Southern-Style Chicken and Waffles
If you like buttermilk fried chicken tenders and savory crispy cornmeal waffles, then my Southern-Style Chicken and Waffles are for you! Don’t want to fry a whole chicken? This easy chicken and waffles recipe is the answer because it uses buttermilk brined, breaded and pan-fried chicken breasts. Make tender buttermilk waffles from scratch for the ultimate soul food pairing.
As per our Super Bowl tradition, we’re highlighting regional foods that represent the areas of the country where the two competing teams are from.
This year it’s the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. In honor of New England, we started with Authentic New England Clam Chowder. Today, it’s all about Southern comfort food – in the form of Southern-Style Chicken and Waffles. Oh-Ma-Gawd!!!
This is definitely a splurge dish and and not at all indicative of the way we usually eat, but sometimes you have to go all out, right?
Table of Contents
- 1 Fried chicken for chicken and waffles
- 2 How to make crispy Southern fried chicken strips
- 3 Advantage of boneless skinless chicken vs. whole chicken pieces
- 4 Frying chicken for chicken and waffles
- 5 Ingredients for cornmeal buttermilk waffles:
- 6 Best waffles for chicken and waffles
- 7 Reader comments about savory waffles:
- 8 FAQ’s
- 9 What goes with chicken and waffles?
- 10 More Southern recipes you might like:
- 11 Southern-Style Chicken and Waffles
Fried chicken for chicken and waffles
So, let’s get to it… I am not a big fan of frying chicken at home – too much effort when there are others who do it so well — and when I’ve got a craving, I normally gravitate to our local grocery store for their super crispy fried chicken, or I’ll visit the Colonel.
This fried chicken is different, though.
Instead of frying chicken legs, thighs, breasts and wings (which can take upwards of an hour or more behind a hot grease filled pot), I opt for boneless skinless chicken breasts.
To prevent the chicken breasts from getting dry when cooking, I pound them thin and soak them in a spicy buttermilk brine overnight.
The seasoned buttermilk brine flavors the chicken breasts and keeps them moist and tender when frying… The pounded strips also cook faster and easier, making this version much quicker and easier than other homemade chicken and waffle recipes on the web.
Ingredients for buttermilk brine
- Salt & Pepper
- Your Favorite Hot Sauce (We like Crystal’s)
Just mix up the ingredients in a zip top bag and mix well, then add the chicken breasts. Seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, slice the chicken into strips and assemble the dredge. You’ll love the convenience of the boneless, pounded strips, because they cook in a fraction of the time and they’re easier (and less messy) to eat with the waffles.
How to make crispy Southern fried chicken strips
I have two secrets for making ultra crispy, tender fried chicken for this Southern brunch recipe.
The first is using cornmeal in the flour dredge to ensure the fried chicken stays crunchy outside with a juicy, moist interior. Cornmeal is also a quintessential Southern food, so it definitely belongs in the recipe.
My second trick is to double dip them in buttermilk and the seasoned flour before frying them up.
So it goes like this: Buttermilk brined chicken strips > dip in seasoned flour > back into buttermilk > back into flour.
Then get ready to fry.
Advantage of boneless skinless chicken vs. whole chicken pieces
I can’t stress enough how much simpler it is to fry chicken breast strips vs. frying bone-in chicken pieces.
Whole bone-in chicken pieces usually need to be cooked in batches and can take upwards of 45 minutes per batch, depending on the size of your poultry pieces. Using boneless skinless chicken breasts and cutting them into strips, reduces the frying time dramatically. The whole thing can be done in 20-25 minutes.
Frying chicken for chicken and waffles
- Use a heavy skillet or dutch oven with sides that are at least 3″ deep to fry the chicken pieces.
- Add enough peanut or canola oil to measure at least 1″ deep in the skillet.
- Heat the oil to 350° to 375° then carefully place the coated chicken pieces in the hot oil.
