Hot and crispy, my spicy chicken sandwich is a “slow food” version of one of my favorite fast food sandwiches. Slathered in a creamy garlic-parmesan sauce and topped with crispy bacon, cool lettuce and tomato, this homemade version is full of fresh, delicious ingredients you can feel great about indulging in!
A Spicy Chicken Sandwich That Tops the Drive-Through Version
Though it's been a little while since I've enjoyed a “Spicy Asiago Ranch Chicken Club” from Wendy's, I'd have to say that it's probably my favorite spicy chicken sandwich from a fast-food establishment, hands down.
Hot, juicy and crispy out of the fryer, this tasty morsel always hits the spot when that craving for a fried chicken sandwich with some “kick” hits, and as far as fast food goes, it's pretty darn delicious in a pinch when I'm looking to grab something at the drive-through.
But what if I were to tell you that I've cracked the code on a scrumptious “slow food” version of this guilty pleasure, making it, well, not quite so guilty a pleasure?
With my homemade spicy chicken sandwich recipe, I've taken a bit of inspiration from the fast food version but put my own unique spin on things to make mine extra flavorful and delectably scrumptious, not to mention filled with fresh, organic ingredients.
My spicy and crispy chicken sandwich features a buttermilk fried chicken breast seasoned with lots of spices and even a few dashes of tabasco, a bit of crispy bacon plus lettuce and tomato, and a creamy garlic-parmesan sauce that's irresistibly savory.
I even sprinkle over a tiny amount of grated parmesan cheese under the slice of mozzarella for extra flavor.
So if you happen to be as big a fan of the drive-through version of a spicy chicken sandwich as I am, then this recipe is definitely one you've got to try for yourself.
It even comes with a little “bonus recipe” for sea salt oven fries, if you'd like to enjoy some healthy baked French fries alongside!
How to Make a Spicy Chicken Sandwich From Scratch
A delicious crispy, spicy chicken sandwich has a few basic components that give this special sammy all of its delectable flair, the most important being the fried chicken breast.
This is where all of the flavor building really begins, and marination is a part of this process.
For my homemade spicy chicken sandwich recipe, I'll typically marinate my chicken breasts for at least twenty minutes or up to 24 hours (when I'm preparing ahead) in some buttermilk seasoned with tabasco sauce, some salt, and some fresh garlic.
The buttermilk marination imparts so much flavor to the chicken before I fry it up, not to mention it tenderizes it making it super juicy and flavorful!
Another component that of course adds a lot of flavor is the sauce.
Besides being rich and creamy, my special garlic-parmesan sauce is hint tangy, lemony, and garlicky, with that nutty and savory parmesan flavor. Slathered generously on both the top and bottom bun, it gives this sandwich some mouthwatering flair!
Of course one needs some cheese and some fresh toppings on a spicy chicken sandwich, and for my version I opt for creamy sliced mozzarella laid overtop of a small whisper of parmesan, smoky bacon, cool tomato, and crisp romaine.
Here's a quick overview of my spicy chicken sandwich recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- While my chicken breasts marinate, I whip up my easy sauce and set that aside to spread on the buns before assembling the sandwiches. And, if preparing my sea salt baked French fries to go with my sandwich, I'll prep those and place 'em in the oven.
- Next, I dredge my chicken in seasoned flour and fry it up until crispy and golden.
- To melt the cheese, I sprinkle a touch of parmesan over the fried chicken breast and add a slice of mozzarella, then broil for about 30 seconds to 1 minute just to melt the cheese.
- Then, I assemble the sandwiches with some sauce on both the top and bottom bun, add the spicy chicken breast, some bacon, lettuce, tomato, and serve with my healthy baked French fries.
Spicy Chicken Sandwich
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: 4 sandwiches
Nutrition Info: 712 calories (sandwich only, with 2 tablespoons of sauce)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes (chicken sandwich only)
Total time: 45 minutes
Spicy Chicken Sandwich Ingredients:
- 2 organic skinless, boneless chicken breasts, sliced in half lengthwise to create 4, thinner cutlets
- 1 cup buttermilk, plus 1 tablespoon, divided use
- Tabasco sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more, if you like it “extra spicy”)
- Peanut oil, for frying
- ¼ cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese
- 4 slices mozzarella cheese
- 4 buns, toasted
- Romaine leaves, for topping
- Tomato slices, for topping
- 4 strips crispy bacon, cut in half, for topping
Creamy Garlic-Parmesan Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 cup sour cream
- ¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons, mayonnaise
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 garlic cloves
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus an extra pinch, if needed
- Place the 4 chicken cutlets into a medium-size bowl, and pour over the buttermilk; next, add in as many dashes of Tabasco sauce as you'd like (I like mine spicy, so I added quite a few), followed by 1 teaspoon of salt and the pressed garlic cloves; using your hands, mix the marinade into the chicken breasts, and allow them to marinate for at least 20 minutes, or up to 24 hours.
