Southern Fried Chicken and Waffles
Southern fried chicken and waffles is the perfect start to any lazy brunch. Dress it up with maple syrup and serve with fresh squeezed oj or mimosas!
Have you always dreamt about making southern fried chicken and waffles, but been too nervous to tackle it? I’ve got you! And guys, it’s simpler than you’d think. I’m going to break it all down into manageable pieces so we can conquer this together. Here’s the run down on what you need:
- Perfectly crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside waffles (I’ll share my go-to tip for making waffles lighter than air below!)
- The crispiest, crunchiest fried chicken
- A killer hot sauce (trust me on this one, it’s necessary)
- Maple syrup. Period, the end. Don’t skip this step!
Bonus points if you serve your spicy chicken and waffles recipe with crunchy, acidic sliced pickles!
What type of waffle is best for chicken and waffles?
This may be a matter of preference, but I am of the strong opinion that Belgium waffles reign supreme in pretty much any scenario.
How does a Belgium waffle differ then a traditional American-style waffle?
Egg whites. It’s really that simple. Separating your eggs and whipping the whites into stiff peaks before adding them to the batter makes a world of difference. It keeps the waffles light and helps create that crispy crust that you’re going to miss out on otherwise.
Stand out a bit!
To give my southern chicken and waffles recipe a sight edge I add ½ tsp of ground cinnamon. Why? (1) because it’s cinnamon, and cinnamon makes everything better, but also (2) it creates the loveliest contrast with the super spicy hot sauce and maple syrup. Sweet and spicy things just work. Trust me, the added cinnamon is a good thing.
Can you use frozen waffles for chicken and waffles?
Yes and no. Nothing beats fresh made waffles with crispy, hot, just-out-of-the-oil fried chicken. However, if you’re reading through the directions and freaking out because it’s a bit more labor intensive than you’re used to, you can absolutely make the waffles a few days earlier. Wait until they’re completely cool, then freeze. When your chicken is fried up and ready to serve, simply pop the waffles in the toaster oven to reheat until crispy again.
Alternatively, you can make the waffles right before frying the chicken and keep them warm in a 250 F oven until ready to serve. Easy!
Would I recommend using store-bought frozen waffles? Honestly, no. They’re lacking flavor, flimsy, and won’t hold up to the weight of the fresh fried chicken. Reserve those Eggo waffles for your kids’ weekday breakfast and nothing else.
Alright, let’s talk fried chicken! What works and what doesn’t.
Let’s discuss the white meat versus dark meat issue. I love chicken breasts; I enjoy them grilled, roasted, pounded thin and fried… but they do not make for the juiciest southern fried chicken. And if you’re putting the time in to make this special recipe, do it the right way. Grab boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I cut mine into strips, but you could certainly leave yours whole, just be sure to adjust the frying time as whole chicken thighs will require a longer bath in the hot oil.
Basic frying 101: dry – wet – dry
Always start coating whatever it is that you’re frying with a dry ingredient (often flour). Next, dip it in egg. Then back into a dry ingredient. Follow this simple rule, and succeed in life. Spicy southern fried chicken and waffles is no different. I like to spice up the egg wash, literally, with hot sauce and buttermilk (buttermilk = more flavor, roll with me here), but otherwise I follow this same rule of thumb.
Dredge chicken in flour mixture, making sure to shake off excess –> coat chicken completely in buttermilk –> return to flour mixture for a second dusting making sure to coat really well. Place chicken on a wire rack so it doesn’t get mushy on one side, then repeat with remaining chicken.
What type of oil is best for frying?
I’m so glad you asked! My go-to for frying is canola oil. It’s pretty much the only time I use it. It has a neutral flavor and can heat well to high temperatures without setting off every smoke detector in your home. Both are very important qualities.
Once your southern fried chicken is golden brown on both sides, brush it with hot sauce — we like spicy! — then place an excessive amount on top of a couple of stacked waffles.
Drown that baby in syrup, serve with sliced pickles, then DIG IN.
When is the best time to make this southern fried chicken and waffles recipe?
All day every day.
If you make these Southern Fried Chicken and Waffles, please let me know by leaving a review below!
Southern Fried Chicken and Waffles
For the chicken
- 2 lbs chicken thighs boneless, skinless
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 3 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp hot sauce
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- Canola or vegetable oil
For the sauce
- 8 Tbsp 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 ½-2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- ½ tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
For the waffles
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 cups buttermilk
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs separated
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- maple syrup
- pickle slices
For the chicken
- Pat chicken thighs dry with a paper towel, then cut into ¼” thick strips. Place chicken in a large bowl with salt and pepper, then cover and let sit for 2 hours.
- In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and hot sauce. In a second large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and garlic powder.
- Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet, then begin coating chicken. Dip each piece of chicken first in the flour mixture, then in the buttermilk, then again in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Transfer to wire rack, then repeat until all chicken strips are coated.
- Meanwhile, fill a large cast iron or heavy bottom pan with oil until it’s about 2” high. Heat over medium-high until oil reaches about 350 F. You want to cook the chicken around ~325F, but the temperature will drop when you add the chicken.
- When oil is hot, carefully add about ~8 pieces of chicken, depending on the size of your pan, and cook, turning every 1-2 minutes, until all chicken is a golden brown color and has an internal temperature of 160 F, about 6-7 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken to a clean wire rack, then repeat cooking remaining chicken.
To make sauce
- Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan, then heat over medium-high until butter has melted and spices become fragrant. Use a brush to coat each piece of chicken with hot sauce.
To make the waffles
- Preheat waffle maker and coat with nonstick oil spray.
- Beat egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until stiff peaks form.
- Whisk flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, vegetable oil, egg yolks, and vanilla.
- Whisk wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then gently fold in egg whites. Pour about ½ cup batter into each waffle mold, then cook according to waffle maker directions. Serve waffles immediately with hot fried chicken, maple syrup, and pickle slices.