Pioneer Take-Out Fried Chicken

Shatteringly crisp, flavorful Pioneer Fried Chicken that tastes so nostalgic you will feel like you’ve gone back in time!

Easy to make, only takes five minutes to make the wet batter and straight into the fryer! Serve with corn on the cob and your favorite Cole Slaw to make this meal complete.

Pioneer Fried Chicken in a basket with red checkered paper

Are you by any chance a kid of the 80s? Are you from Southern California? Do you remember Saved By The Bell? Ok ok, the last one doesn’t really apply, but this Pioneer Fried Chicken is legendary and going the way of Latin since the chain began closing shops years ago. Currently there are only a couple of Pioneer Chickens left and those that still exist haven’t been updated in 20 years.

Pioneer Fried Chicken logo

Nothing is worse than craving a nostalgic regional food and not being able to find it. When I lived in DC and had major pregnancy cravings for this chicken, I scoured the internet and found absolutely NO recipes. A lot of people were talking about how much they missed Pioneer Chicken and how it was a food memory they treasured, but no one could decode the dish in a way that would satisfy us all. We grew up with this chicken, we all agreed KFC should’ve gone the way of the dinosaurs instead of Pioneer Chicken, yet here we were with two outdated fledgling locations left.

Pioneer Fried Chicken in a basket with red checkered paper

After much research and recipe testing, JACKPOT. In the strangest of places, some guy had made a youtube video of the recipe where he mixes and fries it with no audio and no recipe to copy. Taking old school pencil and paper notes, I could tell he was on to something when that wet batter come together. Sure enough when it came out of the oil it was gorgeous! The perfect orange brown tinted shade, with a smooth surface. It may not sound exciting to you if you aren’t familiar with Pioneer Chicken, but if you know what I am talking about here you are probably salivating as you read this.

For many who grew up in LA, this chicken is as much a childhood memory as playing Mario and all the wonder of Nintendo. It might be funny when to talk about video games, but I think every one of us has memories of being a kid and playing them! You can make this chicken for your kids while they enjoy today’s video games, and they might carry on the tradition! Next thing you know you’ll be buying them one of those pencil cases with hidden compartments… Or maybe just make more nostalgic copycat recipes like Tommy’s Chili, In-N-Out Animal Style Fries, and Hostess Cupcakes for dessert.

Pioneer Fried Chicken uncooked thigh coated with dry ingredients

How to Make Pioneer Fried Chicken

  • Mix all the dry ingredients except for the reserved ¼ cup cornstarch. Add the water and whisk.
  • Put ¼ cup of cornstarch in shallow pan and coat chicken with it.
  • Dip the chicken that has been coated in cornstarch into the wet batter until completely coated. Let drip for a couple of seconds.
  • Fry in 350 degree peanut or canola oil. for 8-10 minutes until cooked through in small batches.
  • Drain on metal rack, not paper towels, that would make it soggy.
Pioneer Fried Chicken wet batter in mixing bowl with whisk


How to Store Pioneer Fried Chicken

  • Serve: Don’t leave cooked chicken at room temperature longer than 2 hours before refrigerating.
  • Store: Fried Chicken will last up to 4 days in the refrigerator, sealed in an airtight container. 
  • Freeze: Wrapped tightly in plastic, freeze Fried Chicken up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or reheat from frozen in the oven at 375 degrees for 20-40 minutes. Reheat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Pioneer Fried Chicken on wire rack

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Pioneer Fried Chicken

Shatteringly crisp, flavorful Pioneer Fried Chicken that tastes so nostalgic you will feel like you've gone back in time!
Yield 6 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine American
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 1 chicken , cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 cup cornstarch , ¼ cup reserved for coating
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 cups peanut or canola oil

Instructions

  • Mix all the dry ingredients except for the reserved ¼ cup cornstarch.
  • Add the water and whisk.
  • Put ¼ cup of cornstarch in shallow pan and coat chicken with it.
  • Dip the chicken that has been coated in cornstarch into the wet batter until completely coated.
  • Let drip for a couple of seconds and gently lower into pot of oil.
  • Fry in 350 degree peanut or canola oil. for 8-10 minutes until cooked through in small batches.
  • Drain on metal rack, not paper towels, that would make it soggy.

