This Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich is ultra crispy on the outside, soft & juicy on the inside and loaded with flavour all over!
Strap yourself in, because this is one heck of a sandwich. Follow me…
The BEST Spicy Chicken Sandwich!
Yup, I’m putting it out there. This will be the best spicy chicken sandwich you’ll ever make. Here’s why I’m confident you’re gonna LOVE it:
- Crisp – Whilst deep frying can be a bit of a faff, here I’ll give you some tips and tricks to ensuring the chicken comes out ultra crispy.
- Juicy – Inside the crispy coating will be soft, juicy and tender chicken – no false promises!
- Glaze – I’ll show you a super simple but insanely delicious sauce to glaze the chicken with.
- Flavour – In general, the whole sandwich is absolutely bursting with flavour!
This sandwich does take a little prep time & effort, but the results are worth it. Because when is fried chicken slapped between two slices of bread ever not worth it?! Anywho, follow me…
Pounding the Chicken
The first, and arguably most important step to prepping the chicken is pounding it. Pounding the chicken serves two purposes:
- Thickness – You want the meat to be even thickness, just so it cooks at an even rate. You also want it to be thin so the breading crisps up at the same rate the meat cooks.
- Tender – By pounding the chicken you tenderize it.
For this sandwich we’ll be using boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you can sub thighs if that’s what you have. To pound the chicken I use a rolling pin, but you can use anything with a bit of weight behind it, like a cast iron skillet or mallet. In all cases just make sure you cover with cling film and pinch around the edges to ensure the juices don’t escape.
Process shots: lay chicken on chopping board (photo 1), add cling film (photo 2), pound until even thickness (photo 3), remove cling film and repeat (photo 4).
Spicy Chicken Marinade
All good fried chicken starts with a good marinade. For this simple marinade we’ll be using buttermilk, hot sauce and salt & white pepper.
What Hot Sauce to use?
You’ll want to use a vinegar based hot sauce to help tenderize the chicken. Something like Franks works great, as does Cholula.
What can I sub Buttermilk for?
Buttermilk is great for its consistency (perfect for coating/dredging chicken). Buttermilk is also great because its slight acidity helps tenderize the chicken. You’ll find it in most stores, but if for whatever reason you can’t find it you can use either plain yogurt & milk, or milk & vinegar (more on this in the recipe card).
How long to marinate for?
I recommend a minimum of 4 hours (up to overnight), but as long as you have time for. Even 30mins works wonders!
Process shots: add hot sauce, salt & pepper to buttermilk (photo 1), stir to combine (photo 2), add chicken breasts (photo 3), cover & marinate (photo 4).
Spicy Chicken Coating
Once the chicken has marinated, it’s time to dredge it through seasoned flour. This is a crucial step and will heavily influence how crispy the chicken turns out.
When you coat the chicken, really make sure you work the flour into every crevice of the chicken. You want to create lots of tiny flaky parts – these are what will give the chicken that rough/craggy crunchy casing.
Process shots: add seasoning to flour (photo 1), stir to combine (photo 2), coat chicken (photo 3), repeat and get ready to fry (photo 4).
Deep Fried Spicy Chicken
To get the KFC style chicken you’re after, deep frying really is the best option. Here are some quick tips for deep frying:
- Oil – You’ll want to use an oil with a high smoking point like vegetable, peanut or sunflower oil. Olive oil is not suitable for deep frying.
- Space – Fry in batches to ensure you don’t overcrowd the pot.
- 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.
Process shots: add chicken to hot oil (photo 1), flip then remove (photo 2), rest on wire rack (photo 3).
Spicy Chicken Glaze
Okay here’s where things get real intense real quick. I actually picked this tip up when trying out Nashville Fried Chicken, and that’s to use the leftover frying oil to create a glaze. I know, quite ridiculous isn’t it 🤣 But it totally works!
Alongside the oil, I add in hot sauce and honey, which creates a gorgeous sweet & spicy flavour combo. Alongside that I also add smoked paprika, which offers a really nice smoky twang.
Process shots: whisk glaze ingredients (photo 1), dunk in a brush (photo 2), glaze both sides of chicken (photo 3).
Spicy Chicken Sandwich
Nearly there! Just the actual sandwich to make. All the tricky stuff is done. I like to keep the fillings fairly limited, just to allow the chicken to do the talking. Here I use mayonnaise, iceberg lettuce, pickles and jalapeños.
How Spicy is this sandwich?
This chicken itself has a mild kick to it, nothing to OTT. But from there you can really control how spicy the sandwich is. Add more or less hot sauce in the glaze then adjust jalapeños to preference!
Process shots: spread mayo on toasted bun (photo 1), add lettuce (photo 2), add chicken (photo 3), add pickles (photo 4), add jalapeños (photo 5), add other half of bun (photo 6).
