For the last four decades, Vincent Williams has perfected the art of Southern-style fried chicken—to the point of custom-ordering fryers and cooking utensils to replicate colonial era kettle cooking. Crispy, crackly and fried in peanut oil, the shaggy golden crust locks in all the flavor from Honey’s Kettle top-secret spice blend, which each batch of chicken marinates in for 24 hours. Paired with warm, melt-in-your-mouth biscuits and packets of amber-hued honey, the fried chicken here hasn’t missed the mark in quality and consistency since Honey’s Kettle first relocated from Compton to Culver City in 2005.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner—if our idioms are any indication, fried chicken is as American as a well-made cheeseburger or apple pie. Across Los Angeles, you can find hundreds of iterations of deep-fried yardbird, from lowbrow to upscale. While many of the very best offer regional variations out of the American South, including now-ubiquitous Nashville-style hot chicken, L.A. is also home to countless other variations of fried chicken, from South Korean-style recipes that call for rice flour, double frying and maybe a healthy dollop of soy-garlic or gochujang-chili sauce to southern Thailand’s famous hat yai chicken, served with a side of nam jim dipping sauce. Let’s not forget Taiwanese popcorn chicken, Japanese chicken karaage and even chain restaurants, where many of us were first introduced to fried chicken.
Over the last year, I’ve tried over three dozen unique iterations of fried chicken in L.A., building off a lifelong love of the dish in all its glorious, deep-fried permutations. Yes, that includes plenty of fried chicken sandwiches—a genre so wide-ranging, in fact, it calls for a separate guide. Across my top picks, I’ve included sit-down restaurant dishes, casual storefront, classics, one notable gluten-free option and plenty of budget-friendly picks, as well as a range of fried chicken styles. From various Southern styles to saucy Korean wings, you’re bound to find your next favorite near you on this list of the best fried chicken in L.A.