Y’all can have Roscoe’s or Hattie B’s chicken and waffles. Me and mine know the real deal is served in my kitchen. I took a little bit of everything from the chicken and waffles houses I’ve come to know and love and combined them in one amazing recipe. Now I share it with you, because you’re my homie. The combination of flavorfully crispy, yet juicy chicken and my sweet cream waffles (with a surprise) means this is going to be your next favorite dish. Serve it for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, it don’t matter. Just make sure you make enough.
Let’s get to it! And be sure to register for my first Zoom class where I’ll teach you how to make this recipe- links are at the end of the post!
Where did Chicken and Waffles originate?
Soul food or Pennsylvania Dutch? It all depends on the chicken the waffles are served with. A crisp piece of chicken is a soul food type of thing. Chicken in a creamy gravy is from the Northeast. Because I’m going with crispy, fried buttermilk chicken, this is going to be a soul food recipe. Chicken and waffles are the sweet and savory dish. Because it combines breakfast and dinner, it is a popular brunch offering. For me, I serve it mainly for dinner since I’m not frying nobody’s nothing for breakfast. An egg, maybe, but that’s even pushing it. If you’re an early bird, this may be your next breakfast recipe. For those of you who are late risers, brunch, lunch, or dinner. No matter what time you prepare it, this recipe will wow you.
Who has the best Chicken and Waffles?
Now, you may think LA has the best C&W, but I’m going to have to argue that Red Rooster in Harlem has the best chicken and waffles I’ve tasted. And, let’s be clear, I’ve tasted a LOT of chicken and waffles. Marcus Samuelsson has thrown down the gauntlet with his spiced version. But, I’m a HUGE fan of all things NYC.
The West Coast has Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, and everyone swears it’s the best in the nation, if not the world. But, I have a little secret: its founder, Herb Hudson, was from Harlem, too! Again! All great things come from NYC. However,I’m not a fan of Roscoe’s because of their waffles. They’re too thin. I’m a Belgian waffle kind of chick. I like my waffles like myself: thick.
In the South, Tennessee to be exact, Hattie B’s garners rave reviews. On our last road trip through Tennessee, we stopped for lunch at their Cooper St. location in Memphis. I mean, it was okay. The Nashville Hot Chicken was a bit too hot. Maybe it’s that we violated a cardinal rule because we ate it in Memphis? Who knows, but I wasn’t a fan.
All that said, mine is clearly the superior version to all others. No, I’m not the slightest bit biased. Okay, maybe a little biased, but this C&W version is pretty amazing. Taste it for yourself and you be the judge.
What do I need to make Chicken and Waffles?
You need chicken. That’s a given. But, one of the most important things you need to make an amazing C&W recipe is a good spice blend. One thing about me is that I’m not afraid to season my food. My top three complaints about food when I eat out are: it’s under-seasoned, it’s cold, or it’s the wrong order. In that order. Don’t go handing me a bland plate of nothing or I’m going to come for you. If there’s anything I want you to learn from this blog (if you haven’t already learned it) it’s this: spices are your friends.
The chicken is brined in buttermilk. That’s all there is to the marinade. Later, you are going to bread the chicken in seasoned (yes, even more) flour and cornstarch before frying.
We’ll touch on the other components of this recipe later.
What part of the chicken should I use?
I use chicken wings whenever I make chicken and waffles. Wings are more convenient to bread and fry. You don’t have to worry about adjusting the fry time, and they’re more “eating with hands” friendly than most other parts of the bird. Runner-up to wings are thighs. Dark meat chicken is moist and flavorful compared to the breast. I don’t like drumsticks because of that funky tendon that runs through it (I’m a bit of a diva,I know). If I’m honest, I don’t like the way they look on the waffles, either. Chicken breasts just make me roll my eyes. Why do it to myself? They take longer to fry than wings and they’re drier than thighs. Just, no.
So, wings or thighs.
What is the best seasoning for fried chicken?
The best seasoning for fried chicken is either my earlier recipe for Meat Spice Blend or this spice blend I created for this recipe. Both are great choices in my opinion. If you don’t have any meat spice blend already in the pantry, you need kosher salt, onion and garlic powders, black pepper, dried thyme, sage, cumin, ground coriander, paprika, and cayenne pepper (which is optional).
