A supremely juicy breaded chicken sandwich served between a pillowy brioche bun and drizzled with a hot honey butter.
Why This Works
The classic fried chicken sandwich is one of the easiest fast foods to master at home. The components are simple, economical, and easy to access. The buttermilk and pickle juice marinade injects a lot of juiciness and flavor into the chicken making it ultra delicious.
Useful Tips on How to Make the Best Chicken Sandwiches
What type of chicken do I need to make chicken sandwiches?
Fried chicken sandwich recipes tend to use both boneless chicken thighs or breasts. I prefer chicken breasts for two reasons: 1) Thighs have a higher fat content than white meat. Therefore, we tend to think that prepared chicken thighs are always juicier than breasts. In actuality, the processes of brining and dredging adds a lot of juiciness, if not more. 2) As mentioned, thighs have a higher fat content. Since we are deep frying the chicken, choosing a leaner protein is a healthier choice and will not compromise the flavor.
What is brining?
Oftentimes, when chicken is cooked, the protein turns out unpleasantly dry. PSA – it doesn’t have to be this way! Brining is an age-old technique that involves soaking proteins into a salty liquid before use.
Do I need to brine my chicken?
Brining creates chicken that is dramatically more moist than chicken that has not been marinated. Brining with an acidic ingredient such as pickle juice and a rich ingredient like buttermilk is an effective way to multiply moisture and tenderness in chicken before cooking.
How long do I need to brine my chicken for?
When it comes to seasoning meat, there are minimum and maximum times that you should be aware of. For chicken breasts and thighs specifically, brine for no more than one hour per pound at room temperature. Marinate refrigerated if the amount of time exceeds 4 hours. Avoid over-brining your proteins which may over-salt it impacting its overall texture.
For whole chicken and other proteins, I love referencing the chart below from Samin Nosrat’s book, Salt Fat Acid and Heat.
What does dredging mean?
The noun dredge means to coat food with dry ingredients such as flour or breadcrumbs.
What does dredging do?
Dredging forms a crunchy, crispy exterior shell on meat. This coating works to lock in some of the natural juices of the meat, keeping it tender. Dredging may be used for proteins beyond chicken such as pork or fish.
How do I make the perfect fried chicken sandwich?
The secret to the perfect fried chicken is to use the technique of brining and dredging. Brine the chicken breasts or thighs at room temperature for no more than one hour per pound. To achieve the iconic craggily shell look of store-bought chicken sandwiches, dredge the chicken twice before frying.
Chicken Sandwiches with Hot Honey
Sandwiches (makes 3)
- 3 6 oz pieces chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup pickle juice
- 2 cups low fat buttermilk well shaken
- 1 shallot trimmed, peeled, julienned lengthwise, cut crosswise
- 1/2 bulb garlic trimmed, peeled, smashed
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 1 pint neutral oil
- 3 brioche buns toasted
- 1/4 cup honey
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp paprika
- Chicken | Set a single chicken breast on the counter. Cover with a paper towel and tenderize with a meat tenderizer until 1/2 inch thick. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Throw the tenderized chicken breasts into a large bowl. Add in pickle juice, buttermilk, shallots, garlic, pepper, and salt. To a different bowl, add in the flour and spices. Toss evenly. Seal with Saran Wrap and marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator.
- Fry | Set a dutch oven or pot over the stove on medium heat. Add oil. Heat until it reaches 300 F / 148 C. Dunk the marinated chicken into the buttermilk mixture and dunk into the dry mixture coating both sides. Repeat a second time. When the oil comes to full temperature as indicated by a thermometer, add in one piece of chicken. Fry for about 5 mins on each side or until 165 F / 74 C. Remove from the pot and set it on a plate to cool. Repeat with remaining pieces.
- Assemble | Set a skillet over the stove on low heat. Lightly butter the flat sides of the brioche buns and lightly toast on a pan until golden brown. Plate the buns. Add honey, butter, cayenne, and paprika into the pan. Once it is melted, mix until homogenous. Transfer into ramekins. Assemble the sandwiches. Add a little mayo, lettuce, fried chicken, and pickles. Serve with hot honey.