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Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich

This Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich is perfectly balanced with a moist and crispy fried chicken thigh drizzled with sweet and spicy hot honey sauce nestled between crunchy lettuce and pickles all on a soft toasted brioche bun.

Hot honey chicken sandwich on a plate with a bowl and towel in the background.

This is one seriously delicious sandwich. Well-seasoned chicken thighs are fried to a deep golden brown and then coated in a spicy red pepper flake and hot sauce-infused honey sauce. The soft and sweet brioche buns are buttered and toasted then topped with creamy mayo, cool iceberg lettuce, and crunchy dill pickles.

If you’re a fan of drive-thru fried chicken sandwiches, then you will love this homemade version.

Need some sides for your sandwich? Try these Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon or this Mexican Street Corn Salad. Not what you’re looking for? Check out my collection of side dishes to find just the right one!

Ingredients

Ingredients for hot honey chicken sandwiches.

Ingredient Notes

Chicken – boneless skinless chicken thighs are great for frying. They’re a great shape and size, don’t dry out easily, and have a ton of flavor.

Buttermilk – the acids in buttermilk helps to tenderize the chicken. It is also used as the binding agent when dredging the chicken in seasoned flour.

Flour – all-purpose flour will become the crispy outer part of the fried chicken.

Spices – add flavor to both the buttermilk marinade as well as to the flour breading.

Honey – I suggest using local honey when possible.

Red Pepper Flakes – add heat to the honey.

Hot Sauce – adds flavor and more heat to the hot honey sauce.

Brioche Buns – the sweetness of brioche buns goes well with the savory fried chicken and the hot honey sauce.

Oil (not pictured) – use an oil that has a high smoke point. Canola and peanut oil are good options.

Step By Step Instructions

Note: Full list of ingredients, their amounts, and instructions can be found in the recipe card below.

Step 1:

Mix together buttermilk, paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, cayenne, and black pepper until well combined.

Add the chicken, cover, and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Chicken thighs submerged in seasoned buttermilk marinade.

Step 2:

While the chicken is marinating, make the hot honey sauce.

Place the honey and pepper flakes in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat after small bubbles form around the edges. Mix in the hot sauce. Store at room temperature until ready to use.

Hot honey sauce in a bowl with a spoon next to a towel.

Step 3:

About 30 minutes before you want to start frying, place the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot like a Dutch oven. You want the oil to be about 3 inches deep.

Turn the heat to between medium and medium-high and heat the oil to 350 degrees F.

Step 4:

Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt, cayenne, and black pepper.

Seasoned flour in a bowl with a spoon.

Step 5:

Working one at a time, pull the chicken out of the buttermilk marinade but don’t shake off the excess buttermilk. Place the chicken thigh in the flour mixture to dredge.

Using your hands, firmly press the flour onto the chicken in a squeezing motion. There should be a thick layer of craggy bits. Place the breaded chicken thighs on a wire rack on a baking sheet to sit for about 20 minutes while the oil heats.

Buttermilk soaked chicken in a bowl with seasoned flour and then breaded uncooked on a wire rack.

Step 6:

Once the oil has come up to temperature, carefully place two breaded chicken thighs into the oil. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping once, until golden brown and cooked through to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Using tongs, remove them to a wire rack. Then, continue with the other two chicken thighs.

Golden brown fried chicken thigh on a wire rack.

Step 7:

While the chicken thighs are frying, butter the buns and place them on a baking sheet butter side up. Broil them on high for 2 to 3 minutes or until browned.

Buttered buns and then toasted to a golden brown.

Step 8:

Finally, assemble the hot honey chicken sandwiches.

Spread mayo on each half of the bun, add shredded iceberg lettuce to the bottom bun, top with a fried chicken thigh, drizzle with the hot honey, add pickles, and finally the top bun. Serve immediately.

Hot honey chicken sandwich with shredded lettuce and pickles on a plate.

