My Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich is an at home version of the iconic Chick-fil-A sandwich.
Look at that crispy chicken sandwich! I paired it with some Cajun spices potato chips for the perfect lunch! I’m counting the dill pickles as a vegetable. Argue with me on that point, it’s fine.
I did a lot of research in developing this recipe. Most of it consisted of eating Chick-fil-A sandwiches for a few decades. Let me break it down for you a little bit, so you don’t think it’s just a string of random ingredients.
Start with a brine. Any Southerner worth that title will tell you that good fried chicken is soaked in buttermilk, but if you really examine the taste of a Chick-fil-A sandwich, you get a distinct pickle flavor that can’t be explained by just the pickles on the bun. So, I added pickle juice to the soak. The spices and flavorings I added to the flour dredge were things I generally put in a fried chicken recipe; salt, pepper, paprika, plus a few leavening agents, as well as cornstarch, to give the crust a good crunch.
The sugar in both the soak and the dredge might seem a little bit odd, but the Chick-fil-A sandwich is definitely on the sweeter side. Finally, I added a couple of tablespoons of dried and wet buttermilk to the dry ingredients, so that even the first sandwich has those craggy bits that crunch so well when fried.
This is not an everyday chicken sandwich. This is a sandwich to celebrate how awesome you are!
- 1 lb thin sliced chicken breast (you can buy full size chicken breasts, slice them in half and pound them thin. Or you can take advantage of the fact that Mega Markets sell thin sliced chicken and save yourself a little work. Your choice. I know what I did 😉)
- 1 cup dill pickle juice, right out of the jar. Nothing fancy, just buy plain old sliced dill pickles and use the juice.
- 1 cup buttermilk. Mega Markets usually sell the low fat kind, and that's fine, but if you can get whole fat buttermilk it's even better. The thicker texture really holds the crust onto the chicken.
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
Coating For the Chicken (Otherwise known as "The Dredge")
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 4 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp paprika (sweet or smoked, whatever you have)
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp powdered buttermilk (found in the baking aisle)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- A few tablespoons of buttermilk, mixed into the finished dredge, giving it a slightly shaggy appearance
Everything Else You Need
- 1 1/2 cup vegetable oil for frying
- Buns. Plain, sesame, brioche, whatever you like.
- A little softened butter for toasting your buns
- Good old fashioned dill pickle slices
- Combine the buttermilk, pickle juice, and sugar. Place the chicken breasts in a zip-top bag and pour the liquid over them. Press out as much air as possible and seal it up. Squish everything in the bag a little, so that all the chicken is submerged. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour, up to four hours.
- Mix together all your dry dredge ingredients, except the few tablespoons of buttermilk.
- Sprinkle a few tablespoons, up to 1/4 cup, of the liquid buttermilk over your dry dredge. Using a fork, mix together well. This should give you a nice "shaggy" kind of texture. Normally when you fry something, the first batch doesn't have as many crispy bits on the edges as later batches. Adding a little buttermilk now will give every batch of chicken the perfect amount of crispy bits.
- Heat oil in cast iron pan or other tall sided frying pan to 350 degrees. Remove chicken from brine and shake it off so it's not dripping all over the place. Drag chicken through the dredge. Pack that flavor (and those soon-to-be crispy bits) firmly onto chicken, then shake off the excess.
- Fry for 3-4 minutes per side or until nicely browned. These are thin cuts, so they won't take long to cook. Place on a wire rack to drain.
- Serve on butter toasted hamburger buns with 3 pickles. Cry because it’s so delicious. Forget Chick-fil-A ever existed. Feel good about that. Nap.