In a mixing bowl, combine all of the spices until they’re evenly mixed. Remove two tablespoons of the spice blend for seasoning the flour later. Sprinkle the rest of the spice blend over the chicken in an even layer on both sides.
How do I make buttermilk at home?
Because I don’t keep buttermilk at home on a regular basis, I want to share my DIY buttermilk hack with you. Take 2 cups of skim or 2% milk and stir in 2 tablespoons of white vinegar or lemon juice. Leave the milk for 15 minutes and you have buttermilk!
If you happen to have kefir in the fridge- first, okay? You go!- use that in place of the buttermilk. A cup of sour cream, stirred together with a cup of water, also mimics buttermilk well. Either one of those options will work, or you can go grab a pint of buttermilk.
How long should I marinate fried chicken?
The answer to this question depends on how much flavor and juiciness you want in your fried chicken. If you want a sad, slightly dry chicken, marinate it for an hour. However, if you want chicken so full of flavor it makes you slap your mama, marinate it for 24 hours.
The buttermilk-seasoning brine not only flavors the meat, it plumps it full of moisture while tenderizing it at the same time. As a result, the chicken if less likely to dry out during frying and becomes so tender with full-on flavor.
Since I’m a realist and know that chicken and waffle cravings don’t always afford us 24 hours, shoot for at least 6 hours. Begin to marinate the wings in the morning so you can fry them that evening. Marinate no longer than 24 hours, though, the acidity of the buttermilk will make the meat mushy if left too long.
How do I make Honey-Butter?
While the chicken is in the marinade, make the the Honey-Cinnamon Butter. The butter is an optional topping, but when is flavored butter ever a bad idea?
I discovered Bees Knees Salted Honey on a trip to my fishmonger, of all places. Not that I judge anyone who does, but I don’t think I’ve ever mixed honey with seafood. That said, I’m glad the word “Bushwick Kitchen” caught my eye. My mami was raised in Bushwick, NY, and I still have tons of family there. I, personally, never thought Bushwick would be the home of a honey company, but crazier things have happened.
Anyway, the salted honey made sense when I think of the flavors I want in a topping for chicken and waffles. Saltiness, mixed with creamy butter that’s whipped with sweet honey and flavored with cinnamon and a dash of vanilla? How can that be wrong?
If you can’t get your hands on a bottle of this salted honey, use salted butter instead of unsalted and plain honey. Vanilla extract can be used in place of the ground vanilla, as well.
How do I flavor butter?
Feel free to get wild with the flavors you use in your honey butter. I add cinnamon and Ground Vanilla because they taste amazing together when the butter melts over the chicken and onto the waffle. Spice up your honey butter by adding a dash of cayenne pepper. Add a lemon flair by blending in lemon zest. Use a variety of spices, though cinnamon is the top contender. Once you get the hang of the original recipe, use it to create your own blend.
Whip together the unsalted butter, salted honey, cinnamon,and vanilla in a mixing bowl using an electric hand mixer. Begin mixing on low. Once the cinnamon and vanilla are blended in, increase the speed to high and whip until the butter is light and fluffy.
How long does Honey-Butter keep?
You can store the Honey-Cinnamon Butter in the fridge as is for up to 2 weeks. Just cover the mixing bowl, or transfer the whipped butter to a storage container to free up the bowl. You can even freeze the butter for 2 months.
When you’re ready to serve it, let it warm up on the countertop for 30 minutes before scooping it. I prefer to top my C&W with warm butter so it doesn’t cool down my chicken or the waffles.
Instead of storing it in one mass, I use a portion scoop to separate the honey-cinnamon butter into serving portions and put them on a sheetpan to harden. It’s just easier to serve this way. This recipe makes enough to top this chicken and waffle recipe with double scoops. If you’re watching your calories- you probably shouldn’t be making this recipe at all (but that’s your business)- then you can use one scoop. Save the rest for toast or bagels or something else.
What do I bread my buttermilk fried chicken in?
After the chicken has marinated for a good amount of time, preheat vegetable or peanut oil or even lard, in a large cast iron dutch oven. Heat the oil to 350°F, but no hotter than 375°F over medium-high heat. This is the proper frying temperature for everything.
As soon as you set the oil on to heat, bread your wings. Combine the remaining spice rub with all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Remove the chicken wings, one at a time, from the buttermilk and place them in the seasoned flour. Don’t bother to strain them, just allow the excess the buttermilk to drip off into the bowl the chicken marinated in. The buttermilk gives the flour something to stick to.
