According to Sporked’s own Jordan Myrick, fried chicken sandwiches are “one of the best things you can eat.” But before you scream “Hell, yes! I agree!” into the void and get in the car to hit the drive-thru, allow us to tell you how to make the best fried chicken sandwich at home.
Step 1: Pick Your Bread
As a wise man once said, “A sandwich is only as good as its bread” (someone has to have said this at some point, right?). You have options. You can grab a bag of hamburger buns and make a classic, fast food-style fried chicken sandwich, or you could grill up some nice, sturdy rye bread and make a club-style fried chicken sandwich with loads of iceberg lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Or you could really go wild and swap out bread for a couple of frozen waffles. We recommend Krusteaz Belgian Waffles, which taste almost exactly like homemade waffles fresh out of the waffle iron.
Step 2: Pick a Chicken Patty
Trust us on this: If you really want to make the best fried chicken sandwich at home, you can’t just walk into the grocery store and grab the first frozen chicken patties you see. A lot of them are spongy, flavorless, and just plain bad. When we set out to find the best frozen chicken patties, we only found three that were worthy of our ranking. Good & Gather Chicken Breast Patties from Target taste almost exactly like the patty in a McChicken, if that’s the kind of fried chicken sandwich you’re craving. Applegate Naturals Organic Chicken Patties are juicy and taste super high quality. John Soules Foods Chicken Patties are our absolute favorite—juicy, flavorful, and super peppery. These are clearly designed for sandwiches, but you could make a meal out of one and a couple of sides.
Step 3: Add Some Cheese
Cheese can do a lot of heavy lifting in a fried chicken sandwich if you let it. Sure, you could pick something mild like Swiss or something predictable like American, but we’re looking for cheeses that do double duty. Take for instance, Emporium Selection Jalapeño Havarti Cheese, one of the best Aldi cheeses we found in a taste test. It’s creamy and melty enough to add some moisture, but it also brings some heat. Same goes for some of our favorite spreadable cheeses, which double as cheese and sandwich spreads. Whole Foods’ 365 Asiago Cheese Spread is part condiment, part melty cheese, plus, it brings lots of tang and flavor to the table. If neither of those options appeals, we’ve taste tested a lot of types of cheese.
Step 4: Slather on a Sauce
You can never go wrong with mayonnaise on a fried chicken sandwich, but something zippy can be even more delicious. We love the tang of thousand island dressing on a fried chicken sandwich. Ken’s makes the perfect dressing for the job—it’s tangy, sweet, creamy, and salty. If you like even more sweetness with your tang, try Famous Dave’s Sweet & Zesty BBQ Sauce, the best BBQ sauce we found in a taste test. It’s a little smoky, a little sweet, and a little spicy, and that all adds up to a lot of flavor on a fried chicken sandwich. But don’t settle for just one sauce. An additional drizzle of hot sauce, like Sriraja Panich Sriracha Chili Sauce, will really spice things up.
Step 5: Pile on Some Slaw
A heap of lettuce will add crunch to your fried sandwich, but it won’t add a lot of flavor. That’s where salad kits come in. When we taste tested every salad kit we could find at Target, the Good & Gather Dill-icious salad kit was a standout. It’s creamy and herbaceous and has lots of crunchy stuff to add texture to your sandwich. Or you could go with a traditional slaw, but with a twist. Dole’s Chopped Teriyaki Pineapple Salad Kit is savory and sweet and it has great crunch, too.
Step 6: Pick Your Pickle
When you think fried chicken sandwich, you probably think dill pickle chips. We have other thoughts on the matter. Bread and butter pickles are a more interesting pick, especially if they have some heat, like Mt. Olive Sweet Heat Bread & Butter Chips. Or go beyond cukes with Wickles Dirty Dill pickled okra.