Crispy Chicken Burger

By 9 m read

Crispy Chicken Burger (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

When it comes to a crispy chicken burger or crispy chicken sandwich, there’s only one right way: it has to be light and crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside, and – of course – super flavorful and easy to make. Read on.

 

That’s what you’ll get from this crispy chicken burger recipe. Marinate the chicken overnight in buttermilk, fry the next day, and place it between a lightly buttered and toasted brioche bun. Your taste and texture buds will do some happy dances. 

 

To achieve total perfection, it takes a little patience. This crispy chicken burger recipe is a two-step process. First, the meat has to marinate ideally overnight to tenderize before it’s drenched in flour and spices and fried in oil. But it’s worth the time. Guaranteed.

 

Ingredients For A Crispy Chicken Burger

General

2 (12 oz) chicken breasts, halved

4 brioche buns 

4 slices American cheese

1 c cole slaw

1 Tbsp butter 

Vegetable oil for frying 

Marinade (wet mix)

1 ½ c buttermilk

1 Tbsp hot sauce

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

Batter (dry mix)

1 ½ c all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp paprika

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

Crispy Chicken Burger (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Equipment Used

Mixing bowls

Cutting board

Rolling pin

Toaster oven

Frying pan

Instant-read kitchen thermometer

Cooling rack 

Crispy Chicken Burger (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Marinating The Chicken Breasts In Buttermilk

Before we start marinating the chicken in buttermilk, we want to make sure that the chicken breasts are of even thickness. This will ensure that they’ll cook quickly and evenly. The easiest way to achieve that is also great fun: 

 

Place the chicken on a large cutting board and dry them with a paper towel. Next, place plastic wrap over the chicken breast and, using a rolling pin, start pounding the thickest part of the breast, working your way around until you achieve an even thickness (about ½”). You’ll also end up with a larger piece of meat. Cut in half (each 12-oz chicken breast will result in two 6-oz crispy fried chicken sandwiches). 

Crispy Chicken Burger (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Tip: Do not rinse raw chicken with water. It’s a misconception that rinsing poultry helps reduce the spread of harmful bacteria. It’s the opposite. Any bacteria in and on the meat will be eliminated by cooking the chicken to an internal temperature of 160°F. Washing the chicken first will only splatter water droplets around the sink after hitting the chicken. Instead, all you need to do is pat them dry with a paper towel.

 

Seasoning The Chicken Breast

Season the chicken breasts with paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper. Pour the buttermilk into a mixing bowl and add the hot sauce. Stir. Add the seasoned chicken to the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and marinate in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, ideally overnight. 

Crispy Chicken Burger (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk, simply mix 1-½ cups of whole (or 2%) milk with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

 

Important: Make sure to remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before dredging and frying them. Once I forgot and went ahead anyway. The result was as expected. When the chicken was perfectly fried on the outside, the internal temperature of the chicken was at a paltry 130°F. By the time it reached 160°F, the outside didn’t look so golden crispy anymore.

 

Dredging The Chicken

In a mixing bowl, mix the all-purpose flour, paprika, baking powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Do not dredge the chicken yet. Instead, wait until the oil is ready (see next step).

Crispy Chicken Burger (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Frying The Chicken

In a large enough frying pan to accommodate at least two halved chicken breasts, add enough oil to cover the bottom about ¾” deep. Carefully bring the temperature up to 350°F, checking with an instant-read thermometer. That’s another reason why you want to make sure your chicken is at room temperature before frying it. Straight out of the fridge and into the frying pan would instantly lower the oil temperature and prevent the batter from getting crispy. 

Crispy Chicken Burger (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Once your oil reaches 350°F, lift a piece of chicken from the buttermilk and allow the excess to drip off a little, then place it in the flour and spice mixture. This dry mix must reach every nook and cranny of the meat to achieve a perfect crispy outside. Use your fingers to coat the chicken breast evenly. 

 

Gently shake off the excess batter and carefully lower it into the hot oil. It’ll make some noise, but shouldn’t splatter, or your oil is too hot. Make sure to not crowd the pan if you’re frying multiple pieces at the same time. 

 

Fry for about four minutes, turn, and fry for another four minutes. Use your instant-read thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 160°F. 

Crispy Chicken Burger (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

In the meantime, have a cooling rack ready with a paper towel underneath. Once the chicken is at 160°F, remove with tongs and place on the cooling rack. This will ensure that the outside of the fried buttermilk chicken stays crispy. 

 

Assembling The Fried Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich

While the fried crispy chicken is resting on the cooling rack, butter up some brioche buns, add a slice of American cheese, and lightly toast in the toaster oven. Remove, add some coleslaw and a piece of chicken breast. If you don’t like coleslaw, how about kimchi instead? Maybe a little sriracha and mayo on top of the melted cheese? Sounds good to me. Are you hungry like a wolf? How about a couple of slices of tomato, some hearty romaine lettuce, a couple slices of jalapeño, and strips of bacon. 

