This Hot Honey Fried Chicken Sandwich is an indulgent treat. The chicken is marinated in a spicy buttermilk mixture, pan-fried to a crisp perfection then drizzled with hot honey and sriracha aioli and sandwiched on a brioche bun with pepper jack cheese, lettuce, crispy fried pickles. It’s the ultimate spicy chicken sandwich!
Why I love this Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich.
- Easy. So this is not necessarily a ‘quick’ recipe, since you do have to marinate the chicken for an hour, however, most of the time is hands-off except for the frying and sandwich assembly, so it is a fairly easy fried chicken sandwich recipe. Not a ton of steps involved here. You can also marinate this overnight and could theoretically take it out of the fridge, fry it up and have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes.
- Fried chicken is the bomb. Nothing beats true fried chicken. I’m all for baking when it makes things easier, and obviously for health reasons, but sometimes you just need some delicious, crunchy, crispy juicy fried chicken, and I’m totally on board with that.
- The spice!! There is spice in every part of this recipe - the marinade, the flour mixture, and the hot honey and sriracha aioli that goes on top. You guys know how I love spice and I’m here for all of it. But the beauty of this spicy fried chicken sandwich is that it’s actually not that spicy. All the flavors combine to form a subtle spice that provides just enough of a kick to get you going, but not so much that it’s destroying your taste buds.
- Those crunch dill pickle toppings! I had wanted to put actual fried pickles on top of this sandwich, but in the interest of time, settled for these crunchy dillies and I’m so glad that I did. They definitely provide more crunch than fried pickles would have and are obviously so much easier to add. Your waistline will also thank you!
What’s On This Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich?
The ingredients here aren’t too complicated. Here are the main players:
- Chicken breast. I love a juicy chicken breast when frying chicken. Choose thin cuts, or slice them length-wise down the middle to make them thinner and easier to fry.
- Buttermilk marinade. This fried chicken sandwich marinade has just salt and a dash of hot sauce to infuse a nice spicy flavor into the chicken. Using a buttermilk marinade here also helps keep the chicken moist, especially important since we are using chicken breasts which can become dry if you’re not careful.
- Flour + spices. You’ll add a bit of spice to the batter by adding paprika and cayenne to the mix. It creates a delicious, crispy breaded exterior that has just a hint of spice.
- Peanut oil. I love using peanut oil for frying, but you could use veggie or canola oil too (both are more economical than peanut oil!).
- Brioche buns. You can use whatever type of bun you want here, but the brioche buns were the perfect amount of soft, yet sturdy bun I wanted for these hot honey chicken sandwiches.
- Hot Honey! It’s hard to describe what hot honey does to fried chicken. The sweet and spicy mix of the hot honey on top of the crispy chicken makes me weak in the knees. I never want fried chicken without it!
- Pepper Jack cheese. Did you think we were done with the spice? Nope! The pepper jack cheese tastes great on this fried chicken sandwich with hot honey.
- Lettuce. Because we have to add at least something healthy here.
- Crunchy pickles! You can try your hand at fried pickles, or you can go the easy route and do what I did, which was to use these delicious Crispy Dillies (which I guess are actually fried cucumbers!) instead. Crunchy, salty, briny - perfect for this sandwich.
How To Make It
Ok. Deep frying is sort of intimidating, right? For me it is! I’m always about 80% convinced that I might burn the house down (or at the very least, wind up with a grease burn!). But it’s actually not too difficult if you take it one step at a time and don’t rush. Here’s how to easily (and safely!) make these fried chicken sandwiches:
- Make the marinade. Make your marinade by combining the buttermilk, salt and hot sauce in a bowl and mixing it well.
- Pound the chicken. Rinse and pat dry your chicken, then take a look at it. Are your chicken breasts super thick? If so, you have two options - pound them to a more even thickness (Mine were about 1.5 inches thick) or slice them lengthwise so that they are thinner.
- Marinate the chicken. Place the chicken in the bowl with the marinade, ensuring that the marinade is mixed/spooned over all of the chicken. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least an hour, or up to 24 hours.
- Allow your chicken to rest before frying. Take your chicken out of the fridge and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. DON’T fry it straight from the refrigerator - the chicken will be too cold and will lower the temperature of your oil, causing the chicken to cook unevenly.
- Make the flour breading. While you’re waiting for your chicken to warm up a bit, add your flour, salt and pepper, paprika, and cayenne to a large plastic bag.
- Prepare a cooling rack. Line a baking sheet with foil, then top with a cooling rack and set aside. You’ll use this to place the chicken on to cool once it’s done frying
- Coat the chicken. Once your chicken has been resting for 30 minutes, add it to the bag with the flour mixture and seal it. Then shake the bag to completely coat the chicken pieces with the flour mix.
- Heat your oil. Add your oil to the pan and heat it on medium-high until it is 325 degrees.
- Fry the chicken! Remove your chicken from your plastic bag and shake off any excess flour. Carefully add the chicken pieces to the oil in batches, and avoid crowding the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and fry for 5-10 minutes, then flip and fry for 5-10 minutes more until the exterior is a crispy golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.
