What makes the absolute best fried chicken sandwich? Is it the crispy, crunchy breading? The tender, juicy chicken that’s perfectly seasoned? Maybe it’s the soft, plush bun? Or a very specific selection of sauces and toppings?
If you’re keeping up to date with the latest food industry news, you’re likely aware of the so-called “chicken sandwich wars” that have been happening for quite some time between numerous dining establishments. In a nutshell, everyone from quick service spots to fast casual chains to fine dining restaurants has been competing to see who holds the title of best fried chicken sandwich.
Now, from our perspective, there’s no need to battle. There’s plenty of room in our hearts (and stomachs) for all the chicken sandwiches. Every sandwich has its merits and we set out to prove it by interviewing a few of our favorite chefs and restaurateurs who just so happen to make a stellar fried chicken sandwich (with at least one important thing in common)!
So grab a snack, take a seat, and dive into our Fried Chicken Sandwich Showcase to learn from some of the pros on how to make the greatest chicken sandwich of all time.
*Caution: reading this blog may cause hunger.*
Explore four famous fried chicken sandwiches below and decide for yourself what makes the best one!
Here’s a preview of our chicken sandwich showcase:
- Mark Rosati; Shake Shack | Chick’n Shack
- Boxcar Betty’s | Boxcar Betty’s Chicken Sandwich
- Chef Chad Rosenthal; The Lucky Well and Motel Fried Chicken | Herb-Brined Fried Chicken Sandwich
- Super Chix | SUPER CHIX® Chicken Sandwich
Mark Rosati; Shake Shack | Chick’n Shack
Photo courtesy of Shake Shack
Chef Bio / Background:
Mark Rosati, Culinary Director at Shake Shack: Mark Rosati currently serves as Culinary Director for Shake Shack. He joined the Shake Shack team at the original Madison Square Park location as a Manager in the summer of 2007. Since then, Mark has gone on to help develop permanent menu items and local seasonal specials for Shake Shack locations throughout the United States and abroad. In his current role, Mark helps to lead all culinary innovation for the brand including collaborations with various chefs, restaurateurs and celebrities. Prior to joining Shake Shack, Mark cooked at NYC’s Gramercy Tavern from 2005 to 2007. He grew up in Stonington, CT, where at an early age he enjoyed many of the state’s legendary roadside seafood and burger shacks.
About Shake Shack: Shake Shack is a modern day “roadside” burger stand known for its 100% all-natural Angus beef burgers, chicken sandwiches and flat-top Vienna beef dogs (no hormones or antibiotics – ever), spun-fresh frozen custard, crinkle cut fries, craft beer and wine and more. With its fresh, simple, high-quality food at a great value, Shake Shack is a fun and lively community gathering place with widespread appeal. Shake Shack’s mission is to Stand for Something Good®, from its premium ingredients and caring hiring practices to its inspiring designs and deep community investment. Since the original Shack opened in 2004 in NYC’s Madison Square Park, the company has expanded to more than 280 locations in 27 U.S. States and the District of Columbia, including more than 80 international locations across London, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Dubai, Philippines, Singapore, Mexico, Tokyo, Seoul and more.
Chicken Sandwich Philosophy:
“For me it’s all about contrasting textures. I love a crispy crunchy fried chicken exterior with a tender and juicy chicken breast or thigh on the inside.” – Mark Rosati
Recipe Snapshot: Chick’n Shack
- The Chicken: No antibiotics, ever. All white meat. Fresh, never frozen
- The Seasoning: A creamy buttermilk marinade and hand breaded through a seasoned flour
- The Toppings: Pickles, crisp shredded lettuce
- The Sauce: A tangy Shack-made buttermilk herb mayo made with chives, parsley and thyme
- The Bun: Served on our favorite pillowy Martin’s Potato Roll
Our chicken is slow-cooked in a creamy buttermilk marinade until tender, hand-dipped into Shack-made batter, dredged through seasoned flour and crisp-fried.
After fried to crisp-perfection, we assemble the sandwich in the beloved Martin’s potato bun, with pickles, crisp shredded lettuce and a tangy Shack-made buttermilk herb mayo.
The result: a deliciously crunchy, buttery and flavorful chicken sandwich.
Check out the below video of Shake Shack’s limited edition Korean-Style Fried Chick’n Sandwich:
Boxcar Betty’s | Boxcar Betty’s Chicken Sandwich
Photo courtesy of Boxcar Betty’s
Chef Bio / Background:
Ian MacBryde and Roth Scott are the owners of award winning fried chicken sandwich restaurant Boxcar Betty’s. Boxcar Betty’s was started in 2014 when Scott approached MacBryde about filling a niche in the restaurant scene.
Scott began working on a southern version of the fried chicken sandwich with toppings like coleslaw and southern pimiento cheese. The two worked tirelessly to develop a chicken recipe that would differentiate them and wow customers.
In its first year Boxcar Betty’s won the title of Best Fried Chicken in the food mecca of Charleston from both local papers. Boxcar has gone on to win the award every year ever since as well as win many other awards both locally and nationally.
Boxcar Betty’s Chicken Sandwich Philosophy:
Boxcar takes a unique approach to its fried chicken offerings by brining the chicken in a salt and seasoning blend. This approach allows the chicken to be imparted with the correct amount of salt to flavorful seasonings. But the chicken is just one part of the equation when creating the perfect fried chicken sandwich.
The best food is all about balancing flavors that complement each other and give the taster many different sensations. Of course it all starts with a perfectly fried piece of chicken. We prefer to serve fried chicken that is floured lightly for a smooth, velvety mouthfeel. It is important not to have an overbreaded piece of chicken as it takes away from the flavor of the brined chicken and toppings.