- Fry the chicken for 6-8 minutes or until very crispy and golden. Flip the chicken pieces halfway through cooking using a pair of tongs.
- Transfer the fried chicken to a warm oven to hold while you assemble the buttermilk waffles.
The waffles for this dish are more on the savory side, with a buttermilk and cornmeal batter enhanced with shredded cheddar cheese, scallions and chives. I add a little maple syrup to soften the bite.
Ingredients for cornmeal buttermilk waffles:
- All Purpose Flour
- Yellow Cornmeal
- Baking Powder
- Baking Soda
- Maple Syrup
- Melted Butter
- Shredded Cheddar Cheese
How to make savory waffles for chicken and waffles
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
- In a smaller bowl, combine the buttermilk, eggs, maple syrup and melted butter. Whisk to blend.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
- Stir in the cheese, scallions and chives.
Best waffles for chicken and waffles
I don’t make Belgian waffles for this recipe. Not because they wouldn’t taste good, but, Belgian waffles have a few extra steps like beating egg whites to stiff peaks and folding into the batter — and I’m hungry NOW.
For these chicken and waffles, I use a standard buttermilk waffle recipe and jazz it up with some savory mix-ins. It’s quick and easy and these savory cheese waffles taste great with the crispy Southern fried chicken.
It only takes five to six minutes in the waffle iron to yield a crispy, tender crust. Sharp cheddar cheese melts into the batter and the green onions and chives really amp up the flavor quotient!
Some readers have been dubious about the savory nature of the waffles, but one bite and they quickly come around. Here’s what they have to say:
Reader comments about savory waffles:
“Since my daughter announced it was Waffle Day about 1/2 hour before I started dinner (and her father agreed waffles for dinner sounded good.), I needed to come up with a waffle recipe quick. This waffle is delish – savory and sweet, and the cornmeal is a must. I don’t think I’ll ever make a waffle without it again – adds texture and chew.” — Jennifer
“I made this for my family last night and they raved!! I was hesitant about the onion/cheese waffle but trusted the recipe and I’m glad I did!! My 11 year old , who for whatever reason, claims he doesn’t like chicken and waffles ate a giant waffle and 3 strips! Thank you for helping me impress my family!” — Debra
“My family loved this recipe! I’ve never heard my boys (ages 4 and 6) so quietly consumed by happy eating.” — Nicole
“I’ve made this several times. It always come out perfect. My husband loves it” — Melinda
“This was amazing. Adding a little bit of crystal hot sauce on top mixed with maple syrup was also a nice treat.” — Darrell
Look at the crispy golden crust on those fried chicken strips! They’re moist, tender and hearty. The waffles are crunchy and savory, but pour on a good maple syrup or some hot honey and you’ll get a whole new level of OMG goodness. This classic Southern recipe will put a big smile on your face!
The beauty of this dish is that it can be a decadent breakfast or brunch, lunch or dinner. There is no “right time” to enjoy this recipe.
Yes, though I would recommend using a flour blend that’s meant to be a cup for cup substitute of all purpose flour, and not just any type of nut or grain flour.
Yes. You can use any type of chicken, just be mindful that they may take longer to fry, especially if they are bone-in pieces.
You can make the 3 components (dry ingredients, wet ingredients, mix-ins)of the waffles in advance, but wait to mix them together until just before you want to cook them (the buttermilk will immediately react with the baking soda, so you want to wait until you’re ready to cook them). Otherwise, you can make the waffles completely and reheat them in the toaster or oven.
Yes, but they’ll never be as good as when they’re made fresh. If you do have leftovers, I recommend freezing the chicken separately from the waffles. Defrost and reheat on a wire rack set over a baking sheet in a 350° oven for 10 -12 minutes.
What goes with chicken and waffles?
Top this dish with good quality warm maple syrup or honey. For a bit of heat, add a few dashes of hot sauce or you can also try Mike’s Hot Honey.
If you’re serving this as a breakfast, try it with fried or scrambled eggs and fresh fruit salad. Don’t forget the Bloody Mary’s.
