This fried chicken sandwich is ultra crispy on the outside, tender & juicy on the inside and bursting with flavour all over!
This recipe is also foolproof. Whether you’re a fried chicken pro, or never fried a piece of chicken in your life, there’s no way you won’t fall in love with this sandwich. There’s a few different steps, but it’s 100% worth it. Follow me…
Fried Chicken Thigh
For this sandwich we’re going for thigh. Mainly because thighs are slightly fattier/softer than breast. In reality the difference is minimal and the process is the same. The most important thing is that you’re using boneless/skinless meat.
Pound the Chicken
When prepping the chicken you’ll want to give it a good bashing. This will not only help level out the thigh, which in turn will help it cook more evenly, but it also tenderizes the meat. That and it’s horrendously therapeutic!
To pound the chicken I usually go for a rolling pin, but a mallet or heavy pan will also do the trick. You want them fairly thin, but not so thin they fall apart. The main thing is to get them even thickness.
Process shots: lay thigh on chopping board (photo 1), rest over cling film (photo 2), pound with rolling pin (photo 3), remove cling film (photo 4).
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Buttermilk is key in perfectly fried chicken. Buttermilk is slightly acidic, meaning it tenderizes the chicken as it rests. It’s also got the perfect consistency for coating the chicken and helping the batter stick.
What can I sub buttermilk for?
You’ll find buttermilk in most stores, but if you don’t have it you can mix 1 cup milk with 1 tbsp vinegar. Let it sit for 10mins, when it curdles slightly you’re good to go.
How long to marinate chicken in buttermilk?
I generally advise a minimum of 4 hours, up to overnight. Go for as long as you have time for though, even just 30mins will work wonders!
Process shots: add spices and buttermilk to a mixing bowl (photo 1), stir to combine (photo 2), add chicken (photo 3), stir to combine, cover and marinate in fridge (photo 4).
EXTRA Crispy Fried Chicken
Dredging the chicken is where you create the crunchy coating. Here’s three crucial steps to consider when coating the chicken:
- Marinade – Do not drain off the marinade. Take the chicken out the bowl, give it a gentle shake then plonk it straight in the flour. The excess marinade will create lots of small crumbs in the flour, which when attached to the chicken will create those extra crunchy craggy parts.
- Coating – When coating the chicken use your hands and work the flour into every crack and crevice. Really make sure you build up a nice crust on the chicken, don’t just press each side in the flour and leave it at that. Get down and dirty – it makes all the difference!
- One by one – Coat the thighs one by one. If you add them all at the same time the flour will go thick and sludgy, leaving the batter chewy.
Process shots: add flour to shallow dish (photo 1), stir in spices (photo 2), add chicken (photo 3), coat in flour (photo 4), repeat (photo 5).
Deep Fried Chicken
In my experience, if you want tooth-shatteringly crunchy chicken, it’s gotta be deep fried. Yes it’s a bit of a faff, but it’s oh so worth it.
Tips for deep frying chicken
- Oil – You’ll want to use an oil with a high smoking point like vegetable or sunflower oil. Olive oil is not suitable for deep frying as it will smoke out the kitchen.
- Space – Fry in batches to ensure you don’t overcrowd the pot. I do one thigh at a time.
- Temp – Keep the oil at a steady temp. It will lower slightly when the chicken hits, just adjust the flame accordingly. To cool down the oil quickly just add in more oil.
How hot should the oil be?
I highly recommend getting a kitchen thermometer for deep frying. You want the oil to reach 180C/356F. Once the chicken hits the oil the temp will drop, which is fine, but you’ll want to keep it at a steady 165C/300F. After each batch get it back up to 180C/356F.
Process shots: add chicken to hot oil (photo 1), fry until crispy, golden and piping hot through the centre (photo 2), rest and repeat (photo 3).
Fried Chicken Sandwich
When it comes to this sandwich I don’t like to overdo the fillings. You want the chicken to shine, and anything inside the sandwich just to compliment it. Here’s what I recommend:
Fried Chicken Sandwich Fillings
- Burger Bun – Toasted in a scorching hot dry pan.
