Spicy Chicken Sandwich Vibrant

When it comes to fast food guilty pleasures, for me, a good spicy chicken sandwich ranks near the top.  Having eaten my fair share from just about every fast food chain out there while I was in high school, I consider myself to be a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to the crispy, neon-orange chicken pucks of the world.  I know, I know, that crap is not only horrible for you, but also made from ingredients we’d all rather not know about.  That’s precisely why I set out to recreate this drive-thru favorite at home.  Think of it as a slow food take on a fast food classic.

Made with organic, boneless-skinless breasts, a spicy buttermilk marinade and fiery Cajun seasoning blend, the flavor of this scratch-made rendition easily outranks that of its greasy, artificial cousin.  When combined with ripe tomato slices, crisp lettuce and creamy mayonnaise on a homemade sesame seed bun, you have a fried chicken sandwich good enough to get excited about without the guilt of processed, chain food.

It might not be the healthiest sandwich out there, but like mozzarella sticks, you’ll feel better knowing its homemade.


Soaking the chicken overnight in a spicy buttermilk marinade not only adds great heat but also helps tenderize the chicken.  If you don’t have self-rising flour on hand, make your own by combining 1 cup of all-purpose flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder.  I’ve included a recipe for the Cajun seasoning I make at home, but any store-bought brand will work just as well here.  I like the simplicity of a great slice of tomato, fresh lettuce and mayonnaise on this sandwich, but you could just as easily top this chicken with melted cheese, refreshing coleslaw or even substitute the mayo for some ranch dressing.


  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally into 4 thin cutlets
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • Cajun seasoning for dusting (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • Canola or vegetable for frying
  • 4 sesame seed hamburger buns
  • Mayonnaise for spreading
  • 4 leaves of butter or leaf lettuce
  • Tomato slices for garnish


  1. Pour the buttermilk into a bowl and whisk in the cayenne pepper.  Add the chicken cutlets to the buttermilk mix and marinate them overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before frying.  In a shallow bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the hot sauce and set aside.  Pour the flour onto a clean plate and stir in the coarsely ground black pepper and set aside.
  3. Drain the chicken cutlets from the buttermilk marinade and place on a clean plate. Sprinkle both sides of each cutlet heavily with Cajun seasoning before dunking it in the egg mixture.  Quickly dredge the seasoned chicken in the flour-pepper mixture, making sure to shake off any excess.  Place on a clean plate and repeat with remaining chicken.
  4. Pour oil to a depth of 2” into a 4-qt. heavy-bottom pot and heat over medium-high heat until the temperature registers 325° on a candy thermometer.  Working 2 pieces of chicken at a time, carefully submerge them in the hot oil and fry until crispy and golden brown, about 4-5 minutes per batch.  Remove the fried chicken cutlets to a plate lined with paper towels and repeat with the remaining chicken.  Keep first batch of chicken warm in a low, 200° oven.
  5. Spread each half of the hamburger buns with mayonnaise (or ranch dressing) and top with a fried chicken cutlet, lettuce and tomato.  Serve immediately.

Makes 4 sandwiches



  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme


  1. Stir to combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight jar.  Use on fish, chicken and pork.
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  1. Good Lord. You have me craving a spicy chicken sandwich and I still have a few hours to go until lunch time. I wouldn’t say that I am a connoisseur of chicken sandwiches but I did happen to really enjoy the spicy chicken sandwich at Jack in the Box. However, recently I’ve tried to limit my fast food intake so I love this idea of making it at home. I will absolutely have to try this. I have a recipe that is similar for chicken tenders but I never thought of making a sandwich out of it. Great idea!

    • Gina
    • October 28th, 2009

    I want that sandwich RIGHT NOW!

  2. That looks amaaazing! I love a nice spicy crispy chicken burger too, so I’ll definetely try this recipe! But for now, I have to stop entering Tastespotting when I’m hungry….

  3. love this… looks great and tastes great too, i’m sure. definitely trying soon.

    • Kevin
    • October 29th, 2009

    First cheese sticks and now this? I’m beginning to consider you a fried food god. Though my fav is Crystal hot sauce, please recommend what would complement this recipe best.

  4. Kevin – Almost any hot sauce will work in a recipe like this, but if you’ve never tried it, I suggest going out and picking up a bottle of Texas Pete. It’s pretty mild, but packs great pepper flavor.

  5. I love that you did this! I’m definitely going to recreate these this weekend. I recently made homemade hot poppers…definitely better than the fast-food/chain restaurant version.

  6. Hi Mike! Followed you over here from the comment you left at FoodRepublik =). That chicken sandwich looks AMAZING…what inspired you to come up with this recipe? I would never have thought of marinating the chicken in buttermilk overnight.

    • evan
    • October 31st, 2009

    Earlier this year I ate a fast food chicken sandwich and paid dearly for it; sparing your readers of the details, I just want to say that homemade versions of fast food classics are brilliant! All the flavor without the industrial grade ingredients: hooray!

    • Alison
    • November 1st, 2009

    I made these last night for guests and my KFC loving husband. We were all thrilled with the results. Extremely tasty and convincingly reminiscience of fast food, but in a healthier, “this is really chicken” kind of a way. Thanks for the recipe!

  7. Alison – So glad they turned out well for you. Nothing beats the peace of mind that comes with eating healthy, humanely raised chicken.

  8. Oh my, and I thought I was the only one whose guilty pleasure involved a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich. LOL! Yours looks amazing.

    • Hailey
    • November 22nd, 2009

    wow, this sounds and looks just absolutely delicious, I’m definitely going to have to beg my chef of a sister, and her also wonderful chef of a boyfriend to make this for me next time I visit them. 🙂 they will love this recipe.

    • Metqa
    • February 7th, 2010

    Why must the flour be self rising?

  9. Metqa – Self-rising flour is very popular in the southern United States and can be found in almost any recipe for authentic, southern fried chicken. If you’ve ever eaten anything that has been tempura battered, it’s pretty much working on the same principle. The baking powder that is added to all-purpose flour to create the self-rising variety will aid in the formation of a crisp, light crust in the same way that it increases the volume and lightens the texture of baked goods like muffins, cakes and scones. Hope this info helps.

    • Amanda
    • March 31st, 2010

    This is awesome! Thanks so much! I especially like the seasoning recipe and how to make the self rising flour! 😀

    • Travis Cotton
    • April 2nd, 2010

    Ive made these a couple of times now. Big hit at my house! Going to make them again tomorrow as a light sort of dinner since I’ll be cooking a good bit on Sunday.

    Thanks again for sharing the recipe.

  10. Ive also made these a couple of times now. Big hit at my house! Going to make them again tomorrow as a light sort of dinner since I’ll be cooking a good bit on Sunday.

    Thanks again for sharing the recipe.

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