- Let the fried chicken cool. Allow the chicken to rest on your prepared cooling rack and sprinkle with a little bit of salt.
- Assemble your hot honey fried chicken sandwiches! Spread sriracha aioli onto both sides of a Brioche bun. Next, add the lettuce, cheese, and fried chicken to the sandwich. Drizzle the fried chicken with hot honey, then add your crispy dillies and the top of your bun and serve immediately.
Tips For Making Your Fried Chicken Sandwich A Success
- Don’t fry your chicken cold. If you take your chicken straight from the fridge and fry it immediately, it will be too cold and will lower the temperature of the oil. This causes your chicken to cook unevenly. Let the chicken rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before you fry it.
- Don’t overcrowd your pan. Keeping your oil temperature at a steady 325 is important to ensure that your chicken cooks evenly. If you put too many pieces of chicken into the oil at one time, it will lower the temperature and cause your chicken to cook unevenly. Be sure to also raise the temperature of the oil back up to 325 between each batch.
- Use the right oil. Your oil is going to be HOT so you want to make sure you’re using one with a low smoke point. Peanut oil, canola oil, and vegetable oil are all good for this. Olive oil is not.
- Slice or pound your chicken breasts to make them easier (and faster!) to fry.
- Don’t worry if you don’t have a deep fryer. I find that using a heavy-bottomed pan or skillet with taller sides is best for frying chicken, but it doesn’t have to be a dedicated deep fryer. Bonus points if it has a lid to help prevent splatters. Fun fact: the cast iron pan I used that you see in the photo was actually made for frying chicken. It was passed down through my family and is one of my favorite pans to use since it’s so lightweight (for cast iron) and has been used so many times it is truly non-stick!)
- You can make your own hot honey! I used Mike's Hot Honey for this spicy chicken sandwich but you can easily make your own. Place a cup of honey and 2 tablespoon of red pepper flakes in a pan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container. Easy!
Best Sauce For A Fried Chicken Sandwich
There are lots of great sauces for a fried chicken sandwich, but for this hot-honey spicy chicken sandwich in particular, I recommend something that has either a spicy kick or more of a neutral creamy aioli flavor. Sriracha aioli is my favorite since it combines both and gives the may a hint of spice without being overbearing. It’s readily available at most grocery stores, but also easy to make at home. Simply combine 1 cup of mayo with 3 tablespoons of sriracha sauce and stir to combine. Super simple!
What to serve with Fried Chicken Sandwiches
You have a lot of great options here since this is your classic picnic food. Here are some suggestions:
- French Fries. Or if you want to be super indulgent try these Louisiana Voodoo Fries!
- Pasta Salad
- Green Beans
- Cole Slaw
- Zucchini salad
- Sweet potato and parsnip fries
- Mac n Cheese
- Baked beans
If you try this Hot Honey Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe, let me know what you think of it in the comments!
Hot Honey Fried Chicken Sandwiches
- 4 chicken breast pieces, about 1.5 inches thick
- 3 cups buttermilk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tbsp hot sauce
- 1 ½ cup flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon cayenne
- 3-4 cups peanut oil
- 4 brioche buns
- 4 tablespoon sriracha aioli (sriracha mayo)
- 4 tablespoon hot honey
- 4 slices pepper jack cheese
- 4 large lettuce leafs
- 1 cup crunchy dillies (pickle chips)
- If your chicken pieces are thick, pound them to a more even thickness, or slice them lengthwise to make them thinner and easier to fry.
- Add the buttermilk, salt, pepper, and a dash of hot sauce to a large bowl and mix well. Add the chicken to the bowl and let it marinate for at least an hour in the refrigerator.
- Remove chicken at least 30 minutes prior to when you want to fry it.
- Combine the flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne pepper in a large ziplock bag.
- Set a rack on a baking tray to place the cooked chicken on when it’s finished.
- Add the chicken pieces to the bag with the flour mixture and shake well to coat.
- Heat oil in a large heavy bottom skillet (or a dutch oven) over medium/high heat.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the flour mixture, shake off excess flour, and fry the chicken in batches, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cover with the lid and fry for about 5-10 minutes. Uncover, flip the chicken, and fry for an additional 10 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
- Place the fried chicken on the cooling rack to allow oil to drain and sprinkle lightly with salt.
- Assemble the hot honey chicken sandwiches by slathering sriracha aioli to both sides of a brioche bun. Add the chicken with a drizzle of hot honey, then add the Pepperjack cheese, lettuce, and the crunchy pickles to the sandwich. Serve immediately.
- Allow your chicken to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before frying and avoid overcrowding your pan when frying the chicken. The reason for both of these is that you want to keep the temperature of your oil at a consistent 325 degrees, otherwise your chicken will cook unevenly.
- Use a low-smoke oil, like peanut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil.
- Cut your chicken into thinner pieces, or pound the breasts thinner to make them easier to fry.
- Meal prep/make ahead by marinating the chicken overnight, then frying it the next day.
- I love Mike's Hot Honey for this recipe, but if you don't have it, you can easily make your own. Simply place 1 cup of honey and 2 tbsps red pepper flakes in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, stir to combine, and allow to cool.