Ultimate Fried Chicken Sandwich with Basil Green Goddess Slaw

The ultimate, best-ever fried chicken sandwich; crisp, craggy crust, juicy, tender meat topped with a fresh Basil Green Goddess slaw.

Ultimate Fried Chicken Sandwich with Basil Green Goddess Slaw

Our version of the ultimate, best-ever fried chicken sandwich: crisp, craggy crust, juicy, tender meat topped with a fresh Basil Green Goddess slaw. It’s unbelievably good. 

As a writer, I die a little inside every time I use an exclamation mark (enough already, Internet. I get it, you’re excited). But if ever a sandwich deserved some un-ironic enthusiasm, it’s this one. It’s crispy! It’s spicy! It’s tender and juicy and slathered with basil mayo!

I know I sound completely, utterly ridiculous but I don’t care! It’s that good.

Okay, I’m done shouting (for now).

Ultimate Fried Chicken Sandwich with Basil Green Goddess Slaw
That slaw though…

A little background on how we came to make this beautiful specimen of edible glory … the last week has been very hot and very stormy. So what do two knifey nerds do when stuck in the house all weekend? If you said “watch the entire season of Stranger Things and make fried chicken sandwiches”, you’d be right! And oddly prescient.

But not just any fried chicken, no, no, no. Because, my little Nerdlettes, and I think you’ll agree with me here, if you’re going to make something decadent, it better be really, really good. It has to be worth the work (and the calories).

In order to ensure it would be amazing, I researched a few of my favorite sources (Bon Appetit, Serious Eats, Saveur) and combined a few elements, as well as adding my own Nerd with Knives spin.

I understand you might be thinking that this seems like a whole lot of hoopla for a fried chicken sandwich but often the simplest things are the hardest to get right. Sure, you could just fry up a bit of chicken and throw that sucker on a bun but you’ll likely wind up with tough, rubbery meat and greasy, tasteless breading. No thank you, sir.

In order to ensure fried chicken perfection, you have to engage in just a little bit of science. Don’t freak out, I’m not talking lab coats and molecular gastronomy, simply a few tricks that will keep the chicken moist and the crust crispy and full of flavor.

Seasoned Flour
A well-seasoned crust: flour, corn starch, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, mustard powder and salt.

Tip #1: Brine

Brining chicken (or any protein) adds moisture and flavor by hydrating the cells of muscle tissue. Often it’s done in a salt water solution (pickle juice is a popular fried chicken brine) but can also be done without any liquid at all. I decided to go with a dry brine. This keeps the chicken from exuding excess moisture when it cooks which can make the breading fall off. We use a combination of coarse kosher salt (don’t use table salt, it will taste too salty), brown sugar and a little baking soda.

The baking soda might seem odd but it’s the secret weapon in getting extra crispy, deep brown chicken skin because it breaks down skin proteins. In this case we’re using skinless chicken but it also helps dry the surface of the meat so the crust sticks better and forms tiny bubbles that add extra crunch.

Tip #2: Dredge

Adding some corn starch to the flour helps the crust stay extra crispy and light. Your mixture should be seasoned well, but not overwhelmingly so. We use a mix of spices but just a few heavy grinds of black pepper would do in a pinch. The most important trick when it comes to dredging is to drizzle some of the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and work it with your fingers to form little clumps that become craggy, crunchy little jewels when fried.

Tip #3: Fry 

You can either use a deep cast iron skillet or a dutch oven. If you use the skillet, make sure the oil comes up over the side of the chicken or the edges won’t brown (but don’t overfill it either). In a dutch oven, 3-4 inches of oil is fine. We like using peanut oil because it has a high smoking point and a clean taste. Temperature is key. You want to fry the chicken in 350ºF oil, so heat it to 365º so when you add the chicken, the temperature will be about right. Use a thermometer and adjust the heat as needed.

Ultimate Fried Chicken Sandwich with Basil Green Goddess Slaw
So crispy
Basil Green Goddess Dressing
Basil Green Goddess Dressing

Last but not least, we wanted to top our fried chicken sandwich off with something fresh and full of flavor. Our herb garden is bursting so we went with a crunchy slaw made with the most delicious dressing ever, Basil Green Goddess. It’s creamy and tart and goes perfectly with the spicy chicken. A few bread and butter pickles, some extra hot sauce and a good potato bun and you have yourself the Ultimate Fried Chicken Sandwich.

