would like to avoid Coca-Cola for the brining process so do be sure to check the ingredient substitutions for some healthier alternatives.

In terms of what you fry the chicken in, peanut oil is recommended and is also what Willie Mae’s themselves use. But, olive oil or lard make acceptable alternatives. Lard is generally more for shallow frying so you may have to finish it off in the oven if you decide to use this method.

Step 1:

Beginning with the brine, we first need to add both the Coca-Cola and the kosher salt into a large metal bowl. Stir them together until the salt is completely dissolved.

Step 2: 

Only after the salt has completely dissolved do we add the garlic cloves, chopped thyme, and your preferred hot sauce. Stir everything together and the brine mixture is ready.

Step 3: 

Place all of the chicken thighs into the brine, being sure to massage them briefly with your hands to ensure there are no folds or closed areas that will stop the brine from completely covering the chicken.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then set it aside in the refrigerator for 3-5 hours.

Step 4:

While the chicken is marinating we can prepare the seasonings/coating.

Start by taking a wide and shallow dish and adding the 3 cups of flour to it.

Step 5:

Then we need to add the seasonings which include 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 2 teaspoons of black pepper, 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons of onion powder, and lastly 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.

Mix these all together using a whisk to ensure all the seasonings are evenly distributed throughout the flour.

Step 6:

Next, we add the peanut oil (or cooking oil/fat) to a dutch oven and heat it on medium until it reaches a temperature of 375°F.

Step 7:

Remove the chicken thighs from the brine and let any excess mixture drop off, then coat them thoroughly in the seasoning mixture being sure to pat down the outside to ensure a thicker coating that adheres well to the chicken.

Step 8:

Carefully lower the chicken thighs into the oil, don’t put in too many at once (do 3-4 at a time maximum) as we run the risk of lowering the temperature of the oil too much.

Step 9:

They need to be fried for about 5 minutes on each side, the outside should be nice and crispy with a deep golden brown color.

As each chicken thigh finishes cooking transfer it onto a wire rack to drain the excess oil.

Step 10:

Depending on how thick your thighs are, they may not have cooked all the way through by the time the outside has finished frying.

To check this simply poke the chicken with a knife and the juices should come out clean.

If they don’t we need to finish them off in the oven, place them on a foil-lined tray and bake them until they have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.

Ingredients substitutions

As there are so many seasonings used in this recipe you are free to get playful by omitting some or adding your favorites as new ones!

In addition, there may be some ingredients you wish to swap out for dietary/preference reasons.

1. Beer

Anything acidic can be used in place of Cola-Cola when it comes to tenderizing meat. But beer is a common and popular choice. Things like pineapple juice, lemon, lime, and vinegar also work great!

2. Cornstarch

Whether you just don’t happen to have any to hand or for dietary reasons, cornstarch makes a great flour substitute that will help bind all those delicious seasonings to the chicken and fry up just as nicely.

What to serve with Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken

It’s no secret that there are plenty of delicious sides that pair exceptionally well with fried chicken. Which one to choose?

Here are a few of our top suggestions.

Biscuits

Some fresh buttermilk biscuits complement the heavy and fried quality of the chicken great, offering that bit of buttery richness that the chicken cannot.

Baked beans

This hardly needs any introduction, baked beans are packed with energy that leaves you feeling full and ready to tackle the day!

Mashed potatoes

You’ll need a good carb sauce to complement all that protein, and what better choice than some smooth, buttery, fresh mashed potatoes. But do ensure they aren’t too salty as your chicken is already brined.

How to reheat Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken

As this recipe calls for 12 chicken thighs, unless you’re having guests you’ll have some leftovers without a doubt.

So here’s how to reheat Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken.

How to reheat Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken in a pot

Add a little peanut oil to the pan and heat over medium. Add the fried chicken and refry for 3-5 minutes on each side.

Place the lid on during the reheating process to assist it in warming all the way through.

How to reheat Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken in a microwave

Place the chicken on a plate and cover it with a paper towel to help absorb the moisture and prevent it from getting too soggy.

