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The Best Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe

This is the best friend chicken sandwich recipe – period. Don’t resist it. I have tried dozens, and I do mean dozens and this hands down is the best crispy fried chicken sandwich because it’s layered with subtle flavors from a brush of spicy oil, a spread of whole grain mustard aioli on brioche buns, shredded iceberg lettuce, and sliced dill pickles. It even has some pickle juice in the brine. All these elements together make this the best and only fried chicken sandwich for me.

The Best Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe Overview

Here’s the thing, there is nothing more classic than a crispy chicken sandwich that is deliciously juicy as well.

Soaked in a buttermilk mixture brine overnight and double-dredged in the flour mixture, the surface of the chicken is transformed into a crispy and stable crust.

best fried chicken sandwich recipe

An optional brushing of spicy oil over the fried chicken will satisfy those who want a spicy fried chicken sandwich. 

The crispy and juicy chicken is the star of the sandwich. To have the best fried chicken sandwich recipe on the web requires something extra – and boy are their extras. As such, I like to keep the dressings simple. 

The crispy chicken is sandwiched between a brioche bun covered with a whole grain mustard aioli sauce, shredded iceberg lettuce, and sliced dill pickles.

Let’s break down the ingredients you’ll need to make this amazingly awesome sandwich!

The Best Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe Ingredients

best fried chicken sandwich recipe dry ingredients

Buttermilk Brine Ingredients and Tools

best fried chicken sandwich recipe brine with buttermilk

The first step in this recipe is the buttermilk brine. You will need:

  • 2 cups buttermilk – the acidity of the buttermilk will tenderize the chicken without it becoming tough and chewy.
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt – adding salt to the buttermilk is essential for seasoning the chicken. As the chicken soaks, the salt will be absorbed into the cells of the chicken through osmosis. The salt will prevent moisture loss from cooking.
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs – chicken thighs have more fat than chicken breasts, which will result in a juicier chicken sandwich.

Tools you will need are:

  • Meat tenderizer/mallet or a rolling pin
  • Plastic wrap
  • Large resealable plastic bag

How to Make a Buttermilk Brine for the Best Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe

Place a chicken thigh in-between two layers of plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound the meat until it measures 1/4th of an inch thick. You want the meat to be an even thickness so that it cooks evenly. Don’t hit the chicken so hard that it tears.

best fried chicken sandwich recipe chicken prep

Repeat until all the chicken thighs are done and place them into a large resealable plastic bag.

Measure out 2 cups of buttermilk in a 4-cup glass measuring cup and stir in 2 tablespoons of kosher salt until dissolved.

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Pour the buttermilk over the chicken and seal the bag. Place the bag on a rimmed plate in the fridge and let the chicken marinate up to 24 hours. The chicken should marinate for at least an hour.

Fried Chicken Sandwich Condiment Prep

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Because fried chicken sandwiches are best eaten immediately, having all the condiments and dressings prepared is key!

You’ll want to prepare the Spicy Oil and the Whole Grain Mustard Aioli before you start frying. 

Spicy Oil Ingredients and Instructions

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  • 1 garlic clove
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • ¼ cup peanut oil 
  • 2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

Grind a clove of garlic and a pinch of salt together in mortar and pestle. Or grate the garlic directly into a large bowl.

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In the bowl, add the peanut oil to the garlic. Then add the rest of the spices and mix. Set aside along with a pastry brush for later.

Whole Grain Mustard Aioli Ingredients and Instructions 

  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 tablespoon dill pickle brine
  • ½ cup mayonnaise 
  • 1 tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside with a spoon for later.

The Best Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe Condiment Prep

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Brioche Buns

Set the oven to broil. Spread butter on the inside of the buns and place them on a baking sheet. Broil until a light golden brown. 

Turn the oven off and then set it to the warming setting or 200 degrees Fahrenheit. 

This way the buns will be nice and warm when the chicken is finished, and you don’t have to worry about accidently burning them while keeping an eye on the oil temperature. 

