Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Tested & Perfected Recipes Cookbook Recipe

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Crispy and juicy beyond compare, these fried chicken sandwiches are a mash-up of your favorite fast food versions.

assembled fried chicken sandwiches

Photo by Johnny Miller (Clarkson Potter, 2021)

While I was writing my second cookbook, my daughter, who occasionally grows weary of being my guinea pig taste tester, challenged me to come up with a mash-up version of her favorite fast-food crispy chicken sandwiches (yes, I’m talking about Chick-fil-A and Popeyes). This mission involved several trips to the drive-through, four quarts of oil, a mountain of fried chicken sandwiches, and exhaustive critiques from my kids and their friends (aka the experts). It took me a while, but I finally cracked the code. All I can say is, get ready to be showered with praise — your family will be talking about these for days.

“This recipe is ahhhhhhmaaaaazing!! I can’t believe how it literally tastes exactly like a Chic-Fil-A sandwich…My kids were blown away!”

Kristi

What You’ll Need To Make Fried Chicken Sandwiches

ingredients to make fried chicken sandwiches

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Prep and Brine the Chicken

One at a time, place the chicken breasts in a resealable freezer bag. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound them to an even 1/4-inch thickness.

pounding chicken breasts

Cut each pounded breast in half. (If the pieces seem too large to fit in a bun, trim off the pointy ends; you can cook those as chicken nuggets at the same time you’re cooking the breasts.)

cutting the chicken breasts in half on cutting board

Pour the water into a medium bowl; add the 2 tablespoons of the salt and the sugar and whisk until dissolved. Place the chicken breasts in the brine. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight (the longer you brine, the saltier the chicken will be).

chicken in bowl with brine

Step 2: Bread and Fry the Chicken

Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels and set it next to the stove. Pour the oil into a large, high-sided pot or Dutch oven until it reaches a depth of about 1 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering (about 350°F or 175°C).

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and milk until evenly combined.

whisking wet ingredients for breading the chicken

In another medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, garlic powder, pepper, Accent, paprika, and the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt.

whisked egg in one bowl and whisked flour, cornstarch, baking powder, garlic powder, pepper, Accent, paprika, and the remaining salt in second bowl

Drizzle 4 tablespoons of the egg mixture into the flour mixture.

adding egg mixture to the dry ingredients

Mix with a fork until the flour mixture is evenly clumpy.

clumpy flour mixture

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. One at a time, dip each breast into the egg mixture, letting any excess drip off, and then into the flour mixture, turning a few times and pressing firmly so that the clumps adhere.

dredging the chicken in the flour mixture

Set the breaded chicken on the lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining breasts.

breaded chicken on baking sheet

Carefully place a few pieces of breaded chicken into the hot oil without crowding the pot. Cook, turning a few times, until golden brown and crispy on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes total.

chicken cooking in oil

Place the cooked chicken on the paper towel-lined plate to drain. Fry the remaining breasts in the same manner, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain the temperature of the oil.

cooked chicken on paper towel-lined plate

Step 3: Make the Sauce

In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, and mustard.

whisking mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, and mustard

Step 4: Assemble the Sandwiches

Spread some of the sauce on the top and bottom of each bun.

spreading sauce on both sides of bun

Top each bottom bun with a piece of crispy chicken and a few pickles.

crispy pickles over fried chicken on bun

Close the sandwiches and serve immediately.

Video Tutorial

assembled chicken sandwich

You May Also Like

Crispy Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Crispy and juicy beyond compare, these fried chicken sandwiches are a mash-up of your favorite fast food versions.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Total Time: 50 Minutes, plus at least 4 hours to brine the chicken

Ingredients

For the Chicken

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1⅓ pounds)
  • 2 cups cold water
  • 2 tablespoons plus ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 to 6 cups vegetable or peanut oil, for frying
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Accent flavor enhancer (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika

For the Sauce

  • ½ cup best-quality mayonnaise, such as Hellmann's or Duke's
  • 3 tablespoons store-bought barbecue sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

