Southern-fried tender and crunchy chicken thighs served on top of light and crispy waffles and drizzled with warm sriracha honey sauce is the ultimate comfort food!
Chicken and waffles is nothing short of amazing and will soon become a family favorite! Make it today for a special Sunday brunch or dinner.
Boneless thighs are dredged in spiced flour to create a crispy coating that is full of delicious flavor. The juicy center of the meat perfectly complements the fluffy texture of the waffles, and the whole dish is tied together with a delicious homemade honey sauce.
Most of the time, I keep toppings simple with fruit or maple syrup. I might even get a little fancy and make Apple Fritter Waffles. But when I first experienced the amazing flavor combination of chicken and waffles, I knew that I needed to recreate it at home.
Craving more savory options? My Southwestern Frittata Breakfast Casserole is another easy brunch option that will give you leftovers for the week. Or, try a Bruschetta Panini instead — it’s basically a glorified grilled cheese made with mozzarella, tomatoes, and fresh basil.
Key ingredients and substitutions
- Chicken — Personally, I prefer boneless, skinless thighs instead of tenders for this chicken and waffles recipe. The darker meat is especially nice when breaded and fried. While boneless will cook much quicker than bone-in, you can certainly use bone-in and skin-on if you prefer.
- Buttermilk — If needed, you can make your own substitute right at home. Combine 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar with 1 cup of plain milk, then let it sit for a few minutes until thickened and curdled.
- Panko breadcrumbs — This thin, flaky variety is the key to a crunchy exterior. Not only do they adhere better to the surface, but they won’t get soggy when fried in oil.
- You’ll need to do a bit of multi-tasking so everything is served warm at the same time. Transfer the fried chicken to a low-temp oven while you prepare the waffles and hot sriracha honey.
How to make fried chicken for waffles
STEP 1 | Marinate the meat
- Pat all of the pieces dry with a paper towel, then place in a large resealable bag and pour the buttermilk over the top.
- The poultry should soak in buttermilk for at least 2 hours, but you can leave it in there overnight (or up to 24 hours). The acid in the liquid helps break down the protein fibers so that the meat is tender and juicy when cooked.
STEP 2 | Bread boneless thighs
- Combine flour, panko breadcrumbs, and simple pantry spices. Then drain off the buttermilk into a bowl.
- Whisk an egg into the buttermilk, and dip the meat back into the liquid. Then dredge in the flour mixture and shake off the excess.
STEP 3 | Heat up the oil
- Add about an inch of oil to a large pan on the stove. I like to use a cast iron skillet, but any heavy deep skillet will work.
- Check the temperature with a thermometer or test it the old fashioned way. When a pinch of flour dropped into the oil immediately sizzles, it’s ready to go.
- When deep frying, choose an oil with a high smoke point and a relatively neutral flavor. Peanut is my go-to, but other popular choices include vegetable, canola, sunflower, and avocado oils.
STEP 4 | Fry in batches
- Cook a few pieces at a time so the pan isn’t overcrowded. Otherwise, they will take longer to cook and won’t come out as crispy.
- As they finish, transfer to a baking sheet lined with a fresh piece of parchment and place in the oven to keep warm.
Frequently asked questions
If you’re serving this for brunch, pair it with a fresh fruit salad or these amazing Blackberry Grits by Julia’s Simply Southern. For dinner, I would recommend something simple like tangy coleslaw, a classic wedge salad, or oven roasted potatoes.
While it tastes best freshly made, you can certainly prepare the waffle batter ahead of time and keep it in the refrigerator. Let it warm on the counter while you’re frying on the stove. Then give it a gentle stir before using.
This recipe includes a sweet and spicy sauce to drizzle over the top, but here are some other tasty options to try:
- maple syrup or plain honey
- warm honey dijon dressing
- spun honey butter
- fruit salsa – like peach habanero!
Chicken and Waffles: behind the recipe
My introduction to this dish was at this cute little spot in Greensboro, but I learned that it’s not actually a Southern recipe! Despite fried chicken being popular in the South, this tasty combination originated in the 1930’s at the Wells Supper Club in Harlem.
Why do chicken and waffles go together?
If you think about it — so many of our favorite recipes pair a protein with a starch or carb, and this one is no different!
Not only is it a creative way to combine savory and sweet flavors into one bite, but it’s also an easy way to create a full meal out of simple ingredients.
For this chicken and waffles recipe, you will need…
- Non-stick waffle iron — I’ve had this one since John and I got married eons ago, and it’s still going strong – just like us! It’s easy-release, and clean up is a breeze.
- Cast iron skillet – Because it distributes heat more evenly than other pans, your thigh pieces will come out perfectly crisp all around.
- 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 1 egg
- 1 cup flour, either all-purpose or self-rising
- 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- peanut oil, for frying
- honey sriracha sauce, for serving
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- cooking spray
- Rinse the chicken thighs and pat them dry with paper towels. Place the chicken in a gallon-size ziplock bag and pour the buttermilk on top. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Drain the buttermilk into a shallow bowl and whisk in the egg.
- In another shallow dish, combine the flour, panko breadcrumbs, garlic salt, onion powder, paprika, kosher salt, and pepper.
- Dip each piece of chicken into the buttermilk mixture, shaking off the excess, then dredge in the flour mixture, again shaking off the excess. Place the chicken on one of the prepared baking sheets until all the chicken is coated.
- In a heavy cast iron skillet over medium high heat, pour the peanut oil to to come up to a depth of 1 inch. Heat the oil until it is hot enough so that a pinch of flour dropped into the oil immediately sizzles.
- Fry the chicken in batches (don't overcrowd the pan!). Cook on each size for 5 to 6 minutes, until the chicken is crispy and the desired brown color. Place the chicken on the clean baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the oven to keep warm while you prepare the waffles.
Hot Honey Sauce
- In a small sauce pan over medium heat, stir together the honey, sriracha sauce, garlic powder, and onion powder. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to low. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- Preheat the waffle maker, first coating the irons with baking spray.
- Separate the eggs. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form and set aside
- In a large bowl, add the flour, milk, canola oil, and egg yolks. With an electric mixer mix at low speed, combine the ingredients until moistened. Increase the speed to medium and mix until smooth. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
- Cook the waffles on the hot irons, using about 1/2 cup batter per waffle (or the recommended amount for your waffle iron) until golden, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
- Serve waffles topped with 2 fried chicken thighs and drizzled with the warm sriracha honey sauce.
If you want to prepare the waffle batter ahead of time, it can be mixed up and kept in the fridge until you're ready to cook. Just give it a gentle stir when you're ready to start the waffle cooking.
Keep cooked waffles warm by placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 275-degree oven.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 675Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 213mgSodium: 1249mgCarbohydrates: 74gFiber: 3gSugar: 22gProtein: 41g
Sheila @ Life, Love & Good Food
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Home Cook, Wife, Mom, Nana
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.