Marinated Grilled Chicken Sandwiches Recipe

Although this recipe for marinated grilled chicken sandwiches comes to Mashed via Illinois-based recipe developer and food photographer, Stephanie Rapone of Pantry to Plate Meals, it's actually based on a dish regional to upstate New York. We're talking about "fireman's chicken," also known as "Cornell chicken." "My husband grew up in western New York, Rapone told Mashed, and apparently, that's one of the only places where the marinade is available commercially. When Rapone and her husband realized they couldn't find the marinade in Illinois, Rapone got to work reverse engineering the marinade from memory (especially her husband's) and a bit of help from copycat recipes she found on the internet. Finally, after considerable blending and tweaking, Rapone came up with the marinade recipe that you'll find here. "We love the flavor so much!"

Although fireman's chicken is traditionally made with bone-in, skin-on chicken, cooked low and slow, and it's traditionally served on a plate with knife and fork, rather than as a sandwich. However, something Rapone noticed as she was playing around with ingredients was that the recipe could be made much more weeknight-friendly if it were made, instead, with boneless, skinless thighs and served on a bun as a sandwich. "We're obsessed!" Rapone admitted to the amount of time she and her husband put into coming up with this recipe. 

And you may be too, especially because Rapone's instructions for this recipe will not net you not only a great weeknight eat-with-your-fingers meal, but also a cleaner grill grate. 

Gather your ingredients for this marinated grilled chicken sandwiches recipe

For this recipe for marinated grilled chicken sandwiches, you'll need to start with three pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs (this should net you enough cooked chicken for six sandwiches). For the marinade, you'll need 1 cup of canola or other vegetable oil (plus more for cleaning the grill, as we'll get to), 2 cups of apple cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons of kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning, 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper — and an egg, which Rapone says "makes the meat more tender and helps the marinade actually get in the meat." Whether or not she's scientifically correct, don't be surprised if you start adding eggs to more of your marinades!

Oh, and if you don't have a poultry seasoning mix on hand, don't let that stop you because Rapone has told us that you'll do fine with a sprinkle each of rosemary, sage, thyme, nutmeg, black pepper, and marjoram, all of which you're more likely to have in your spice cabinet. 

To assemble the sandwiches, you'll need six buns, six slices of provolone cheese, half of a 12-ounce jar of pickled banana peppers, a head of butter lettuce, a large tomato, and about 4 tablespoons of mayonnaise.

Mix up your marinade, and marinate your chicken thighs

You can make the marinade either by shaking the first six ingredients listed below in a Mason jar, or by combining them in a bowl with a whisk. If you're taking the former approach, simply place those first six ingredients into your jar, cover, and shake until the mixture is uniformly emulsified. If taking the latter approach, then Rapone advises that for best results, start by cracking and beating the egg in a large bowl. Add 1 cup oil and beat again. Add cider vinegar, kosher salt, poultry seasoning, and pepper and beat again.

To marinate the chicken thighs, place them in a zip-top bag, and cover the chicken with the marinade. Since any extra marinade can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for two to three weeks, Rapone recommends using only some of the marinade and storing the rest in the fridge to save a step next time you want to make these marinated grilled chicken sandwiches. In any case, let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least one hour, two if possible.

Grill your chicken thighs -- but first make sure it's a nice clean grill

Preheat the grill on the high setting. Then, using tongs, dip a wadded up paper towel in the extra canola/vegetable oil and wipe down the grill grates. Then reduce the heat to medium. Transfer the chicken from the marinade onto the grill with the smooth side down. Close the grill lid for three minutes. Then, use tongs to rotate the chicken a quarter turn for "nice hash marks" as Rapone says.  Then close the lid and cook for three more minutes.

Melt the cheese on top of the chicken thighs

The next step is to layer cheese onto the grilled chicken, but before we do so, let's make sure the chicken is already 160 F or higher. Insert an instant read digital probe thermometer into one thigh, and if the temperature is 160 F or higher, then it's time to place one slice of cheese on each piece of grilled chicken. Immediately close the lid of your grill, and keep it closed for three minutes. This time is important to melt the cheese and bring the temperature of the chicken thighs up to the ideal temperature for chicken thighs of 165 tp 190 F.

Assemble your marinated grilled chicken sandwiches

After the three minutes has passed, use a tongs or spatula to remove the cheese-covered chicken thighs from the grill, and set them aside to rest for three to five minutes. While the grilled chicken is resting, take out your lettuce and tomatoes. Slice the tomato into at least six slices, and tear off at least six lettuce leaves (since we are making six sandwiches). Also, take out your buns, and separate each into its two halves.

To build your sandwiches, Rapone recommends placing the lettuce on the bottom half of the bun, then the chicken, then a tomato slice, then a few banana peppers. Spread one tablespoon of the mayonnaise on each of the top buns, stack, and enjoy!

Marinated Grilled Chicken Sandwiches Recipe
5 from 32 ratings
This grilled chicken sandwich recipe also goes by the name "fireman's chicken" and is pure Americana. It's a tasty crowd-pleaser that comes together in no time.
Prep Time
Cook Time
marinated chicken thigh sandwich with all the fixins
Total time: 20 minutes
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil, plus more for cleaning the grill
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 6 slices provolone cheese
  • 6 hamburger or similar buns
  • ½ 12-ounce jar of sliced pickled banana peppers
  • head of butter lettuce
  • large tomato (such as a beefsteak tomato)
  1. To make the marinade, either shake or emulsify the first 6 ingredients either by shaking them together in a Mason jar or by whisking them together in a bowl.
  2. Place the chicken thighs in a zip-top bag, and cover the chicken with the marinade. Close the zip-top, and allow chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
  3. Preheat the grill on high. While preheating, clean the grates using tongs and a wadded-up paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Then reduce the heat to medium.
  4. Remove chicken from marinade, and place on grill, smooth side down. Close lid for three minutes. Then use tongs to rotate the chicken a quarter turn, close the lid and cook for 3 more minutes.
  5. Open the lid, and flip the chicken thighs over. Close lid and cook for 3 more minutes
  6. Remove cheese-covered thighs from the grill, and allow them to rest 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Rinse the lettuce and tomatoes, and slice the tomatoes.
  8. Assemble sandwiches, serve, and enjoy!
Calories per Serving 325
Total Fat 21.3 g
Saturated Fat 3.9 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 97.2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 9.9 g
Dietary Fiber 1.0 g
Total Sugars 1.8 g
Sodium 438.9 mg
Protein 21.7 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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