- Mayo – Here I mix in honey, sriracha and pickle juice to make an awesome sandwich sauce.
- Lettuce – Shredded iceberg lettuce is the classic option.
- Chicken – As discussed.
- Pickles – I like bread and butter pickles.
Other classic options are: tomato, cheese, jalapeños, bacon, coleslaw and red onion. But again, for this recipe I recommend not over-doing it.
Serving Chicken Sandwiches
What goes with a fried chicken sandwich?
- Crisp/Chip Recommendation: Salt & Vinegar or Smoky Bacon flavour goes nicely. Sometimes I even sneak these into the sandwich, but that’s between you and I.
- Side Recommendation: In the photo below I served with thick cut chips from my Chip Butty. Coleslaw and Sweet Potato Wedges also go well!
If you’re after another delicious fried chicken sandwich check out my Spicy Chicken Sandwich!
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this fried chicken sandwich shall we?!
How to make a Fried Chicken Sandwich (Full Recipe & Video)
Classic Fried Chicken Sandwich
- Cling Film & Rolling Pin (for pounding chicken)
- Medium Sized Mixing Bowl (for marinating)
- Large Shallow Bowl or Curved Tray (for dredging)
- Large Pot & Tongs (for deep frying)
- Cooling Rack & Paper Towels (for draining oil)
- Small Mixing Bowl (for sandwich sauce)
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Kitchen Thermometer
- 4 boneless skinless Chicken Thighs (see notes)
- Vegetable Oil, for deep frying (see notes)
- 1 cup / 250ml Buttermilk (see notes)
- 1 tsp EACH: Paprika, Salt
- 1/2 tsp EACH: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, White Pepper, Cayenne Pepper
- 1 3/4 cups / 250g Plain/All Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp EACH: Baking Powder, Oregano, Salt
- 1/2 tsp EACH: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Cayenne Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 4 Burger Buns, toasted (see notes)
- 1/2 head of Lettuce, shredded
- sliced Bread & Butter Pickles/Gherkins, to preference
Honey Sriracha Mayo
- 1/2 cup / 120g Full Fat Mayo
- 1 tbsp EACH: Honey, Pickle Juice, Sriracha (can adjust to spice preference)
- Pound Chicken: One by one lay a chicken thigh on a chopping board and rest over cling film. Pinch around the edges to avoid any moisture escaping, then pound with a rolling pin, mallet or even a heavy pan. You want them fairly thin, but not so thin they start breaking apart. The main goal is to achieve even thickness across the thigh.
- Marinate: In a medium sized mixing bowl combine 1 cup buttermilk with 1 tsp salt & paprika, 1/2 tsp onion powder, garlic powder, white pepper and cayenne pepper. Add in chicken thighs and use your tongs to ensure they'll all evenly coated. Cover with cling film then marinate in the fridge. I highly recommend a minimum of 4 hours (up to overnight), but just as long as you have time for. Take the chicken out the fridge 30mins before needed to bring close to room temp.
- Dredge: In a shallow dish or curved tray, combine 1 3/4 cups flour with 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp baking powder, salt and oregano, 1/2 tsp onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper and 1/4 tsp black pepper. One by one dredge the thighs through the flour, making sure you completely coat each time. Really get in all the cracks and crevices of the chicken to create lots of craggy bits on the batter. Place to one side.
- Fry: In a large pot or deep pan heat up 3-4 cups oil to 180C/356F. Place in 1 thigh and fry for 3-4mins each side, or until deep golden and crunchy. The internal temp of the chicken should reach 75C/165F (will continue cooking slightly as it rests). The temp of the oil will likely drop when the chicken starts frying, and that's fine, but make sure the temp stays at around 165C/300F as the chicken fries (a medium flame should obtain this). Carefully remove and rest on wire rack with paper towels underneath (don't place directly on paper towel or they'll lose crispiness). Bring oil temp back up to 180C/356F and fry the next thigh.
- Serve: In a small pot whip up your sriracha honey mayo, then stack the sandwiches in the following order - Bottom bun, mayo, lettuce, chicken, pickles, top bun (spread with mayo). Enjoy!
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