Once the wings are completely coated in the seasoned flour, shake off any excess flour and lay them on the wire rack. Doing this gives the breading a chance to nestle into the surface of the chicken, which means it’s less likely to fall off during frying.
Allow the chicken to “dry out” on the wire rack for 10-15 minutes. I take this time to dispose of the remaining flour and carry dishes to the sink. I also make sure to grab what I’ll need to fry: tongs (2 sets if I have them), and somewhere to put the fried chicken after they’re cooked. As always, the use of a deep fat frying thermometer is highly encouraged whenever you’re frying.
How long do I cook fried chicken?
How long you fry your chicken depends on what pieces you’re frying. Wings only take 9 minutes to fry. Chicken everything else takes 12 minutes. Again, this is the reason I love to fry wings.
Slip the wings into the hot oil and allow them to fry for one minute. Flip them over after a minute. This allows the chicken to quickly form a crust on both sides; it also keeps one side from sticking to the bottom of the pot and scorching. Flip the chicken back over to the first side after 3 minutes and finish the frying.
Once the frying time has elapsed, use your tongs to remove the chicken from the oil and transfer them to a cooling rack over a sheetpan. The rack allows the excess oil to drain away from the chicken so you’re left with a crisp crust instead of a soggy one. Keep the chicken warm in a 170°F oven while you fry the rest of the pieces.
What do I need to make waffles?
I’ve been working in kitchens long enough to be able to make the chicken and waffles simultaneously. I tested this out on Hector and he is not as adept at it as I. If you think you can multi-task well enough, I recommend preparing the waffles as you fry the chicken so both are done around the same time. The chicken takes longer to fry than the waffles if you do them at the same time. However, if you don’t want to multi-task, I recommend frying the chicken first and keeping them warm in the oven. Meat retains heat longer than waffles do, so keeping the chicken warm is smarter.
The waffle batter is simple enough to make: flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, eggs (SEPARATED), melted butter and sweet cream. The method is something you may not have used before, though. Because I like light and fluffy waffles, I use whipped eggs to create a less dense batter. It might sound complicated, but it totally isn’t.
Are the batters for waffles and pancakes the same?
No matter what those boxed mixes lead you to believe waffle and pancake batters are not the same. Waffle batter contains more fat and less liquid than pancake batter does. Because of that added fat and lower liquid content, waffles bake up crisper and thicker than pancakes do.
As an aside, this recipe can easily be doubled if you want to make only the waffles for breakfast or brunch. As is, the recipe makes exactly 4 waffles.
How do I make waffles that are light and fluffy?
In my recipe, the folding in of whipped egg whites, and the multiple sifting of the dry ingredients, means our waffles are even lighter than waffles normally are. The type of flour you use in a waffle batter also determines how light and fluffy they are. Instead of all-purpose flour, which has a higher protein content (10% on average) and thus means it has more gluten; I’m using cake flour, which only has 9% protein content. The amount of protein in a flour determines how much gluten is formed during mixing. Gluten is what’s responsible for the chewiness we love in bagels, but it’s also what causes waffles to be dense and tough.
It’s important- I mean, if you want light and fluffy waffles- to sift the dry ingredients together 3 times. It aerates the flour and creates a lighter than normal waffle. The final way to ensure a lighter, fluffier waffle is to minimize your mixing of the final batter. Fold gently and just until the whipped whites are incorporated.
First things first, separate the egg yolks from the whites. Make sure the bowl that holds your whites is free of any fat. Fat inhibits the egg whites from whipping to their fullest potential.
Combine the melted butter, sweet cream, egg yolks,and half of the sugar in one mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, sift those dry ingredients all three times.
Can I flavor my waffles like I did my chicken?
Yes! Like the chicken, you want your waffles to have flavor. Not onion or garlic, no, but vanilla or almond would be great here. Add a teaspoon of your preferred flavor to the egg and butter mixture.
Before combining the butter mixture and flour, whip your egg whites to stiff peaks. Start the mixer on low speed, then gradually increase to high speed. Once the whites start to foam, sprinkle in the remaining sugar. Whip for 1 minute, then stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and the beaters. Continue whipping on high speed for another 2-3 minutes, or until the egg white stand straight out from the beaters when they’re lifted from the mixture in the bowl. The white should be glossy and wet.
