With all this talk about chicken sandwiches recently, it made me crave a good chicken sandwich like nothing else. But people seem to be getting into fights and weird crimes over these sandwiches, so I thought it’d be best to just stay home and make my own.
The star of a fried chicken sandwich is undoubtedly the fried chicken. But I wanted to make it a bit healthier and go with the air fryer instead. If you’ve never worked with an air fryer, you need to give it some serious thought! I was skeptical at first, but it has seriously changed my life. It will fry up food insanely quickly and easily. Don’t get me wrong- you won’t throw chicken in the air fryer and get the same result as deep-frying, but it’s surprisingly close as a healthy alternative.
A typical fried chicken sandwich will run you anywhere from 400-800 calories. A big range, I know. So let’s look at the Popeyes chicken sandwich that is all the rage right now:
700 calories, 42g fat, 50g carbs, and 28g protein. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but let’s compare it to our homemade version:
415 calories, 5g fat, 40g carbs, and 49g protein! I’m not saying mine is necessarily better… but since I haven’t tried Popeyes sandwich, ignorance is bliss. These macros are including the brioche bun as well, so if you decided to go bun-less, it’d be 250 calories, 1.5g fat, 12g carbs and 43g protein.
Before we dive into the recipe, I want to discuss the components and what you’ll need here.
The chicken is obviously the star here. We’re going to use boneless, skinless chicken breast. Because of this, we need to create a “skin” to fry up. To accomplish this, we’ll create 3 stations: a dry mixture, a liquid mixture, and another dry mixture.
By going from dry, to wet, and back to dry, we’ll create a crispy “skin” on this skinless chicken.
I personally think a brioche bun is essential for a great sandwich. The ones I used have 160 calories, which in my opinion is very reasonable. But if you want to save some calories, you can certainly go a different route and choose any bun you’d like. Sandwich thins or English Muffins will be closer to 100 calories, bringing the total calories down closer to 350.
Regardless of which you choose, I highly recommend toasting up the bun. I like to get a pan going over high heat, spray it with a little butter spray, and toast up the buns to a nice golden brown inside.
Traditional chicken sandwiches will typically have some kind of mayo or ranch. If that’s your cup of tea, you can certainly use a classic sauce on your sandwich. For me, I don’t particularly love either of those sauces, and I wanted something a bit healthier in this case. I created my own sauce using nonfat Greek yogurt and a mix of different spices, and I was amazed at just how well it complemented the chicken. The tang and flavor of the yogurt sauce contrasts the spicy chicken to bring down the overall heat factor. This brings me to my next note…
THE HEAT FACTOR
The inspiration for this sandwich was “Nashville Hot Chicken”, which can sometimes be insanely hot. I wanted to create a sandwich that had a kick but wouldn’t cause you to sweat out of every single orifice. I use a small amount of cayenne in my seasoning, and I promise it’s not too much, but you can adjust accordingly. You can omit it altogether if you hate spicy, or crank it up a use a bit more if you really want it to hurt.
This recipe will require some hot sauce to drizzle over your fried chicken. As much as I love sriracha, I don’t recommend it in this recipe. Opt for a vinegar-based hot sauce like Cholula or Tobasco- the heat in them works well and the liquidy nature allows you to cover the chicken no problem. But again, if spicy isn’t your thing, you can leave the hot sauce out.
The great thing about this recipe is that it’s totally customizable. Use chicken tenderloins and make sliders, or use barbecue sauce and bacon to create an epic chicken bacon ranch sandwich. OR make extra chicken and enjoy some chicken and waffles tomorrow (which I am doing as I type this).
CALCULATING MACROS FOR COATING
I did the guesswork for you so you don’t have to, but if you’re wondering how in the world you can figure out how much flour your chicken requires, here’s what I did: weigh your bowl with your flour mixture in it. After you coat your chicken and you’re all done, weigh the bowl again to see how much of the mixture is left to figure out how much was used. When all was said and done, each chicken breast used about 20g of flour total, so that is what I logged as part of the macros.
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Spicy Chicken Sandwich
Macros for entire sandwich
Without bun: 250 Calories, 1.5g Fat, 12g Carbs, 43g Protein
Ingredients for Chicken
Ingredients for Sauce & Toppings
- Trim your chicken breasts into 2 separate 6oz chicken breasts. Cover your chicken with plastic wrap and use a meat tenderizing tool to pound the chicken down so it is the same thickness throughout. You can skip this step, but it ensures an even cook & fry throughout.
- Grab 3 wide bowls to create your dipping stations. In two of the bowls, make separate dry mixtures using 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 tsp salt & pepper, 1/8 tsp ground cayenne, and a dash of garlic powder. Mix each up.
- Whisk one egg in your third bowl with 1 teaspoon of hot sauce and 1/3 cup of milk. I like to use “Silk Protein” because of its thick nature. You can use any milk you like here, but unsweetened almond milk will not work quite as well because it is so thin. Something on the thicker side helps to create a thicker coating.
- Pat the chicken with paper towel to remove any moisture, then dip into one of your dry mixtures. Make sure the chicken is fully covered, shake off any excess flour, and then dip into your liquid. Cover the entire chicken breast and allow any extra mixture to drip back into the bowl. Finally, add the chicken to your third bowl to fully cover with the dry mixture.
- Generously spray your air fryer with nonstick spray (or use air fryer parchment paper) and add your chicken. Repeat this process for your second chicken breast, leaving space between the two in the air fryer.
- Air fry at 380 degrees Fahrenheit for 18 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- While the chicken cooks, make the sauce by mixing 50g greek yogurt with the vinegar, chili powder, cayenne, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix well and add to the fridge while the chicken finishes.
- With about 3-4 minutes left on the chicken, open up the air fryer and drizzle hot sauce over each breast. Since we’re not using oil, it’s going to look like the chicken has uncooked flour on it. Don’t worry, the flour is cooked, but since there is no liquid, it is still visible. Covering with hot sauce not only adds flavor but adds the extra liquid it needs. If you’re leaving the hot sauce off, then butter spray is a good alternative (but not required). Let the chicken finish for the remaining time.
- Once the chicken is done, remove from the air fryer let cool for a couple of minutes and prep your bun. I prefer to toast them up for a minute or two in a stovetop pan, but you can use the oven as well.
- Take your yogurt sauce out of the fridge and spread a little on each bun. Lay your chicken over your bottom bun, top with some additional hot sauce and fresh pickles, then add your top bun. Enjoy!!
- The Greek Yogurt sauce ends up not being overpowering at all. I was worried it made add too much of a “yogurt” flavor, but it works well here.
- Instead of All-Purpose flour, you can use a gluten-free flour. I don’t recommend using Almond or Coconut flour however, as they will cook up very differently.
- If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake these in the oven. You may not get the same crisp, but it will still work.