The Ultimate Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich Recipe

Use your favorite hot sauce and spices to create the perfect sando for you

Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Brining: 4 hrs
Total: 5 hrs 5 mins
Servings: 9 pieces
Yield: 9 sandwiches

This East-Meets-West fried chicken sandwich is the epitome of everything we love about our favorite fast-food orders with the addition of the bold flavors we often cook with. We lean into Asian seasonings and chili sauce to deliver a deeper level of spice, since these often combine a variety of peppers.

Pickles juice and buttermilk in the brine, why not? We love reusing pickle juice for an easy brine, plus it’s what many establishments do for that umami flavor. Buttermilk adheres to the chicken better than most other liquid brines and allows for the breading to also have more sticking power. Both add fat and acid to the brine to help tenderize the chicken for that ideal juicy bite.

We're obsessed with the texture and crunch a combination of all-purpose and mochiko (glutinous rice flour) deliver to this breading. Typically, all-purpose delivers a nice golden-brown coating with neutral flavor, while mochiko is lighter like you would expect from tempura. Baking powder creates very tiny air bubbles on the surface of the battered chicken when it is placed in hot oil, which results in a lighter, crispier fried chicken. The cornstarch helps prevent gluten development, making the flour coating crispier.

In thinking about where we wanted the heat to go, we take it a step further with a glaze reminiscent of Nashville hot chicken. This allows for full spicy sauce coverage. Meanwhile, we like to call it a kitchen sink aioli, since this sauce helps us make use of whatever we have on hand—feel free to make this your own (however, don't sleep on that chili crunch). Finish it with shredded lettuce to cut through the heat, dill pickles to add acidity, and a buttery brioche bun for the ultimate oh-ah moment.

"This was one of the tastiest Asian-style chicken sandwiches I’ve ever eaten! It was truly restaurant quality. Try and leave yourself enough time for a lengthy brine of the chicken (preferably overnight) as it will make all the difference to the juiciness of the end result." —Julia Hartbeck

Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester



  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

  • 3/4 cup pickle juice (one with a low to zero sugar content)

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 tablespoon Thai chili garlic sauce, or another hot sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 9 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1 3/4 pounds)

Fried Chicken

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup mochiko flour (glutinous rice flour)

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 tablespoon paprika

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • Peanut or neutral oil, for frying


  • 1/2 cup reserved frying oil, more for frying the buns

  • 1/2 cup Thai chili garlic sauce, or other hot sauce

  • 2 tablespoons honey

  • 2 tablespoons gochujang

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Aioli & Toppings

  • 3/4 cup mayo

  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions

  • 2 tablespoons chili crunch, or chili crisp sauce

  • 1 tablespoon ketchup

  • 2 teaspoons lime juice

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 9 brioche buns

  • Whole dill pickles, sliced lengthwise

  • Shredded iceberg lettuce

Steps to Make It

Brine the Chicken

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for brining the chicken

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Mix together the buttermilk, pickle juice, egg, chili sauce, garlic, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken, turning to coat in the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or up to overnight.

    Raw chicken in brining liquid

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Turn to coat the chicken in the pickle-buttermilk brine once more, then place on the counter to come back to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

    A spoon turning chicken in the brining liquid

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Fry the Chicken

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for frying chicken

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and baking powder. Add 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk-pickle brine to the flour mixture and work it into the flour with your hands. This will help create the extra crunchy nuggets on the fried chicken.

    A bowl of seasoned flour mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk-pickle brine to a plate (reserve the brine). Working with one piece at a time, dip the chicken into the flour mixture, then back in the brine, and finally the flour mixture once more, pressing to coat. Place the coated chicken on rimmed baking sheet; repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

    Pieces of flour mixture-coated chicken on baking sheets

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Place 1 1/2 inches of peanut or neutral oil in a large Dutch oven or deep cast-iron pan over medium-high heat until it registers 350 F on a deep-fry or candy thermometer.

    A dutch oven with oil and a thermometer

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Set up one more baking sheets lined with paper towels and a wire rack set on top (this will be your cooling rack). Working in batches, carefully add 3 chicken thighs to the oil (placing them into the oil, away from you) and fry until golden brown, turning occasionally with tongs, about 8 minutes. Transfer to the cooling rack using tongs or a spider.

    Reserve the frying oil; you will use it for the glaze.

    (While frying, the oil should maintain 325 F and then bring back to 350 F between batches.)

    Chicken frying in a dutch oven, with fried chicken pieces resting on a cooking rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Make the Glaze

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Chicken glaze ingredients

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Once all the chicken is fried, carefully scoop out 1/2 cup of the reserved frying oil using a measuring cup and transfer to a medium bowl. Add the chili sauce, honey, gochujang, salt, and garlic powder. Whisk vigorously until well combined. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

    Glaze ingredients with whisk in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Dunk each piece of chicken in the glaze, then transfer back to the wire rack. Alternatively, you can brush the fried chicken with the glaze.

