12 Amazing Fried Chicken Sandwiches from Coast to Coast
Photo By: Scooter Lowrimore ©Scooter Lowrimore
Photo By: Cutty's
Photo By: Tim Musho
Photo By: East Hampton Sandwich Co.
Photo By: NathanLotz c/o Denver Biscuit Co.
Photo By: Dylan + Jeni
Photo By: Sylvain
Photo By: Gabriele Stabile ©gabrielestabile/LP
Photo By: Laura Hayes
Photo By: Soul Groove Waffles and Chicken
Photo By: Scooter Lowrimore ©Scooter Lowrimore
Photo By: Greg Rannells ©Greg Rannells
Photo By: Laura Hayes
The New School of Crispy Chicken Sandwiches
How you dress up a fried chicken sandwich matters, but nothing is more important than the chicken itself. An audible crunch should create love at first bite, but once your teeth permeate the crispy exterior, they should meet moist, juicy meat that tastes like it has taken a Rip Van Winkle-length nap in buttermilk. From coast to coast, these are the 12 best fried chicken sandwiches in America. They're a big step up from the fast-food variety, and worth every punishing calorie.
The Sandwich: Super Cluckin' Sunday Fried Chicken Sandwich
The good news is the Super Cluckin’ Fried Chicken sandwich is so addictive it has a cult following. The bad news is you can get it only once a month, on Super Cluckin’ Sunday, when Cutty's scraps its regular menu for just one between-the-bread beauty. “We love the idea of a fast-food fried chicken sandwich, but we use awesome ingredients — nothing creepy, nothing to feel gross about,” says chef and co-owner Rachel Kelsey. Her recipe calls for housemade ranch dressing flecked with fresh herbs and tangy BBQ sauce, as well as shredded iceberg lettuce and Vidalia onion on griddled sesame bread. Customers start lining up at the Brookline sandwich shop at 9 a.m. in anticipation of the 10 a.m. opening.
More About: Cutty's
Chicago: Honey Butter Fried Chicken
The Sandwich: The Original Fried Chicken Sandwich
This Avondale fried chicken shop that had a humble start as a supper club has found plenty of ways to add razzle-dazzle to its original fried chicken sandwich, including giving it the trimmings of a Reuben. But the original lets the quality of the ingredients do the clucking. Chefs and co-owners Josh Kulp and Christine Cikowski butcher Amish chicken from Indiana and brine it overnight in salt, sugar and citrus before dredging it in buttermilk and seasoned flour. Where they win the game is by cutting the chicken into strips to maximize crunch. The accouterments are candied jalapeno mayonnaise and crunchy slaw. Order the sandwich, which comes on a buttery bun from Highland Baking Co., by its nickname — The OG — and wash it down with sweet tea.
Dallas: East Hampton Sandwich Co.
The Sandwich: Fried Chicken + Jack
East Hampton Sandwich Co. founder & CEO Hunter Pond had a habit of bringing his Chick-fil-A sandwiches home to dress them up with whatever he could find in his refrigerator. This is how one of his top sellers — the Fried Chicken + Jack — was born. It combines the makings of a BLT with fried chicken, pepper Jack cheese, avocado mash spiked with lemon zest, and a zingy jalapeno cream sauce. The Dallas sandwich shop, now with four locations, is generous with its proteins; that’s why you’ll find customers opening wide to tackle a stack that includes two, sometimes three, lobes of fried chicken scaloppine. Try one anytime between 10:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.
Denver: Denver Biscuit Company
The Sandwich: The Cordon Bleu
Those who believe Southern is a state of mind instead of a region will find comfort in Denver Biscuit Co.'s cuisine, most notably its Cordon Bleu biscuit sandwich. Buttermilk-brined fried chicken receives a boost from thinly sliced ham that’s been flash-griddled, gooey sharp cheddar cheese and local honey butter, forming a play on the classic French dish. “All of our sandwiches are fork-and-knife situations — you’re not picking them up,” says owner Drew Shader. Denver Biscuit Co. got its start serving breakfast out of the Atomic Cowboy bar on East Colfax, and from one of the city’s first gourmet food trucks — The Biscuit Bus. You can now try the Cordon Bleu at three brick-and-mortar locations throughout the city from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
Los Angeles: Plan Check Kitchen + Bar
The Sandwich: Southern Fry
With Plan Check's Southern Fry sandwich, the proof is in the poultry. That’s because the Los Angeles chainlet uses local Jidori chicken, meaning free-range birds delivered the same day they’re slaughtered, for ultimate freshness. Before Chef Ernesto Uchimura fries his chicken in premium beef fat, he cold-smokes it and coats it in a batter dominated by rice flour. Once it's crispy, he sprinkles on smoked salt and begins to layer on flavors from around the world: kombu and sesame Sriracha pickles, duck breast ham, and pimento cheese polka-dotted with green instead of red because Uchimura substitutes roasted green chiles for red ones to add Southern California flair. A crunchy bun that’s been glazed and sprinkled with panko breadcrumbs is the hug holding it together.
