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This crispy fried chicken sandwich recipe is better than Chik-Fil-A, Popeye’s or McDonald’s! The chicken breast is brined in pickle juice, breaded with flavorful seasonings, fried until golden brown, and then piled on a toasted brioche bun with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayonnaise. Serve the sandwich with a side of waffle fries and homemade Chik-Fil-A sauce for dipping!

Side shot of a homemade fried chicken sandwich on a plate with fries

Chik-Fil-A Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe

My family seriously loves a Popeye’s, McDonald’s or Chik-Fil-A fried chicken sandwich, but we live in the middle of nowhere with the closest Chik-Fil-A about 30 minutes away. Since frying chicken cutlets is quick and easy, I decided to surprise my boys with a homemade fried chicken sandwich recipe that’s even better than their drive-thru favorites. With a perfect ratio of meat and toppings on a buttery griddled bun, this satisfying and flavorful meal is sure to be a hit with your family, too!

Why this Crispy Chicken Sandwich Recipe is the Best

  • Pickle juice brine: one of the secrets to a fried chicken sandwich that tastes just like Chik-Fil-A’s.
  • Confectioners’ sugar: that’s right — confectioners’ sugar in the breading adds just a hint of sweetness in the background, which is another secret ingredient in Chik-Fil-A’s fried chicken.
  • Baking powder: helps the breading puff up so that the chicken is light and crispy.
  • Double dredge: dipping the chicken in the egg mixture twice and dredging in the breading twice gives the meat that thick batter coating that’s a hallmark of fast food fried chicken sandwiches.
  • Chik-Fil-A sauce: an optional addition that takes this meal to the next level! Stir together mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, honey, yellow mustard and lemon juice. Spread it on your sandwich in lieu of mayonnaise, or just use it for dipping your waffle fries. Nobody can resist the sweet, savory and smoky sauce!
Front shot of a Chik-Fil-A fried chicken sandwich recipe served on a white plate with a side of fries

Ingredients

This is just a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a juicy and tender fried chicken breast sandwich. As always, specific measurements and step-by-step instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Chicken cutlets: I purchase thinly-sliced chicken breast or chicken cutlets at the grocery store for a shortcut, but you can also use regular boneless, skinless chicken breast that you pound flat to an even thickness.
  • Milk and dill pickle juice: the brine that tenderizes and flavors the chicken.
  • All-purpose flour, confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, paprika, kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder: the seasoned breading for dredging the chicken.
  • Egg: add this to the brine to make a coating that helps the breading adhere to the meat.
  • Oil: for frying. I prefer peanut oil, but you can also use canola oil or vegetable oil.
  • Sandwich buns: buttered and griddled for the best flavor and texture. I prefer brioche buns (like you’ll find on the Popeye’s fried chicken sandwich), but any hamburger bun or potato roll of your choice will work fine.
  • Optional toppings: such as lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayonnaise or homemade Chik-Fil-A sauce.

How to Make a Fried Chicken Breast Sandwich

Frying chicken cutlets is quick and easy! The hardest part is just planning ahead so that you remember to brine the chicken for at least 8 hours.

  1. Brine the chicken in milk and pickle juice for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Whisk together the flour mixture and add an egg to the brining liquid.
  3. Dip the chicken in the milk mixture, then dredge in the flour, dip in the milk mixture again, and dredge in the flour again. A double-dip for each piece of chicken!
  4. Working in batches, fry the chicken in 350° F oil for a total of about 5-6 minutes, flipping halfway through. The outside of the chicken will be a nice golden brown, while the inside stays tender and juicy.
  5. Keep the chicken warm in a 200° F oven while you continue frying the remaining chicken.
  6. Stir together the Chik-Fil-A sauce, if you like.
  7. Assemble the sandwiches and serve immediately.
Brining chicken in pickle juice
Ingredients for fried chicken sandwich without buttermilk
Fried chicken cutlets on a cooling rack
Square image of a Chik Fil A fried chicken sandwich recipe served on a plate with waffle fries

What to serve with a Homemade Fried Chicken Sandwich

Just like Chik-Fil-A, we love to pair these sandwiches with waffle fries and a side of homemade Chik-Fil-A sauce. Other good options include a side salad, coleslaw, fruit salad, carrot and raisin salad, baked beans, three bean salad, macaroni salad, broccoli salad, or potato salad.

Storage

Fried chicken is best when it is fresh. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days; however, the breading will not be as crispy when reheated.

To Freeze

You can freeze the fried chicken cutlets for up to 3 months. You do not need to defrost them before reheating.

To Reheat

Preheat your oven to 400° F. Meanwhile, place the chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Next, reheat the chicken until the breading feels hot and very crisp, about 10 minutes for room temperature chicken cutlets or about 20 minutes for frozen chicken cutlets (flip halfway through).

Plate of a homemade fried chicken sandwich recipe in front of a white brick backdrop

Recipe Variations

  • Substitute 1 cup of buttermilk for the milk and pickle juice brine.
  • Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich: add cayenne to the breading mixture. You can also add hot sauce to the pickle juice brine.
  • Skip the Chik-Fil-A sauce and spread the bun with a high-quality mayonnaise (like Duke’s). That’s my preference for a classic sandwich!