Serving Spicy Chicken Sandwiches
You’ll want to serve these up right away, just so they don’t lose their crispiness.
What to serve with Spicy Chicken Sandwich?
- Crisp/Chip Recommendation: I love Smoky Bacon flavour with this sandwich.
- Side Recommendation: Crisp & Creamy Coleslaw pairs beautifully with this sandwich, as does Individual Nachos and Sweet Potato Wedges!
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for this Spicy Chicken Sandwich shall we?!
How to make a Spicy Chicken Sandwich (Full Recipe & Video)
Spicy Chicken Sandwich
- Cling Film & Rolling Pin or Mallet (for pounding chicken)
- Large Pot & Tongs (for deep frying)
- Large Mixing Bowl & Cling Film (for marinating)
- Large Shallow Bowl or Curved Tray (for dredging)
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Cooling Rack & Paper Towels
- Small Mixing Bowl & Whisk (for glaze)
- Kitchen Thermometer
Chicken & Marinade
- 4x 5-7oz/150-200g Chicken Breasts
- 1 1/4 cups / 300ml Buttermilk (see notes)
- 1/4 cup / 60ml Hot Sauce (something vinegar based like Franks or Cholula)
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp White Pepper
- 3-4 cups / 750ml - 1litre Vegetable, Peanut or Sunflower Oil
- 1 3/4 cups / 250g Plain/All Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp Paprika
- 1.5 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 tsp EACH: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Salt, Baking Powder
- 1/4 tsp Black Pepper
- 4 large Burger Buns, halved & toasted (see notes)
- 4 tbsp Mayo
- 1/2 head of Iceberg Lettuce, finely sliced/shredded
- Bread & Butter Pickles Slices, to preference
- Pickled Jalapeños, to preference
- 1/2 cup / 120ml Oil from deep frying
- 2 tbsp Honey
- 2 tbsp Hot Sauce, or to taste
- 2 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Pound Chicken: Lay a chicken breast on your chopping board, cover with cling film and pinch around the edges (so no juices escape). Pound until even thickness, but not so thin it starts breaking apart. Around 3/4" is fine. Cut and discard any parts around the breast that rip off (can cut the tails off to create circle/burger shape if you want). Repeat with remaining breasts.
- Marinate: In a large mixing bowl combine buttermilk, hot sauce, salt and white pepper. Add in the chicken breasts and combine to ensure they'll all coated. Cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge. I 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 (see notes).
- Dredge: In a large shallow dish or tray combine flour with paprika, cayenne pepper, onion & garlic powder, baking powder and salt & black pepper. One by one coat the breasts in the flour, making sure you completely coat each time. Really get in all the cracks and crevices of the chicken to create lots of little flaky parts. Place to one side.
- Fry: In a large pot or deep pan heat up oil to 180C/356F. In batches of 1-2 (depending on pot size), carefully lower the chicken in the hot oil. The temp will likely drop to around 165C/300F, just maintain that heat as the chicken fries. Depending on the thickness of the chicken it'll take around 4-5mins on one side, then flip and continue frying for another couple of minutes. The chicken should be deep golden, visibly crunchy with the bubbling oil starting to slow down. The internal temp of the chicken should reach 75C/165F. 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 between each batch.
- Glaze: Once you've fried the 4 breasts, scoop out 1/2cup of the oil and pour into a mixing bowl. Add in honey, hot sauce, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt & black pepper and whisk until it emulsifies and thickens into a glaze. Brush both sides of the chicken with the glaze.
- Sandwich: Stack the sandwich in the following order - toasted bun, mayonnaise, lettuce, chicken, pickles & jalapeños, top bun. Enjoy!
- 3/4 cup plain unsweetened yogurt mixed with 1/4 cup milk to thin out.
- 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tbsp acid (white vinegar or lemon juice). Mix them together and let it sit for 10mins before adding the chicken. This is a slightly thinner consistency than buttermilk, so if you’re doing this ensure you properly dredge the chicken through the chicken to create the flaky parts.
– Allow the chicken to rest a little before hitting the oil, just to help the batter and chicken glue together.
– Make sure you don't move the chicken too much in the first instance when it’s in the oil. Again, just to allow time for the batter to glue to the chicken.
– Ensure the chicken is close to room temp before it hits the oil. Cold meat seizes up and releases a lot of moisture, which may push the breading off.
– Check oil temp is on point. Too low and the batter goes soggy and falls off. Too high and it’ll burn and flake off. e) Calories - Rough estimate based on using 5.3oz/150g chicken breasts, all the flour buttermilk included, 2 tsp oil per fried chicken:
Your Private Notes:
For more similar sandwiches check out these beauties:
Fried Chicken Sandwiches
- Classic Fried Chicken Sandwich
- Flamin’ Hot Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
- Popcorn Chicken Sandwich
- Parmesan Chicken Sandwich (shallow fried)
- Chicken Katsu Sandwich (shallow fried)
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