I don’t know about you but if I’m going to deep-fry, it’d better be worth it and boy are these crispy chicken burgers worth every bit of it!

  • A simple marinade keeps the chicken juicy and tender.
  • Perfectly spiced and loaded with flavour.
  • Super-crunchy coating.
  • All the tips to keep it easy and mess-free.

Very occasionally, I indulge in a burger and when I do, I don’t hold back – fried chicken burger please, hold the fries. Similar to the KFC zinger burger or original burger (without the magically shrinking meat and bun) this crispy chicken sandwich has all the flavour and is a total indulgence.

If you love this, you’ll love my karaage chicken (Japanese fried chicken).

A crispy chicken burger.

Ingredients you’ll need (the fried chicken)

The chicken breast is bathed in a buttermilk marinade with just a touch of spice – you can add more if you like. After a few hours of soaking, it’s coated in a spiced flour mixture and then deep fried to golden perfection.

Ingredients for buttermilk fried chicken breasts.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Chicken breast: I use boneless skinless chicken breasts in this recipe. Small breasts are a good option but if you can only get larger ones, just slice them through the thickness to make two thinner breast pieces. You can also use chicken thighs.
  • Buttermilk: Buttermilk is crucial to this recipe. It tenderises the meat and helps it to lock in moisture.
  • Sriracha: Sriracha is my hot sauce of choice to add to the mix. The amount I use adds very little spicy heat so if you want spicy burgers double it, at least. You can use other sauces too like Franks hot sauce or Tobasco.
  • Spices: There is a range of dried spices in this to give it loads of flavour.
    • Salt
    • Garlic powder
    • Yellow mustard powder
    • Dried herbs
    • Onion powder
    • Paprika
    • Ground white pepper
  • Flour: Just use regular plain flour / all-purpose flour for the coating.
  • Baking powder: Baking powder helps to give a super crunchy and flaky texture.
  • Oil: You’ll need a vegetable oil or sunflower oil. They’re affordable and have a high smoke point making them perfect for deep frying. Rice bran oil is fine but will cause your chicken to become darker.

My buttermilk chicken burgers are not overly spicy, so feel free to double the sriracha or add some chilli powder or cayenne to the spice mix if you’re more of a zinger burger lover.

Buns and toppings

Crunchy yet tender chicken breast with fresh salad and a good burger bun. What will you load your crunchy chicken burger with? I keep mine simple with lettuce, pickles, onion and of course mayonnaise.

Buns and toppings for fried chicken burgers.

How to make it (step-by-step)

Deep frying can be intimidating, I know, and believe me, I don’t do it unless I have a serious craving. These crunchy chicken burgers are absolutely worth it. You don’t need a deep fryer but I do recommend using a thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature.

A collage showing how to make crispy fried chicken.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. Prep the chicken: Start by gently bashing the thicker end of the chicken so that the thickness all over is 8-10mm (⅓ inch). If you’re starting with large chicken breasts, you’ll need to cutlet them first, which simply means cutting them through the thickness to make two thinner breasts.
  2. Marinade: Now make the marinade. Mix together buttermilk, sriracha, salt and garlic powder in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken breasts and marinade. Place the chicken into the marinade and mix well to coat all over. Cover and chill for 4 hours.
  3. Heat the oil: In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat 2 litres (2 quarts) of vegetable oil to 180C / 350F. As soon as you pour the oil in, attach a frying thermometer to the side of the pan. It’s very important to keep an eye on the temperature as they cook.
  4. Cook the chicken: Gently lower the chicken into the oil and cook for 3 minutes before turning. Cook for another minute to 90 seconds and they’re done.
  5. Drain: Transfer the fried chicken to a wire rack over a baking tray lined with paper towel. If you line the baking tray with plastic wrap first, then the paper towel, you won’t have to clean up the tray.

Can I double coat the chicken?

Been there, tried it, no good! I recommend against double coating or double breading the chicken for this buttermilk chicken burger. This can result in unappetising chunks of soggy flour in places and is not nice at all. I find it turns out less crunchy, not more so.

Crispy fried chicken breasts on a wire rack.

