The heavenly union of crispy fried chicken and tender Belgian waffles originated at Wells Supper Club, a popular 1930s jazz joint in Harlem, New York. From there chicken and waffles spread, taking center stage on sold-out brunch menus and appearing on dinner tables nightly, solidifying its spot as a soul food icon.
For the best chicken and waffles, you’ll need a Dutch oven or other large heavy-bottomed pot for frying and some patience: The chicken needs to marinate at least three hours (up to overnight for the best flavor) in a tangy blend of buttermilk, hot sauce, and fresh herbs. Adding cornstarch to the cayenne-pepper-spiked dredge creates the crispiest crust you’ll ever crunch through. No waffle maker? Here’s your excuse to finally order one—sorry, but you can’t make this comfort food classic without it. The waffle batter is lightly scented with vanilla extract and gets just enough sugar to provide the ideal counterpoint to the salty fried chicken.
While the combo is best enjoyed hot and fresh out of the kitchen, you can keep chicken and waffles warm in a 250°F oven until ready to serve. Drizzle with hot honey or maple butter (a 1:1 combination of maple syrup and melted butter—you’ll thank us later).
All products featured on Bon Appétit are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through the retail links below, we earn an affiliate commission.
cup Frank’s RedHot sauce
small bunch rosemary
small bunch sage
small bunch thyme
fresh bay leaves
lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs
cups all-purpose flour
Tbsp. plus ¾ tsp. baking powder
tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton Kosher salt
cups whole milk
cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
tsp. vanilla paste or extract
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. garlic powder
Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 2½ tsp. Morton kosher salt
Tbsp. freshly ground white pepper
Tbsp. smoked paprika
tsp. ground mustard
tsp. cayenne powder
cups all-purpose flour, plus more for baking sheet
Vegetable oil (for frying; about 9 cups)
Flaky sea salt
Pure maple syrup (for serving)
A deep-fry thermometer
Whisk 4 cups buttermilk and ¾ cup Frank’s RedHot sauce in a large bowl to combine. Add 1 small bunch rosemary, 1 small bunch sage, 1 small bunch thyme, 3 fresh bay leaves, and 2½ lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs. Cover and chill at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.
Whisk 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 Tbsp. plus ¾ tsp. baking powder, and 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton Kosher salt in a medium bowl to combine.
Separate yolks from 2 large eggs over a small bowl to catch egg whites. Place yolks in a large bowl. Set egg whites aside. Add 2 cups whole milk, ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled, ¼ cup sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract to bowl with egg yolks and whisk until smooth. Whisking constantly, gradually add dry ingredients; continue to whisk until incorporated. Lightly whisk reserved egg whites until foamy, then fold into batter with a rubber spatula.
Heat a waffle iron on medium-high; lightly coat with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Pour ½ cup batter onto iron and cook until waffles are golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter, coating iron with more nonstick spray as needed.
While you are cooking the waffles, mix 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. garlic powder, 1 Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. Diamond Crystal or 2½ tsp. Morton kosher salt, 1 Tbsp. freshly ground white pepper, 1 Tbsp. smoked paprika, 2 tsp. ground mustard, and 1 tsp. cayenne powder in a baking dish to combine. Add 2½ cups all-purpose flour and ¼ cup cornstarch and whisk until incorporated.
Working with 1 piece at a time, remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip back into the bowl. Transfer to baking dish with seasoned flour mixture and turn to coat thoroughly on both sides, gently pressing to adhere, then shake off excess. Place on a lightly floured parchment-lined baking sheet.
Pour vegetable oil into a large heavy pot fitted with thermometer to come 2″ up sides. Heat oil over medium-high until thermometer registers 325°. Carefully add 3 or 4 pieces of chicken to pot and cook, adjusting heat to keep oil between 310°–325°, until golden brown and crisp, 8–10 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to a wire rack set inside another rimmed baking sheet; season immediately with flaky sea salt. Repeat with remaining chicken.
Serve chicken on top of waffles, drizzled generously with pure maple syrup.
How would you rate Crispy, Crunchy Chicken and Waffles?