This crispy chicken sandwich recipe will make you forget all about the current chicken sandwich wars. Forget about Chick-Fil-A, Popeyes, and other contenders. The best chicken sandwich on the market is the one you can make at home in your own kitchen!
We’re looking at buttermilk marinated chicken thighs lightly breaded and pan fried for a crispy exterior and juicy, tender interior. Toss the pan fried chicken on a bun, top with pickles and a tangy honey bbq sauce, and get ready to blow everyone away.
I’ll walk you through the recipe, modifications, and frequently asked questions below. And you can find the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post.
How to Make Crispy Chicken Sandwiches
If you’ve tried my buttermilk pan fried chicken breast recipe, this will be a walk in the park. The marinade and cooking techniques are almost the same, with the biggest difference being the type of chicken used and cook time. Let’s get into it.
Marinating the Chicken
I decided to use chicken thighs for this chicken sandwich recipe, but you’re more than welcome to use chicken breast. Though the little bit of extra fat in chicken thighs makes these chicken sandwiches extra tender and juicy.
To get started, trim some boneless skinless chicken thighs to fit the buns you’re using. Since you’ll have leftover trimmings and possibly whole chicken thighs since not every package is the same size, I’ve included notes at the bottom of this post on how to use them and avoid waste.
Mix an egg with some buttermilk and marinate the chicken. Like I mentioned in the original buttermilk chicken recipe, the time spent in the marinade is essential to super tender, flavorful chicken. But with the chicken thighs, you could probably get away with cutting it down to 30-60 minutes more than with the chicken breast.
Dredging the Chicken
Once the chicken has had a nice soak, drain the remaining marinade and mix the flour and spices together. I like using a wire rack so the chicken thighs can continue to drain any excess marinade as you work. If you throw a chicken thigh with too much moisture on its surface in the flour mixture, you’ll have a clumpy mess.
Shake/toss the chicken thighs to coat and add back to the rack. That’s it for prep. You’re ready to cook and assemble your crispy chicken sandwiches!
Pan Frying the Chicken
You’ll want to use a large, oven-safe skillet. I used a 12″ cast iron skillet and as you can see in the photo below, there’s not much room to spare. If you don’t have a skillet that’s large enough, cook in batches or two separate skillets.
Be sure the oil is hot (slightly smoking or tiny drops of water sizzle if flicked in the oil) before you add the chicken to avoid soggy chicken sandwiches.
Cook the chicken thighs for about 3 minutes or until they’re golden brown before flipping, cooking for 2 additional minutes, and then adding the skillet to a 400-degree oven to finish cooking. You’re after an internal temperature of 165F so a food thermometer really comes in handy.
You can find the food thermometer, cast iron skillet, and other kitchen tools/staple ingredients on my Amazon storefront.
Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean wire rack or tray to rest while you toast your buns in the skillet. There should be some remaining oil in the skillet so there’s no need to butter the buns before toasting.
And that’s a wrap. Choose your condiments/fixin’s and assemble your crispy chicken sandwiches.
Serving Your Crispy Chicken Sandwiches
In my opinion, it’s hard to go wrong with the pickles only chicken sandwich. But if you want to add condiments or other toppings, go crazy.
Tangy Honey BBQ Sauce
A failed attempt to make a healthier Chick-Fil-A sauce turned into something darn tasty. Here’s how to make it:
- 1 Tbsp Honey
- 2 Tbsp BBQ Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Yellow Mustard
- 1/2 tsp Paprika and Ground Mustard
I’m a cheese fanatic, but cheese doesn’t belong on a crispy chicken sandwich.
Using the Leftover Chicken Thighs
The pack of chicken thighs I used was around 2.5 pounds so I had trimmings and two additional thighs. I figured if I put them back in the refrigerator without a plan, they’d go to waste. So I whipped up the marinade from my spicy buttermilk baked chicken tenderloins recipe.
This made little chicken pieces that kinda resemble boneless chicken wings. I pulled them out of the marinade and tossed them in the oven after I cooked the crispy chicken sandwiches. Now we have extra chicken on hand for the week!
Here are a few more ideas for leftover chicken:
- Spicy Baked Chicken Thighs and Potatoes
- Mustard Balsamic Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
- Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets 7 Ways
- Throw them in a slow cooker or pressure cooker and make my Spicy Coconut Pulled Chicken Thighs or BBQ slow cooker chicken thighs.
- You can find more marinade ideas in my Naked Chicken Tenders recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’ll cover some of the most commonly asked about recipe modifications below. If you have a question I don’t cover, feel free to drop a comment at the bottom of this post.
Can I air fry the chicken?
I didn’t have much luck testing them in the air fryer. With the flour, you need the light frying in the oil to get the crispy exterior.
Can I make this without a cast iron skillet?
This recipe should work fine in any skillet that’s large enough and oven safe. Cook times may vary slightly in different cookware, though.
Should I do anything differently with chicken breast?
You can probably cut 3 large chicken breasts in half. Like I mentioned in the original pan fried chicken breast recipe, you may want to cover them in plastic wrap and pound them to an even thickness for even cooking. That’s it!
What’s a potato roll?
Nothing fancy. They’re just a type of hamburger bun, essentially. Feel free to use any buns you’d like with your chicken sandwiches.
Have any side ideas for chicken sandwiches?
All right, I think that’s it! If you have questions about this crispy chicken sandwich recipe, you can leave a comment below or join my Facebook group with 14,000+ other healthy home cooks.
- 6 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs*, cut to fit bun size
- 3/4 C (180mL) Low Fat Buttermilk
- 1 large Egg
- 1/4 C (30g) All Purpose Flour
- 1 Tbsp Paprika
- 1/2 Tbsp Ground Mustard
- 1/2 Tbsp White Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1 1/2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 Potato Rolls (or your choice of bun)
Marinating the Chicken
- Cut the chicken thighs into rough squares about the size of the buns you're using.
- Whisk the buttermilk and egg together in a resealable container and add the chicken thighs. Seal and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Dredging the Chicken
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Transfer the chicken thighs to a wire rack or tray. Let any excess marinade drip off the chicken. Discard remaining marinade.**
- Mix the flour and dry spices together in a shallow bowl.
- Place a chicken thigh in the flour/spice mixture and toss to coat. Place the coated chicken back on the rack or tray and repeat until little to no flour remains.
Pan Frying the Chicken
- Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat with the olive oil. (I used a 12" cast iron skillet.)
- Once the oil is hot, carefully place the chicken thighs in the skillet. Cook for 2.5-3 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown before flipping and cooking another 2 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165F.
- Transfer the cooked chicken to a clean cooling rack to rest.
- Place the skillet back over medium heat to toast your buns before serving.
*The 6 thighs I used weighed 16 ounces after trimming. See notes in the post above for ways to use chicken trimmings and avoid waste.
Nutrition Information Notes
- Nutrition info is for sandwiches only without any condiments/toppings.
- Each crispy chicken sandwich has 7 Smart Points.
- 1 piece of chicken on its own (recipe makes 6) has 161 calories, 17.3g of protein, 5.5g of carbs, 7.5g of fat, and 4 Smart Points.
- Nutrition info includes buttermilk and egg marinade, despite the remaining marinade being discarded as it's difficult to calculate what's left behind.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Sandwiches Serving Size: 1 Sandwich
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 300Total Fat: 9gCarbohydrates: 32gProtein: 21g