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Southern Chicken and Waffles

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These southern chicken and waffles is the perfect pair! Fried chicken tenders are extra crunchy and seasoned just right. Buttermilk waffles are simple and delicious and feature perfectly crispy golden edges. Serve it with spicy maple syrup or top it with fresh fruit.

Three plates of waffles with fried chicken and a small dish of maple syrup and hot sauce.

There are dozens of origin theories about chicken and waffles: from Germans to the Pennsylvania Dutch, from Harlem to the South. No one knows how or where this dish was invented! What we can guarantee, though, is that this recipe is delicious.

We soak chicken tenders in good ol’ buttermilk and hot sauce. For the dredge, we use a mixture of flour and cornstarch to get an extra crispy coating, along with a variety of seasonings for added flavor. The result is incredibly juicy and golden fried chicken!

These crispy tenders are paired with our best Buttermilk Waffles recipe, which has been tested and perfect dozens of times in our home kitchen.

Note: If you’d like to use chicken legs, chicken thighs, chicken breast, etc. or are looking for a fried chicken recipe without buttermilk, be sure to check out our Southern Fried Chicken recipe.

Ingredients

Chicken tenderloin: Also known as a chicken tender or chicken finger, the tenderloin is a strip of white meat that is attached to the underside of the breast. They are often packaged and sold separately at most major grocery stores. Alternatively, you can cut a whole chicken breast into strips.

Buttermilk: Soaking chicken in buttermilk helps to tenderize the meat, making for juicy tenders.

Hot sauce: Crystal Hot Sauce (recommended) is added to the buttermilk for flavor, not heat.

All-purpose flour: Traditional all-purpose flour is best.

Cornstarch: A necessity for extra crunchy and golden fried chicken! Some people even go as far as to use equal parts flour and cornstarch. It also absorbs less oil than using flour alone.

Kosher salt: We use Diamond Crystal fine kosher salt (in the red box) for all our recipes. We especially love this salt because it helps to enhance the flavor without making it salty. One teaspoon of kosher salt is equal to 1/2 teaspoon of table salt, so adjust accordingly if substituting.

Granulated garlic: This is a preferable substitute to fresh garlic and is less likely to clump than garlic powder. If using garlic powder, however, add a lesser amount because it is more concentrated and lends a more intense flavor.

Granulated onion: This is a preferable substitute to onion and is less likely to clump than onion powder. However, if using onion powder, add a lesser amount because it is more concentrated and lends a more intense flavor.

Chili powder: Added for flavor, this seasoning blend that typically consists of chile peppers, garlic, cumin, peppercorn, oregano, and salt. It’s mildly spicy.

Sazón: This savory seasoning blend is typically made with coriander, cumin, achiote (annatto), garlic powder, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Canola oil: Used for frying, canola oil is neutral in flavor and has a high smoke point. Peanut oil or vegetable shortening are also good choices for authentic southern fried chicken.

How to fry chicken

Three plates of cut waffles with fried chicken with a fork and a knife.

Step 1: Soak chicken in buttermilk and hot sauce

Combine buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl or ziplock bag. Place chicken in the bowl (or bag) and toss until chicken is completely coated. Cover (or seal) and let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours up to overnight.

This process is similar to brining in that it tenderizes the meat. Also, when it comes time to dredge the chicken tenders, the buttermilk allows the flour mixture to stick on much better. If you skip the marinating step, your chicken may come out dry or tough.

Step 2: Prepare the fryer

Once the chicken tenders have soaked in the buttermilk mixture for at least 3 hours, it’s time to set up your fryer. We recommend a deep fryer, Dutch oven, or deep cast iron skillet. If using a Dutch oven, fill with canola oil about 2 inches deep. Heat the oil to 340°F, using a deep-frying thermometer to verify the temperature.

Step 3: Dredge in flour and cornstarch

Put flour, cornstarch, salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, chili powder, and sazón in a large brown paper bag (the old school way) and toss to combine. If you don’t have a brown paper bag, use a medium-sized mixing bowl and make sure to whisk the flour mixture so that it’s well blended.

Set a wire rack on a sheet pan. Then, transfer chicken pieces, one at a time, from the bowl of buttermilk to the seasoned flour mixture. Be sure to let any excess buttermilk drip off before placing the chicken in the flour. Set the coated chicken pieces on the wire rack

Likewise, if using a bowl, press the chicken into the flour, then shake off any excess and set the coated chicken pieces on the wire rack. Make sure that the chicken is coated well!

Repeat with the rest of the tenders. Rest chicken on the rack until it starts to turn pasty, 3-5 minutes.

Step 4: Deep fry

Carefully add 2 or 3 tenders to the hot oil, 1 piece at a time, using tongs. One safe way to do this is by using tongs, placing only one piece at a time, and laying it away from you to keep the oil from splashing.

