This copycat Popeyes Chicken Sandwich is so tasty and super easy to make at home! Juicy fried chicken smothered in a delicious hot sauce between a toasted brioche bun makes this classic chicken sandwich irresistible!
What’s in Popeyes Chicken Sandwiches
Fast food is “fast” for a reason — it’s missing the TLC needed to turn a basic item into a delicious masterpiece. So we decided to make a homemade version of Popeye’s chicken sandwich that is ridiculously easy, and might be even better than the original!
- Chicken: I like to use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but thighs also work.
- Buttermilk: Tenderizes the chicken and adds great flavor.
- Hot Sauce: Adds a kick of heat to the chicken and spicy mayo.
- Spices: Ground paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and kosher salt season the chicken. The addition of cayenne pepper in the breading gives this chicken a spicy kick!
- All-Purpose Flour: Forms the base of the crunchy chicken breading.
- Cornstarch: Helps make the breading shatteringly crisp.
- Mayonnaise: The perfect creamy sauce to slather on these sandwiches.
- Honey: Adds a touch of sweetness to the spicy mayo.
- Vegetable Oil: The perfect high smoke point neutral oil for frying.
- Plus, butter, brioche buns, and dill pickles!
Pro Tip: If you don’t have cornstarch at home, replace it with more flour and add 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
Variations on Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich
For a less spicy sandwich, omit the cayenne. For a spicier sandwich, double it! You can also use plain mayo instead of the spicy mayo for a less spicy sandwich, or try it with Chick Fil A Sauce, BBQ sauce, or ranch.
Try adding iceberg lettuce or cabbage coleslaw for some crunch or a slice of American cheese to the chicken for cheesy chicken sandwiches. For even more savory flavor, add a few strips of cooked bacon!
A Popeyes chicken sandwich is a simple sandwich consisting of a juicy piece of buttermilk fried chicken, a rich, tangy mayonnaise, and salty pickles on a soft bun.
The main difference is in the sauce. The classic sandwich is made with mayonnaise, and the spicy chicken sandwich is made with spicy mayonnaise. I’ve included instructions to make the spicy mayo, if you’d like!
A classic or spicy chicken sandwich at Popeyes will run you 1,240 calories. Our version manages to taste just as rich and uses real, wholesome ingredients for just over 1,000 calories. Not a health food by any means, but certainly healthier than fast food.
Popeyes breading is made from flour, starch, and spices. Our blend uses cornstarch to get that crispy exterior.
Nope! While I like to use chicken breasts, you can also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
The best pickles would be kosher dill or half-sour pickles. Avoid sweet pickles, as they will change the flavor of the sandwich.
Yes, although they will not be quite as crispy. Bread the chicken as described, then brush with oil and air fry at 375°F for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
How to Make Ahead
You can marinate the chicken overnight in the refrigerator in preparation for this recipe.
You can also mix the breading ingredients together and store them in a Ziplock bag at room temperature overnight.
Feel free to mix together the spicy mayonnaise and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
How to Store and Reheat
Store leftover Popeyes chicken sandwiches in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, until hot.
How to Freeze
I do not recommend freezing Popeyes chicken sandwiches. Instead, you can freeze the fried chicken in an airtight container or Ziplock bag for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in a 350°F for 7-8 minutes, until hot. Once hot, assemble the sandwiches.
Popeyes Chicken Sandwich Recipe
For the Marinade
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup buttermilk (see note)
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce such as Frank's RedHot
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Breading
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon ground paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Spicy Mayo
- ½ cup mayonnaise store-bought or homemade
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce such as Frank's RedHot
- 1 teaspoon honey
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 4 cups vegetable oil for frying
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (¼ stick)
- 4 brioche buns
- 16 dill pickle slices
- Place a chicken breast on a cutting board and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to pound the chicken into an even thickness. Remove the wrap and cut the chicken in half to fit the bun. Repeat with the second chicken breast.2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, hot sauce, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, and salt. Add in the chicken and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour and up to overnight.1 cup buttermilk, 2 tablespoons hot sauce, 1 teaspoon ground paprika, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the breading ingredients. Add in ¼ cup of the buttermilk mixture from the chicken and use a fork to stir until small clumps form.1 cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup cornstarch, 1 tablespoon ground paprika, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 tablespoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Bread the chicken in the flour mixture, pressing it into the chicken to create a thick crust. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- While the chicken chills, heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches 350°F.4 cups vegetable oil
- Fry the chicken, in batches if needed, until crisp and golden on both sides and the chicken is cooked through, about 3-5 minutes. Set on a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- While the chicken cooks, stir together the ingredients for the spicy mayo.½ cup mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons hot sauce, 1 teaspoon honey, ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Toast the buns until golden.2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 4 brioche buns
- To assemble, spread spicy mayo on the bottom bun, top with pickles, fried chicken, and another drizzle of spicy mayo. Add the top bun and enjoy!16 dill pickle slices
- DIY Buttermilk: To make your own buttermilk, measure 1 cup of milk, remove 1 tablespoon of it, and mix in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Let this mixture sit for 5 minutes before using in the recipe.
- Feel free to use boneless, skinless thighs instead of breasts.
- If you don’t have cornstarch at home, replace it with more flour and add 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
- Marinate the chicken for at least 1 hour (overnight preferred) for the most tender and flavorful chicken.
- Use baking soda to tenderize your meat faster. Let your chicken breast fillets sit in a baking soda mixture of vinegar and seasoned salt before dipping it into the buttermilk marinade. You’ll get the most tender, juicy chicken!
- Alternate between cornstarch and flour for an even crunchier chicken crust! Use ½ cup of cornstarch for every 2½ cups of flour as the crust can get dry.
- Once breaded, let the chicken sit for at least 10 minutes to help the coating to better adhere to the chicken.
- While you certainly can air fry this chicken, I recommend deep frying for the crispiest, crunchiest chicken.
- You may need more or less frying oil depending on the size of your pot.
- Properly cooked chicken should be 165°F internally when checked with an instant-read thermometer.
- To keep the already cooked chicken warm while frying the rest, lay the pieces on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet in a 200°F oven. This will help keep the chicken crisp.