Tools you’ll need

  • For prep, you’ll need a good sharp knife and chopping board for trimming and maybe cutlet-ing the chicken. I use a meat mallet, but you can also use a rolling pin, to gently bash out the meat.
  • For cooking, a good deep saucepan is essential when deep frying – I use my Dutch oven – and always use a deep fry thermometer too. A splatter guard is handy to sit on top of the pan to prevent the oil from splashing everywhere. So handy and I use it all the time. Use a slotted spoon when turning and removing the chicken from the oil.
  • For draining, I use a basic cookie sheet / baking tray, covered in paper towel with a wire rack over the top. I love this combo baking tray and rack and literally use them multiple times every week.

Tips for perfect fried chicken burgers

  • Make the chicken the right thickness: If your chicken is too thick, it won’t cook through before burning.
  • Don’t cook cold chicken: Take the chicken out of the fridge 30-40 minutes before you start cooking. If they’re too cold, they’ll immediately drop the temperature of your oil which will cause greasy chicken.
  • Don’t skip the marinade: Not only does the marinade add flavour, it also tenderises the chicken and keeps it juicy.
  • Use a thermometer: It’s so important to use a thermometer when frying. The hotter the oil gets the more quickly it will heat up. Just adding the chicken will drop the temperature right down. Oil that’s too cold will result in greasy chicken while oil that’s too hot will burn it before it’s cooked through.
  • Cook in batches: Don’t overcrowd the pan or the oil temperature will drop too low and you’ll end up with greasy chicken. With 4 small chicken breasts, fry 2 at a time maximum or one if your pan is smaller.
  • Gently add the chicken: Don’t drop the chicken in or you’ll splash yourself with hot oil and it will cause burns. It’s safer to gently lower it in either with your hands or with a slotted spoon. Don’t use tongs – they often slip, and the chicken will drop and splash hot oil everywhere.
  • Drain the chicken: Anything deep-fried needs a few minutes to drain off so don’t skip that step before adding them to your burger buns. If possible, stand them on their side but not too close together. A toaster rack can work but don’t use every slot or they’ll sweat and turn each other soggy. Ewww!
A chicken burger assembly station with buns, chicken and salad.

Topping ideas for your crunchy chicken sandwiches

  • I keep my chicken burgers close to those KFC burgers with mayo and lettuce but I do add just a little crunchy onion and some pickles too. These quick pink pickled onions do double duty and sometimes I use my apple coleslaw which has the mayo and veg already combined.
  • Add some tomato if you like it or beetroot (Aussie burger style). The beetroot adds a wonderful sweet and sour flavour and it’s a nice texture to bite into as well.
  • Spice it up by adding some sliced jalapeños or pickled jalapeños.
  • Use brioche buns if you like the sweet buttery flavour or cut down the calories and sandwich your fried chicken between lettuce leaves (cos/romaine is perfect and two on each side is good coverage).
  • Cheese! Who doesn’t love cheese in burgers, right? Well, me, but my hubby wouldn’t have a burger without it so grab your favourite cheddar or maybe even a chilli cheddar or pepper jack cheese and add some in.
  • Oh, and if this crispy chicken burger isn’t already decadent enough, add some crispy bacon.
  • And while the point of this recipe is the crispy buttermilk fried chicken, I do love options, so try my chicken schnitzels as well.

Yield and storage

This recipe yields 4 large chicken burgers. If feeding little ones, the cooked chicken breasts can easily be cut in half and put in smaller burger buns. Once cooked they’re about 1 ½ times the size they started.

Fried chicken breasts are definitely best eaten fresh and cooked right before serving. While they can stay somewhat crunchy being stored in the fridge, they lose a certain crispness that you’ll never get back. They’ll still taste good, just not at their best.

A fried chicken burger with it's top sitting to the side.

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Crispy chicken burger close up.

Crispy Chicken Burgers

5 from 3 ratings
These crispy chicken burgers are the best fried chicken – sandwich style! Juicy, buttermilk-marinated chicken breasts in a crunchy, flavourful coating sandwiched in a bun. Mouth-wateringly tasty.
Plan ahead: At least 4 hours marinating time is recommended.

