Crispy chicken in a bun: crunchy, salty and honey mustard sweet


Honey mustard, bacon, pickle and provalone crispy chicken sandwich with fruit salad. Photo by Ian Hilton, 9/8/2021.

KFC does it, McDonald’s does it, Wendy’s, Popeye’s, Chick-fil-A and even Taco Bell does it. Corporate food chains have capitalized on what Americans have craved since time immemorial: the crispy chicken sandwich. Way to go for them, I suppose.

However, if you’re tired of inferior ingredients, abundant grease and squished buns or hard tortillas — really, Taco Bell? — grab a pen and grocery list because we’re about to put the fat cats to shame.

For starters, the chicken should be cut butterfly-style, like one would do for chicken piccata. Keep in mind that prepping the chicken involves double flouring, not breading. Frying this chicken will make a breaded coating soggy by the time the sandwich construction commences.

We’re also making a basic honey mustard sauce, the most fitting condiment to adorn crispy chicken. Don’t take my word for it, do a taste test of other sauces yourself. I think you’ll agree that honey mustard is the way to go. This should be mixed first so it has time in the fridge to thicken for spreading.

 If you’re interested in more heat than this recipe provides, add chile garlic sauce to the egg mixture, use a hotter mustard in the honey mustard sauce or increase the red pepper flakes, paprika and black pepper in your flour mixture.

Let’s cook.

Prep time: 5 minutes for the honey mustard, 20 minutes for the chicken

Cook time: 8-10 minutes, plus 3 minutes for melty cheese

Rest time: 5 minutes at least

Total time: 38 minutes

Serves: 3 (see note)


Kitchen knife

Cutting board

Large mixing bowl

Measuring cup and spoons

Bowls for both egg and flour mixture

Paper towels or wire rack for draining oil


Honey mustard:

1/3 cup Dijon mustard (see note)

¼ cup honey

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (see note)

¼ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon black pepper


2 butterflied chicken breasts (see note)

2 eggs

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon black pepper

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Peanut oil for frying (see note)

Soft sliced cheese (see note)

Toasted hamburger buns


Other toppings, per your sandwich preferences (tomato, red onion rings, etc.)


Add all honey mustard ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix well and refrigerate.

In a bowl, mix flour, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, paprika, cumin and red pepper flakes.

In a separate bowl, whisk two eggs and a teaspoon of water.

Dredge chicken pieces in flour, then egg, then flour again. Set aside (see note, important!).

On a range, heat oil on medium high.

Once hot, gently place chicken into the oil, cooking for about eight minutes and flipping halfway through. Chicken must be cooked to at least 165 F per FDA recommendation.

Drip off excess oil and set aside on a wire rack or a paper towel-lined plate.

Toast hamburger buns.

Place cheese on chicken pieces to melt, either in an oven or toaster oven set at 300 F for about 3-4 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Assemble thy sandwich and enjoy. Don’t forget the pickles.


Poulette a toir: Since the chicken will cook more evenly when butterflied (please see Chicken Piccata fo yo mama’s notes section for technique), we’ll end up with two big breast halves (the bottoms) and two smaller halves (the tops we cut off). Some prefer the chicken to overlap the buns, but I think a stacked sandwich allows for more cheese in a bite. Hence, the bottoms will be cut in half while the tops are stacked one on the other.

Mr. Mustard, with the sandwich, in the kitchen: Dijon is best to me in a honey mustard sauce. It’s spicy, like our floured chicken, and adds tang to the overall flavor. This isn’t to say that other mustards aren’t going to work — it’s really up to you.

Apple cider is finer: The abundance of alkaline ingredients in the sauce means it needs an acid to balance. Realistically, any vinegar will suffice other than balsamic. I think the slight apple note adds to the honey, but white, red or rice works just fine.

A poultry cut above: Boneless thighs and boneless breasts are your choices, but for the purposes of this recipe I went with breasts. Thighs are dark meat, meaning they’re juicier and fattier, but breasts can add balance to the sauciness of the overall sandwich. Again, this is your preference.

Fry oil, not “try” oil: The chicken should be placed in an oil that stands up to high heat. For some reason, probably science, peanut oil accommodates this while injecting amazing flavor.Vegetable oil and flaxseed oil will suffice, but it’s best to stay away from olive oil, as it tends to burn. Check your oil’s smoke point if in doubt.

Cheese shall appease: I don’t think provolone can be beat, but any melty cheese adorns this sandwich well. Obviously, no Parmesan or arugula, but Swiss, muenster — or even cheddar if you’re weird — adds to the overall texture.

The ol’ double-dip (important!): Dredge all the chicken pieces in flour first and set aside. Add about a tablespoon of the whisked egg to the rest of the flour and mash with a fork to create lumps. Soak the floured chicken in the remaining egg, then toss back into the lumpy flour. This creates both more surface area to fry while also providing the chunky top coating we all love in a crispy chicken sandwich.

Ian Hilton can be reached at [email protected]