Iceberg Lettuce 

Remove the outer layers from the iceberg lettuce and then cut off the base. 

With the cut-side down, quarter the iceberg lettuce. Starting at the smallest point, use your knife to shred the lettuce. 

Repeat until all the quarters are sliced. Place in a bowl and set aside. 

Dill Pickles

Slice about 2 dill pickles into coin sized pieces and set aside.

Frying Ingredients and Tools

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Oil

  • 2 quarts peanut oil – Chick-Fil-A uses peanut oil to fry the chicken for their sandwiches. If you have a peanut allergy, use an oil that has a high smoke point like vegetable or sunflower. 

What you need in the Dry Mixture for the Best Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe

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  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch – when combined with flour it prevents gluten develop and helps absorb moisture.
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder – the slightly alkaline nature of baking powder helps break down proteins better, which equals crisper and more evenly browned results. It also releases carbon dioxide gas, creating tiny bubbles, which helps add more crunch to the chicken. Baking soda produces similar effects but it adds a metallic flavor so I wouldn’t recommend it as a substitute. 
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Wet Mixture

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  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 egg – helps bind the ingredients together, adding structure to the batter. 
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Tools that will come in handy for frying:

best fried chicken sandwich recipe dredge
  • Dutch oven or high sided pot – helps save you from oil splatters because of how deep it is.
  • Frying thermometer – a frying thermometer that can attach to your pot is a great hands-free method of monitoring the oil temperature. If your oil is too hot, the breading of the chicken will burn but the interior will be raw. Keeping the oil at 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit ensures the chicken will be cooked through.
  • Metal tongs – will help transfer the chicken into the hot oil and for flipping the chicken if necessary. 
  • Spider strainer – makes getting the fried chicken out of the hot oil much easier.
  • Instant read thermometer – handy for checking the internal temperature of the fried chicken to make sure it’s done. The chicken temperature should read 175 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wire rack and baking sheet – placing a wire rack over a baking sheet allows the finished fried chicken to drain elevated, preventing it from getting soggy. 

How to Prep Chicken for Frying

Pour the oil into a pot with high sides and attach the frying thermometer. The oil should measure at least 2 inches high no matter what kind of pot you’re using. 

Heat the oil over medium heat. While the oil is coming to temperature (325 degrees Fahrenheit), place a wire rack over a baking sheet and set it beside the frying pot. 

Mix the dry ingredients in a baking dish or a wide shallow bowl.

Mix the wet ingredients in a medium bowl. 

Take a piece of chicken out of the marinade and let the excess liquid drip off. Dredge the chicken in the dry mixture, flipping it to get both sides covered. 

Dip the piece of chicken in the wet ingredients bowl, letting the excess drip off.

Return the piece of chicken to the dry mixture and dredge it a second time. Shake off any excess flour and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the other pieces of chicken.

How to Fry Chicken

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Carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t overcrowd. How many chicken thighs you fry at once will depend on how large of a pot you are using. 2 pieces is a good number to start at. 

The oil’s temperature will drop immediately after adding the chicken pieces. Monitor the frying thermometer to help you decide how long to cook the chicken.

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Frying the chicken at 325 degrees F should take 10-12 minutes. I prefer frying at this lower temperature (rather than 350 F) because if the oil starts getting hotter, it doesn’t get TOO hot.

Use metal tongs to turn the chicken if necessary to ensure that it is evenly browning. 

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Use the spider strainer to transfer the chicken to the wire rack for draining. To check if the chicken is done, use the instant read thermometer. It should read 175 degrees F.

As soon as the fried chicken is out, brush it with the spicy oil. This is an optional step for those who want to make their fried chicken sandwiches spicy. 

best fried chicken sandwich recipe oil

How to Assemble the Sandwiches 

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Take the buns out of the oven. Use a spoon to spread a generous amount of the aioli on both sides of the bun. 

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Place 4 to 5 pickle slices on the bottom bun, top with a fried chicken thigh, and place about ¼ cup of shredded lettuce on top of the chicken. Place the top bun on and serve immediately. Repeat until all four sandwiches are made and enjoy!

