Make a seriously tasty crispy chicken fillet burger at home with this fail-safe and easy-to-follow recipe. With super crispy buttermilk chicken coated in a generously seasoned batter served on a lightly toasted bun with smoky and sweet barbecue mayo, crisp lettuce and tangy pickles, a fried chicken fillet burger really can't get much better than this.
Whether you're a frequent or first-time fryer this recipe is packed with hints and tips on the frying process, assembly, serving suggestions, and more.
Want to cook up another fried chicken dish? You need to try this Japanese Chicken Tempura with the lightest crispy batter or my Crispy Honey Chilli Chicken with the tastiest sweet chilli sauce. For a super crispy chicken recipe, you can cook in your oven or air fryer, look no further than garlic butter chicken wings.
The post contains additional information and helpful tips to ensure the recipe turns out great the first time. Please use the link above to jump to the recipe card at the end if you are in a hurry!
4 reasons why you'll love this recipe:
- Seriously tasty - buttermilk crispy chicken fried in a generously seasoned batter served in soft burger buns with smokey and sweet barbecue mayo, crisp lettuce and tangy pickles.
- Easy fail-safe recipe - with step-by-step instructions and handy tips even if you have never fried chicken at home before.
- Feeds a crowd - sure to be a hit with any house guests
- Versatile - from how you season the batter to how you assemble the burger. This is a recipe you can change up and experiment with.
🛒 Key ingredients:
- Buttermilk marinade: Is essential for creating perfectly crispy fried chicken for two reasons. Firstly, its slight acidity tenderizes the chicken and secondly because it helps the batter stick. The chicken should be marinated for 4 hours to 24 hours (the longer the better). However, even 30 minutes will massively improve the texture of your fried chicken.
- Chicken: Although KFC's fillet burger uses chicken breast, I always opt for boneless and skinless chicken thighs instead because they are juicier.
- Batter: The flour is seasoned with paprika, mustard powder, white or black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and salt to make it super flavorful. If you don't have all these in your pantry don't worry, you will still get a tasty batter if you skip a couple.
- BBQ mayo: This is my top choice when it comes to the sauce because its smoky and sweet flavours taste great with the savoury fried chicken and tangy pickles.
- Bread: A classic seeded burger bun is my go-to. I tested the recipe with brioche and found its sweetness a little jarring with the savouriness of the fried chicken. Make sure you toast them first to get them nice and crisp.
Note that the recipe has not been tested with all the substitutions and variations below, so the results cannot be guaranteed.
- Buttermilk: You can use regular milk and add a little vinegar or lemon juice to create acidity. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar for every 240ml (1 cup) of milk.
- Chicken thighs: You can use breast, but it won't be as juicy and succulent.
- Fillings: Other options include tomato, slaw, red onion or anything else that takes your fancy.
- Spicy chicken burger: Toss the cooked chicken in buffalo sauce or serve with a hot sauce like sriracha.
- Bacon chicken burger: Add a couple of slices of crispy bacon when you assemble the burger.
- Asian inspired: Coat the fried chicken in the sweet and sour sauce I use in my Hong Kong Style Sweet & Sour Chicken.
- Mediterranean: Top the tzatsiki sauce, cucumber and red onion.
- Cheese: Add a slice of cheese when assembling.
How to make a chicken fillet burger healthier
Let's face it, a fried chicken burger will never be recommended as part of a low-calorie diet, but there are a few things you can do to make it a little less unhealthy and reduce the calorie count.
- Use low-fat mayonnaise in the barbecue mayo
- Use chicken breasts instead of thighs - they won't be as juicy but they are leaner
- Cook the chicken in the air fryer instead of deep-frying.
- Serve in a whole-wheat bun
- Serve with a salad instead of fries or potato wedges
🧑🍳 Recipe steps
Step 1: Pour the buttermilk into a large bowl, stir in the salt, add the tenderized chicken thighs and marinade for 4 - 24 hours.
Top tip: don't skip this step, as little as 30 minutes of marinating time will improve the texture of your fried chicken.
Step 2: Take the buttermilk chicken out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature. Make the barbecue mayo. Prepare the lettuce and pickles. Then place the flour in a bowl and season with paprika, mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper and salt. Shake the excess buttermilk off one of the chicken thighs and dredge in the seasoned flour mixture until coated ensuring you get a decent amount into all cracks and creases.
Step 3: Place a pan on a high heat and add 4 to 5 cups of oil. When the oil reaches 180°C or 350°F add the first chicken thigh and fry for approximately 4 mins until it becomes golden brown and crisp. Set the cooked chicken aside and repeat this process with the remaining chicken thighs ensuring that the temperature of the pan reaches 180°C or 350°F if it has dropped during the cooking process.
Step 4: Slice the burger buns in half and lightly toast them. Spread a generous amount of barbecue mayo onto the top and bottom pieces, add a layer of lettuce on the bottom, followed by a piece of fried chicken, top with pickles and then finish with the top piece of the bun.
- Don't skip the buttermilk - the buttermilk marinade tenderizes the chicken, adds flavour, and enables the flour to stick to it. The longer you marinade the better, but even 30 minutes will be a big improvement.
- Be thorough in your dredging - make sure each piece of chicken is thoroughly coated in flour before you fry, including all the cracks and folds.
- Use oil with a high smoke point - sunflower or vegetable oil are ideal. Avoid olive oil because it will burn.
- Get the oil to the right temperature - I highly recommend using a thermometer to ensure the oil reaches 180°C or 350°F before adding the chicken. This is the optimum temperature for perfectly crispy chicken. If you fry at a lower temperature your chicken will be greasy and if you fry it at a higher temperature the batter may burn. If the temperature changes during cooking ensure it reaches 180°C or 350°F again before frying the next piece.