For lunch or dinner serve a green salad or roasted tomatoes.
More Southern recipes you might like:
- Southern Fry Bread (a.k.a Puffs)
- Southern Greens and Potlikker
- Old Fashioned Southern Baked Beans
- Brunswick Stew
- Southern Breakfast Stack
- Traditional Southern Coleslaw
- Southern Bourbon Caramel Sauce with Toasted Pecans
- Classic Southern Deviled Eggs
- Southern Pimento Cheese
- Carolina Pulled Pork
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Southern-Style Chicken and Waffles
- waffle iron
For the brine
- 2 chicken breasts boneless, skinless
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce – such as Crystal
For frying the chicken
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- ½ cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup buttermilk
- canola or peanut oil for frying
For the waffles
- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons double acting baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups buttermilk well shaken
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 4 tablespoons butter melted
- 1 cup cheddar cheese shredded
- 1 bunch scallions sliced, white and pale green parts only
- 1 tablespoons minced chives
- Maple syrup
- chives minced
- cheddar cheese shredded
For the brine
- Place a large piece of plastic wrap on the counter. Place one chicken breast at a time in the center of the plastic wrap and fold half the plastic over the top of the chicken. Use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound the chicken to an even 1/2″ thickness. Set aside.
- In a zip lock baggie, add the buttermilk and hot sauce, seal the bag and massage the ingredients together. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and add them to the brine. Seal the bag. Let the chicken marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
To fry the chicken
- Preheat the oven to 250°.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator half an hour before you start to fry. This is so that the chicken isn’t ice cold when you put it in the fryer — which would dramatically reduce the heat of the oil and cause the chicken to soak up the grease, instead of frying in it.
- Set up two shallow bowls for dredging. In one bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper. Add the buttermilk to the other bowl.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and slice the breasts into 1" wide strips.
- In a medium heavy bottom skillet or dutch oven, heat about 1″ canola or peanut oil over medium to medium high heat, until its between 350°-375°.
- Working in batches, dip chicken strips into the flour mixture, then the buttermilk, then back into the flour. Tap off excess flour and gently place chicken strips into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan — only cook 3-4 strips of chicken at a time. Fry for 6-8 minutes, turning occasionally with tongs until the chicken is crispy and a deep golden brown. Transfer cooked chicken to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Place the baking sheet in the oven to keep chicken warm.
For the waffles
- In a large bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
- In a smaller bowl add buttermilk, eggs, butter and maple syrup. Whisk thoroughly to combine. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just mixed. Stir in the cheddar cheese, sliced scallions and chives.
- To make the waffles, preheat the waffle iron. Lightly coat with vegetable spray if necessary. Scoop batter onto the center of the waffle iron. Close the lid and bake until browned and crisp, about 5-7 minutes. Place waffles on a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you continue cooking the rest of the batter.
- To serve: Stack 2-3 waffles on a plate toped by 2-3 strips of chicken, maple syrup, shredded cheese and chives.
Don’t Forget To “Pin It” For Later!
Amazing and super fun to make actually always looking for a spin on the standard chicken and waffle recipe and this is one my non waffle eating hubby could not stop chowing down on lol! Thanks!!
Wondering if anyone has been able to make the chicken with a gluten free substitute. GF flours are so particular to what you make, I’m not quite sure what to use in place of the standard flour. Making for my husband, he misses dishes like this and has reborn craving chicken and waffles.
You can use cornstarch in place of flour.
I’m planning to make these tomorrow, but I noted that for frying the chicken you indicate to use flour, and for the waffles it’s all purpose flour. Is this deliberately, or can I just use AP flour for both?
AP for both.
Hello, I know this post if from 2019 but I stumbled across your page and wanted to ask a question because I’m trying the recipe out for myself… The crispy skin on my chicken is falling apart and isn’t fully covering the chicken. Do I have to put more of the flour mixture onto the chicken?:(
Make sure that the chicken is patted dry with paper towels before dipping in the dredge. This should adhere the crust to the chicken. Also don’t fuss with the chicken while it’s frying and use tongs to gently turn the strips.