- Prepare the creamy garlic-parmesan sauce: place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor, and process until completely smooth and creamy; store in the fridge in a covered container to keep cold.
- Prepare your flour coating for the chicken by adding the flour, the black pepper, granulated garlic and onion, paprika, Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper, and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt into a large bowl, and mix to combine; drizzle in the 1 tablespoon of buttermilk, and using your fingers, mix the buttermilk into the flour creating little “chunky” flour bits (this is good for a little extra crispiness when it fries).
- To coat your chicken, take 1 breast cutlet out of the buttermilk, and allow the excess to drip off; next, add the chicken to the seasoned flour, pressing it in and turning to coat both sides, then place the coated chicken on a clean plate; repeat the process until all chicken cutlets are flour coated. (I like mine a little “extra crispy”, so I re-dredge each breast, one at a time, back in the buttermilk, then once again into the seasoned flour, and back to the plate, and repeat until all cutlets are double-dredged.)
- To fry, add about 4-6 cups of oil to a Dutch oven or heavy bottom deeper pan, so that the oil comes roughly halfway up the sides; place a clip-on digital thermometer onto the side, and bring the oil up to 365°.
- Once the oil is hot, work in batches by adding 2 of the breasts into the oil, allowing them to fry for a total of about 6 minutes, about 3 minutes per side (you can turn them frequently as I did, if you see that they're browning too much on one side), or until golden-brown and cooked through (you can also turn down the temp of the oil slightly if the breasts are browning too quickly).
- Remove from pan and allow the chicken to drain on a wire rack or paper towel-lined plate; repeat with the remaining chicken, and then allow the chicken to “rest” for just a few minutes out of the oil.
- Top each crispy fried chicken breast with 1 tablespoon's worth of the grated or shredded parmesan cheese, then lay a slice of the mozzarella cheese over that; place the cheese-topped chicken breasts onto a foil-lined baking sheet, and place them into the oven on a “low” broil to very quickly melt the cheese, just for a moment.
- Assemble your sandwiches by slathering on a good amount of the creamy garlic-parmesan sauce onto both the top and bottom buns, then lay a leaf or two of romaine on the bottom bun, followed by a fried chicken fillet, tomato slices, then 2 bacon halves, then the top bun; serve hot with sea salt oven fries, if desired.
Sea Salt Baked French Fries Ingredients (optional side):
• 2 large organic russet potatoes (washed, scrubbed and dried), sliced into thick matchsticks
• Olive oil
• Sea salt
• Freshly cracked black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
- If preparing the optional sea salt baked French fries: preheat the oven to 400°, and line a baking sheet with foil that has been misted with cooking spray.
- Toss the matchstick russet potatoes with about 2 tablespoons of oil, a couple of good pinches of sea salt and black pepper, plus the paprika, and toss the ingredients together; turn the seasoned potatoes out onto the prepared baking sheet in as much of a single layer as possible, and bake the fries for about 45 minutes, or until golden-brown and tender.
Tips &Tidbits for my Spicy Chicken Sandwich:
- Smaller chicken breasts: Because dredging and then frying the chicken breasts bulks them up a bit, I use smaller skinless, boneless chicken breasts and cut them horizontally length-wise. This creates thinner cutlets and makes the chicken easier (and quicker) to fry, not to mention it makes for an easier bite out of the sandwich!
- The longer you marinate, the more flavor you'll get: Even twenty minutes in the seasoned buttermilk will yield great flavor; but if you have more time, allow for an hour or even up to 24 hours, if preparing ahead. The chicken will absorb the seasonings, and will become tenderized in the buttermilk.
- Make things as spicy as you like: For recipe purposes, I typically like to make things only moderately spicy in terms of the quantities I give for spice, providing the one preparing the recipe an opportunity to add more (or even less) “heat” as needed. Because I tend to really like my chicken spicy, I'd personally add a lot more tabasco to the buttermilk and more cayenne pepper than I call for in the recipe, but the amount written offers a nice little “kick”, without being overpowering.
- Fresh toppings: I like a little crispy bacon on this sandwich, but feel free to leave that off if you prefer. The lettuce and tomato offer some cool freshness, and you could also add some red onion, or even pickle slices if you'd like.
- Baked French fries, a healthier side: I give an optional sea salt baked French fry recipe, in case you'd like to complete your “slow food” version of this fast food-inspired meal. They're lower in fat and calories but taste crispy and delicious, adding only 146 calories per serving to the sandwich.
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2014, and has been updated with even more love!