Jalapeño Fried Chicken

I had the idea to marinate chicken in straight-up pickled jalapeños (see this copycat Chick-Fil-Gay for a pickle brine recipe!) and once that got started, it wasn’t a far leap to a Tex-Mex style fried chicken … and that means corn. To me, anyway.

I took my standard super-crispy fried chicken recipe and changed it up a little to include some masa harina in the flour dredge that adds a super crisp texture and even more than that, it adds the nice nutty sweetness of corn. (You can’t buy masa harina in quanities less than 5 pounds so if you don’t have some already, just use more flour and it’ll be fine. I don’t think cornmeal would work great, unless it was extra fine maybe?)

Jalapeño fried chicken! Boneless chicken marinated in pickled jalapeño brine, breaded with masa harina and fried crispy

A few years ago I proudly overcame an aversion to eating chicken off the bone. I don’t know. I suppose as a kid growing up in the 90s eating ground beef and chicken fingers and fish sticks, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of boney meats. I got over it and can now gnaw on a bone with the best of em. But still, for weeknight fried chicken I use boneless cuts because they’re faster to cook and easier to work with. Peep this ginger fried chicken for another example.

The spiciness of jalapeño fried chicken depends (obvs) on the spiciness of your pickled jalapeños. If you’ve looked closely, you’ve seen that some brands have a “mild” and a “hot” version. Why in the hell anyone would want mild jalapeños is beyond me and I strongly suggest using hot ones for this. That way chicken is a little spicy, but really not too far into the fire. If you use mild ones, you might as well just use pickle juice, imo.

Jalapeño fried chicken! Boneless chicken marinated in pickled jalapeño brine, breaded with masa harina and fried crispy


Jalapeño Fried Chicken

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Hilah Johnson


  • 1 pound boneless/skinless chicken thigh or breast meat
  • 1 teaspoon salt (plus more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • cayenne pepper, if desired
  • 1/2 cup pickled jalapeños with brine
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup masa harina
  • salt
  • 2 cups oil for frying (Canola, vegetable, peanut, corn)
  • toothpicks


  1. Cut the chicken into “nugget” sizes (about 1″ by 2″) and toss with salt and dry spices and garlic. Cover and refrigerate 4-12 hours.
  2. 30 minutes to an hour before you want to eat, pull the chicken out of the fridge and add in the yogurt or sour cream and jalapeño brine. Mix well to coat.
  3. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl with another 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  4. Remove chicken pieces from marinade. Roll in flour mixture a few pieces at a time. Spear each chicken nugget around a jalapeño slice with a toothpick.  Set on a rack to “dry”. Allow coated chicken to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes. This ensures the breading will stay on.
  5. Heat oil to 350º F. Use a deep pot to avoid bubbling over. Oil needs to be two inches deep.
  6. Fry the chicken, 3-4 pieces at a time for about 4 minutes total, turning once. Keep the oil temperature between 350-370ºF. Chicken will be cooked once the exterior is a deep crisp brown.
  7. You will need to fry in several batches to avoid crowding the pan.
  8. Drain on another (clean) rack rather than paper towels to keep them crisp. Serve!

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Jalapeño fried chicken! Boneless chicken marinated in pickled jalapeño brine, breaded with masa harina and fried crispy


  1. Kaaren Hinds on March 7, 2018 at 8:06 am

    I thought of Chicken wings when reading this?.

  2. Khristie on March 15, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    I love that you finished it with slices of jalapeño! Looks hot and delicious. I’m going to try it this weekend! Thanks for the recipe.

    • Hilah on March 16, 2018 at 9:20 am

      Hope you like it! It’s nice to have bites of the bright fresh jalapeños with the hot fried chicken 🙂

  3. Rebecca George on March 25, 2018 at 6:12 am

    Hi Hilah,
    Question on adding the yogurt. Do you add the yougurt directly to the marinade or remove the chicken from the marinade and coat with yogurt?
    Thank you,
    Rebecca ?

    • Hilah on March 25, 2018 at 9:40 am

      Hi Rebecca,
      Sorry that wasn’t very clear! I just meant to pull the chicken out of the fridge. You can leave all the marinade on it and just mix in the yogurt, then strain it and roll in flour. (Now that I think about it, you could probably just add the yogurt to the marinade at the beginning of the process but I haven’t tried it that way.) I’ve amended the recipe to be more clear.

      • Rebecca George on March 25, 2018 at 3:19 pm

        Thank you, I have a very literal brain, which causes me much confusion with directions (and makes me extremely gullible to my husband’s jokes). I really appreciate your response, and I’m looking forward to these spicy delights Monday night.
        Best regards!

        • Hilah on March 26, 2018 at 9:41 am

          Of course! Hope you enjoy 🙂

  4. Tana Meekis on August 15, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    I know this might be a stupid question but can i use buttermilk too?

    • Hilah on August 16, 2018 at 7:21 am

      That’s a great question! Yes, you can use buttermilk instead of yogurt. 🙂

  5. Sammie on November 20, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    Hey Hilah, so glad that you’re back on youtube! i’ve watching your videos since the cartoon intro days! just a quick question, how many people do you think a pound of chicken thighs would serve?? i’m planning on making this for a couple of friends and wasn’t too sure on whether to double or triple the recipe, thanks!

    • Hilah on November 20, 2019 at 6:10 pm

      Hi Sammie!
      Normally I would say 4 servings from 1 pound of chicken, but with this recipe you’d better count on only three servings – it’s so good!

  6. Sue on November 24, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    I made this recipe a couple of days after watching your video demo. OMG!! This is so good!! Adding the jalapeno brine to the mixture is brilliant! So flavorful and the masa makes the coating nice and crunchy. I used chicken breast strips and was able to fit 2 jalapeno slices side by side, then folded in each end, then folded the 2 folds together. Served them for dinner with roasted acorn squash. Yum! Found a jar of “hot” jalapeno peppers at Wally World, (couldn’t find “Jeff’s Garden” brand–LOL)! Then again, I’m not in California! 😀

    • Hilah on November 25, 2019 at 6:42 am

      So glad to hear that, Sue!! 🙂 I also love roasted acorn squash

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