For the Sandwiches

  • 6 hamburger buns
  • Bread-and-butter pickles

Instructions

  1. Make the chicken: One at a time, place the chicken breasts in a resealable freezer bag; using a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound them to an even ¼-inch thickness. Cut each pounded breast in half. (If the pieces seem too large to fit in a bun, trim off the pointy ends; you can cook those as chicken nuggets at the same time you're cooking the breasts.)
  2. Pour the cold water into a medium bowl; add the 2 tablespoons of the salt and the sugar and whisk until dissolved. Place the chicken breasts in the brine, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight (the longer you brine, the saltier the chicken will be).
  3. Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels and set it next to the stove. Pour the oil into a large, high-sided pot or Dutch oven until it reaches a depth of about 1 inch. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering (about 350°F). (If the end of a wooden spoon or cube of bread sizzles vigorously when you dip it in, the oil is hot enough.)
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and milk until evenly combined.
  5. In another medium bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, garlic powder, pepper, Accent, paprika, and the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of the egg mixture into the flour mixture and mix with a fork until the flour mixture is evenly clumpy.
  6. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. One at a time, dip each breast into the egg mixture, letting any excess drip off, and then into the flour mixture, turning a few times and pressing firmly so that the clumps adhere. Set the breaded chicken on the lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining breasts.
  7. Carefully place a few pieces of breaded chicken into the hot oil without crowding the pot. Cook, turning a few times, until golden brown and crispy on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes total. Place the cooked chicken on the paper towel-lined plate to drain. Fry the remaining breasts in the same manner, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain the temperature of the oil.
  8. Make the sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the mayoanniase, barbecue sauce, and mustard.
  9. Assemble the sandwiches: Spread some of the sauce on each top and bottom bun. Top each bottom bun with a piece of crispy chicken and a few pickles. Close the sandwiches and serve immediately.
  10. Note: Accent is an MSG flavor enhancer that enhances the savory, umami flavors of foods. You can find it in the spice section of the supermarket. I love the flavor it adds, but if you would prefer, you can omit it and increase the salt in the breading to one heaping teaspoon.
  11. Note: A deep-frying thermometer isn’t a must, but it really does help maintain the proper temperature for frying, which ensures that the breading is crispy and sticks to the chicken.
  12. Note: Nutritional information was calculated assuming that approximately ¼ cup of the oil is absorbed into the chicken tenders when frying.
  13. Make-Ahead/Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The sauce can be made 3 days ahead and refrigerated.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Serving size: 1 sandwich
  • Calories: 628
  • Fat: 21 g
  • Saturated fat: 4 g
  • Carbohydrates: 55 g
  • Sugar: 7 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 32 g
  • Sodium: 742 mg
  • Cholesterol: 114 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • Can’t tell you how many times that I have tried to make the perfect fried chicken sandwich. This recipe nailed it!
    10 stars ⭐️

    • — Kerry Kennedy on June 2, 2024
    • Reply
  • This is what dreams are made of…OMG. BEST sandwich ever!!

    • — Brittany on May 2, 2024
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  • Excellent! Thank you for sharing. I was able to brine for 1.5 hours and it was the perfect amount of saltiness/flavor.

    • — nia on April 30, 2024
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  • Excellent recipe! Thank you so much. It was my first time making fried chicken sandwiches. I brined for about 2 hours, and the chicken was so tasty.

    • — Lindsay Z on April 28, 2024
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  • Delicious! We loved the sandwiches we made from your recipe. Thanks so much for sharing — it’s a keeper!

    • — Julie Vecchitto on April 18, 2024
    • Reply
  • This is a great recipe! My youngest son said it was the best chicken sandwich he ever had. I followed the recipe exactly except that I added in some cayenne pepper to the flour mixture. Next time, I think I will dip first in the flour, then the egg, then the flour again for better crust adhesion.

    • — Erika on April 11, 2024
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  • OMG -Amazing! My boys are on a chicken sandwich kick so I wanted to try this and it tasted like restaurant quality.I only had 1 hour to brine and it came out very tasty regardless with a nice hint of salt. I have used thighs before but I loved the thin breasts much better. This would be an impressive sandwich to make for friends/entertaining. Will definitely make again.