Why are my waffles so tough?
Well, waffles grow tough because we tend to get a little too excited when mixing. We’re all, “I’m gonna get this batter smooth as a baby’s butt!!!” And we don’t need to. In fact, though I want a well-mixed batter, I’d prefer if you under-mix than over mix.
Add the milk-butter mixture to the flour mixture and fold just until no flour is visible.
Carefully, fold in the egg whites. Don’t over-whip or fold too aggressively, you want the egg whites to retain as much volume as possible. Fold just until you can no longer see streaks of white from the whipped eggs. The batter will be thick and appear spongy.
What kind of waffle iron is best?
I prefer a waffle iron that makes Belgian waffles. Those thin, flimsy, pitiful waffles are a waste of my time. If a waffle doesn’t have pockets to store my honey-cinnamon butter or syrup in ’em, I don’t want it!
That said, a double-sided Belgian waffle iron is what dreams are made of. I can knock out two waffles at the same dang time? Yes, my friend. That’s what I need.
Scoop about 3/4 a cup of batter onto your lightly greased waffle iron. Bake to your preferred doneness- I like a crispy waffle so I’m at the higher end of the dial. Once the waffle is done baking, remove it to a sheetpan and keep them warm in the oven while you make the rest.
How do I serve my Chicken and Waffles?
Once all of the components are whipped, fried, and griddled, it’s time to dig in.
Lay a waffle on your plates, top the waffle with two pieces of chicken, then balance the honey-cinnamon butter scoops on the hot chicken. Your mission is to have the butter melt down the chicken and onto the waffle. Do not fail this mission. But, if you do,I’ll still love you.
If the pressure is too much, put a scoop of butter on the waffle and one on the chicken. I am flexible.
Need more sweetness? Pour maple syrup on the chicken and waffles. Bushwick Kitchen also sells a spicy maple syrup. A sprinkle of powdered sugar would be bomb, too!
How do I store leftover Chicken and Waffles?
Store leftover waffles at room temp for 1 day. Bread grows stale in the fridge, so you don’t want to refrigerate them. To reheat waffles, break them in half and toast them for 30 seconds to a minute in the toaster on one of the lower settings. Alternatively, heat them through in a 250°F oven.
The chicken can be stored in the fridge for 3 days. Reheat the chicken in a 350°F oven until warmed through.
The butter is good for up to 2 weeks. Just keep it in the fridge in a sealed container.
Can I freeze Chicken and Waffles?
Absolutely! The waffles, chicken, and even the butter, can be frozen. Let them cool down completely, then transfer them to freezer storage bags. Freeze for 3 months.
Thaw in the fridge when you’re ready to eat and reheat as instructed above.
Teach me how to make this recipe!
Do you want to learn how to make this recipe virtually? Well, you’re in luck! My first Zoom classes will be held this coming weekend, August 22nd-23rd. The two-part class will cover everything you need to know to make this recipe successfully. Sorry! Registration is now closed! Please stay tuned for upcoming classes.
Tell me what you rank this Chicken and Waffles in the comments below. Save the recipe to your breakfast, brunch or dinner boards for easy locating later! Oh, be sure to share it with your C&W-loving friends, too!
Chicken and Waffles with Honey-Cinnamon Butter
- 5qt Dutch Oven
- waffle iron
Buttermilk Chicken Marinade
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dry sage
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika (use hot paprika for spicy chicken)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper optional
- 2 1/2 pounds chicken wings (8) or your preferred cut of chicken (see notes for cooking times)
- 2 cups buttermilk
To fry the Chicken
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- vegetable oil for frying
Honey-Cinnamon Butter (may be made 2 weeks ahead)
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature (use salted butter if you can't find salted honey)
- 3 tablespoons salted honey (or regular honey if using salted butter)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch ground vanilla or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
Sweet Cream Waffles
- 1 3/4 cups (230g) cake flour
- 1 tablespoon (12g) baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
- 3 large eggs whites separated from yolks
- 1 1/2 cups (375ml) heavy cream
- 1 stick (113g) unsalted butter melted
- 4 tablespoons (60g) granulated sugar divided
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract optional
- maple syrup
- powdered sugar
Marinate the Chicken
- In a small mixing bowl, combine the kosher salt, onion and garlic powders, sage, black pepper, cumin, paprika, thyme, ground coriander, and cayenne pepper (if using). Remove two tablespoons of the spice blend for seasoning the flour later. Sprinkle the remaining spice blend liberally over both sides of the chicken in an even layer.
