Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich is a crispy, savory, fried chicken cutlet on a buttery brioche bun, topped with spicy mayo and tangy pickles. Learn how to make a chicken sandwich from scratch that’s just as amazing as Popeye’s, but you don’t have to wait in line for it.
What is so special about Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich?
Have you had one? I have, and it’s truly one of the best chicken sandwiches I’ve ever tasted. The seasoning and crunch on the chicken paired with creamy, spicy mayo, salty pickles, and a soft, buttery bun are just perfect.
I love a good fried chicken sandwich. I have figured out the secrets to a few of them now, including my recipe for Homemade Chick-Fil-A Chicken Sandwiches and one for Nashville Style Hot Chicken Sandwiches.
I’ve also figured out how to make Arby’s Roast Beef Sandwiches!
Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich has been evasive and tricky to find food phenomenon over the last year or so. It was so good, people lined up outside of stores for hours to get one. The demand was so high that they ran out of it over and over again, eventually discontinuing the sandwich because they just couldn’t keep up.
Luckily for the world, Popeye’s has added this delicious, spicy, crispy chicken sandwich back to their menu, but you know what? It’s not that difficult to make your own fried chicken sandwich that tastes better than Popeye’s at home.
Popeye’s also discontinued the Cajun Rice, I think for good, but don’t worry, I copycat-ed that recipe for you too!
Why You’ll Love This Fried Chicken Sandwich
- It’s perfect for dinner. You know when you cook dinner and everyone turns their nose up at it? This will not happen when you serve Popeye’s sandwiches!
- Simple Ingredients. You probably have all of the ingredients that you need to make this recipe in your pantry and fridge already. If not, add them to your shopping list so you can make these asap.
- Make it mild or spicy. The base recipe for this popeye’s sandwich makes a fairly mild flavored chicken, but amp up the heat with some hot sauce and spices if you like it hot.
Ingredients In This Copycat Popeye’s Chicken Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need to make these delicious Popeye’s crispy chicken:
- Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded into ½ inch cutlets.
- Buttermilk – Buttermilk adds flavor and tenderizes the meat. If you don’t have buttermilk, simply add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to one cup of regular milk.
- Spices – Salt, pepper, cayenne powder, regular or smoked paprika, and garlic powder go into this recipe. You are going to want your chicken and your breading to be well seasoned. We will also be seasoning some mayo.
- Flour and Cornstarch – By using both of these, we create the most amazing breading that will crisp up perfectly.
- Hot Sauce – Use your favorite hot sauce to spice up some mayo for the sandwich topping.
- Brioche Buns – This is a must for a Popeye’s style sandwich. The buttery, slightly sweet flavor is perfect with the salty, spicy chicken.
- Pickles – Sliced dill pickles are the finishing touch!
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
How To Make Popeye’s Chicken Sandwiches
Making these sandwiches is quite simple, all you have to do is bread the chicken, fry it, and assemble the most perfect Popeye’s chicken sandwiches!
- Prepare your breading station. I absolutely love using this breading set for jobs like this, but you can use shallow bowls instead.
- Combine wet ingredients. Mix buttermilk with salt, pepper, and cayenne powder in the third breading dish. I like to work right to left, but if you want to go the other way, that’s fine too!
- Combine dry ingredients. In the second breading dish, combine flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Bread the chicken. Dredge the chicken in the buttermilk mixture, followed by the flour mixture. Press the chicken into the flour mixture to make sure that it sticks to the chicken. Lightly shake off any excess flour and place on a plate, being careful not to pile the pieces up.
- Fry chicken. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet or deep fryer. Fry chicken for 3-4 minutes per side, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F/74°C.
For an extra flaky and crispy chicken sandwich, add a tablespoon or so of the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix with your hands to create little clumps.
- Make spicy mayo. Whisk the mayo, smoked paprika, and hot sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
- Toast buns. To toast the brioche buns, melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat, and place buns cut in half, cut side done. Toast until they are golden brown.
- Assemble your sandwich. Spread spicy mayo on each half bun, then on the bottom bun layer dill pickle slices over the sauce. Place the chicken on top of the pickles and finish with the top bun.
Tips and Tricks
- Soak the Chicken. If you have time, let the chicken cutlets sit in the buttermilk mixture for 10 minutes or so. This will tenderize the meat somewhat and add lots of flavor.
