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Oprah's Unfried Chicken Recipe

Oprah Loves This Fried Chicken Recipe, and So Do We

Oprah is honest about the fact that she achieved her 42-pound weight loss on Weight Watchers without depriving herself of the foods she loves, including fried chicken. Well, "unfried" chicken, as she calls it in her 2017 cookbook, Food, Health, and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes For Great Meals and a Better Life. This recipe for Art's Unfried Chicken comes straight from Art Smith, a renowned chef who was Oprah's personal chef for many years and who specializes in Southern cuisine. His two-day marinated fried chicken is a sought-after recipe that's received plenty of well-deserved praise, but this healthier version is just as deserving of your time. Oprah approves, after all.

The elimination of frying doesn't make this chicken any less flavorful. You can leave the chicken in the buttermilk hot sauce marinade for as little as one hour or as long as 24 hours, which guarantees the meat remains tender and juicy. The panko breadcrumb coating is seasoned with parmesan cheese, black pepper, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt, and it gives the chicken the irresistible crunch you're looking for as you bite into fried chicken. Plus, baking the chicken on a sheet in the oven replaces the greasy mess of making fried chicken and makes cleanup a breeze. Convince yourself you can be your own personal chef by making Oprah's lightened-up version of a Southern favorite.

Art Smith's Unfried Chicken

From Food, Health, and Happiness by Oprah Winfrey


If you don’t want the calories of Art Smith’s fried chicken, his unfried chicken is a pretty terrific alternative — super crunchy, so the first bite has that crackle on the outside that you’re looking for and the tender, juicy, steaming meat on the inside and, well, see for yourself.

Oprah's Unfried Chicken Recipe


  1. 1 cup buttermilk
    1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce or hot sauce of choice
    2 boneless chicken breasts, cut in half
    2 chicken thighs
    2 chicken legs
    1 1/2 cups multigrain or whole wheat
    Panko breadcrumbs
    3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
    2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon ground cayenne
    1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
    1 teaspoon smoked paprika
    1 teaspoon salt
    Optional: 1 lemon cut into wedges


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and hot sauce. Submerge the chicken pieces in the buttermilk mixture, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour but no more than 24 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large zip-top bag, combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, black pepper, cayenne, onion powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and salt. Seal the bag and shake to combine the ingredients.
  3. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk, let excess drip off, and transfer directly to the bag with the breadcrumb mixture. Shake the bag to evenly coat the chicken in the breadcrumbs. Remove the chicken from the bag and lay flat on a nonstick baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through, about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken, arrange onto plates, and serve (with lemon wedges if using).

Source: Excerpted from the book Food, Health, and Happiness by Oprah Winfrey. Copyright © 2017 by Oprah Winfrey. Reprinted with permission of Flatiron books. All rights reserved.

Image Source: Courtesy of Flatiron Books
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