 

Is Your Mouth Watering Yet?

In summary, use this recipe to create a perfectly crispy fried and tender chicken breast, and then use your creativity to create your masterpiece. 

Crispy Chicken Burger (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Q&A

 

Crispy Chicken Sandwich Or Crispy Chicken Burger?

KFC, Popeye’s, Burger King, and Chick-fil-A all call it a crispy chicken sandwich. So what is the difference between a burger and a sandwich? To me, it’s simple: If the protein part between the bread has been cooked and is served warm, it’s called a burger. If not, it’s called a sandwich or hoagie or sub or torpedo or whatever. Okay, there are exceptions, of course. Nobody in Philadelphia would call our favorite fast food a Philly Cheesesteak Burger!

 

Why Is My Fried Chicken Not Crispy?

Besides not removing the marinated chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before frying, your oil temperature was either too low or too high. The batter won’t be super crispy and therefore it won’t be a fantastic fried chicken sandwich. The magic number seems to be 350°F (plus or minus a few degrees). It’s science and there’s nothing we can do about it. Make sure to use an instant-read kitchen thermometer to monitor the oil temperature.

 

What Is The Secret To Crispy Fried Chicken?

Baking powder. It creates tiny air bubbles on the surface when it touches the hot oil. The bubbles then expand over the surface area, creating a lighter tasting, crispier fried chicken. 

 

What’s The Best Oil For Frying Chicken?

Any oil that has a smoke point above 400°F. I prefer a neutral vegetable or canola oil.

 

How Long Can Chicken Be Marinated In Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a probiotic type of marinade. It achieves its best results after about 12 to 24 hours. I did keep marinating a couple batches for 48 and 72 hours and there was no noticeable change in texture or flavor. 

Crispy Chicken Burger (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

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Crispy Chicken Burger (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Crispy Chicken Burger

When it comes to a crispy chicken burger or crispy chicken sandwich, there's only one right way: it has to be light and crispy on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside, and - of course - super flavorful and easy to make.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Marinating Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Servings 4

Equipment

  • Mixing bowls
  • Cutting board
  • Rolling Pin
  • Toaster oven
  • Frying pan
  • Instant-read kitchen thermometer
  • Cooling rack

Ingredients
  

General

  • Two 12-oz chicken breasts, halved
  • 4 brioche buns
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • 1 c cole slaw
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Marinade (wet mix)

  • 1-1/2 c buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Batter (dry mix)

  • 1-1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Place the chicken on a large cutting board and dry them with a paper towel.
  • Next, place plastic wrap over the chicken breast and, using a rolling pin, start pounding the thickest part of the breast, working your way around until you achieve an even thickness (about ½”). You’ll also end up with a larger piece of meat.
  • Cut in half (each 12-oz chicken breast will result in two 6-oz crispy fried chicken sandwiches). 
  • Season the chicken breasts with paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, kosher salt, and black pepper.
  • Pour the buttermilk into a mixing bowl and add the hot sauce. Stir.
  • Add the seasoned chicken to the bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and marinate in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, ideally overnight. 
  • Important: Make sure to remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes before dredging and frying them. Once I forgot and went ahead anyway. The result was as expected. When the chicken was perfectly fried on the outside, the internal temperature of the chicken was at a paltry 130°F. By the time it reached 160°F, the outside didn’t look so golden crispy anymore.
  • In a mixing bowl, mix the all-purpose flour, paprika, baking powder, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, kosher salt, and black pepper. Mix well. Do not dredge the chicken yet. Instead, wait until the oil is ready (see next step).
  • In a large enough frying pan to accommodate at least two halved chicken breasts, add enough oil to cover the bottom about ¾” deep.
  • Carefully bring the temperature up to 350°F, checking with an instant-read thermometer.
  • Once your oil reaches 350°F, lift a piece of chicken from the buttermilk and allow the excess to drip off a little, then place it in the flour and spice mixture. This dry mix must reach every nook and cranny of the meat to achieve a perfect crispy outside. Use your fingers to coat the chicken breast evenly. Gently shake off the excess batter and carefully lower it into the hot oil.
  • Fry for about four minutes, turn, and fry for another four minutes. Use your instant-read thermometer to make sure the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 160°F. 
  • In the meantime, have a cooling rack ready with a paper towel underneath. Once the chicken is at 160°F, remove with tongs and place on the cooling rack. 
  • While the fried crispy chicken is resting on the cooling rack, butter up some brioche buns, add a slice of American cheese, and lightly toast in the toaster oven. Remove, add some coleslaw and a piece of chicken breast. Enjoy!
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