The Secret To Making The Perfect Fried Chicken Sandwich At Home

When you want to dig into a fried chicken sandwich, you have found yourself in a serious situation; the chicken sandwich industry has been on fire lately, in part thanks to the chicken sandwich war. According to NBC, Popeyes estimated that each of their stores sold 1,000 fried chicken sandwiches a day when they first launched their signature chicken sandwich that kicked off the war back in 2019. This fast food rivalry created a renaissance for the sandwich, with this fried chicken classic even overtaking the popularity of a hamburger (via QSR). 

When you get tired of ordering this staple at restaurants, consider making a fried chicken sandwich at home to take this standard to the next level. While the idea may seem daunting, a little bit of practice and some well-honed advice can shape up any fried chicken sandwich plans you might want to tackle. 

In order to avoid mistakes and create the ultimate poultry sandwich, Perdue Farms Executive Chef Chris Moyer has stepped in to offer a wide variety of advice to anyone looking to take their fried chicken sandwich to new heights. Moyer has a ton of experience in this field, helping Perdue craft fried chicken sandwiches that we can now find on the frontline of the chicken sandwich wars. With a bit of his advice, anything is possible!

A perfect fried chicken sandwich with the best ingredients

Making a sandwich at home can reward you with a better product than you might find at a restaurant. "A lot of people think you need to go to a restaurant to enjoy a really good fried chicken sandwich, but you can make just as good a sandwich –if not better — at home in your own kitchen," Moyer shared. 

When you make a sandwich at home, ingredients make all the difference, says Moyer. "You need to use a high-quality boneless skinless chicken so the star of this sandwich truly shines," he continued. "I'm partial to Perdue Harvestland chicken breasts for the excellent quality and tender meat. But don't be afraid to use dark meat. It's harder to overcook, and it can bring more flavor to the sandwich. I am partial to chicken thighs. They have more fatty areas than the chicken breast which means great flavor and moisture. The only problem that comes with more moisture and oils is issues with breading adhesion. The breasts are better for breading, and I would look at grilling the thighs."

Once you determine what parts of the chicken to use, it's time to flatten things out. Moyer recommends using a meat mallet to evenly smash your chicken, so the cuts can cook at the same rate. After your chicken has reached a uniform thickness thanks to your flattening efforts, you can plan to marinade.

Getting the juiciest cuts of chicken for your sandwich

Speaking of marinades, Moyer had some sagely advice for fried chicken lovers. "Use a good marinade, such as buttermilk, thyme, hot sauce, salt, and pepper, to help layer the flavors within your chicken," he recommended. "Let chicken marinate for at least 4 hours."

After this stage, you can start thinking about breading. "Use proper breading techniques, specifically the three-step breading process of pre-dust, egg wash, and a breader," Moyer continued. "You also want to use seasoning staples, such as salt, pepper, and garlic powder in your breading to compliment the marinade."

Finally, we can dip our chicken into some hot oil! But be aware, this step takes some finesse and control in order to end up with the perfectly cooked piece of fried chicken. "Always cook your chicken to an internal temperature, not how long... it has been cooked," Moyer said. "Frying temperature should be between 325 and 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The internal temperature of a boneless chicken breast should be 170 degrees." Then, once your chicken emerges from its deep fryer, it needs some time to rest. "Rest your perfectly fried chicken on a baking rack for 2 to 3 minutes after frying to drip off any excess oil and allow the bottom of the chicken to stay crisp by releasing steam," Moyer added.

With all of these steps in the bag, we can now assemble the chicken sandwich that guarantees to put all others to shame!

The building blocks of the ultimate fried chicken sandwich

If you've just started making this classic sandwich at home, starting simple makes for an easy and great-tasting sandwich, according to Moyer. "For optimal taste and eating experience, keep it simple by using a nice fluffy bun, crunchy pickle, and a lightly flavored sauce to tie everything together," Moyer explained. "Sweet and savory is a favorite flavor combination of mine. You have the savory flavor of the crispy fried chicken, this cries out for a sweet bun: a brioche bun. The fluffy-yet-rich flavor of the bun blends well with the flavor of the chicken. If you want to take it up a notch, toast the bun with a little salted butter or better yet on a griddle."

Of course, that brings us to the sauce component. "A fatty, mayonnaise-based sauce type helps to blend all the flavors together," Moyer continued. "It doesn't need anything too crazy with flavor, so something light like mustard or herbs is a good match here." 

That means it's time to talk about texture. "We have the soft fluffy roll with a crispy chicken breast, and now you need some crunch to really drive it home," Moyer added. "I prefer something thick and super crunchy, like a homemade pickle or even one from a local farmers market for something with character."

Give this recipe a shot for the ultimate meal that can impress anyone who tastes it, and guarantees to keep them coming back for more!