Microwave using 30-second intervals until it’s adequately warmed. Don’t overheat or the chicken will dry out.

How to reheat Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken in the oven

Preheat the oven to 400°F, place the chicken on a baking tray and cover with foil.

Bake for 20 minutes and it should be warmed through, let it sit for 5 more minutes before serving.

How to reheat Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken in an air fryer

Preheat the air fryer to 375°F and place the fried chicken in the basket, you can also coat the chicken very lightly in oil to help it re-fry. 

Cook for 4 minutes, taking the basket out halfway through and flipping each thigh to ensure they reheat evenly.

How to store Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken

It’s very easy to store the extra fried chicken for later, the main goal is to seal it well so it doesn’t get too soggy and the outside remains nice and crispy.

Store in the fridge

Wrap the chicken tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Or alternatively use an air-tight container and simply place it in the fridge. Once stored it will keep for 3-4 days.

Store in the freezer

The best way to store already cooked fried chicken is to use a freezer bag, being sure to squeeze as much air out as possible. Then simply place it in the freezer. Once frozen it will keep for 3-4 months.

Just remember to let it thaw to room temperature before using our reheating methods.

willie mae's fried chicken recipe

Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken Recipe

Willie Mae’s Fried Chicken is a favorite amongst patrons, the chicken is brined for 5 hours before cooking and it uses a delicious cocktail of seasonings to create a flavor that’s several rungs above fried chicken you’ll get from a regular restaurant.
4.43 from 26 votes
Prep Time 5 hrs
Cook Time 40 mins
Total Time 5 hrs 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 800 kcal
Equipment
  • dutch oven
  • large metal mixing bowl
  • shallow trays for the flour
Ingredients
  
For the brine:
  • 8-12 chicken thighs
  • 5 cups Coca-Cola
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled and diced into small bits)
  • 4 tsp mild hot sauce (any brand)
Seasoning for the flour coating:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (self-rising flour also works)
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
For frying:
  • 3 cups peanut oil (olive oil or lard also works)
Instructions
 
  • Beginning with the brine, we first need to add both the Coca-Cola and the kosher salt into a large metal bowl. Stir them together until the salt is completely dissolved.
  • Only after the salt has completely dissolved do we add the garlic cloves, chopped thyme, and your preferred hot sauce. Stir everything together and the brine mixture is ready.
  • Place all of the chicken thighs into the brine, being sure to massage them briefly with your hands to ensure there are no folds or closed areas that will stop the brine from completely covering the chicken.
    Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then set it aside in the refrigerator for 3-5 hours.
  • While the chicken is marinating we can prepare the seasonings/coating.
    Start by taking a wide and shallow dish and adding the 3 cups of flour to it.
  • Then we need to add the seasonings which include 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 2 teaspoons of black pepper, 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons of onion powder, and lastly 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
    Mix these all together using a whisk to ensure all the seasonings are evenly distributed throughout the flour.
  • Next, we add the peanut oil (or cooking oil/fat) to a dutch oven and heat it on medium until it reaches a temperature of 375°F.
  • Remove the chicken thighs from the brine and let any excess mixture drop off, then coat them thoroughly in the seasoning mixture being sure to pat down the outside to ensure a thicker coating that adheres well to the chicken.
  • Carefully lower the chicken thighs into the oil, don’t put in too many at once (do 3-4 at a time maximum) as we run the risk of lowering the temperature of the oil too much.
  • They need to be fried for about 5 minutes on each side, the outside should be nice and crispy with a deep golden brown color.
    As each chicken thigh finishes cooking transfer it onto a wire rack to drain the excess oil.
  • Depending on how thick your thighs are, they may not have cooked all the way through by the time the outside has finished frying.
    To check this simply poke the chicken with a knife and the juices should come out clean.
    If they don’t we need to finish them off in the oven, place them on a foil-lined tray and bake them until they have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.
Nutrition
Calories: 800kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 38gFat: 27g
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