Fried Chicken and Waffles: The Perfect Southern Brunch!
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 think. I’m going to break it all down into manageable pieces so we can conquer this Southern dish 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 made with melted butter and cayenne pepper (trust me on this one, it’s necessary)
- Maple syrup. Period, the end. Don’t skip this step!
Bonus points if you serve your chicken and waffles recipe with crunchy, acidic sliced pickles! Love the combination of spicy fried chicken, sweet maple syrup and acidic 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 Belgian 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 you gently stir them into 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.
This is the waffle iron we use and love!
Stand out a bit!
To give our chicken and waffles a sight edge, 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 I Use Frozen 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 batter and cook up 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. (Take that, Eggo waffles!)
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 chicken and waffles. And if you’re putting the time in to make this special southern fried chicken 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.
Can I use chicken wings?
Oh my god, YES, totally! Fried chicken wings and waffles would be delicious! Chicken wings will fry up in less time. Make sure your internal temperature of the wing is 165F — that’s when it’s fully cooked.
We recommend the Thermapen MK4 to check for doneness on all meats!
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. You are so close to chicken and waffle perfection, don’t give up now!
For this recipe, we’re not using a brine. It cuts down on marinating time (as in, it’s nonexistent), and this chicken is loaded with flavor and tastes great!
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 Our go-to for frying is canola oil or grapeseed oil. Both oils have a neutral flavor and can heat well to high temperatures without setting off every smoke detector in your home. Peanut oil will work too! Heat the oil in a large deep skillet or pot over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F. When you add the chicken, the temperature will drop down a bit. Our target cooking temperature is 325 degrees F, so that’s totally fine.
Once your southern fried chicken is golden brown on both sides, drain on a wire rack with paper towels, then brush it with hot sauce — we love spicy chicken! — then place an excessive amount on top of a couple of stacked belgian waffles. This chicken would also be fantastic over homemade biscuits!
Drown that baby in syrup, serve with sliced pickles, then DIG IN.
When Is The Best Time To Make Chicken And Waffles?
All day every day. But Sunday brunch or really any holiday brunch — New Year’s Day, Christmas, Easter, etc. — is when we bust out this special southern recipe.
Side Dishes For Chicken And Waffles
These really need nothing else! Sometimes we serve a side of crispy bacon or breakfast sausage, or put out a bowl of fruit, but this is hearty and substantial all on its own.
Chicken and waffles, we love you, you’re perfect – never change.
If you make this Southern Fried Chicken and Waffle Recipe, please let me know by leaving a review below!
Don’t forget to check out the southern chicken and waffles video for step-by-step instruction!
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More Brunch Recipes To Try!
- Breakfast Polenta with Pesto
- Smoked Salmon Breakfast Tacos
- Crab Cake Benedict
- Smashed Eggs On Toast
- Cajun Shrimp and Grits
- Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
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
- Season the chicken. Pat chicken thighs dry with a paper towel, then cut into ¼” thick strips. Place chicken in a large bowl with 1 Tbsp Kosher salt and 1 tsp black pepper, then cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 2 hours.
- Make the marinade. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 ½ cups buttermilk, 3 large eggs, and 1 Tbsp hot sauce. In a second large bowl, whisk together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 3 tsp Kosher salt, and 2 tsp garlic powder.
- Dredge the chicken. 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.
- Heat the oil. 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.
- Fry 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.
- Make the hot sauce. Combine 1 stick butter, 2 Tbsp honey, 1 ½ tsp cayenne, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp sweet paprika, ½ tsp chili powder, ½ tsp Kosher salt and ¼ tsp black pepper in a saucepan. Heat over medium-high until butter has melted and spices become fragrant, stirring well. Use a brush to coat each piece of chicken with hot sauce.
- Make the waffle batter. Preheat waffle maker and coat with nonstick oil spray. Beat egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until stiff peaks form. Whisk 2 ¼ cups flour, 1 Tbsp baking powder, 3 Tbsp sugar,½ tsp Kosher salt, and ½ tsp cinnamon together in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together 2 cups buttermilk, ½ cup vegetable oil, 2 egg yolks, and 1 tsp vanilla extract.
- Add the wet ingredients. Whisk wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then gently fold in egg whites.
- Cook the waffles. 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.
This post was originally published in March 2019. It has since been updated with tips, tricks, and additional information to make it easier to create at home.