Fried Chicken Sandwich (with Crispy Buttermilk Chicken)
Make a seriously tasty fried chicken sandwich at home with this fail-safe easy-to-follow recipe. With super crispy buttermilk chicken coated in a generously seasoned batter served on a lightly toasted bun with smoky and sweet barbecue mayo, crisp lettuce and tangy pickles, a fried chicken sandwich really can't get much better than this. Whether you're a frequent or first-time fryer this recipe is packed with hints and tips on the frying process, assembly, serving suggestions, and more.
The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!
- Seriously tasty - buttermilk crispy chicken fried in a generously seasoned batter served in soft burger buns with smokey and sweet barbecue mayo, crisp lettuce and tangy pickles.
- Easy fail-safe recipe - with step-by-step instructions and handy tips even if you have never fried chicken at home before.
- Feeds a crowd - sure to be a hit with any house guests
- Versatile - from how you season the batter to how you assemble the sandwich. This is a recipe you can change up and experiment with.
🛒 Ingredients and variations:
What is buttermilk used for?
A buttermilk marinade is essential for creating perfectly crispy fried chicken for two reasons. Firstly, its slight acidity tenderizes the chicken and secondly because it helps the batter stick.
How long do I need to marinate the chicken in buttermilk?
Between 4 hours to 24 hours is ideal - the longer the better. However, if you run out of time even 30 minutes will massively improve the texture of your fried chicken.
What can I substitute for buttermilk?
If you don't have buttermilk you can use regular milk and add a little vinegar or lemon juice to create acidity. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar for every 240ml (1 cup) of milk.
I always opt for boned skinless chicken thighs instead of breast because they are juicer but breast will also work.
The flour is seasoned with paprika, mustard powder, white or black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and salt to make it super flavorful. If you don't have all these in your pantry don't worry, you will still get a tasty batter if you skip a couple.
BBQ mayo is my top choice when it comes to sauce because its smoky and sweet flavors taste great with the savory fried chicken and tangy pickles.
I like to enjoy my fried chicken sandwich with some fresh crispy lettuce and tangy pickles such as gherkins and pickled onions. Other options include tomato, slaw, red onion or anything else that takes your fancy.
A classic seeded burger bun is my go-to. I tested the recipe with brioche and found its sweetness a little jarring with the savouriness of the fried chicken. I highly recommend toasting them first to get them nice and crisp.
🧑🍳 Fried chicken sandwich in 4 easy steps
1. Buttermilk marinade
Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl, stir in the salt, add the tenderized chicken thighs and marinade for 4 - 24 hours.
Top tip: don't skip this step, as little as 30 minutes of marinating time will improve the texture of your fried chicken.
Take the buttermilk chicken out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature. Make the barbecue mayo. Prepare the lettuce and pickles. Then place the flour in a bowl and season with paprika, mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper and salt. Shake the excess buttermilk off one of the chicken thighs and dredge in the seasoned flour mixture until coated ensuring you get a decent amount into all cracks and creases.
Place a pan on a high heat and add 4 to 5 cups of oil. When the oil reaches 180C or 350F add the first chicken thigh and fry for approximately 4 mins until it becomes golden brown and crisp. Set the cooked chicken aside and repeat this process with the remaining chicken thighs ensuring that the temperature of the pan reaches 180C or 350F if it has dropped during the cooking process.
Slice the burger buns in half and lightly toast them. Spread a generous amount of barbecue mayo onto the top and bottom pieces, add a layer of lettuce on the bottom, followed by a piece of fried chicken, top with pickles and then finish with the top piece of the bun.
- Don't skip the buttermilk - the buttermilk marinade tenderizes the chicken, adds flavor, and enables the flour to stick to it. The longer you marinade the better, but even 30 minutes will be a big improvement.
- Be thorough in your dredging - make sure each piece of chicken is thoroughly coated in flour before you fry, including all the cracks and folds.
- Use oil with a high smoke point - sunflower or vegetable oil are great. Avoid olive oil because it will burn.
- Get the oil to the right temperature - I highly recommend using a thermometer to ensure the oil reaches 180C or 350F before adding the chicken. This is the optimum temperature for perfectly crispy chicken. If you fry at a lower temperature your chicken will be greasy and if you fry it at a higher temperature the batter may burn. If the temperature changes during cooking ensure it reaches 180C or 350F again before frying the next piece.
- Fry one piece of chicken at a time - to keep the oil at the best temperature. The temperature of the oil will probably drop when you add the chicken to the pan and it could drop significantly if you try and fry the lot in one go.
The history of a fried chicken sandwich?
It might surprise you to hear that fried chicken has both Scottish and West African origins. The Scots nailed fried chicken by the Middle Ages, but the flavour was lacking. Luckily African Americans vastly improved the bland Scottish fried chicken by creating a deeply seasoned batter.
Chick-fil-A claims they invented the fried chicken sandwich in the 1940s. Although this is unsubstantiated, it is likely to be the first chicken sandwich invented by a fast food chain. Other fast food chains well-known for their chicken sandwiches include KFC and Popeyes, although most fast food menus now feature a fried chicken sandwich.
