Are you one of the many people who has waited on long drive-thru lines just to get a Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich? Well I was. I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. My kids raved about it and I saw it all over my news feeds. They talked about how amazing this sandwich was and all about the shortages and how Popeyes earnings are going through the roof. Well since I’m not that crazy about fast food, I accepted the challenge of making my own Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich recipe at home.Jump to Recipe Jump to Recipe
Making a great chicken sandwich at isn’t too hard and I personally think that this version is even better than the fast food version. The only downside is that you can’t get as quick as you would in a drive-thru. Fast food is perfect for when you’re in a rush. And I’d say that the Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich is probably the best fast food chicken sandwich I’ve ever had.
But first a little backstory. When this sandwich first came out it was so popular that Popeyes ran out of the buns and had to stop selling it. And then they started this crazy offer where if you brought your own bun you could order the spicy chicken separately and make the sandwich yourself. Now about a year later, the buns are back in stock and the drive-thru lines usually wrap around the entire Popeye’s building and out into the street. So what’s so great about the Popeyes chicken sandwich?
Why Are They So Popular?
I’ll tell you what’s so great about them. It’s tastes like delicious white meat fried chicken on a sandwich with excellent spicy sauce. Have you ever taken a bite into a chicken nugget and looked inside it? I don’t know what part of the chicken that is but it’s definitely not the breast. The Popeyes chicken sandwich is a nice fried breast. In the world of fast food, this is rare and that’s why it’s popular. It’s also tastes like fried chicken. Probably because they use some sort of buttermilk marinade like all good fried chicken. You’re not going to get that kind of flavor from a burger joint chicken sandwich.
But if you cook a lot at home then you know that most of the stuff that you can get at a fast food place can be made at home. And if you use quality ingredients and take the time to prep the food right, it’ll even taste a lot better than the fast food versions. And that’s what I did with this Popeye’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich Recipe.
First thing you’ll need is those big juicy white meat chicken breasts that I was talking about. Don’t go with the boneless chicken thighs. I know they have more flavor but the appeal of this sandwich is the fried white meat chicken. Now when you buy a family pack of chicken breasts at the supermarket you’ll notice that the breast is not a uniform thickness. They usually have a thinner side and a thick side. If you use a meat tenderizer to make the breast a uniform thickness, it’ll be easier to cook. You don’t want the thin part to dry out while you make sure the thicker part isn’t raw.
Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Recipe
- 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup Buttermilk
- 2 tbsp Garlic Powder 1 tbsp for Breading, 1 tbsp for Marinade
- 2 tbsp Onion Powder 1 tbsp for Breading, 1 tbsp for Marinade
- 2 tbsp Paprika 1 tbsp for Breading, 1 tbsp for Marinade
- 1 cup Flour
- 1/2 cup Corn Starch
- 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 cup Mayonnaise
- 2 tsp Hot Sauce
- 1 pinch Salt to taste
- 1 pinch Pepper to taste
- 8 slices Kosher Dill Pickle
- 4 Brioche Buns
- 4-8 cups Oil canola or peanut oil
Prep the Chicken
- Pound the chicken breasts using a meat tenderizer until them are uniform thickness
- In a container, mix buttermilk, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp paprika, salt & pepper
- Add the chicken to the container, cover and marinate in refrigerator for at least several hours (overnight is best)
Cook the Chicken
- Heat the oil in a skillet or pot until it reaches 350 degrees
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, corn starch, 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp paprika, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, salt and pepper
- Take chicken from marinade and dredge in flour mixture. Be sure chicken is completely covered, press firmly if needed
- Slowly lower battered chicken into hot oil and fry for 3-5 minutes per side until chicken reaches internal temperature of 165 degrees
- Mix in a bowl the mayonnaise, hot sauce, 1 tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp garlic powder to a bowl and set aside
Assemble the Sandwich
- Spread the spicy sauce on both sides of cut brioche bun
- Add two pickle slices
- Add chicken, if necessary cut chicken to fit bun
- Serve sandwich warm
How To Use A Meat Tenderizer
Using a meat tenderizer is easy. You just gently tap the meat and it’ll flatten out. You can put a piece of plastic wrap over it so that chicken juice doesn’t fly all over your kitchen. And remember, you’re not hammering a nail into a 2×4. The piece of meat on your cutting board used to be a chicken. Don’t use too much force with the meat tenderizer.