    • — MomChef1 on March 17, 2024
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  • The sauce is not it 🤢🤢

    • — Ashleigh Gasper on March 1, 2024
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  • This is a 5-star recipe that I frequently make. However, in the past, I experimented with the dipping of the chicken. Sometimes I just dip it in the egg mixture, then into the flour. Other times, I simply eyeballed the amount of egg mixture I poured into the flour. No matter what I did, the chicken turned out wonderful. Tonight, I followed the recipe exactly, pouring 4 tablespoons of the egg mixture into the flour. The flour was clumpy and pressed into the breasts. The chicken did not turn out. Every breast lost 99 percent of its flour. It did not even get brown and slide off. It was almost as if the flour was absorbed into the chicken. The chicken was still tasty, but not with the crispy batter I am used to. I’m not sure what I did wrong.

    • — Jane Carey on February 26, 2024
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    • Hi Jane, so sorry you had a problem with the breading this time around! I feel pretty confident that the problem you experienced was a result of the oil not being hot enough.

      • — Jenn on February 27, 2024
      • Reply
  • This recipe was amazing! I never leave reviews! My husband and I have been searching for the perfect friend chicken for sandwiches for years. It always ends up being disappointing. NOT this recipe! You seriously couldn’t tell that it wasn’t take out! Brined for 2 1/2 hours after reading reviews. These were flavorful, juicy, and crispy! Will never use another recipe but this one. Thank you!

    • — Rachel on February 7, 2024
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  • So good! Better than any fast food chicken sandwich. My family loved it.

    • — Jenny on February 1, 2024
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  • so good 😭

    • — Joseph on January 29, 2024
    • Reply
  • Every year in memory of my father-in-law, we have fried chicken on his birthday. Fried chicken was his favorite meal, inspired from childhood memories when his grandmother would make it on Sundays. Unfortunately, in his last years with us, I would only make it very rarely doe to his health. This year on his birthday we made these fried chicken sandwiches. The only disappointing thing about them was we didn’t get to share them with my father-in-law because he would have loved them. My husband gave them 5.5 out of 5 stars. Thanks for another great recipe and one that was sentimental as well as comforting.

    • — Nicole on January 26, 2024
    • Reply
  • I will never go to Chic-Fil-A again!! Thank you so much for your repetitive research and taste testing. This recipe is ahhhhhhmaaaaazing!! I can’t believe how it literally tastes exactly like a Chic-Fil-A sandwich. The only thing I left out was the Accent ingredient. My kids were blown away!

    • — Kristi on January 22, 2024
    • Reply
  • The chicken was awesome. I brined for 4 hours but I will cut back to 2 hours next time.

    • — Ann on January 21, 2024
    • Reply
  • You nailed it!! I marinated the chicken about 6 hours and everyone raved. Sincerest thanks!

    • — Stephanie on November 4, 2023
    • Reply
  • Amazing! I’ve never seen my 13-year old eat so much chicken. Best fried chicken recipe we have tried. I subbed the cornstarch and baking powder since I have a corn allergy. I used potato starch and baking powder without cornstarch. We all enjoyed it and will be making it often! Thank you!

    • — Kristi on September 17, 2023
    • Reply
  • I could not keep these on the plate! The second they were put on the paper towels, they were scooped up by hungry kids and husband, even the nuggets! I have never seen them devour food this quickly. This sounds hyperbolic, but it’s the absolute truth. I even had to warn my boys multiple times that they were incredibly hot coming straight out of the oil. They didn’t care. They said they tasted like Chick-Fil-A! The sauce is heavenly, too!

    • — Laura Bass on August 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • Made them last night with the buttermilk and they were Ah-ma-zing Jenn! The breading was perfectly crispy and chicken was so succulent. Seasonings, as always were on point. The bread and butter pickles I get from my local Trader Joes put them over the top. They’re the perfect balance of sweet and sour, whereas most bread and butter pickles, I find to be cloyingly sweet. Highly suggest getting your hands on some if you can and are planning to make these. Bon appetit!

    • — Candice on August 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I am very much looking forward to trying these sandwiches soon, but have some farm fresh buttermilk I’d like to use up. Do you think it would work in this application with the chicken? Thanks in advance!