A fried chicken sandwich is a pure delight in itself, although there are lots of tasty side options if you want to make a meal of it. These include fries, potato wedges, slaw, potato salad, and mac n cheese.
How to make a fried chicken sandwich healthier?
Let's face it, a fried chicken sandwich will never be recommended as part of a low-calorie diet, but there are a few things you can do to make it a little less unhealthy and reduce the calorie count.
- Use low-fat mayonnaise in the barbecue mayo
- Use chicken breasts instead of thighs - they won't be as juicy but they are leaner
- Cook the chicken in the air fryer instead of deep-frying.
- Serve in a whole-wheat bun
- Serve with a salad instead of fries or potato wedges
What goes with fried chicken sandwiches?
There are lots of sides you can serve with a fried chicken sandwich to make the experience of devouring it even more enjoyable. These include fries, beans, corn, slaw and Mac and Cheese.Are fried chicken sandwiches unhealthy?
Fried chicken sandwiches are high in saturated and trans-fat. This means eating them regularly can significantly increase your risk of heart disease.What is usually in a chicken sandwich?
A chicken sandwich normally consists of a fried or grilled chicken breast or thigh in a burger bun or between two slices of bread. It might also be served with a sauce like spicy sriracha or barbecue mayo, lettuce, slaw or pickles.What do I need to fry chicken at home?
People are often apprehensive about deep-frying at home, but there are a few kitchen tools that can help to bring you a hassle-free frying experience. A frying thermometer will enable you to get the oil to the perfect temperature for frying resulting in super crispy chicken. A spider or tongs will help you safely remove the cooked chicken from the pan. And when it comes to pans a Dutch Oven is a great choice because of its ability to conduct and evenly distribute heat.
Fried chicken sandwiches are delicious and crispy when served immediately, but they don't make great leftovers. You could store a sandwich in the fridge for a couple of days and it will still be edible, but it will become soggy, craggy and pretty unpleasant.
If you have leftover fried chicken I recommend refrigerating it on its own for up to two days and placing onto a baking sheet and reheating in the oven before assembling the sandwich. Fried chicken is not suitable for freezing.
😋 Check out my other tasty chicken recipes
Chicken is nutritious, versatile and easy to cook. If fried chicken is your thing try my Panko Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken or Honey Chilli Chicken. Or if you're after a lighter option this crispy Dukkah Chicken with pomegranate tabbouleh and a cool yogurt sauce is sure to hit the spot.
Panko Chicken (perfectly crispy)
Sweet and Sour Chicken Hong Kong Style
Crispy Honey Chilli Chicken
Dukkah Chicken With Pomegranate Tabohleh
Did you try this recipe? It would be really great if you could leave a comment and a star rating ⭐️. I would love to receive your feedback and know that other readers find it helpful too.
Don't forget to tag on Instagram or @knifeandsoul on Pinterest!
Fried Chicken Sandwich (with Crispy Buttermilk Chicken)
- 4 chicken thighs
- 200ml (or ¾ cup) buttermilk
- 1 tsp salt
- 150g (or ½ cup + 1 tbsp) plain/all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 liter (4-5 cups) vegetable or sunflower oil
- 4 tbsp barbecue sauce
- 4 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tsp honey
- 2 tsp Vinegar
- 4 burger buns
- Pickles - such as gherkins and pickled onions
- Lettuce leaves
- Tenderise the chicken thighs with a meat tenderiser or rolling pin.
- Place the buttermilk into a large bowl, stir in the salt and add the chicken thighs. Leave to marinade for 4-24 hours if you can (or at least 30 minutes if you can't).
- Combine the barbecue mayo ingredients in a small bowl.
- Place the flour into a bowl and stir in the remaining breading ingredients. (smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, white pepper and salt).
- Put the chicken thighs into the bowl one by one, ensure they are thoroughly coated in the flour mix on all sides and set aside.
- Add the oil to a Dutch oven or large saucepan and heat to 180C or 360F. Add the first chicken thigh and fry for 3-4 minutes until it is golden and crisp. (Notes 1,2 & 3)
- Set aside onto a wire rack or kitchen paper when done and repeat the process with the remaining chicken thighs. (Note 4)
- Prepare the sandwiches (note 5). Toast the burger buns and spread barbeque mayo onto both halves of each bun then add lettuce, a piece of fried chicken, gherkins and pickled onion.
- I strongly advise using a deep-frying thermometer to ensure the oil has reached 180C or 360F before you add the chicken. If you don't have one, drop a breadcrumb into the oil. If it sizzles up then you can start frying, but if it sinks to the bottom the oil isn't hot enough yet.
- Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry the chicken in batches if you need to.
- Chicken is cooked when it reaches 75C or 165F. Use a meat thermometer to check or cut into a piece to check it is white and opaque in the middle.
- If you are not planning to serve straight away or are making a larger quantity, you can place the fried chicken in the oven heated to 80C or 175F.
- Place the burger buns under the grill or use a hot griddle to toast.