- Adjust the spices. The amount of spices you add to your breading mixture is completely up to you. If you’re feeding kiddos, or If you don’t want it so spicy, leave out the cayenne or just use a pinch. Like it hot? Add more cayenne.
- Deep frying is best. You will get much better, crispier chicken if you use a deep fryer to make your cutlets. I find it easier to use too. You can fry in a deep skillet, or dutch oven as well. I know we all love our air fryers, but I wouldn’t suggest air frying this recipe. It just won’t be as good.
- Make it yummier. You can add things to this sandwich to make it even more delicious! Try a slice of cheese, a few slices of bacon, or some pickled banana peppers.
- Serve with Fries. A fried chicken sandwich is always better with fries! While you have the frier going, make some Homemade French Fries.
Frequently Asked Questions
To get the perfect sandwich size chicken cutlets, first pound your chicken breasts until they are ½ inch thick all around. Then cut in half. You can make two sandwiches from one large boneless breast.
Follow this recipe, but add some extra spice to your breading. An extra teaspoon of cayenne pepper should do the trick. For even more spice, add a few dashes of hot sauce to the buttermilk.
The basic toppings here are the spicy mayo and pickles, but you can totally get creative.
Mix up your chicken restaurants and make some homemade Chick-Fil-A sauce for this sandwich or some Raising Cane’s sauce.
Add shredded lettuce for a little bit of crunch, or go crazy and add some fresh tomatoes and red onions for a fresh bite.
Serving a crowd? You can prepare some of this recipe the night before, and then just fry and assemble the sandwiches before serving.
I don’t suggest making the chicken ahead of time, it won’t keep its crispiness if you refrigerate and try to reheat it later.
What I would do is:
- Make the spicy mayo and put it in the fridge.
- Prepare the raw chicken, and place it in the buttermilk mixture. This can sit in the fridge overnight.
- Mix the dry breading ingredients in a ziplock bag and set aside for later.
When it’s time for dinner, pull the cutlets out of the buttermilk, dredge in flour, and fry. Toast your buns and assemble the sandwiches as directed.
Enjoy your super delicious fried chicken sandwiches, just like Popeye’s! Make sure to pin this recipe for later.
- 2 chicken boneless skinless breasts pounded into ½ inch thickness, and cut in half
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
For the Flour Mix:
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup corn starch
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Spicy Mayo:
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 4 brioche buns
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup dill pickles sliced
- To cook the chicken, Prepare your breading station. In a shallow dish, combine the buttermilk with salt, pepper, and cayenne powder. In a separate shallow dish, combine the flour with cornstarch, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper.
- For extra flaky chicken sandwich, add a tablespoon or so of the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, and mix with your hands to create little clumps.
- Dredge the chicken in the buttermilk mixture, followed by the flour mixture. Press the chicken into the flour mixture to make sure it sticks to the chicken.
- Lightly shake off any excess flour, and place on a plate but do not pile the chicken.
- Heat vegetable (or canola) oil to 350°F/180°C in a skillet or a deep fryer. And fry for 3-4 minutes per side, the chicken is ready when the internal temperature reaches 165°F/74°C.
- To make the spicy mayo, whisk the ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.
- To toast the brioche buns, melt 1 tablespoon butter to a skillet on medium high heat, and place one bun cut in half cut-side down. Toast until they’re golden brown but not burnt. Repeat with the second bun.
- To assemble the chicken sandwich, spread 1 tablespoon of spicy mayo on each half bun, then on the bottom bun layer dill pickle slices over the sauce, place the chicken on top of the pickles, and cover with the top half bun.
- Make buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, make your own. simply add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 cup of regular milk.
- Adjust the heat. The amount of spices you add to your breading mixture is completely up to you. If you’re feeding kiddos, or If you don’t want it so spicy, leave out the cayenne or just use a pinch. Like it hot? Add more cayenne.
- For an extra flaky and crispy chicken sandwich. Add a tablespoon or so of the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix with your hands to create little clumps.
- Deep frying is best. You will get much better, crispier chicken if you use a deep fryer to make your cutlets. I find it easier to use too. You can fry in a deep skillet, or dutch oven as well.
- Optional add-ons. Try a slice of cheese, a few slices of bacon, or some pickled banana peppers, also don’t forget to make some Homemade French Fries.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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