Here’s Why Chick-fil-A’s Chicken Sandwiches Are So Dang Good

The secret is how Chick-fil-A gets the chicken so juicy.

When you tear into a Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich (or something from the secret menu), it’s always a perfectly seasoned and juicy chicken breast. Chick-fil-A makes the sandwich sound so simple—a hand-cut chicken filet dipped in an egg and milk wash, hand breaded and cooked in a pressure cooker. But somehow, this Chicken Sandwich seems to be more delicious than the others. What makes it so dang good?

  

There’s a Secret Recipe

The Chicken Sandwich is pretty straightforward—it’s served on a toasted, buttered bun with dill pickle chips. This legend is so simple that it should be easy to replicate. Right? Nope. The seasoning ingredients were developed by Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy. He perfected the sandwich in the 1960s, and more than 50 years later, the recipe remains unchanged!

To keep the secret Chicken Sandwich recipe under wraps, it’s hidden in a safe in Atlanta, Georgia.

Psst…We cracked the code on some other Chick-fil-A menu items. Grab our copycat recipes here.

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Pickles Play a Big Part

Every Chicken Sandwich is made with two dill pickle chips—an essential ingredient! To make the chips, cucumber slices are marinated for three days before ripening into crisp and delicious pickles. Obsessed with pickles? You’ve gotta try these recipes.

That tidbit about soaking pickles has led to speculation about how Chick-fil-A chicken gets so juicy. Many bloggers and Chick-fil-A regulars believe that the chicken breast is brined in pickle juice before it’s breaded and fried. This theory makes sense, because pickle juice contains salt. This key ingredient helps carry moisture and flavor deep into the chicken in the same way it would help flavor a cucumber.

A soak in a salty liquid would also cause some proteins in chicken breast to break down, so you’re left less stringy chicken and more juicy breast meat. The bright salty flavor and extra tender meat that result from brining are consistent with what we expect from this chicken-focused fast food chain! Did you know you can buy pickle-flavored ice cream, too?

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Using Pickle Juice to Tenderize Meat

Chick-fil-A won’t confirm the theory that a pickle juice bath is the secret to the famous Chicken Sandwich, but this tenderizing trick still works on any kind of lean meat. Pork, turkey and, of course, chicken breast can soak in this zesty brine to pick up a moist texture and some dill flavor from pickling spices. So whether it’s for sandwiches, nuggets or one of our favorite fried chicken recipes, save the pickle juice for an extra-tender treat.

See how Chick-fil-A stacks up against other fast food chicken!

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Mandy Naglich
Mandy is a food and beverage writer with bylines at WNYC, Munchies, Mic and October. She's a Certified Cicerone and award-winning homebrewer living, writing and cooking in New York City.