    Candice

    • — Candice on August 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, Candice, I think that should work. Hope you enjoy the sandwiches!

      • — Jenn on August 9, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thank you for your quick reply Jenn, I plan to make them tomorrow…can hardly wait! 🙂

        Candice

        • — Candice on August 9, 2023
        • Reply
  • I also have a Chick-fil-A and Popeyes loving daughter, and she often begs me to make her fried chicken sandwiches. In the past, I’ve used an Ina Garten recipe, but today I decided to give this one a try. Everyone rated them a 7 out of 7, and my daughter ate two! I am not a fan of deep frying and so don’t do it often, but the next time I agree to make my daughter her favorite sandwich, this is the recipe I’ll use!

    • — Debbie on August 6, 2023
    • Reply
  • Jen, I am a huge fan of your recipes, and this one was no exception! The sandwiches were delicious. I’ll be adding the recipe to my rotation. Thanks for sharing!

    • — Pamela Komons on July 18, 2023
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  • Technique was fantastic – yielded crispy and juicy chicken, as promised. It was a tad saltier than I would have liked (brined for only 5 hours) so I might cut back just a little next time. Otherwise, this will be my go-to chicken sandwich recipe.

    • — Melissa on July 12, 2023
    • Reply
  • Was so happy to see this recipe. Made it for my family and it was enjoyed by everyone. I didn’t find it too difficult to manage just wished my coating was more golden brown like the picture. I will definitely be making this again and maybe I will do it as chicken strips. A definite winner.

    • — Sandra D on July 2, 2023
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  • As expected, my family and I loved this recipe. I left the chicken in the brine an extra day so it was saltier than I would like, will follow Jenn’s brine time down the road. I expect my family will ask for these sandwiches again and again.

    • — Rebecca on June 25, 2023
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  • These are dangerously good! I wouldn’t typically make something like this, but I knew my kids would love it and boy was I right!! They asked if I would make them every week! 😊 The chicken is moist on the inside and delicately crunchy on the exterior. The sauce is simple but delicious, and topping the sandwiches with a few pickles REALLY made it taste like what you get at Chick Fil-a. I’m not sure we’ll ever need to go back there. Jenn, you knocked it out of the park (yet again) — my happy family thanks you!!

    • — Lisa on June 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • I tried this tonight. I would describe it as so so. The meat seemed overly salty. Maybe I let the chicken brine too long (two days). I could not get the batter to look like your picture, and I’m not sure how to do it differently than what you described in your recipe. My batter came out thin once the chicken was done frying.

    I’ll have to try it again soon.

    • — Daniel Beck on June 20, 2023
    • Reply
    • You didn’t follow directions and then rated the recipe poorly? Brining meat for 2 days is going to produce salty meat. That’s how brining works.

      • — Holly Stovall on September 17, 2023
      • Reply
  • I somehow managed to run out of table salt. Is 2.5 Tablespoons of Kosher salt the correct amount for the brine? Thank you for yet another recipe I can’t wait to try!

    • — Rebecca on June 19, 2023
    • Reply
    • Actually, according to this chart, you’ll need 2 tablespoons plus 1.5 teaspoons. Hope you enjoy the sandwiches!

      • — Jenn on June 19, 2023
      • Reply
  • I cooked this tonight and was getting something from the kitchen as the family started dinner. All I heard was “Oh wow Mum!”. It made me smile!

    • — Kate, Cairns Australia on June 17, 2023
    • Reply
    • 😊

      • — Jenn on June 17, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi there, could I use a different oil for frying? Such as avocado, coconut or olive oil? I don’t have peanut oil and ideally would like to use an oil I have handy.

    • — Ashley on June 14, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Ashley, If you have vegetable or canola oil, that would be best. If not, I’d go with the avocado oil. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 15, 2023
      • Reply
  • I made this for dinner the other night – SO GOOD!!! I only ended up with 3.5 hours for the brine and the chicken still turned out juicy and delish! Thank you so much! I also wasn’t able to get a hold of Accent, so I added some onion powder and cajun seasoning and it worked out really well – so flavorful!!