If you are looking for a non-sandwich option consider my world (at least to me) famous cornflake and rosemary fried chicken recipe. It’s delicious with air fryer zucchini and a summer Aperol spritz cocktail.

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What to Serve with Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwiches?

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  • Coleslaw salad
  • Fries
  • More pickle slices
  • Salt and vinegar kettle chips
  • Cracked black pepper kettle chips
  • Fruity and light hazy IPA

Commonly Asked Questions about Making the Best Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe

What’s the secret to the best fried chicken?

Adding salt during each step of the fried chicken process is a key to banishing blandness, while you can pump up the flavor even more by adding spices to the chicken’s coating. For the breading station, add items like chile powder, garlic powder, cayenne powder, salt and black pepper to the flour dredge.

Is chicken thigh or breast better for sandwiches?

Many fried chicken sandwich recipes use breasts, but thighs have more fat, which means they’re more flavorful and harder to overcook. The chicken also fries at a lower temperature, so it finishes cooking and its crust crisps at precisely the same time.

Why put chicken in milk before frying?

The calcium in the milk is thought to jump-start a natural enzyme in the chicken, which acts as the tenderizer. Cooking the chicken in the liquid further infuses it with moisture and flavor.

What is the secret to keeping fried chicken crispy?

The best way to keep fried foods crispy? Just place them on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. If you’re frying multiple batches, throw the whole setup into a low oven to keep everything warm as you keep frying and adding to the rack.

Why do you dip chicken in egg before frying?

Don’t skip the eggs in the buttermilk mixture, because the eggs help the flour coating stick to the chicken. Use a thermometer for your oil. This will give you a much more accurate temperature resulting in the perfect crispy chicken. Use a deep skillet or a Dutch oven for frying.

Do you use baking soda or cornstarch for crispy fried chicken?

It’s the baking soda’s alkalinity that breaks the peptide bonds in the chicken skin and allows it to crisp up. Cornstarch also helps to dry the skin and crisp it more. The acidic part of baking powder is, if anything, a hindrance to crispness.

The Best Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe – A Summary

So, are you ready for the best fried chicken sandwich of your life? I sure hope so. This version is head and shoulders above the rest – and we make it all the time. My brother insists on it every time he visits and I am always happy to oblige because it makes him so darn happy. Plus, what’s not to love? Serve this with coleslaw, crosscut fires, and even chips. Personally, I love it with a Diet Coke. Don’t tell anyone ok? Want more recipes and cocktails? Scroll below for some other great options and see ya in the kitchen. xoxo

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The Best Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe

This is the best fried chicken sandwich recipe on the web bursting with special ingredients including aioli, dill pickles, and a sweet oil.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Southern
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

Buttermilk Brine Ingredients

  • 2 cups buttermilk  the acidity of the buttermilk will tenderize the chicken without it becoming tough and chewy.
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt  adding salt to the buttermilk is essential for seasoning the chicken. As the chicken 
  • 4 total boneless skinless chicken thighs chicken thighs have more fat than chicken breasts, which will result in a juicier chicken sandwich.

Fried Chicken Sandwich Condiment Prep

    Spicy Oil Ingredients and Instructions

    • 1 total garlic clove
    • 1 pinch kosher salt
    • 2 tbsp cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1/2 tsp cumin

    Whole Grain Mustard Aioli Ingredients

    • 1 total garlic clover grated
    • 1 tbsp dill pickle brine
    • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
    • 1 tbsp whole grain mustard
    • 1/4 tsp teaspoon smoked paprika

    What you need in the Dry Mixture

    • 2 cups flour
    • 2 tbsp baking powder that slightly alkaline nature of baking powder helps break down proteins better, which equals crisper and more evenly browned results. It also releases carbon dioxide gas, creating tiny bubbles, which helps add more crunch to the chicken. Baking soda produces similar effects but it adds a metallic flavor so I wouldn’t recommend it as a substitute. 
    • 1 tsp garlic powder
    • 1 tsp onion powder
    • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 2 tbsp season salt
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

    Wet Mixture

    • 2 cups buttermilk
    • 1 total egg beaten, helps bind the ingredients together, adding structure to the batter. 

