Take that, KFC! Our Fried Chicken Burger outshines yours with its superior crispiness, juicier chicken, and unbeatable flavor. The secret lies in incorporating a dash of marinade into the flour coating, resulting in delightful, crispy nuggets that form an incredibly crunchy crust.
Henry’s Ultra Crispy Fried Chicken Burger
Today’s recipe comes to us courtesy of a young boy named Henry, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a book signing event in the charming NSW regional town of Mudgee. As we sat comfortably on the couch of a cozy local bookstore, Henry proudly introduced his signature dish: the RecipeTin Fried Chicken. We couldn’t help but gush about how surprisingly non-greasy it is and marveled at its all-around crispiness, in stark contrast to KFC, which we agreed had unpleasant greasy and soggy patches on its skin.
Our conversation naturally shifted to brainstorming how we could use this Fried Chicken to create the ULTIMATE fried chicken burger in the world (yes, we capitalize it!). We both shared the view that plain shredded lettuce was a better choice than coleslaw (too rich), that melted cheese was unnecessary (too heavy), that tomato was optional, and that the bun had to be exceptionally soft. And so, dedicated to Henry and the wonderful town of Mudgee, I proudly present to you our finest creation: the Ultra Crispy Fried Chicken Burger!
Take a look at the delightful, nubbly, crunchy surface on the fried chicken!
Below are the ingredients required for crafting your own Crispy Chicken Burgers.
CHICKEN BRINE KEEPS IT JUICY!
I prefer using chicken breast for its ability to maintain a uniform shape suitable for burgers. To ensure its juiciness, I marinate it in a mixture of buttermilk and salt, which helps lock in the moisture. This step is crucial because chicken breast tends to cook beyond the ideal internal temperature required to achieve a truly crispy and golden crust.
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, don’t fret; you can easily substitute a combination of yogurt and milk, which yields similar results.
While chicken breast is my go-to choice for its uniform shape when trimmed to size, boneless chicken thighs can work just as well. Regardless of your choice, it’s essential to pound the meat to an even thickness to ensure it cooks uniformly and sits nicely on the burger.
Buttermilk, known for its marinating qualities, ensures the chicken remains juicy once cooked. It’s the traditional marinating ingredient used in Southern Fried Chicken, the recipe upon which this burger is based. While buttermilk is readily available in the United States, it’s more of a specialty item for baking here in Australia. Fortunately, there’s an easy substitute that works almost the same—plain yogurt mixed with milk. The acidity and thickness of yogurt, when diluted with milk, mimic the consistency of buttermilk quite closely, and yogurt is excellent for marinating, as you can see from the results here.
Additionally, we use salt for seasoning and to enhance the chicken’s juiciness. An egg is also included to help the flour crust adhere to the chicken.
KFC 11 SECRET HERBS AND SPICES!
The flavor of the fried chicken closely resembles that of KFC fried chicken. In terms of flavor, it’s quite comparable!
When it comes to the herbs and spices used, there are no unusual ingredients in the mix—just all the usual suspects! You can adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to achieve your desired level of spiciness. If you prefer a non-spicy option, simply omit it.
For the coating of the chicken, we use a combination of cornflour/cornstarch and flour to achieve an ultra-crunchy texture when frying. Cornflour enhances the crispiness more than using just flour alone. However, there’s a reason for not using only cornflour: it doesn’t develop a golden color when fried; it stays white. In contrast, flour-coated items fry up to a beautiful golden hue. By blending both cornflour and flour, we achieve the best of both worlds—crunchiness and a lovely golden color.
Don’t allow anyone to dictate what belongs on your burger or what doesn’t. However, if you’re aiming for an exceptional burger that rivals KFC, here’s what you’ll need:
- Soft buns – I personally favor brioche buns for their irresistibly soft and slightly sweet qualities, reminiscent of KFC’s buns. Nonetheless, you have the flexibility to choose any type of buns you prefer. (I’d recommend steering clear of overly chewy or crispy ones, as they can be a bit too challenging for burger consumption).
