How To Choose The Right Cut Of Chicken For Your Sandwiches

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Chicken sandwiches are all the rage these days, whether it's high-quality fast food sandwiches or delicious homemade versions. However, those opting to make their own are confronted with one central question that can dictate the quality of their meal: Which cut of chicken should you use? Mashed consulted an expert, and it turns out the answer is complicated.

According to Max Halley, author of "Max's World of Sandwiches," chicken is "too big, too broad, and too diverse for any one part of the chicken to be considered the best." Instead, he argues that it comes down to the type of chicken sandwich you're making. For chicken sandwiches to be enjoyed at room temperature, such as chicken salad or chicken Caesar, Halley suggests chicken breast, which he calls "the filet steak of the chicken world." With limited exposure to high heat, chicken breasts retain a better texture. However, extended high temperatures tend to dry out this lean cut.

Halley suggests those making hot sandwiches (like the ever-popular fried chicken sandwich) should look to chicken thighs instead. Thighs are known for their rich flavor and more forgiving nature when cooking due to the high amount of fat typically found in the cut.

More than just picking the right cut

Another thing thighs have working in their favor is price. In many cases, they're more affordable than chicken breasts, helping home cooks get more for their grocery budget.

Max Halley also recommends brining the chicken thighs to prepare them, a process that tenderizes the meat, adds flavor, and creates a juicier meal. Along with toasting your bread or buns, experimenting with sauces, and adding toppings like onions or other thoroughly washed and dried produce, this is one of the best tips for cooking chicken sandwiches at home. Those using chicken breasts should also pound them to an even thickness with a meat mallet, rolling pin, or heavy skillet to ensure even cooking. 

At the end of the day, home cooks shouldn't stress too much, regardless of whether they're using the best- or worst-ranked cuts of chicken. Halley says there isn't any piece of chicken — other than the bones — that won't work on some kind of sandwich, noting that if "treated right, all are welcome."