No matter what you decide to put on your chicken sandwich it has to end with a perfect bun to hold it all together. At Boxcar we use Martin’s buns because they offer such a soft texture that caramelizes perfectly when toasted. Martin’s buns are sturdy enough to hold up to all the amazing toppings we offer on our sandwiches.
Recipe Snapshot: Boxcar Betty’s Chicken Sandwich
- The Chicken: Antibiotic free, hormone free 4oz chicken breast, brined and butterflied.
- The Cheese: Pimiento, Swiss, Cheddar or Beer Cheese
- The Toppings: Lettuce, Tomato, Shallots, Housemade Pickles, Peach Coleslaw
- The Sauces: Options include Ranch, Spicy Mayo, Honey Mustard, BBQ, Bacon Jam, Sweet Chili, Blue Cheese, or Agave Buttermilk
- The Bun: Martin’s Potato Rolls, of course
View online menu for list of sandwich variations.
Watch the Boxcar Betty’s chicken sandwich recipe tutorial below:
Chef Chad Rosenthal; The Lucky Well and Motel Fried Chicken | Herb-Brined Fried Chicken Sandwich
Photo courtesy of Chad Rosenthal
Chef Bio / Background:
This Philly native eats, breathes, sleeps and creates all things food and, especially barbecue. A self-taught chef who has been in the kitchen since age five, Chad found his calling in the world of barbecue, having won a series of competitions and events over the last 18 years. He is also a successful restaurateur, having opened a handful of BBQ, comfort food, and Vietnamese restaurants in the Philadelphia area, including fan favorites The Lucky Well and Motel Fried Chicken. Motel is currently expanding throughout the US.
Most recently, Chad was cast on Season 9 of Food Network Star and returned as a fan favorite in Season 10. He was a finalist on Chopped Grill Masters Napa and is currently in development on several new TV concepts. Chad is constantly on the hunt for new flavors and inspirations and loves to combine Live Fire cooking with True American BBQ, which he calls “Plating With Fire.” He feels that great food and service just isn’t good enough anymore, and he’s now on a mission to deliver culinary experiences. He is, at his core, an experimental chef who cooks through his soul, his experiences, and his taste buds…
Chad’s Chicken Sandwich Philosophy:
Simplicity, simple great ingredients, and texture.
Recipe Snapshot: Herb-Brined Fried Chicken Sandwich
- The Chicken: A Simple All-Natural Boneless, Skinless Breast Brined in fresh herbs
- The Toppings: .. Buttermilk Dredge and more herbs
- The Sauce: .. Japanese Mayo and house-made dill pickles
- The Bun:.. Only Martin’s Potato Buns served fresh, no toasting or heating!
View more photos on Instagram at the links below!
Websites: chadrosenthal.com, theluckywell.com, motelfriedchicken.com | Instagram: @chefchadrosenthal, @theluckywell, @motelfriedchicken| Facebook: /theluckywell, /motelfriedchicken | Twitter: @chadrosenthal, @theluckywell
- Meal Kit Delivery: https://www.goldbelly.com/motel-fried-chicken
Super Chix | SUPER CHIX® Chicken Sandwich
Super Chix Background:
Founded in 2014 by Nick Ouimet with its first location in Dallas, TX in 2015, SUPER CHIX® is focused on bringing together the highest quality ingredients, preparation methods and recipes to create a great dining experience.
The fast-growing restaurant chain currently has eight locations across five states, with many more locations planned in the near future.
The Super Chix Chicken Sandwich Philosophy:
This isn’t fast-food chicken — SUPER CHIX® caters to all ages and walks of life by featuring high-quality, fresh, never frozen filets that are lightly breaded with breading that has just seven fresh ingredients, or delicately grilled to juicy perfection — at Super Chix®, high quality and simple are just better.
At SUPER CHIX® each meal is cooked-to-order, making it hot and fresh for each guest.
Recipe Snapshot: SUPER CHIX® Chicken Sandwich
- The Chicken: Fresh, never-frozen chicken is marinated in-store, grilled or hand-breaded and cooked in peanut oil which is free from additives.
- The Seasoning: We let the chicken shine – lightly breaded with breading that has just seven fresh ingredients.
- The Toppings: The toppings come from whole vegetables and are sliced by hand. Get saucey with us with your choice of: Blackened Cajun, Nashville Hot, Korean BBQ, Buffalo, Cheesy BBQ, Buffalo Ranch, Bacavo Ranch or Cordon Blue (see below photos for illustration).
- The Bun: Toasted [Martin’s] Potato Bun
View online menu for list of sandwich variations.
- Menu: https://www.superchix.com/new-menu
- Blog: https://www.superchix.com/buzz
- Restaurant Review: https://escapehatchdallas.com/2016/03/superchix-super-chix-nashville-hot-sandwich-ouimet/
So, there you have it… Four unique, but equally delicious ways to make a crispy fried chicken sandwich! Be sure to follow these folks on social media for your daily dose of food inspiration and to stay up to date with their latest menu innovations.
Of course, the four chefs/restaurants highlighted above are just a few of the many great fried chicken sandwiches being served up on Martin’s rolls. Check out a few more of our favorites below!
- Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich – Sweet Chick (website | IG)
- Spicy Fried Chicken Sando – Fuku (website | IG)
- Fried Chicken Sandwich – Federal Donuts (website | IG)
- Nashville-style Hot Chicken – Haven Hot Chicken (website | IG)
- Fried Chicken Sandwiches – BRD (website | IG)
- Hot Honey Chick Sandwich – Harlem Shake (website | IG)
- Fiery Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich – World Famous Hot Boys (website | IG)
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P.S., if you enjoyed reading this blog post, check out our Smash Burger Showcase blog which highlights five popular variations on another foodie favorite!
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