How to Make a Crispy Chicken Sandwich Just Like Your Favorite Restaurant

Updated: Dec. 20, 2023

There's something about a crispy chicken sandwich that just hits the spot on a warm day. Paired with baskets of french fries and fried pickles, cups of coleslaw and a refreshing beer or punchy lemonade, it's hard to resist this fried fare.

If your go-to meal at fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Wendy’s or Chick-fil-A is their crispy chicken sandwich, chances are you’ve wondered how you can get that deliciously crisp flavor in your own kitchen. We’re here to tell you that with the right amount of buttermilk, eggs, spices and oil, you’ll be frying up chicken sandwiches in no time. Get your fluffy brioche buns and fresh lettuce ready for this copycat recipe!

What Is the Secret to Crispy Fried Chicken?

No one wants soggy chicken, but we also don’t want super crunchy chicken. The art of frying chicken is where we see the real difference between crispy and crunchy, and there are a few things you can do to ensure that your fried chicken remains crispy and light.

First, make sure to marinate your chicken overnight. The buttermilk and hot sauce mixture will not only deepen the flavor of the chicken, but it will also tenderize the meat. Next, you’re going to want to make sure that your flour coating completely covers the chicken. Because oil is one of the biggest necessities in frying, make sure to brush your chicken in a light coat of oil to remove any dry spots of flour.

Lastly, despite popular belief, you don’t want to let your chicken cool on paper towels. This is what will make your crispy chicken soggy. The moisture from the meat will seep through the crispy outer coating when pressed into a paper towel. Instead, treat your chicken like a baked pastry and place the breasts on a cooling rack so it gets airflow to all sides.

Also, check our sampled and ranked eight different restaurants list to find out once and for all who makes the best fast-food chicken sandwich.

Crispy Chicken Sandwich Recipe


Crispy Chicken Sandwich ingredientsTMB STUDIO

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon each onion powder and paprika
  • 2 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 6 brioche hamburger buns, split
  • Optional toppings: shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pickle slices, onion slices, mayonnaise


Step 1: Prep the chicken

Chicken Being Tossed To Coat In The Buttermilk And Hot SauceTMB STUDIO

Cut each chicken breast horizontally in half; place in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and hot sauce; toss to coat. Refrigerate, covered, for eight hours or overnight.

Step 2: Double coat the chicken

Chicken Being Dredged In Flour Mixture With Hand Firmly Patting To Help CoatingTMB STUDIO

Remove chicken breasts from the buttermilk mixture and stir eggs into the buttermilk mixture. In a shallow dish, whisk flour, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pepper and salt. Dredge chicken in flour mixture, firmly patting to help coating adhere. Repeat, dipping chicken again in buttermilk mixture and then dredging in flour mixture.

Step 3: Chill the chicken

Chicken On Wire Rack Over Baking SheetTMB STUDIO

Place the chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, lightly dab both sides of chicken with oil until no dry breading remains.

Step 4: Fry the chicken

Chicken Cooking In Skillet Cooking With Coating Almost To A Golden BrownTMB STUDIO

Heat canola oil to 375°F. Fry the chicken in batches until it’s golden brown and no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Once fried, transfer the chicken to a cooling rack to maintain the crispiness.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t overcrowd the pot you’re using to fry, and don’t skimp on the oil! Make sure there is enough to fully submerge your chicken, while leaving a couple inches at the top to leave room for bubbling oil.

Step 5: Assemble the sandwich

Toast buns in an air fryer or under the broiler in your oven until golden brown, two to three minutes. Top bun bottoms with chicken, add desired toppings and replace the bun tops.

Tips for a Crispy Chicken Sandwich

What’s the best oil for frying crispy chicken?

The best oils for frying crispy chicken are oils with a high smoking point like canola oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil or peanut oil. Avoid low-smoke point oils like butter and olive oil.

Can you make crispy chicken in an air fryer?

Yes! Follow all the steps above through step three and then arrange battered chicken in a single layer on a greased tray in an air fryer basket. The air fryer should be preheated to 400°. Cook the chicken until a thermometer reads 165°, about seven to eight minutes on each side. The coating should look golden brown and crispy.

Can you use chicken thighs?

Because chicken thighs have bones, it might not be the best for inside a bun. You can deep fry chicken thighs and top with the same toppings as you would in a sandwich, though.

What can you serve with crispy chicken sandwiches?

Serve a nice creamy coleslaw or macaroni salad on the side of your crispy chicken sandwiches, or keep with the fried theme and opt for fried okra or oven-fried pickles. For a great drink pairing, serve with fresh-squeezed lemonade or your favorite beer.

How do you store a crispy chicken sandwich?

Allow your crispy chicken to cool completely before storing. Once cooled, place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days. Reheat in a 400° oven on a wire rack to maintain crispiness. Next, learn how to reheat fried chicken.