This spicy chicken sandwich is quick and easy to make and has the most delicious crispy breading! It’s better than McDonald’s or Popeye’s and comes together in minutes.
My #1 guilty pleasure is a fast food spicy chicken sandwich or hot honey chicken sandwich, so recreating it at home has always been on my agenda.
For this recipe, I did my research and taste-tested Popeye’s, KFC, Chick-fil-a, and McDonald’s to see who had the tastiest spicy chicken sandwich. Popeye’s chicken sandwich won by a long shot so of course, I had to recreate it but with two twists- it must be easy to make, and it must taste delicious. This spicy chicken sandwich recipe ticks both boxes!
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
- Better than the original. My copycat version has the best flavor and texture and uses good-quality ingredients. My family also agrees- homemade is best.
- Make it as spicy as you like. You can adjust the level of heat of these chicken sandwiches to your preference. I like to make it scorching hot because I am a chili fiend but if too much spice is a no-go, that is completely fine.
- Cheaper than store-bought. A fast food spicy chicken sandwich retails at around $9 each, but making them at home costs a fraction of that.
- Three cooking methods. Fried, baked, or air-fried- the option is yours!
Can we lament about how perfect the chicken is? It’s crispy on the outside and perfectly juicy and moist in the middle. A secret trick guarantees the chicken stays this crispy the entire time, so you can make extra to enjoy as leftovers.
This recipe calls for very simple ingredients that you’ll likely already have on hand. Here is what you’ll need:
- Chicken breasts. Skinless and boneless, halved. If your chicken breasts are already small, just pound them using a meat mallet.
- Flour. To coat the chicken before dipping it in the egg mixture.
- Buttermilk. Being slightly acidic, buttermilk makes light and fluffy batter. If you don’t have buttermilk, easily make your own by adding 1/2 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice to the milk and letting it curdle (it should take no longer than 10 minutes).
- Sriracha. To add spiciness to the batter. It is easy to add some form of hot sauce to the batter and control the level of heat.
- Eggs. To give stability to the batter and make the dry mix stick to the fillets nicely.
- Spices. I use chili powder (or cayenne pepper), salt, and pepper in the dry mix for the fillets which amps up the spice level. You can swap out the chili for smoked paprika if you don’t want these sandwiches to be overly spicy.
- Sandwich fix-ins. I kept things classic by using potato rolls, lettuce, spicy mayo (standard mayo works) and some pickles. Of course, the world is your oyster so add whatever you like.
- Oil. To fry the chicken. Any neutral flavored oil with a high smoke point is great, like canola oil or vegetable oil.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below
How to make a spicy chicken sandwich
Batter, fry, serve! Making this Popeye’s copycat spicy crispy sandwich couldn’t be easier. Here are detailed instructions for making them:
Step 1- Prepare the batter and the dry mix. In one bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, chili powder, and pepper. In another bowl, add buttermilk and sriracha to the whisked eggs and mix until fully combined.
Step 2- Season the chicken. Dip the chicken fillets in the dry mix first, then in the buttermilk mixture, then once again in the dry mix. Do this with all the chicken fillets.
Step 3- Fry the chicken. Heat oil in a deep frying pan. Add the chicken fillets and cook for 4-5 minutes until the chicken is golden brown on both sides.
Step 4- Remove excess oil. Once cooked, remove the chicken fillets from the oil and put them on a wire rack.
Step 5- Assemble the sandwiches. Assemble the spicy chicken sandwiches by adding them to the potato rolls along with the fillings and sauces of your choice.
Alternative cooking methods
If you want these sandwiches to be a little healthier or aren’t a fan of deep frying, I have you covered. I tested cooking the chicken in the air fryer and the oven successfully, so if you prefer your chicken cooked that way, here is how:
- Air fryer instructions: Once the chicken is breaded, grease the air fryer basket and place the fillets in a single layer (you may need to cook it in batches). Spray the top with cooking spray and air fry at 200C/400F for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- Oven instructions: Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Place the breaded chicken on a baking sheet. I don’t recommend adding parchment paper because the chicken may be soggy. Bake for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Remember, the best way to tell if the chicken is cooked is to check its internal temperature. Fully cooked chicken should have an internal temperature of 165F.
Recipe tips and variations
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. Putting too many chicken fillets in the hot oil at one time causes the temperature of the oil to drop. As a result, the chicken absorbs too much oil and takes longer to get crispy. If needed, fry the chicken in batches.
- Add cornstarch to the fry mix for extra crispiness. My secret trick to extra crispy chicken. Mixing some starch with the flour for the dry mix yields a crispier coating.
- Play around with the sauces. You don’t have to stick to mayonnaise and ketchup for this sandwich. You can use any sauce you like, including mustard-based sauces and even big mac sauce.
- Make it gluten-free. Use gluten-free flour in the breading and serve it with gluten-free bread or buns.
I don’t recommend storing the assembled sandwiches or making them ahead of time. They taste best when made fresh. However, the spicy chicken fillets can be made in advance.
To store: Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to five days.
To freeze: Place the chicken in a ziplock bag and store it in the freezer for up to two months.
Reheating: Either reheat in a non-stick pan or the oven. Avoid using the microwave as the chicken will lose its crispiness.
More sandwich recipes to try
Spicy Chicken Sandwich Recipe
- 4 soft rolls or brioche buns
- 1/2 cup lettuce shredded
- 1/4 cup pickles
- 1 large tomato sliced
- 1/4 cup big mac sauce
- Whisk flour, chili powder, salt, and pepper in one bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sriracha, and eggs.
- Dip one piece of the chicken in the flour mix and shake off any excess. Dip it in the spicy buttermilk mix, then once again in the dry mix. Repeat the process until all the chicken is seasoned.
- Add an inch of oil to a deep pan. Once hot, cook the chicken for 4-5 minutes, flipping halfway through. Once golden brown, remove them from the oil and place them on a paper towel to soak up excess oil.
- Once cooked, assemble the sandwiches by adding them into a roll with sauce and fillings of choice.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.