Ingredients

  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts notes

BRINE / MARINADE

  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha (more if you want it spicier)
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

DREDGE

  • ¾ cup plain flour (all-purp flour)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried herbs (I use oregano & sage 1:1)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper (or black)
  • 2 litres vegetable oil (2 quarts)

FOR THE BURGERS

  • 4 burger buns (plain or brioche)
  • 8 small cos lettuce leaves (romaine, or similar)
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise (or your favourite)
  • pickles, sliced
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • Other toppings to taste

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • Prepare your toppings ahead of time.
  • If using large (or even medium) chicken breasts, slice them through the thickness with a sharp knife to create two thinner breasts.
  • Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on a chopping board, place one chicken breast on top, then fold the plastic over the top. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to gently bash out the thicker parts so they are around 8-10mm thick all over (~⅓ inch).
  • In a medium bowl or container, combine the buttermilk, sriracha, garlic powder and salt. Add the chicken fillets, turning to make sure they're well coated. Cover and chill for 4 hours or overnight.
  • Take the bowl of chicken out of the fridge 30-40 minutes before frying so it isn't as cold when added to the oil.
  • In a plate with high sides or small casserole dish, combine the dredge ingredients – flour, baking powder, salt, mustard powder, herbs, onion powder, paprika and pepper (also add some chili powder / cayenne pepper here if you want a spicy burger). Mix well.
  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven with a deep fry thermometer attached to the side, pour in the oil. Heat over high heat until it reaches 180C / 350F on the thermometer.
  • Set up a baking tray topped with kitchen towel then a wire rack over the top.
  • Gently drag the chicken along the side of the bowl to remove just a little excess buttermilk – you definitely still want some buttermilk coating on there for the flour to stick.
  • Dip the chicken into the flour mixture turning a few times and pressing the mixture into all the nooks and crannies.
  • Gently lower (do not drop) into the oil (you can use your finger tips, holding one end or sit it on a slotted spoon and use that to place them into the oil).
  • Fry in batches, depending on the size of your pan and the size of your chicken pieces. I normally fit 2 pieces in at a time.
  • Fry the chicken for 3 minutes, then gently flip using a slotted spoon and cook for a further 1-1 ½ minutes (cooking time will depend on the thickness you made them). As you cook, keep an eye on the thermometer, aiming to keep the temp between 170-180C (340-350F) by adjusting the heat as necessary. This is important as the oil being too cold can create greasy burgers.
  • Take the crispy golden brown chicken out of the oil and set aside on the wire rack to drain of excess oil. To check they’re done you can use a meat thermometer (it should be 74C / 165F) or just cut one open (no one will mind once it’s in a burger bun).
  • Assemble your burgers with your toppings of choice and a piece of chicken and serve. Great with wedges, fries or crisps on the side.
  • Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.

Notes

  1. Chicken breasts: You can use any size but prep them so they’re around the size of a small chicken breast each. Using 2 medium or large breasts, slice them in half through the thickness, so you have 4 smaller pieces. You may need to bash the larger ones a little so they’re the right thickness.
  2. My no-fail fried chicken tips:
    • Don’t let the chicken thickness exceed 1cm (~ inch).
    • Don’t skip the buttermilk marinade – it results in juicy, tender chicken.
    • Don’t add the chicken to the oil cold – it’ll take longer to cook through and be burnt before you get there.
    • Don’t overcrowd the pan or they’ll boil instead of fry and nobody wants soggy boiled chicken in a burger.
    • You must use a thermometer and keep the temperature even.
    • Drain the fried chicken on a wire rack over paper towel to catch the drips.
  3. How to check if it’s cooked? You can check whether the chicken is cooked by checking the internal temperature with a meat thermometer (once the chicken is removed from the oil). The cooked temperature of chicken is 74C / 165F. If you don’t have a thermometer, just cut into the thickest part of the chicken to check that it’s white through and no longer pink.
  4. Nutritional info: It’s difficult to know how much oil is absorbed when deep frying. I have based the calories on about ¼ cup of the oil. If you want to be more sure, measure the amount of oil before and after frying. The calories are also based on light mayonnaise since that’s what I keep on hand and how those pictured were made.
  5. Prepping ahead: You can add the chicken to the marinade the night before. The dredge mix can also be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container until you’re ready.
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