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Fried chicken is considered an art form here in the South. Growing up in Kentucky, I can remember plenty of potluck protests as to which home cook had turned out the juiciest, crispiest, most melt-in-your-mouth fried chicken on the block. Something seriously stunning transpires when you have that perfect balance of golden crust sheathing savory, seasoned chicken. I’ve spent more time than I’d ever want to admit tinkering in the kitchen in pursuit of it, and I’ve finally unlocked the secret to mastering the perfect crunch.

While all-purpose flour is almost always the home cook’s go-to for coating chicken that’s destined for the fryer, adding in a common kitchen staple will seriously improve the crispiness factor. Argo® Corn Starch will make the shell perfectly crisp, sealing all the flavor and juices into your chicken. One taste of this Crispiest Fried Chicken recipe and you’ll be a believer.

Although many would argue that the chicken inside is merely a vehicle for the delicious crust that encases it, you’d be wise to give a little attention to the bird itself as well. I’ve always advocated for brining when you have the time, and doing so doesn’t require any more from you than waiting a bit before coating the chicken in both a dry dredge and a wet batter. And—this might get me in some serious trouble in the South—I prefer using water to create the wet batter instead of milk or another dairy product. When frying in oil, the water will evaporate and leave a longer-lasting, superior crunch. Win, win, y’all.

Having a solid recipe for ultra-crispy fried chicken makes for an endless number of dinner options. Spice or season it any way you’d like—the sky is really the limit. For me though, it’s all about the sandwich. You can have your drumsticks; give me a piece of chicken I can throw between a bun every time. Here are two winning versions of the fried chicken sandwich.

First up: I wouldn’t be a good Nashvillian if I didn’t share a take on my city’s famous hot honey fried chicken—in sandwich form. Bonus: You can toss sliced onions in the same crunchy batter you’re using for the chicken and easily turn out a batch of killer onion rings to toss on top.

Since I’m serious about my Southern sandwich game, I’m sharing a throwback to another childhood favorite of mine: a twist on a classic chicken biscuit. Adding ranch seasoning to the cornstarch brings out the savory side of this chipotle chicken bacon ranch biscuit sandwich.

Stepping up your crispy chicken game couldn’t be any easier. With a sprinkle of corn starch, you’ll be swiping that first-place trophy and bragging rights at the neighborhood potluck in no time.

Hot Honey Fried Chicken Sandwich

Cayenne and ancho chili battered crispy chicken sandwich glazed with Sriracha and honey, topped with pickles and fried onions.
Cayenne and ancho chili battered crispy chicken sandwich glazed with Sriracha and honey, topped with pickles and fried onions.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Ingredients

Brine (optional)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 lb. chicken (preference of boneless breast, thighs, or tenderloins)

Batter

  • 1 cup flour, all-purpose
  • 3/4 cup Argo® Corn Starch
  • 1 Tbsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup water

Finishing

  • 1 quart oil for frying, peanut or vegetable
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup pickles, sliced
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup sriracha sauce
  • 4 ea buns

Instructions

  1. For the brine, whisk all ingredients and combine with chicken pieces. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  2. For the fried chicken, combine all batter dry ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk well.
  3. Reserve half of this dry mix to a different bowl.
  4. To one bowl, mix in water and whisk until smooth. The consistency should be similar to pancake batter.
  5. Remove chicken pieces from the brine and pat dry.
  6. Pour oil into a large Dutch oven or other frying pot and heat to 325 °F.
  7. Dredge chicken pieces in the dry half of the batter mix, coating well.
  8. Shake off any excess and dip chicken pieces into the wet batter, coating evenly. Allow excess to drip off back into the bowl.
  9. Cook until the chicken coating is a deep golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 160°F for white meat or 175°F for dark meat, about 15 minutes.
  10. Remove to drain and rest.
  11. Repeat the two-step breading process with the sliced onions.
  12. Fry onions until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  13. Assemble sandwich on the bun with fried chicken, pickles, fried onion, topped with a drizzle of honey and hot sauce.
Adding cornstarch to dry batter mix is the key to extra crunchy fried chicken.
Adding cornstarch to dry batter mix is the key to extra crunchy fried chicken. By Phillip Fryman, SouthernFatty.com / @southernfatty

Chipotle Chicken Bacon Ranch Biscuits

Perfectly crisp chicken, fried with a ranch-seasoned batter, tucked between pillowy biscuits.
Perfectly crisp chicken, fried with a ranch-seasoned batter, tucked between pillowy biscuits. By Phillip Fryman, SouthernFatty.com / @southernfatty

Servings 4
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 to 25 minutes

Ingredients

Brine (optional)

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 lb. chicken (preference of boneless breast, thighs, or tenderloins)

Batter

  • 1 cup flour, all-purpose
  • 3/4 cup Argo® Corn Starch
  • 1 Tbsp ranch seasoning mix
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 cup water

Finishing

  • 1 quart oil for frying, peanut or vegetable
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1 tsp ground chipotle pepper
  • 4 lg eggs, fried
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crispy
  • 4 ea biscuits

Instructions

  1. For the brine, whisk all ingredients and combine with chicken pieces. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.
  2. For the fried chicken, combine all batter dry ingredients into a large bowl. Whisk well.
  3. Reserve half of this dry mix to a different bowl.
  4. To one bowl, mix in water and whisk until smooth. The consistency should be similar to pancake batter.
  5. Remove chicken pieces from the brine and pat dry.
  6. Pour oil into a large Dutch oven or other frying pot and heat to 325 °F.
  7. Dredge chicken pieces in the dry half of the batter mix, coating well.
  8. Shake off any excess and dip chicken pieces into the wet batter, coating evenly. Allow excess to drip off back into the bowl.
  9. Cook until the chicken coating is a deep golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 160°F for white meat or 175°F for dark meat, about 15 minutes.
  10. Remove to drain and rest.
  11. Assemble sandwich on biscuits with fried chicken, egg, bacon, and a drizzle of chipotle ranch.

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