Tips for the Best Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe

  • Use chicken cutlets, thinly-sliced chicken breasts, or pounded chicken breasts rather than a whole chicken breast for each sandwich. When the cutlets are breaded and fried, they become thick and crispy, creating the perfect ratio of meat-to-bun! A standard-size chicken breast would be way too thick and hard to manage.
  • Use either peanut oil, canola oil or vegetable oil to fry the chicken. I typically use peanut oil because it’s affordable, it has a high smoke point, and it will not flavor your meat.
  • I like to use a deep-fry thermometer to make sure that the oil reaches and stays at a consistent temperature of 350° F. If you don’t have a thermometer, no problem! Instead, when the oil is hot (but not smoking), add a drop of water to the pan — if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough for the chicken. You want to maintain a fairly steady temperature as the chicken cooks, so don’t overcrowd the pan (which will bring down the temperature).
  • To ensure crispy chicken, keep the temperature of your oil at a steady 350° F. If the oil is too cool, the chicken will absorb the oil giving it a soggy texture and an unpleasant taste.
  • Never cover your warm fried chicken cutlets with foil. This traps steam and moisture, which will make your chicken soggy. Keep the fried chicken warm in a 200° F oven.
  • Butter and griddle brioche buns for the best flavor and texture!
Close up shot of the best fried chicken sandwich recipe served on a plate with Chik Fil A sauce.

More Fried Chicken Recipes to Try

Side shot of a homemade fried chicken sandwich on a plate with fries

Fried Chicken Sandwich

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Marinating Time 8 hours
Total: 8 hours 35 minutes
Servings 4 sandwiches
Calories 631 kcal
This crispy fried chicken sandwich recipe is better than Chik-Fil-A, Popeye's or any other restaurant dish! You'll love the homemade Chik-Fil-A sauce, too!

Ingredients
  

  • 4 chicken cutlets or 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts pounded flat and cut in half crosswise (about 1 ½ lbs. total)
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ cup dill pickle juice
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to season as needed
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 egg
  • Oil for frying (such as peanut oil, canola oil or vegetable oil) (I use a 64 ounce bottle)
  • 4 buttered, griddled sandwich buns, for serving
  • Optional, for serving: lettuce, sliced tomato, sliced pickles, mayonnaise or Chik-Fil-A sauce

Chik-Fil-A Sauce (Optional)

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the milk and pickle juice.
  • Add the chicken to the milk mixture and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to (but not more than) 24 hours.
  • When you’re ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 200° F. Set a wire rack on a sheet pan and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, confectioners’ sugar, baking powder, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
  • Pour oil to a depth of 1 ½ inches in a Dutch oven. Heat the oil over high heat until it reaches 350° F.
  • While the oil heats, remove the chicken from the milk mixture. Add an egg to the milk mixture and whisk well to combine. Dip the chicken in the milk/egg mixture, dredge the chicken in the flour mixture, submerge it again in the milk/egg mixture, and then dredge again in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess egg or flour after each dip. Transfer the chicken to a plate or sheet pan until ready to fry.
  • Once the oil comes to temperature, use tongs to carefully place two chicken breasts in the oil. Adjust the heat to maintain a temperature of 350° F. Cook for a total of 5 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Transfer the fried chicken to the wire rack on the baking sheet. Season with salt and place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining two chicken breasts.
  • Assemble the sandwiches on the griddled buns with optional toppings. Serve immediately.

For the Chik-Fil-A Sauce:

  • Stir together the sauce ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Great as a sandwich spread or for dipping fries!

Notes

  • It’s difficult to calculate the exact nutrition facts for homemade fried chicken because the amount of oil absorbed in each piece will vary, and the amount of breading that adheres to each piece will vary. The nutrition provided below is merely an estimate; the numbers assume that about ½ cup of oil is absorbed by the chicken in the cooking process.
  • Use chicken cutlets, thinly-sliced chicken breasts, or pounded chicken breasts rather than a whole chicken breast for each sandwich. When the cutlets are breaded and fried, they become thick and crispy, creating the perfect ratio of meat-to-bun! A standard-size chicken breast would be way too thick and hard to manage.
  • Never cover your warm fried chicken cutlets with foil. This traps steam and moisture, which will make your chicken soggy. Keep the fried chicken warm in a 200° F oven.
  • Use either peanut oil, canola oil or vegetable oil to fry the chicken. I typically use peanut oil because it’s affordable, it has a high smoke point, and it will not flavor your meat.
  • I like to use a deep-fry thermometer to make sure that the oil reaches and stays at a consistent temperature of 350° F. If you don’t have a thermometer, no problem! Instead, when the oil is hot (but not smoking), add a drop of water to the pan — if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough for the chicken. You want to maintain a fairly steady temperature as the chicken cooks, so don’t overcrowd the pan (which will bring down the temperature).
  • To ensure crispy chicken, keep the temperature of your oil at a steady 350° F. If the oil is too cool, the chicken will absorb the oil giving it a soggy texture and an unpleasant taste.
  • Butter and griddle brioche buns for the best flavor and texture!

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1sandwich (not including optional toppings)Calories: 631kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 44gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 150mgSodium: 486mgPotassium: 793mgFiber: 1gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 116IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 125mgIron: 3mg
    Keyword: chik fil a fried chicken sandwich recipe, crispy, fried chicken sandwich
    Course: Dinner, Lunch
    Cuisine: American
    Author: Blair Lonergan
    blair

    Hey, I’m Blair!

    Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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