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Chicken and waffles has so many variations. So what makes these the best? Aside from the perfect buttermilk brine, a bit of poultry seasoning here, and a scoop of cornmeal there take this chicken and waffles recipe wholly into Southern soul food territory! And don’t get me started on my hot honey drizzle.
The source of the original chicken and waffles recipe is one that we just can’t track down — but we can all agree that this is a quintessential Southern meal!
So why is chicken and waffles such an iconic combination? It’s almost like the yin and yang of food; it’s the harmony of two things that are completely different, yet come together to make something mind-blowingly delicious!
It’s a meal you can make for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and even dinner. I’ve hear dit do wonders for a hangover, too. Trust me — no one will complain about seeing it on their plate no matter the time of day.
Table of Contents
Southern cooking has such a comforting, homestyle feel that you can’t get elsewhere. Whether it’s something as simple as biscuits, end-of-meal pecan or buttermilk pie, or saucy pulled pork scooped onto a bun, you know you’ll leave the table satisfied!
- Chicken – I always make Southern fried chicken with boneless, skinless chicken thighs.
- Buttermilk Brine – The main ingredient in the marinade is, of course, tangy buttermilk! We’ll throw in some garlic and onion powder, as well as:
- Hot Sauce – Tangy Frank’s or spicy Tabasco are my two top options for this chicken and waffles recipe. Alternatively, you could bring the heat with some chili powder!
- Paprika – Smoked paprika adds a very light, pleasant heat to the marinade.
- Coating – We’re mixing all-purpose flour with rice flour for the crispiest possible crust that is, at the same time, pleasantly light and airy. In addition to salt and pepper, the coating contains poultry seasoning, a Southern-style blend with garlicky and herbal flavors.
- Hot Honey – This is an optional drizzle made with butter, honey, and your hot sauce of choice (I again recommend Tabasco or Frank’s). I highly recommend you give it a try!
- Waffle Mix – My homemade waffle mix also contains buttermilk — as well as eggs, sugar, salt, pepper, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and baking powder. The final, secret ingredient is:
- Cornmeal – Combined with the flour, cornmeal will give your waffles that characteristic Southern sweetness.
- Brine. Add the chicken to a bowl or baggie along with all of the brine ingredients. Marinate for 1 to 4 hours in the refrigerator.
- Dredge. Add all of the coating ingredients to a bowl and whisk together. Remove the brined chicken thighs from the bag, shaking off any excess marinade, and dredge each in the coating. Transfer to a tray and set aside.
- Fry. Pour 2 inches of oil in a deep skillet. Add the butter and heat until the oil shimmers (350-375 degrees F). Carefully place 4 thighs in the oil (do not overcrowd) and fry for 8 or 9 minutes until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 165 degrees F. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, bring the oil back to temperature, and repeat until all chicken is cooked. Keep warm in an oven preheated to 200 degrees F while preparing the waffles.
- Make Waffle Mix. Coat the waffle maker with cooking spray. While it preheats, whisk the dry waffle ingredients. Combine the wet ingredients in a separate bowl, then slowly pour and whisk the wet into the dry until a smooth batter forms.
- Make Waffles. Pour ⅔ cup into each waffle mold (don’t fill all the way) and cook per your specific waffle maker’s instructions. Serve with the hot chicken and hot honey as desired (instructions found in the recipe card).
- Deep Skillet or Dutch Oven – The best pan for frying this chicken and waffles recipe is deep enough to hold enough oil for frying and retains heat really well. This last quality is really important for keeping the oil at a high enough temperature to fry — not steam — the chicken.
Storing and Reheating
Cooked chicken can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Store in an airtight container, then reheat in the oven or air fryer to get that crust as crispy as possible!
The waffles are always best made fresh. But if you have leftovers, keep them in the refrigerator. And if you want to store them for more than a day, freeze them instead to prevent them from becoming soggy! Reheat in the oven or microwave.
Cornmeal in waffles?
To enhance waffle texture and flavor, I like to incorporate cornmeal into the batter for a delightful crunch. I’m using a 1:1 ratio with regular flour, but feel free to adjust for personal preference. The cornmeal adds a subtle nuttiness and complements both sweet and savory toppings like these with the hot honey!
Chicken and waffles are often served with syrup, but you’ll also commonly find them doused in honey. Any other condiment is fair game.
I’m more of a honey person myself, and I serve chicken and waffles with my own special hot honey that echoes the flavors in the marinade. It brings all of the tastes and textures together even more!
It depends on when you serve them! If it’s your first meal of the day, then you almost need to serve them with eggs, grits, and biscuits or hashbrowns.
Any other meal of the day opens up your options a bit! Classic Southern creamed corn, mac and cheese, or cornbread. Throw in some creamed spinach if you want a bit of greenery!
Absolutely. If the buttermilk is in contact with the meat for more than 4 hours, it starts to eat away at the fibers and actually deteriorates the flesh. This makes the meat texture very mushy when cooked.
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This recipe post, originally published on Kevin Is Cooking November, 2013, has been updated with new content, photos and/or video in February, 2024.
Southern Fried Chicken and Waffles
- Add chicken to bowl or sealable plastic bag and cover with buttermilk. Marinate for 1 hour (the lactic acids tenderize the chicken), but no longer than 4 hours.
- Mix the flours, poultry seasoning, salt and black pepper together in a bowl. Shake excess buttermilk from chicken and dredge each piece in the seasoned flour to coat well on both sides. Set aside on tray. Preheat oven to 200°F.
- Add enough oil to a Dutch oven or deep skillet to measure 2 inches. Add butter and heat oil until it almost shimmers. Place the 4 pieces of chicken per batch in the butter and oil and fry for 8-9 minutes. Check internal temperature is 165°F or cook longer (See Note 1-4). Drain on paper towels, cover loosely with foil or place in warm oven while making the waffles.
- Preheat waffle maker and coat with nonstick oil spray.
- Whisk together the Dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
- In another bowl whisk Wet ingredients and pour into the Dry ingredients. Whisk until you have a smooth batter.
- Pour about 2/3 cup batter into each waffle mold, then cook according to waffle maker directions. Serve waffles immediately with hot fried chicken, maple syrup or hot honey.
- In a small saucepan melt the butter with the honey and hot sauce. whisk until combined and keep warm until serving.
Allow your chicken to come to room temperature before dropping it right into the hot oil. Cold, from the refrigerator, chicken will drastically alter the oil temp quickly.
Get the oil temperature up to 350°-375°F before adding chicken. The temperature will drop when chicken goes in. Fry and keep it at a continuous 320-325°F.
Don’t over crowd your frying pan, you want to fry the chicken, not steam it! Chicken is done when it reaches 165°F internal temperature.
Remove from hot oil and place on wire rack to cool. Season with salt if you like.
- Hot Honey is NOT included in the Nutrition count as it’s optional.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.