The first written account of fried chicken in the U.S. comes from Virginia Governor William Byrd who used to indulge in the dish in the early 18th century. While Byrd’s observations took the form of a diary entry, it wasn’t until 1825 that a fried chicken recipe made an appearance in an American cookbook. Published in “The Virginia Housewife,” the recipe advises chefs to cut the chicken “as for the fricassee [a type of chicken stew], dredge them well with flour, sprinkle them with salt, put them into a good quantity of boiling lard, and fry them a light brown” (via Food Timeline). According to a New York Times article by Julia Moskin, this recipe “has never been substantially improved upon.”
Interestingly, there’s an even older recipe for American-style fried chicken that appeared in a British cookbook entitled “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.” Published in 1747, under the title “to marinate chickens,” the recipe calls for two chickens cut into quarters and advises to “lay them in vinegar, for three or four hours, with pepper, salt, a bay leaf, and a few cloves, make a very thick batter, first with half a pint of wine and flour, then the yolks of two eggs, a little melted butter, some grated nutmeg, and chopped parsley; beat very well together, dip your fowls in the batter, and fry them in a good deal of hog’s lard” (via BBC).