What’s the Deal With Chicken and Waffles?

No need to decide between savory or sweet with the mouth-watering combo that is chicken and waffles.

When only comfort food will do, go ahead and put chicken and waffles on your short list. The dish starts with a fluffy waffle base, topped with freshly fried chicken and then drizzled with syrup. The first time I tried it, I reasoned that I had to have more than a cup of coffee to go with this over-the-top dish. Enter a fizzy mimosa, and my legendary breakfast experience began.

I expected to dislike the quirky combo, but instead I joined the clean plate club a cool 20 minutes after the dish was placed in front of me. Searing hot chicken in a paprika- and pepper-seasoned crust dipped in dark, decadent maple syrup, with a buttery underneath, had me inhaling this unlikely food pairing by the forkful.

If you’re ever traveling through Fort Worth, plan on experiencing this dish at the same place I did—Brewed. You can thank me later.

Why Chicken? Why Waffles?

This indulgent combo is well known in the American South today, but it has roots in Pennsylvania Dutch country, where waffles were sometimes topped with pulled chicken, and in Harlem, where a supper club created the breakfast-dinner mashup for musicians who would arrive too late for dinner and too early for breakfast.

See what other Pennsylvania Dutch-inspired meals made it to our table.

How to Make It at Home

For a special-occasion weekend breakfast at home, or to spice up your standard weeknight fare on Breakfast for Dinner Night, this is one recipe that is well worth the effort. Since the chicken is really the showstopper of this dish, stick with a surefire winner, like this Best-Ever Fried Chicken. The most laborious part is the breading—after that, you’re T-minus 10 minutes to having this most unusual plate of awesome on the dinner table. KFC loyalists, you will want to bookmark this secret for copying the Colonel’s crispy chicken—it includes all 11 secret spices!

Psst! If you’re curious to try it and scratch-made chicken just isn’t in the cards, you can make a quick-fix version with this Chicken & Waffles recipe, which calls for pre-packaged strips and frozen waffles.

For the real deal, and to keep the savory-to-sweet ratio just right, opt for homemade waffle recipes that yield a thicker cake. Either these Fluffy Waffles or the contest-winning True Belgian Waffles are ideal, both made with ample amounts of baking powder.

The rest can be tweaked to personal taste, though I have it on good authority that a generous pour of freshly melted butter added after the waffle but before the chicken can be a total game changer. As for syrup, you can use it sparingly or go all in, Buddy the Elf-style. There is no wrong way to enjoy this hearty, guaranteed-to-make-you-happy dish.

Get frying, y’all!

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Rebecca Walden
Rebecca C. Walden is a freelance writer with Deep South roots - an Alabama native now living in north Texas. Her writing has appeared in Reader's Digest, the Huffington Post, Southern Living, and many other regional publications, focusing on everything from health and wellness to parenting, family, and women's interests. Walden also provides freelance writing to corporate clients in finance, government, healthcare, and higher education. Check out her latest work @rebeccacwalden.com.