- Fry one piece of chicken at a time - to keep the oil at the best temperature. The temperature of the oil will probably drop when you add the chicken to the pan and it could drop significantly if you try and fry the lot in one go.
Wondering what you need to fry chicken at home? Here's a list of essentials:
- Heavy-bottomed pan or Dutch oven that will maintain a consistent heat and allow the tempura to cook evenly.
- A deep-fry thermometer. The oil needs to stay at 350°F or 180°C throughout the cooking process to get a light and crispy batter. A thermometer is needed to check when the pan has reached the right temperature and to monitor the temperature throughout the cooking process.
- A deep-fat fryer is a good investment if you cook fried food regularly. It heats up faster than a pan of oil and is better at maintaining a consistent temperature.
- Tongs for safe handling of the chicken.
- A wire rack enables the chicken to stay nice and crispy when you remove it from the oil.
Fried buttermilk chicken should be enjoyed as an occasional treat. It is high in saturated and trans-fat. This means eating them regularly can significantly increase your risk of heart disease.
What is the difference between and chicken burger and chicken fillet burger?
A chicken burger is a general term that can refer to any burger made with chicken, while a KFC chicken fillet burger specifically refers to a chicken burger made with a fillet of chicken that is breaded, seasoned, and cooked in the style of KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken).
Do I have to toast the buns?
Toasting the buns is not a strict requirement when making a burger, but it is a common practice that can enhance the overall texture and flavour. Toasting the buns helps provide a sturdier base, adds a slight crunch, and prevents them from becoming soggy when paired with juicy ingredients.
Fried chicken fillet burgers don't make great leftovers. You could store the burger in the fridge for a couple of days and it will still be edible, but it will become soggy, craggy and pretty unpleasant.
If you have leftover fried chicken I recommend refrigerating it on its own for up to two days and reheating it in the oven before assembling the burger. Buttermilk fried chicken is not suitable for freezing.
It might surprise you to hear that fried chicken has both Scottish and West African origins. The Scots nailed fried chicken by the Middle Ages, but the flavour was lacking. Luckily, African Americans vastly improved the bland Scottish fried chicken by creating a deeply seasoned batter.
The exact fast food chain that introduced the fried chicken burger is unclear, but Chick-fil-A claims they invented the first buttermilk fried chicken burger in the 1940s. KFC has been offering chicken fillet burgers as part of its menu for several years.
😋 Check out my other tasty fried chicken recipes
Chicken is nutritious, versatile and easy to cook. If fried chicken is your thing try my Panko Chicken, Sweet and Sour Chicken or Honey Chilli Chicken. Or if you're after a lighter option this crispy Dukkah Chicken with pomegranate tabbouleh and a cool yogurt sauce is sure to hit the spot.
Did you try this recipe? It would be really great if you could leave a comment and a star rating ⭐️. I would love to receive your feedback and know that other readers find it helpful too.
Don't forget to tag #knifeandsoulrecipes on Instagram or @knifeandsoul on Pinterest!
Crispy Chicken Fillet Burger
- Frying therometer
- 4 chicken thighs boneless and skinless (Note 1)
- 200 ml (¾ cup) buttermilk
- 1 tsp salt
- 150 g (½ cup) plain/all-purpose flour
- 4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 liter (4-5 cups) vegetable or sunflower oil
- 4 tbsp barbecue sauce
- 4 tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 tsp honey
- 2 tsp Vinegar
- 4 burger buns (Note 2)
- Pickles - such as gherkins and pickled onions
- Lettuce leaves
- Tenderise the chicken thighs by pounding them with a meat tenderiser or rolling pin.
- Place the buttermilk into a large bowl, stir in the salt and add the chicken thighs. Leave to marinade for 4-24 hours if you can (or at least 30 minutes if you can't).
- Combine the barbecue mayo ingredients in a small bowl.
- Place the flour into a bowl and stir in the remaining breading ingredients. (smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, mustard powder, white pepper and salt).
- Put the chicken thighs into the bowl one by one, ensure they are thoroughly coated in the flour mix on all sides and set aside.
- Add the oil to a Dutch oven or large saucepan and heat to 180°C or 360°F. Add the first chicken thigh and fry for 3-4 minutes until it is golden and crisp. (Notes 3,4 & 5)
- Set aside onto a wire rack or kitchen paper when done and repeat the process with the remaining chicken thighs. (Note 6)
- Assemble the burgers. Toast the burger buns (Note 7) and spread barbecue mayo onto both halves of each bun then add lettuce, a piece of fried chicken, gherkins and pickled onion.
- Chicken: You can use breast but it won't be as juicy and succulent.
- Burger buns: A classic seeded burger bun is my go-to. I tested the recipe with brioche and found its sweetness a little jarring with the savouriness of the fried chicken.
- Checking the oil is ready: I strongly advise using a deep-frying thermometer to ensure the oil has reached 180°C or 360°F before you add the chicken. If you don't have one, drop a breadcrumb into the oil. If it sizzles up then you can start frying, but if it sinks to the bottom the oil isn't hot enough yet.
- Frying the chicken: Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry the chicken in batches if you need to.
- Checking doneness: Chicken is cooked when it reaches 75°C or 165°F. Use a meat thermometer to check or cut into a piece to check it is white and opaque in the middle.
- Keeping the cooked chicken warm: If you are not planning to serve straight away or are making a larger quantity, you can place the fried chicken in the oven heated to 80°C or 175°F.
- Toasting the burger buns: Place the burger buns under the grill or use a hot griddle to toast.