New Orleans: Sylvain
The Sandwich: “Chick-Syl-vain” Sandwich
If you subscribe to the "bigger is better" philosophy, the Chick-Syl-vain might be your sandwich match made in heaven, because crispy fried butterflied chicken breast peeks out from either side of the bun. Sylvain’s executive chef, Martha Wiggins, keeps things simple by topping the chicken with dill pickles she makes in-house and serving it on a brioche bun. The Chick-Syl-vain, a cheeky play on Chick-fil-A, is served with fries, and Wiggins recommends washing it down with an unconventional pairing: a glass of sparkling rosé.
New York City: Fuku
The Sandwich: Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich
The heat in Fuku's spicy fried chicken sandwich doesn’t come from a spice shaker. Rather, chicken thighs are brined and marinated in a fresh habanero pepper puree before they go for a swim in buttermilk. The seasoned flour adds another layer of spice and complexity. In order to let the chicken remain the star, toppings are kept minimal — just housemade pickles and Fuku butter on a steamed Martin’s potato roll. Fuku butter? It’s a potion consisting of butter, pureed Fuku pickles, garlic and fermented products from the pickling process. Are you likely to wait in line at the East Village restaurant or the larger Fuku+ outpost in midtown (from Momofuku's David Chang)? Yes. But it’s worth it. You can visit for lunch or dinner Wednesday through Sunday in the East Village and daily for lunch or dinner in midtown.
Philadelphia: The Fat Ham
The Sandwich: Hot Chicken
A visit to Chef Kevin Sbraga’s soul food nook in University City will leave you stuffed and sticky, especially if you order the Nashville-inspired hot chicken. Light and dark meat benefits from being tossed in a spicy lard paste, resulting in a chicken carrying five-alarm-fire heat. While the fried chicken sits atop squishy brioche, this is a knife-and-fork kind of open-faced sandwich if you have any attachment to your outfit. Housemade ranch dressing and fresh fronds of dill provide a welcome cooling effect. Try it for dinner, or pop by for happy hour, when a slider version is available.
San Francisco: Soul Groove Waffles and Chicken
The Sandwich: Chicken Fried Soul
Soul Groove Waffles and Chicken went from late night pop-up to buzzy brick-and-mortar restaurant near the Civic Center in just nine months, thanks to one addictive sandwich: the Chicken Fried Soul. Chef-owner Jason Fordley lovingly wraps chicken in bacon before coating it in seasoned flour and buttermilk and dunking it in the deep-fryer. Once it's golden brown, he tops it with jalapeno coleslaw and maple barbecue sauce before wedging it between two maple-infused sourdough waffles. As a bonus, Fordley makes vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free versions. Try the Chicken Fried Soul for a quick weekday lunch or a during a weekend brunch backed by vinyl tunes.
Seattle: The Wandering Goose
The Sandwich: Aunt Annie’s
With its hospitality and comfort food, The Wandering Goose is a cure-all for those with a hankering for Southern fare in Seattle. Named after a friend of Chef-owner Heather L. Earnhardt, the Aunt Annie’s fried chicken sandwich will have you salivating once you see its sheen. “It’s a riff on the classic Chick-fil-A sandwich with pickles and their honey mustard sauce — ours is just way better,” Earnhardt says. Local, skin-on chicken thighs brined in buttermilk and fried to order are adorned with bread-and-butter pickles, tangy Creole mustard and honey from the cafe’s rooftop hives. A warm, flaky biscuit will help you elevate the sticky, savory stack to your mouth. Try it for breakfast or lunch seven days a week or during Friday fried chicken dinners.
More About: The Wandering Goose
St. Louis: Old Standard Fried Chicken
The Sandwich: Old Standard Fried Chicken Sandwich
If the walls of the shack that houses Old Standard Fried Chicken could talk, they’d have stories for decades. That’s because the Botanical Heights building was erected in the late 1920s as a stable for police horses before it was transformed into a foundry and hardware store, according to Chef-owner Ben Poremba. Today, it’s the place to try a fried chicken sandwich that's irresistible, thanks to a few tricks. Poremba, who is Israeli, subs kefir in for buttermilk in both his batter and his housemade ranch dressing, which gets drizzled on the chicken along with his hot sauce. The recipe also calls for the Amish birds to be deep-fried in a pressure cooker, locking in moisture and engineering crunch. Finally, the sandwich is topped with romaine hearts and horseradish pickles.
Washington, D.C.: Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
The Sandwich: Old Bay Fried Chicken Sandwich
Double down on guilty pleasures by ordering a fried chicken sandwich on a doughnut. Given the Mid-Atlantic locale, it should come as no surprise that the biggest seller at this popular fried-food joint is the one dusted with Old Bay seasoning. The sandwich consists of fried chicken breast that gets brined in buttermilk for 24 hours, plus bacon, lettuce, tomato and Sriracha mayonnaise, between halves of a savory yeast doughnut. Try it Monday through Friday in the District or seven days a week in Falls Church, Va., or track down the food truck.