The chicken came out great. I substituted buttermilk with almond milk and lemon juice. I also used colby jack cheese instead of cheddar. I do think the waffles were not fluffy enough like they needed less corn and more wheat flour. Other than that they were great.
I made the batter ahead of time popped in fridge and also substituted the regular flour for GF AP Flour and it came out amazing! No one even knew it was GF :). I also tweaked the fried chicken recipe to make it all GF as well, and again perfect!
You Go Girl! So glad you enjoyed it!
Can you prep the waffle batter ahead of time and use when ready? Also I am making it all Gluten Free by substituting “flour” for AP GF Flour. Usually it works so hopefully with this recipe it will be same.
Yes, you should be able to make the batter ahead and refrigerate until you’re ready to make it.
Would substituting potato flour or cornstarch increase the crunch as an acceptable substitute? I recently had Korean style fried chicken and the crunch was addicting. Also, where can I get buttermilk like I remember from growing up on the farm, home-made super tangy and salty?
Sure, you can substitute cornstarch for the flour to make your chicken extra crispy — though it’s pretty darn crispy the way I’ve made it in this recipe. Unfortunately, I don’t know of a good source for that buttermilk you speak of — unless you happen to live near a dairy farm.
Will this chicken recipe work in an air fryer?
No – the chicken needs to be fried in oil.
This recipe was fantastic! We followed it exactly and our whole family loved it. Thank you!
My family loved this recipe! I’ve never heard my boys (ages 4 and 6) so quietly consumed by happy eating. Served with garlicky kale and the meal was perfection.
Hi Nicole! Thanks so much for letting me know! It’s a favorite in our house too! And any time I can get the kids to eat, it makes me happy!
What type of waffle iron are you using? I have been trying to find a traditional waffle iron like yours everywhere that makes these thin waffles but cannot find one anywhere!
This is a Presto combination waffle and pancake griddle… and I confess, it’s probably 25 years old.
I made this for my family last night and they raved!! I was hesitant about the onion/cheese waffle but trusted the recipe and I’m glad I did!! My 11 year old , who for whatever reason, claims he doesn’t like chicken and waffles ate a giant waffle and 3 strips! Thank you for helping me impress my family!
Also, your website is beautiful and I can’t wait to try more recipes!
Debra, you’ve made my day! Thank you for sharing and I’m so happy to know that I’ve got 11-year old fans!
Since my daughter announced it was Waffle Day about 1/2 hour before I started dinner (and her father agreed waffles for dinner sounded good.), I needed to come up with a waffle recipe quick. This waffle is delish – savory and sweet, and the cornmeal is a must. I don’t think I’ll ever make a waffle without it again – adds texture and chew. I had my own recipe for baked chicken tenders; all I needed was the waffle recipe. So glad I came across this one…while I didn’t have scallions or chives, I subbed a couple tablespoons diced sweet onion mixed with minced fresh parsley – it worked out very well. Can’t speak to the chicken part of this recipe, but the waffle was amazing! Happy to have leftovers for quick savory breakfasts during the week ahead. Thanks for sharing a tasty recipe.
So glad you enjoyed the waffles Jennifer. Your swaps sound like they worked well. Happy National Waffle Day!
Really excited to try this! Although cornmeal is not easily available where i’m from 🙁 is it alright to use flour for the entire recipe or should I use bread crumbs for it?
The cornmeal gives it that ultra crispy crust. Because this is skinless chicken, you’ll need something to give it additional texture, and flour would “taste” ok, I think, but it’s not going to be really crispy. If you were to use bread-crumbs, I’d try the Japanese-style, Panko breadcrumbs. But if you can wait a few days for an Amazon shipment of cornmeal, that’s what I’d recommend.