Copycat Popeye's Chicken Sandwich

popeye's chicken sandwich

The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney 

  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Marinate: 60 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Yields: 4 sandwiches

The Popeyes chicken sandwich became a viral sensation when it was launched in August 2019. Long lines (and even fights) ensued as people clamored to get a taste. This copycat sandwich doesn't disappoint (dare we say it’s even better?) and you don’t have to wait in a long line to enjoy a delicious version at home. The buttermilk-marinated chicken is so incredibly juicy and the spicy, crunchy coating makes this sandwich even more irresistible.

Thick, crunchy garlic dill pickles are a must and we created an easy spicy mayo that glues everything together in the best way. Brioche buns are the closest to the ones from Popeye’s. They’re slightly sweet and eggy and have a nice sheen on top. The Popeye’s chicken sandwich has a very large chicken breast as the main focus, so be on the lookout for chicken breasts on the thicker side.

Ingredients

  • For the Chicken:
  • 2 chicken boneless, skinless breasts
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • For the Breading:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 4 cups canola oil (for frying)
  • For the Spicy Mayo:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • For the assembly:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 brioche buns
  • 1/2 cup dill pickles (sliced)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients for the chicken marinade.

    ingredients for breaded chicken
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  2. Pound the chicken breasts with a mallet between two pieces of parchment paper until they are just under 1 inch in thickness. 

    chicken breast pounded with a mallet
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  3. Cut the chicken breasts in half to fit the size of the bun. Poke the chicken breasts with the sharp end a knife and make 4 to 5 punctures per side. 

    chicken breast cut in half
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  4. Add the buttermilk, hot sauce, and spices to a large bowl and whisk until completely combined. 

    buttermilk and spices whisked in a bowl
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  5. Add the chicken and cover with plastic wrap, place it in the fridge for at least one hour or up to overnight. 

    chicken breasts marinating in buttermilk and spices
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  6. Gather the breading ingredients.

    ingredients for chicken breading in small bowls
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney 
  7. Whisk together the breading ingredients in a shallow baking dish. Add a 1/4 cup of the marinade to the flour and whisk to combine. 

    flour and spices in a dish for breading
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  8. Remove a piece of chicken from the marinade and dip into the flour mixture. Dredge both sides to coat completely. Then dip back into the buttermilk mixture and then back into the flour mixture, pressing the flour to help it coat the chicken.

    Place the chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes. This helps the batter stick to the chicken, but if you don't have time, you can fry right away.

    chicken dredged in flour and spices
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  9. While it is refrigerating, add the oil to a cast-iron skillet or other heavy bottomed pan. Heat the oil to 350 F. 

  10. Add the chicken to the pan and fry 3 to 5 minutes per side. The outside should be crispy and golden brown and the internal temperature should be 165F. Remove from the oil and allow to drain on a cooling rack over a baking sheet or on a paper-towel lined plate. 

    breaded chicken frying in oil
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  11. While the chicken is cooking, gather the spicy mayo ingredients.

    ingredients for spicy mayonnaise in small bowls
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  12. Whisk together the ingredients for the mayo in a small bowl. Set aside. 

    spicy mayo whisked in a bowl
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  13. Gather the rest of the sandwich components.

    chicken sandwich buns and ingredients on a marble board
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  14. Add butter to a large skillet and heat on medium high heat Add the buns to the buttered pan and toast cut-side down until golden brown. 

    bun toasting in a pan
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney
  15. Spread a tablespoon of the mayo onto both sides of the buns. Add 3 or so pickles to the bottom of the bun, top with the chicken and then top bun and enjoy immediately! 

    mayonnaise and pickles on a toasted bun
    The Spruce Eats / Leah Maroney

Tip

  • If you don’t have access to buttermilk just add a tablespoon of white vinegar to whole milk and allow it to sit for a few minutes. This will make the milk curdle and become similar to buttermilk.