    • — Melissa on June 12, 2023
    • Reply
  • Wow! These sandwiches are delicious! Our dinner guests loved them as well and the following day, I made another batch of sauce and fried the rest of the package of chicken for lunch. I rarely make “fried anything”, because in my experience it makes such a mess. But frying these in a Dutch oven or large-sided pan with only an inch of oil makes all the difference. Very easy to follow instructions and the sauce, which is simple to whip up with only three ingredients, is perfect with the chicken. I think it would be a nice sauce with other sandwiches too. This is definitely going to be a recipe that I make again and again!

    • — Ruthie on June 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • Can you use the already thinned chicken breasts you find in the grocery stores?

    • — Anjli on June 11, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure, I think that would work here. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on June 13, 2023
      • Reply
  • Can I use chicken thighs? That’s all I have in the fridge right now and I *need* to make these amazing-looking sandwiches!

    • — Kate on June 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • Sure – I’d love to hear how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on June 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • This sounds delicious! I love Popeye’s SPICY version. How do I achieve this using your recipe as my template? Should I massage some Tabasco into the flattened chicken breasts before proceeding? What do you suggest?

    • — Debra on June 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Debra, rather than massaging Tabasco into the chicken, you could add 1 to 2 tablespoons of Tabasco (or any hot sauce) to the brine, add some cayenne to the flour/cornstarch mixture used for breading, and substitute up to 1 tablespoon of the barbeque sauce with hot sauce. Please LMK how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on June 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • This looks delicious Jen. Haven’t tried it yet but can I cook these in an air fryer?

    • — Jacqui on June 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • I wouldn’t recommend it, Jacqui — sorry!

      • — Jenn on June 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • Jen, The video link doesn’t seem to be working. Actually there is no link that I can find. I disabled my cookie blocker and still no luck. Any advice? Thanks, looking forward to trying this one!

    • — Teresa on June 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Teresa, I haven’t gotten complaints from others about it and wasn’t able to duplicate the problem myself, so I suspect it may be specific to your computer. I would suggest going onto the blog using a different internet browser and trying to view it from there. Oftentimes, those annoying glitches can be resolved by using a different browser. Please let me know if I can help in any other way!

      • — Jenn on June 9, 2023
      • Reply
    • Hi Teresa, it’s probably your ad blocker.

      • — Tamara Y. on June 11, 2023
      • Reply
  • I am super excited to try this recipe. It looks fabulous!

    • — Kathy M. on June 8, 2023
    • Reply
  • If you cannot use a dairy milk and need a non-dairy option, what would work best?

    • — Brooke Lewitan on June 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Brooke, any non-dairy milk will work here. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on June 8, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn:
    Thanks for this recipe — My family loves these.
    My oldest son asked how we can make these “Hot”, like the Nashville Hot Chicken sandwiches he orders at his favorite restaurant.
    Aside from putting Cayenne in the flour used for breading, and a “Buffalo-Style” sauce for the sandwich, is there a better way to make this a “hot” chicken sandwich?
    Thanks for all your recipes. You are my go-to chef for when I want to make something new.
    Everything I’ve made from you has turned out wonderful.
    I’ll even serve it to guests before doing a “test-run” with my family.
    –Lou Polsinelli
    Cleveland, Ohio

    • — Lou Polsinelli on June 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Lou, so glad you like the recipes! What you’ve suggested sounds like a good way to go. You could also add 1 to 2 tablespoons of hot sauce to the brine. I’d love to hear how it turns out if you try it with these tweaks!

      • — Jenn on June 9, 2023
      • Reply
  • The chicken is crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and oh so flavorful! We make these at least once or twice a month.

    • — Jeanne Peres on June 8, 2023
    • Reply
    • What? This recipe was just published today.

      • — KD on June 8, 2023
      • Reply
      • Hi KD, This recipe is also in my second cookbook, so I’m assuming she used that.

        • — Jenn on June 9, 2023
        • Reply
        • These sandwiches are so good! And not difficult to make at all! I cheat a little with bottled sauce, and I get yummy brioche buns, I would honestly rather have these than restaurant version!

          • — Jill Smith on July 11, 2023
          • Reply

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