Tips & Tricks

  • The marinade and flour are seasoned with the same spices. To save time, add the spices to the flour when preparing the marinade. Keep the seasoned flour in a closed container until you’re ready to use it.
  • Don’t let the honey boil. This can result in unpleasant texture and flavor changes. Once the honey becomes warm and develops small bubbles around the edges, remove it from the heat.
  • A thermometer is the best way to check the temperature of your oil and the internal temperature of the chicken.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Chili powder is a good substitution for cayenne if you don’t have it.
  • Other types of buns that would be great with this sandwich are King’s Hawaiian, challah, sourdough, or any type of bun you like!
  • Add the toppings you like. Pickles and lettuce add freshness and crunch, but tomatoes, onions, and cheese would all be great additions.

Storage & Reheating

Storage

Keep the fried chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Reheating

The best way to reheat the fried chicken is in an air fryer. Turn the heat to 375 degrees F and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until warmed through.

The next best way is on a wire rack in a 375-degree F oven for 5 to 7 minutes.

Note: I do not suggest microwaving as the breading will become soggy.

Hot honey chicken sandwich on a plate with a bowl and towel in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use chicken breast instead of thighs?

Sure! Cut the chicken breast in half and pound each one to about 1/2 inch in thickness before marinating.

How can I tell the oil is ready if I don’t have a thermometer?

If you don’t have a thermometer, drop a bit of flour into the oil. If it bubbles and sizzles rapidly then the oil is hot enough to fry the chicken.

Is this hot honey chicken sandwich very spicy?

This sandwich definitely has a good bit of heat but unless you have sensitivities to heat it’s not overwhelming for most people. The sauce will taste quite hot on its own but on the sandwich, it is much milder.

Should I strain out the red pepper flakes?

I found that straining the pepper flakes made the sauce too mild. If you plan on saving the sauce for a while, like several days, then you may want to strain them out but otherwise, I’d leave them in.

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Hot honey chicken sandwich on a plate with a bowl and a towel in the background.

Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich

Alicia
Crispy fried chicken thighs drizzled with hot honey sauce then nestled between crunchy lettuce and pickles on a toasted brioche bun.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 4 sandwiches

Equipment

Dutch Oven
Meat Thermometer

Ingredients
  

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 – 3 quarts oil canola, peanut, or vegetable

Marinade

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Breading

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Hot Honey

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce

Assembling The Sandwiches

  • 4 brioche buns
  • 4 tablespoons butter softened
  • mayo
  • iceberg lettuce shredded
  • sliced pickles

Instructions
 

Marinade the Chicken

  • Mix together the buttermilk, paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, cayenne, and black pepper.
  • Add the chicken to the marinade and completely submerge. Cover and keep in the fridge for 4 to 24 hours.

Make the Hot Honey Sauce

  • Mix the honey and red pepper flakes together in a saucepan and place it over medium-low heat. Heat until warmed through and small bubbles start to form around the edges. Remove from the heat.
  • Mix in the hot sauce. Transfer to a container with a lid and set aside until ready to use.

Bread and Fry the Chicken

  • About 30 minutes before you're ready to fry the chicken, pour the oil into a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. Turn the heat to between medium and medium-high and heat the oil to 350 degrees F.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, paprika, garlic powder, kosher salt, cayenne, and black pepper.
  • Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and set aside.
  • Working one at a time, remove the chicken thighs from the marinade but don't shake off the excess. Place the chicken in the flour mixture and firmly press the breading onto the chicken in a squeezing motion until thick craggy bits form.
  • Transfer the breaded chicken thighs to the wire rack. Allow them to sit for about 20 minutes while the oil heats.
  • When the oil is hot, drop two of the breaded chicken thighs in and fry for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping once, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove and place on a wire rack while you fry the other two chicken thighs.

Assemble the Sandwiches

  • Butter the buns and place them on a large baking sheet butter side up. Broil on high for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Spread mayo on the top and bottom bun. Place the shredded lettuce on the bottom bun, top with a fried chicken thigh, drizzle with hot honey, top with pickle slices, and finally add the top bun. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Be sure to check out the post to see helpful photos of each of the steps.
  • Store the fried chicken thighs in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Reheat in a 375-degree F air fryer or oven for about 5 to 7 minutes or until warmed through.

Nutrition

Serving: 1sandwichCalories: 1145kcalCarbohydrates: 113gProtein: 38gFat: 61gSaturated Fat: 23gPolyunsaturated Fat: 12gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 290mgSodium: 2631mgPotassium: 470mgFiber: 2gSugar: 37gVitamin A: 1788IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 116mgIron: 5mg
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