    Pieces of glazed fried chicken on a cooling rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Make the Toppings & Serve

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Fried chicken sandwich toppings

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. To make the aioli, stir together the mayo, scallions, chili crunch, ketchup, and lime juice. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

    A bowl of spicy aioli mixture

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Halve the brioche buns. Add the 1/4 tablespoon of the frying oil to a medium skillet and heat over medium-high. Place each bun half, cut-side down onto the skillet and toast until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. If the skillet becomes dry, add a little more oil, as needed.

    Buns toasting in a pan

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Smear each cut side with 1 heaping tablespoon of aioli. Place the pickles on the bottom bun, then top with the glazed chicken. Pile shredded lettuce over the chicken, then cover with bun top. Serve immediately.

    Spicy fried chicken sandwiches being assembled with pickles, toasted buns, and spicy aioli

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Recipe Tips

  • If you don't have buttermilk, make your own! Add a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to whole milk and allow it to sit for a few minutes. This will make the milk curdle and become similar to buttermilk. 
  • Use a low or zero sugar pickle juice to avoid burning during frying.
  • We love using chicken thighs because they are hard to overcook and extremely tender, but you can substitute with breast if you like. Pound out the chicken breast, then slice in half as they are much bigger. Adjust frying time as needed.
  • A Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet are tried-and-true tools for frying chicken. In addition to their durability, the thick walls retain heat very well. That means that the oil temperature drops less when you put a batch of chicken in, helping create crisper skin and more uniform cooking.
  • Don't overcrowd the pan, or the oil temperature will drop, making your chicken greasy. If you're frying in batches.
  • You can keep your chicken warm in a 200 F oven as you fry all the pieces and make the glaze.
  • To be safe to consume, the chicken should register 165 F on an instant thermometer; however, if you are temping the chicken as you take it out of the oil, you should aim for 155 F since it will experience carryover cooking.
  • We like to make the aioli ourselves and mix it with flavors we have on hand, 但是你可以使用现成的蒜泥蛋黄酱或酱汁. We suggest something mayo-based to cut through the heat.

Recipe Variations

  • You can use all all-purpose or mochiko flour. We like the mix for the texture it provides, but they will be just as tasty if you only have on option on hand.
  • Use a seasoned salt blend or celery salt as a substitute for the salt and pepper. MSG is also a great option to add to the dredge as it imparts a savory, umami bomb.
  • Add more seasonings to the flour. Cajun seasoning is always a hit, and paprika, cayenne, and poultry seasoning are popular additions. You can also try the blend used in a copycat KFC chicken recipe.
  • You can use sliced bread and butter pickles to top you sandwich, if preferred.
  • You can use a potato roll or Hawaiian buns, if desired.

Get creative with this kitchen sink aioli and make it with whatever you have on hand. Some options are:

  • Chopped pickles
  • Chopped banana peppers
  • Chopped pickled onions
  • Sesame Oil
  • Hot sauce
  • Dried herbs
  • Spices like Old Bay or togarashi


  • If you aren't enjoying right away, we suggest storing the fried chicken unglazed. This will help the breading avoid going soggy.
  • Store all components: fried chicken, glaze, aioli, toppings, and buns separately in airtight containers or sealable bags.
  • The fried chicken will keep for up to 5 days.
  • To freeze the fried chicken, place them in a zip-close freezer bag; label the bag with the name and date, and freeze the chicken strips for up to three to four months.
  • The best way to reheat leftover cold fried chicken is in the oven. About 15 minutes before you plan to reheat the chicken, remove it from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 400 F. Arrange the chicken on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 to 10 minutes. Once warmed through, glaze and assemble sandwiches.

What is the best cut of chicken?

When it comes to the chicken aka the star of the show, we are team chicken thighs. Between their deeply flavored dark meat and all those nooks and crannies for holding the batter, thighs are simply the best part of the bird for the frying pan. Plus they are inexpensive and harder to overcook. If you do get skin-on thighs, we have this recipe for chicken skin chips which would be a delicious side!

Why Isn't My Fried Chicken Crispy?

Oil temperature is the main reason why fried chicken doesn't get crispy. If it's not hot enough, the chicken needs to cook longer and will get soggy from soaking up too much oil. When the oil is too hot you risk raw meat and burnt breading. Avoid crowding the pan and use a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature to ensure it stays close to 350 F at all times. It will fluctuate but if you stay ahead of it and adjust the burner accordingly, the chicken will cook properly.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
962 Calories
60g Fat
76g Carbs
32g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 9
Amount per serving
Calories 962
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 60g 76%
Saturated Fat 10g 49%
胆固醇 155mg 52%
Sodium 3366mg 146%
Total Carbohydrate 76g 28%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 17g
Protein 32g
Vitamin C 14mg 72%
Calcium 214mg 16%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 547mg 12%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

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