You're Making Your Homemade Fried Chicken Sandwich All Wrong

If there's one thing almost everybody can agree on, it's that we all love chicken sandwiches. Whether you prefer Popeyes' or Chick-Fil-A's or KFC's or maybe you're even one of the few who favor Burger King's (hey, we're not judging, to each their own), no-one can deny that crispy fried chicken on a brioche bun with mayo and pickles is just about the perfect lunch. And you know what? We wouldn't exactly turn one down for dinner or even breakfast, either. Heck, we'll have another one for dessert.

While it's easy and not all that expensive to satisfy your chicken sandwich craving at probably any of half a dozen drive-thrus near you, you could, you know, always try making such a sandwich at home. Yes, frying chicken can be scary! But you'll only be working with a boneless breast here, so that cuts down on some of the complications. Plus, you can always oven-fry or use an air fryer, both of these being easier (and lower-calorie) cooking methods than is deep-frying. In case you're still on the fence about whether you want to try making your own chicken sandwich, or – worse – you've tried it once and screwed it up royally, Mashed went to Perdue Farms' chef Chris Moyer for some expert-level tips on chicken sandwich creation.

Mind the time and temperature

Moyer says that making a copycat Popeye's/Chick-Fil-A-style sandwich begins with a good brine, and he recommends using cultured buttermilk. If you use the uncultured kind, your chicken might be a bit bland, but cultured buttermilk, something he describes as having a similar consistency to yogurt and being used for cooking and baking rather than for drinking, includes acidified bacteria that he says provide this product with a "tangy, sour taste." He also says that it's important to give the chicken enough time to marinate properly, warning that if you're not marinating for at least 4 hours, the flavor won't soak in.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to preparing the chicken, though, involves the actual cooking process. Moyer says that proper cooking temperature is crucial, so yes, you will need a deep-fry thermometer to monitor it. (Should you be deep-frying the chicken, that is. You may disregard this advice if using an air fryer or oven.) The reason temperature is so critical for successful chicken frying, he explains, is that "if the heat is too low, it won't cook properly and if it's too hot it will burn, or the chicken will end up being too dry."

Bearing in mind Moyer's tips, a delicious DIY chicken sandwich shouldn't be too hard to achieve. And if you like things on the spicy side, be sure to check out his recommendations for the best ways to bring the heat!