- Gherkins/pickles – Opt for your everyday dill pickles or explore other varieties that pique your interest. These pickles serve as a delightful palate cleanser, cutting through the richness and saltiness of the other burger components.
- Lettuce – Good old iceberg lettuce does the trick! When finely sliced, it not only adds some substantial height to your burger but also provides a lovely bed for the crispy chicken to rest upon.
- Garlic mayonnaise – While KFC doesn’t typically include garlic mayo, we both know that a touch of garlic elevates regular mayo to another level. In fact, it transforms it into aioli, adding an extra layer of flavor to your burger.
How to make Crunchy Fried Chicken Burgers
This method is simpler compared to traditional Fried Chicken, which typically involves bone-in chicken and longer frying times (around 6 to 8 minutes), requiring precise temperature control.
In contrast, Chicken Burgers feature thinner, boneless pieces that fry up in just 3 to 4 minutes. Thanks to their shape, you won’t need as much oil either. To prepare the chicken, pound it to an even thickness of about 1cm (0.4″). You can use freezer bags, ziplock bags, or a specialized product like “Go-Between,” along with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Pounding ensures even cooking and helps the chicken sit more uniformly on the burger, though it’s not a deal-breaker if you skip this step.
Trim the chicken to match the size of your buns, or even slightly larger if desired, as it will shrink a bit during cooking, but the crispy, nubbly bits will add size.
For the marinade, mix buttermilk, salt, and egg, then add the chicken and coat it thoroughly. Allow it to marinate for at least 3 hours, but not more than 24 hours, as over-marinating can alter the chicken’s texture, making it reminiscent of cold-cut deli slices. It’s still enjoyable, but the texture changes.
The crunchy coating involves a mixture of flour, cornflour/cornstarch, and various spices. Notably, the spices are concentrated in the coating rather than the marinade to create a contrast between the chicken’s interior flavor and the intense seasoning on the exterior, similar to KFC. To achieve the ultra-crunchy texture, drizzle 2 tablespoons of the marinade into the flour mixture, using your fingers to create small clumps. When these clumps adhere to the chicken, they fry up into ultra-crunchy, nubbly bits, resulting in the irresistible crunchiness.
Coat the chicken in the flour mixture just before frying, avoiding doing it in advance to prevent the chicken from sweating and making the flour soggy. This technique, inspired by Kenji, is a key to achieving the desired level of crunch.
When frying, you’ll need approximately 2.5cm (1″) of oil in your chosen cooking vessel to elevate the chicken off the base, ensuring even frying all around. A heavy-based pot like a Dutch oven is ideal for its safety, even heat distribution, and heat retention.
Maintain the oil temperature at 180°C/350°F. If you lack a thermometer, a quick test involves throwing in a small cube of bread; it should turn golden in 15 seconds. Alternatively, insert a bamboo chopstick and touch the base of the pot—if bubbles immediately rise, the oil is sufficiently hot.
As the thin chicken pieces cook in just 4 minutes, you won’t need an oven to keep them warm. Batch 1 will still be hot when you finish batch 2. However, if you’re scaling up, you can keep the cooked chicken warm in a preheated oven at 50°C/125°F on a rack set over a tray to prevent the underside from becoming soggy.
ASSEMBLING THE CHICKEN BURGERS
For the garlic mayo, simply mix the mayonnaise with grated garlic. It’s a good idea to do this at least 15 minutes ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld.
Spread the garlic mayo on both the top and bottom halves of lightly toasted buns. You can toast the buns in the oven, under a grill, or simply place the cut side down in a pan on the stove.
Now it’s time to assemble your burger. Start by placing a generous amount of lettuce on the bottom bun. Add tomato if you’re using it, then the crispy chicken, followed by the gherkins, and finally, top it off with the bun lid.
It’s eating time! Enjoy your burgers while they’re hot and crunchy! I’d love to hear your thoughts if you give this recipe a try. Hand on heart, this burger is truly superior to KFC’s offerings. I’m not one to shy away from confessing my love for indulgent food (I’ve been caught on midnight kebab runs multiple times!), but KFC burgers are one thing you’ll never catch me eating!!