- Put the seasoned chicken in a bowl or a gallon size food storage bag and pour the buttermilk over the chicken. Toss the chicken in the buttermilk a few times to coat it well. Place the bag (or covered bowl) into the fridge and allow the chicken to marinate for 6-24 hours (or overnight).
Prepare the Honey-Cinnamon Butter
- While the chicken is in the marinade, make the the Honey-Cinnamon Butter: add the unsalted butter, salted honey, cinnamon and vanilla to a mixing bowl.
- Using an electric hand mixer, begin mixing the ingredients together on low. Once the cinnamon and vanilla are blended in, increase the speed to high and whip until the butter is light and fluffy.
- Store the Honey-Cinnamon Butter, covered, in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Let it warm up on the countertop for 30 minutes before using it to top your chicken and waffles.You can also freeze the butter for 2 months.
Fry the Chicken
- In a 5qt Dutch oven, preheat your frying oil to 350°F, but no hotter than 375°F over medium-high heat.
- As soon as you begin heating the oil, bread your wings: combine the remaining spice rub with the all-purpose flour and cornstarch. Remove the chicken wings, one at a time, from the buttermilk and place them in the seasoned flour. Don't bother to strain them, just allow the excess the buttermilk to drip off back into the bowl the chicken was marinating in. The buttermilk gives the flour something to stick to.
- Once the wings are completely coated in the seasoned flour, shake off any excess flour and lay them a wire rack (placed over a large sheet of foil) to allow the breading to dry a little bit.
- Once the oil reaches temperature, carefully slip the wings into the pot and allow them to fry for one minute. Flip the chicken over after a minute. This allows the chicken to quickly form a crust on both sides; it also keeps one side from sticking to the bottom of the pot and scorching. Flip the chicken back over to the first side after 3 minutes and finish the frying.
- Once the frying time has elapsed, use tongs to remove the chicken from the oil and transfer them to a cooling rack that's been placed over a sheetpan. The rack allows the excess oil to drain away from the chicken so you're left with a crisp crust instead of a soggy one. Keep the chicken warm in a 170°F oven while you fry the rest of the pieces.
Make the Sweet Cream Waffles
- Into a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt three times. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, heavy cream, melted butter, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and the vanilla extract (if using).
- Before combining the butter mixture and flour together, whip the egg whites to stiff peaks. Starting with the mixer on low speed, beat the whites. Gradually increase to high speed. Once the whites start to foam, sprinkle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Whip for 1 minute, then stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and the beaters. Continue whipping on high speed for another 2-3 minutes, or until the egg white stand straight out from the beaters when they're lifted from the mixture in the bowl. The white should appear glossy.
- Add the milk-butter mixture to the flour mixture and fold just until no flour is visible.Carefully, fold the egg whites into the flour and butter batter. Don't over-whip or fold too aggressively, you want the egg whites to retain as much volume as possible. Fold just until you can no longer see streaks of white from the whipped eggs. The batter will be thick and appear spongy.
- Scoop about 3/4 a cup of batter onto your lightly greased waffle iron. Bake to your preferred doneness or according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once the waffle is done baking, remove it to a sheetpan and keep them warm in the oven while you cook the remaining batter.
Assemble and Serve the Chicken and Waffles
- To assemble the dish: place a waffle onto your plate. Top with two pieces of chicken. Scoop your preferred amount of honey-cinnamon butter onto the hot chicken allowing it to melt down to the waffle below. Pour maple syrup or sift powdered sugar onto your chicken and waffles if desired. Serve while hot.
wings- 9 minutes
breast, thighs, drumsticks- 12 minutes
How to Store Chicken and Waffles:Because bread goes stale fast in the fridge, don't refrigerate the waffles. Instead, store leftover waffles in a food storage container (or bag) at room temp for 1 day.
To reheat waffles, break them in half and toast them for 30 seconds to a minute in the toaster on one of the lower settings. Alternatively, leave them whole and heat them through in a 250°F oven. The chicken can be stored in the fridge for 3 days. Reheat the chicken in a 350°F oven until warmed through. The butter is good for up to 2 weeks. Just keep it in the fridge in a sealed container.