If you are looking for a special meal for the Labour Day weekend, look no further than Bon Ton chicken—a recipe from the July 2000 issue of Gourmet magazine, based on the fried chicken served at the Bon Ton Mini Mart in Henderson, Kentucky. I’ve been making this recipe for 12 years, and it is, hands-down, the best fried chicken recipe I have ever tried. It’s also my most-requested recipe for special dinners! Chicken pieces are brined in a spicy mixture of water, salt, cayenne, garlic powder, white pepper, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce for 24 hours, then dredged in seasoned flour and allowed to sit for 10 minutes until they become doughy. The chicken is then fried; you can use a cast iron pot or a deep fryer. I use the latter, and fry the chicken in two batches for about 20 minutes per batch. The brining seasons the chicken all the way through and makes the meat moist and delicious. The coating is crunchy, spicy and addictive. You can serve the chicken hot or cold—it stays crisp.

Avoiding Additives and Preservatives

The ingredients to watch for in this recipe are the spices, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Make sure the spices do not contain additives, colour or anti-caking ingredients. Use tamari instead of soy sauce, as it does not contain sodium benzoate. Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce uses all-natural ingredients.

Brine the chicken pieces for 24 hours

Dredge the chicken in seasoned flour and let it stand for 10 minutes

Deep fry in a cast iron pot or deep fryer

Enjoy Bon Ton chicken hot or cold


For marinade:

1 qt. water

2 tbsp. salt

2 tsp. cayenne

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 ½ tsp. white pepper

1 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

One chicken, 3-4 lbs., cut up (cut breasts in half), with skin on.

For frying:

About 12 cups vegetable oil or prescribed amount of oil for your deep fryer.

For dredging:

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. salt (or less – this amount makes the chicken quite salty)

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. cayenne

1 tsp. white pepper


Marinate chicken

Whisk together all marinade ingredients in a large bowl

Add chicken, making sure it is covered with marinade. Chill, covered, stirring twice, about 24 hours

Dredge and fry chicken

Heat 2 inches oil in a wide 8 – 9 ½ quart pot over moderately high heat until a deep-fat thermometer registers 365 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, or use a deep fryer

Meanwhile, whisk together all dredging ingredients in a large bowl. Drain chicken, discarding marinade. Dredge each piece of chicken in seasoned flour and put on a large baking sheet. Let stand about ten minutes.

Fry chicken (in two batches if necessary), turning a few times, 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on rack. Serves 4.

From Gourmet magazine – July 2000