Meat Tenderizer Alternatives
If you don’t have a meat tenderizer there’s plenty of other ways to get the chicken breast to a uniform thickness. You can use a rolling pin or a even a can of soup. Just tap firmly but lightly until it’s the thickness you want.
How To Marinate Chicken In Buttermilk
The key to good fried chicken is to marinate it in buttermilk. All the great fried chicken recipes of the south start with this step and so should you. Let your chicken marinate for at least a few hours but really overnight would be best. You see this isn’t really fast food but it’ll be worth it. Besides buttermilk, this marinade also has paprika, garlic powder, salt & pepper.
How To Make Buttermilk
Now if you can’t find buttermilk at the store don’t worry, it’s easy to make. Take a cup of milk and add a tablespoon of either white vinegar or lemon juice. Then you let it sit on the counter for 10-15 minutes. You must let it sit because that’s when the curds form and it thickens the milk.
The Popeyes sandwich is so crispy you’d think it was made with something fancy like Panko breadcrumbs or some secret recipe but it’s not. You’re going to want to use flour, corn starch and some spices. Whisk them all together and be sure to press the chicken firmly into the breading to get a nice thick coating. No need for egg or a milk bath because the buttermilk marinade will do the trick.
The sauce is the key to this sandwich. It’s mostly mayonnaise that you mix with your favorite hot sauce and some spices. Now some people like Chick Fil A sauce better than this sauce from the Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Recipe but I’m not one of them. And if you want it really spicy then get a really fiery hot sauce. I usually use Cholula Hot Sauce because it tastes good and you can easily find it at the supermarket but it’s not very hot.
Yes, you’ll need a couple of kosher dill pickle slices for each sandwich.
Notes About Frying
This is a deep fryer recipe. There is a lot of mess and some danger when you set up a pot on your stove with a few inches of hot oil in but it’s worth the trouble. Make sure there’s plenty of room in the pot your using so that it doesn’t boil over. Don’t forget that when things heat up they expand. And that definitely is true of oil. Now you also want to use an oil with a high smoke point like canola or peanut oil. And unless you’re an old pro at deep frying you’ll definitely need a thermometer to keep the oil heated to around 350 degrees.
Deep Fryer Options
As I said, there’s mess and danger deep frying in your kitchen. And that’s why I like to do it outside when the weather permits. I have a Blackstone Griddle and I just put the pan directly on it and heat up my oil that way. This way when it splatters all over the place, I don’t really have to worry about it. Heating up a metal pan on a metal flat top griddle is probably the least efficient way to do it but it works just fine. You could also use the side burner on a BBQ too. But if you do that then be careful with the open flame. You’ll want to use a nice deep pot to keep the splatter to a minimum.
Safe Chicken Internal Temperature
Using a meat thermometer, make sure the chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Can You Use An Air Fryer?
Go ahead and try it. An air fryer is a great way to reduce the oil needed when you deep fry. But if you have a toaster oven style air fryer instead of one with an enclosed basket, then you’re going to have a crazy mess when you’re done. Probably take at least 15 minutes to cook to 165 degrees in an air fryer. Use that meat thermometer to make sure it’s fully cooked.
Popeyes uses brioche buns and so should you. A brioche bun is made with more egg and butter than normal bread and that makes it more flaky and pastry like. They also have a nicer looking buttery shine to them. These buns will cost you more than a hamburger bun or a Kaiser roll but they are worth it.
Assembling The Sandwich
After the chicken is fully cooked you’ll want to rest them on a cooling rack or an aluminum foil pan. A paper towel will soak up the excess oil but it will also make the crispy coating a little soggy. The cooling rack is the best way to go while you’re assembling the sandwiches.
Spread the spicy sauce on both sides of your brioche bun, add two pickle slices and then place the chicken on top. If desired, you can toast the buns before assembling.
Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Recipe
So once I started making this Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich Recipe, I said goodbye to the long drive through line. Give it a try.