Fry chicken in batches and avoid overcrowding. Every few minutes, turn the tenders over so that they will cook evenly. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until chicken is golden brown and the internal temperature reaches at least 165°F. Note: If you are substituting with dark meat, cook for 12 to 14 minutes.

Use tongs or a large, slotted spoon to remove the tenders, and transfer them to a paper towel set over a plate. Alternatively, you can use a clean wire rack set over a baking sheet.

Repeat these steps until all the chicken tenders are fried. As you are frying chicken, you can set your cooked pieces in an oven heated to your lowest temperature setting so that they will stay warm while you make the waffles and until serving.

Buttermilk Waffles

A plate of cut waffles with fried chicken with a fork and a knife.

Waffles don’t need to be relegated just for breakfast. Serve them with fried chicken for lunch or dinner! Ours cook up crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

What you’ll need: All-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, buttermilk, vanilla extract, eggs, and unsalted butter.

Special Equipment: We recommend using a thin, non-Belgian waffle maker. Belgian waffles can be thick and heavy and in our opinion, do not pair well with southern fried chicken. A thin waffle maker like this Cuisinart (affiliate link) one will yield the perfect waffles.

Cook the chicken first and set your cooked pieces in an oven heated to your lowest temperature setting so that they will stay warm while you make the waffles.

Check out the full recipe for our Buttermilk Waffles.

Substitute for chicken tenders

This recipe uses tenders, which means even the pickiest eaters will love it. However, you can also use a whole cut-up chicken like we did with our Southern Fried Chicken recipe. Split it into breasts, drumsticks, wings, and thighs, or pick your favorite parts of the bird.

A plate of waffles with fried chicken, strawberries, blueberries, and maple syrup.

what to eat with chicken and waffles

The best accompaniments to southern chicken and waffles are syrup, butter, and fresh fruit.

We prepared a spicy maple syrup (directions in the recipe card) that consists of syrup and hot sauce. Marrekus likes to plate his with fresh berries, which adds some tartness and sweetness to the dish in contrast with the savory and heat. For brunch, pairing chicken and waffles with your favorite cocktail like a mimosa or bellini is also fun.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Tag @cookswithsoul on Instagram or Facebook so we can see what you came up with. We’d also love for you to leave a review and share this recipe with your friends and family!

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fried chicken and waffles

Southern Chicken and Waffles

  • Author: cooks with soul
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Soak/Brine: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: brunch, dinner
  • Method: deep frying
  • Cuisine: southern, soul food

Description

Southern chicken and waffles are the perfect pair! Our fried chicken tenders are extra crunchy and seasoned just right. Buttermilk waffles are simple and delicious and feature perfectly crispy golden edges. Serve it with spicy maple syrup or top it with fresh fruit. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon granulated onion
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 packet Sazón seasoning
  • Canola oil, for frying
  • Buttermilk Waffles recipe

Spicy Maple Syrup

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup, warmed
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (Crystal or Louisiana brand is preferred)


Instructions

  1. Prepare the Buttermilk Waffles (we recommend preparing the batter ahead of time and making the waffles in a waffle maker while frying chicken).
  2. Combine buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl or ziplock bag. Place chicken in the bowl and stir until chicken is completely coated. (If using a ziplock bag, seal bag, then set it in a large bowl to prevent possible spills).
  3. Cover bowl and let chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
  4. Put flour, cornstarch, salt, granulated garlic, granulated onion, chili powder, and sazón in a large brown paper bag and toss to combine. Alternatively, use a medium-sized bowl and whisk ingredients to combine. Set aside.
  5. Fill a Dutch oven with about 2 inches of oil and heat over medium heat to 340°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Alternatively, you can use an electric deep fryer.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to the lowest temperature and set a wire rack on a sheet pan.
  7. Remove chicken from the bowl of buttermilk brine and let excess buttermilk drip off. 
  8. Dip chicken tenders one at a time into the flour mixture, making sure that the chicken is coated well. 
  9. Shake off the excess and set tenders on the wire rack. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. 
  10. Rest battered chicken on the rack until it starts to turn pasty, 3-5 minutes.
  11. Carefully add 2 or 3 tenders to the hot oil, 1 piece at a time, using tongs. Fry in batches to prevent overcrowding and temperature drop.
  12. Fry chicken, turning every few minutes, until it’s golden brown and an instant-read thermometer reaches at least 165°F in the thickest part, about 8-10 minutes. If using dark meat, cooking will take about 12-14 minutes.
  13. When the chicken is done, transfer to a paper towel-covered plate or a clean wire rack set over a sheet pan to drain. Keep warm in the oven until all the batches are cooked and you’re ready to serve.
  14. Prepare Spicy Maple Syrup by combining maple syrup and hot sauce in a small ramekin and stirring to combine. 
  15. Serve chicken and waffles with Spicy Maple Syrup, butter, hot sauce, and fresh fruit, if desired. 

Keywords: southern chicken and waffles, fried chicken, chicken and waffles, waffles, buttermilk waffles, buttermilk fried chicken

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