Notes

Recipe adapted from Youtube.

Nutrition

Calories: 482kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 95mg | Sodium: 1244mg | Potassium: 317mg | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin A: 750IU | Vitamin C: 2.5mg | Calcium: 38mg | Iron: 1.8mg
Keyword: Pioneer Fried Chicken, Pioneer Take-Out Fried Chicken (Copycat)
Pioneer Fried Chicken Collage

Photo used in a previous version of this post.Shatteringly crisp, flavorful Pioneer Fried Chicken that tastes so nostalgic you will feel like you've gone back in time! Easy to make, only takes five minutes to make the wet batter and straight into the fryer! Serve with corn on the cob and your favorite cole slaw to make this meal complete!

Shatteringly crisp, flavorful Pioneer Fried Chicken that tastes so nostalgic you will feel like you've gone back in time! Easy to make, only takes five minutes to make the wet batter and straight into the fryer! Serve with corn on the cob and your favorite cole slaw to make this meal complete!

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. This fried chicken looks nothing like what I grew up eating, but it looks SO GOOD! My husband and I are very interested in trying this recipe (We love getting in the kitchen together and trying out new-to-us recipes.) but I was wondering, do you possibly know if gluten-free flour would work to substitute in this recipe? I’m new to the gluten-free lifestyle, and it makes me feel SO much better; however, I understand if this isn’t something you have tried with this recipe, yet. Perhaps my husband and I can give it a go? I mean, after all, it would DEFINITELY be a COMPLETELY new-to-us recipe that way!! 😉
    I LOVE your blog! I just found it today, have already bookmarked it, and see so many incredibly yummy recipes I need in my life. 🙂 Thanks so much!!

  2. Pioneer chicken was my very first job it’s funny I found this post today because I was telling my girlfriend about it yesterday so thank you now I can make what I grew up knowing

  3. Oh my, this chicken was amazing! I had completely forgotten about Pioneer Chicken until I happened upon your recipe and saw the logo with the little covered wagon. I followed the recipe exactly except I had the butcher cut up and de-bone a whole chicken. The crust was super crisp and flavorful and the chicken was moist and delicious. It’s been many years since I’ve had Pioneer Chicken but it tasted just as I remembered. It was a hit with the whole family. Great recipe.

  4. When I was a kid in the 60’s my mom would bring us Pioneer Chicken somewhere off Sunset Blvd I forget right now but there was also yhe Pioneer Market there too anyway best chicken ever between the 60’s and the 80’s always had Pioneer till I moved away . Thank you for this recipe…

  5. I made this pioneer fried chicken and it didn’t turn out. The chicken didn’t get done by the bone. It failed.

    1. All you do is lower the oil temp and fry longer. Mine turned out great by the third batch. Having a deep fryer also helps. Alot. If you happen to have one, cooking legs for 15 – 18 at 330 – 340 works like magic.

    2. Cook it in the oven at 175* for two hours first, then follow this recipe. You won’t be disappointed

  6. Back when I was 16, in the early 70’s,my friend and I would go to the Pioneer Chicken on Victory Blvd in North Hollywood. The cashier was a real cutie so we would go there and eat tons of chicken just to be in the pleasure of her company! Good memories. I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks for posting it.

  7. I made this for dinner and it was great chicken was moist and tender the crispy crunch was fantastic
    I did add Sage and I marinated the chicken over night in butter milk.

  8. I now live in North Texas and I will not go to any chicken place but Chicken Express. I sure wish we had a Pioneer Chicken here! I always get the large iced tea(a rule here ;)or lemonade) with my chicken order. They have the tiny pebble style ice and giant cups. You made my day posting this recipe! I can now go back in time in my own kitchen!

  9. Oh my goodness! We had one back in the early 80’s we went to in Fontana. THANK YOU! That was better than Kentucky Fried Chicken! Now all we need are the fake pretty lemon scented wet naps they give you with your order 🙂 The mashed potatoes and gravy….I could go on and on!

  10. Hello… I’m from New Zealand and fell in LOVE with Pioneer Chicken when living in Hawaii. One of the best bits was the gravy… it was bright yellow and SO delicious… does anyone know how that was made?

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