Ultimate Fried Chicken Sandwich with Basil Green Goddess Slaw
Ultimate Fried Chicken Sandwich with Basil Green Goddess Slaw
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Ultimate Fried Chicken Sandwich with Basil Green Goddess Slaw

The ultimate, best-ever fried chicken sandwich; crisp, craggy crust, juicy, tender meat topped with a fresh Basil Green Goddess slaw.
Prep Time2 hours
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6 sandwiches
Author: Emily Clifton - Nerds with Knives


Dry brine for chicken:

  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4-6 skinless boneless chicken thighs

Chicken coating:

  • 1 1/4 cups 150g all-purpose flour
  • cup 40g cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
  • 1 large egg beaten to blend
  • 1 cup 8 fl.oz. buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon optional
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce recommended: Frank’s; plus more for serving (optional)
  • Peanut or vegetable oil for frying; about 6 cups or 50 fl.oz.


  • Basil Green Goddess Slaw
  • 1/4 cup 2 fl. oz. Basil Green Goddess Dressing (plus more for buns)
  • 2 cups 200g green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups 200g red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • Hamburger buns recommended, Martin’s potato buns, lightly toasted
  • Bread-and-Butter Pickles for serving


Dry brine chicken:

  • Mix salt, sugar, and baking powder in a small bowl. Season chicken all over with mixture. Chill uncovered on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

Coat Chicken:

  • Whisk flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, mustard powder, cayenne, and 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt in a medium bowl. Whisk egg, buttermilk, bourbon (if using), and hot sauce in another medium bowl. Working with one piece at a time, dredge chicken in flour mixture, making sure to work into crevices. Shake to remove excess; return to rack. Drizzle 3-4 tablespoons buttermilk mixture into seasoned flour and work in with your fingers until small clumps form. Dip chicken into remaining buttermilk mixture, allow excess to drip off, then dredge in flour mixture. Using fingers, press some flour clumps onto chicken so they adhere. Gently shake off excess; return to rack. Chill at least 10 minutes and up to 12 hours.

Fry Chicken:

  • Pour enough oil into a large heavy pot to come a little less than halfway up sides. Heat over medium-high until thermometer registers 365°F / 185ºC. Working in batches, fry chicken, turning every so often and adjusting heat to maintain a temperature of 350ºF /175ºC, until deep golden brown, 5–7 minutes per batch. Transfer to a wire rack set over paper towels to drain.

Make Slaw and assemble sandwiches:

  • Add cabbage to a large bowl and toss with 3-4 tbsp. Basil Green Goddess Dressing until lightly coated. Taste for seasoning. Best if allowed to sit for at least 30 minutes.
  • Spread some basil green goddess dressing over cut sides of lightly toasted buns buns. Build sandwiches with pickles, fried chicken, slaw, and a few shakes of hot sauce, if desired.
Tried this recipe?Mention @NerdsWithKnives or tag #nerdswithknives!
Ultimate Fried Chicken Sandwich with Basil Green Goddess Slaw
Ultimate Fried Chicken Sandwich with Basil Green Goddess Slaw

8 thoughts on “Ultimate Fried Chicken Sandwich with Basil Green Goddess Slaw”

  1. That is a beautiful specimen of a fried chicken sandwich! (Exclamation mark totally deserved) I would totally make extra little bits of chicken to snack on and dip in that dressing. Because really, if you’re gonna blow your calories for the day, go all in right?

  2. Gorgeous! I’ve been staring at this photo on and off for about 2 weeks now since you posted it. I’m not a fan of people who make recipes and then post all the things they did differently, but we’re in the middle of a cross country move so our pantry is slimmed down and our kitchen equipment has been packed up for a while, so I decided to make this with roast chicken instead of fried. I used Thomas Keller’s roast chicken recipe to make the chicken, but followed the rest of yours to a tee. My only question was when you mention 1/2 cup basil, is that packed? or loose? Thanks for making this and taking fantastic photos. I’ll cook the real thing when we move in.

    • Hi Alexander,

      These flavors would be fantastic with roast chicken (especially a Keller version). In fact, I think I’ll try that next because fried chicken is a rare indulgence around here. It’s totally worth it, don’t get me wrong, we just don’t do it often.

      For the dressing, we used 1/2 cup pretty packed (I think it was about 24 or so medium-sized basil leaves). I like it pretty basil-ey but there is a lot of flavor in the dressing so don’t fret if you have less.

  3. Can I tell you apart from the recipe I am in love with the food styling and photo composition! Super stars from me.


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