Chicken Champions

This Fried Chicken Is Extra Crispy and Crunchy, Thanks to One Extra Step

published Mar 19, 2020
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fried chicken pieces on a baking tray
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

Popeyes fried chicken is a cult favorite, loved for its crispy coating, juicy chicken, and spicy seasoning. Many people strongly believe that Popeyes chicken is superior to all other fast food fried chicken, so I knew I had to put it to the test against three other popular chicken recipes in our celebrity recipe showdown.

In addition to being one of the most popular, Popeyes fried chicken is also one of the easiest versions of fried chicken I’ve every made. It has a two-ingredient marinade that lends moisture and flavor to the chicken itself, and the coating is a simple egg-and-flour mixture that fries up into some of the most tender-crisp chicken I’ve ever had. Here’s why I think Popeyes fried chicken is the absolute best recipe to try at home, and what to expect if you do.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk; Design: The Kitchn

How to Make Popeyes Fried Chicken

Like most fried chicken recipes, Popeyes starts with a whole chicken cut into eight pieces. But instead of a complex spice blend or brine to season the chicken, you’ll simply cover it with hot sauce and buttermilk. After an overnight soak, you’ll drain the chicken and coat it.

This recipe calls for a mixture of egg, water, and hot sauce to adhere the flour mixture to the chicken. Good ol’ all-purpose flour gets seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne for the coating — and that’s it. Each piece of chicken gets dipped twice in both the egg mixture and the flour mixture for a thick layer of breading.

You’ll then deep fry the chicken in a Dutch oven in your favorite neutral oil heated to325°F. You can eat it directly from the cooling rack.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Honest Review of Popeyes Fried Chicken

My favorite fried chicken recipe of all time is the one published here on Kitchn, which I developed over 10 years ago when I was living in the South. It has a lot of smart steps, but still requires a fair amount of effort. I still believe it makes the absolute best fried chicken. But from this day forward, when I need a quick fried chicken fix, I will reach for this Copycat Popeyes fried chicken recipe.

This recipe is tastier than the other recipes I tried, and it’s so much easier, too. The buttermilk and hot sauce brine make for juicy, tangy, delightfully spiced chicken and the breading’s flavor supports the chicken rather than stealing the show. There are tons of crispy, crunchy bits in the breading that make the double coating well worth its (very minimal) extra effort.

Credit: Meghan Splawn

If You’re Making Popeyes Fried Chicken, a Few Tips

1. Use Louisiana Hot Sauce, if you can. Our “house” hot sauce is Crystal Louisiana Hot Sauce. We used up our current bottle to make this chicken — and I have zero regrets. Since Popeyes makes their own proprietary hot sauce blend, Crystal’s is likely the closest you can get to the restaurant’s flavors.

2. Do the double dip! Despite the likelihood that you will end up with battered finger tips from coating the chicken in eggs and flour, then eggs and flour again — this step truly makes the best coating of all four recipes that I tried.

Rating 10/10

Have you tried this Copycat Popeyes Fried Chicken recipe? Tell us what you think in the comments!