So you want to make a fried chicken sandwich at home? But where do you start? There are so many recipes to choose from and sure some have their own twist to them, but ultimately which one is really the “best”?
For this blog post we have decided to analyze the top ten recipes that come up in search to see what’s truly critical to making a great fried chicken sandwich. Our process was simple. First, we chose the top 10 fried chicken sandwich recipes that come up when you search, and then we evaluated every aspect of the process from ingredients to the process. In the end, we realized that there are some fundamental factors that each one of them shared that played a critical role in the foundation of a great fried chicken sandwich.
Here are the 5 main things we discovered!
1. Keep your ingredients simple.
Keep it simple. Salt, pepper and paprika are the way to go when putting together your flour (dry ingredient) base. You can certainly add other spices like oregano and onion powder, but based on our research the necessary foundation consists of these three spices.
This idea of simplicity echoes throughout the whole sandwich making process. In fact, when it comes to garnishes and condiments it's all about keeping it simple as well. The most popular garnish choices were pickles and lettuce and for a condiment either mayo or spicy mayo. The spicy mayo was typically made from a mix of hot sauce or cayenne pepper.
2. Tenderize your chicken.
A great way to ensure that your fried chicken stays tender and juicy is to start with the right chicken part. Sure you can stick with the chicken breast for a learner outcome, but the chicken thigh is the clear winner. It is fattier and therefore it will yield a juicer product. However, the tenderizing process does not end with the right cut.
Buttermilk is the key ingredient to the chicken fried sandwich. Not only does it add flavor, but it is also the ingredient that creates that juiciness. The buttermilk has cultures that help to tenderize the chicken further. You can also leave the chicken to marinade in the buttermilk overnight to up the effects.
Though it was not a prevalent or necessary process that came up in our analysis, it is still worth mentioning that you can “pre-tenderize” your chicken with a pickle brine before introducing it to buttermilk. The pickle brine breaks down the chicken protein in a process called denaturing. It is also important to stick to a brine that does not have sugars because the high heat can cause the chicken to burn.
3. High heat is your friend, but you’ll need to be prepared.
Set aside the olive oil. You are going be frying your chicken in high heat and so you will need a good high heat oil like peanut oil. This oil will need to be brought up to a temperature of 350° F ideally or somewhere between 350°F and 380°F. This means you will need a thermometer to keep tabs on the temperature.
4. Your choice of buns makes a difference.
Based on the recipes we examined, you can virtually use any bun of your choice. However, the clear winner was the brioche bun. Lightly toasted brioche buns are the perfect match for a fried chicken sandwich. In fact, according to Gimme Delicious Popeye’s copycat chicken sandwich recipe, the brioche bun is the best choice for mimicking the flavor and texture of a Popeye’s sandwich.
5. The is a technique to achieving the crispy crust.
The signature texture of the fried chicken is probably the crispy crust. The crust starts with a critical process called dredging which entails dipping the buttermilk soaked chicken in flour to create the crust. However, there is prevalent technique to dredging so we encourage you to check out this Martha Stewart's fried chicken recipe video to get a glimpse at how to dredge your chicken to create those nice crispy chucks of batter.
Well there you have it! What the top fried chicken sandwich recipes reveal is that the sandwich is made of simple ingredients, but it’s success rests on a special set of steps which yield that crispy and juice effect that everyone craves.