    Instructions
     

    Buttermilk Brine Instructions

    • Place a chicken thigh in-between two layers of plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound the meat until it measures 1/4th of an inch thick. You want the meat to be an even thickness so that it cooks evenly. Don’t hit the chicken so hard that it tears.
    • Repeat until all the chicken thighs are done and place them into a large resealable plastic bag.
    • Measure out 2 cups of buttermilk in a 4-cup glass measuring cup and stir in 2 tablespoons of kosher salt until dissolved.
    • Pour the buttermilk over the chicken and seal the bag. Place the bag on a rimmed plate in the fridge and let the chicken marinate for up to 24 hours. The chicken should marinate for at least an hour.

    Spicy Oil Instructions

    • Grind a clove of garlic and a pinch of salt together in a mortar and pestle. Or grate the garlic directly into a small bowl.
    • In the bowl, add the peanut oil to the garlic. Then add the rest of the spices and mix. Set aside along with a pastry brush for later.

    Whole Grain Mustard Aioli Instructions

    • Mix all the ingredients together and set aside.

    Fried Chicken Sandwich Condiment Prep

    • Set the oven to broil. Spread butter on the inside of the buns and place them on a baking sheet. Broil until a light golden brown.
    • Turn the oven off and then set it to the warming setting or 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Remove the outer layers from the iceberg lettuce and then cut off the base.
    • With the cut-side down, quarter the iceberg lettuce. Starting at the smallest point, use your knife to shred the lettuce.
    • Repeat until all the quarters are sliced. Place in a bowl and set aside.
    • Slice about 2 dill pickles into coin sized pieces and set aside.

    Frying Instructions 

    • Pour the oil into a pot with high sides and attach the frying thermometer. The oil should measure at least 2 inches high no matter what kind of pot you’re using.
    • Heat the oil over medium heat. While the oil is coming to temperature (325 degrees Fahrenheit), place a wire rack over a baking sheet and set it beside the frying pot.
    • Mix the dry ingredients in a baking dish or a wide shallow bowl.
    • Mix the wet ingredients in a medium bowl.
    • Take a piece of chicken out of the marinade and let the excess liquid drip off. Dredge the chicken in the dry mixture, flipping it to get both sides covered.
    • Dip the piece of chicken in the wet ingredients bowl, letting the excess drip off.
    • Return the piece of chicken to the dry mixture and dredge it a second time. Shake off any excess flour and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with the other pieces of chicken.
    • Carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil. Make sure you don’t overcrowd. How many chicken thighs you fry at once will depend on how large of a pot you are using. 2 pieces is a good number to start at.
    • The oil’s temperature will drop immediately after adding the chicken pieces. Monitor the frying thermometer to help you decide how long to cook the chicken.
    • Frying the chicken at 325 degrees F should take 10-12 minutes. I prefer frying at this lower temperature (rather than 350 F) because if the oil starts getting hotter, it doesn’t get TOO hot.
    • Use metal tongs to turn the chicken if necessary to ensure that it is evenly browning.
    • Use the spider strainer to transfer the chicken to the wire rack for draining. To check if the chicken is done, use the instant read thermometer. It should read 175 degrees F.
    • As soon as the fried chicken is out, brush it with spicy oil. This is an optional step for those who want to make their fried chicken sandwiches spicy.

    How to Assemble the Sandwiches 

    • Take the prepared toasted buns out of the oven. Use a spoon to spread a generous amount of the aioli on both sides of the bun.
    • Place 4 to 5 pickle slices on the bottom bun, top with a fried chicken thigh, and place about ¼ cup of shredded lettuce on top of the chicken. Place the top bun on and serve immediately. Repeat until all four sandwiches are made.
    Keyword chopped cheese sandwich, Fried Chicken, Fried Chicken Sandwich

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