Listen, this homemade Chicken and Waffles recipe has never looked better. Super crispy and perfectly spiced buttermilk fried chicken paired with fluffy and tender golden waffles! One of the most iconic and scrumptious Southern pairings!

chicken and waffles with berries on white plate with syrup on the side

Hey friends! I had the privilege of participating in a Juneteenth Cookout Takeover way back in 2020 with a group of Black, food-loving buddies. I love me some chicken and waffles and just had to come back to this recipe to spruce it up and give it a little makeover! That’s right, just in time for this year’s Juneteenth which is right around the corner. Ain’t nothing like chicken and waffles!

Juneteenth, Juneteenth, Juneteenth! ✊🏾

What is Juneteenth?! This now federal holiday is a merge of the words/date: June Nineteenth. It’s a lovely day for Black people to be in remembrance by way of celebrating, being in fellowship, and giving thanks to our ancestors.

If you are unfamiliar with Juneteenth; it is the oldest known celebration honoring the end of slavery in the United States. Furthermore, June 19, 1865, marks the day when news of emancipation and the Civil War’s end finally reached the last group of enslaved people in America. General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and announced enslaved people were now free.

This news took over many years to reach them, too. Since then, Juneteenth has been celebrated across the world as it centers *Black* freedom and liberation in its totality. This recipe honors African American culinary history.

⇢ More culture-inspired recipes: collard greens, this sweet potato pound cake or maybe sweet potato pie, my fave potato salad, comforting red beans and rice, delectable shrimp and grits, and these creamy black eyed peas– so good!

chicken and waffles with berries on top of white plate with utensils on the side

The Significance Of Juneteenth

And for over 150 years since, Black American families, home-cooks, chefs, and culinarians have commemorated the summer holiday with a wide range of food traditions that tell a story of the perseverance of a people- and to amplify the food traditions of black culinary creatives. There is a list below (with clickable links) to check out all the participants’ delicious recipes honoring Juneteenth.

Most importantly, Juneteenth is such a special holiday to me. If you’ve been following this blog and me on social for a while now; you already know just how much my Blackness means to me. Preserving the richness of Black history is typically at the forefront of my work. With everything going on in this country surrounding racism; this post honoring Juneteenth is heartfelt ♡.

History Of Chicken And Waffles

One of the best Southernmost, classic pairings in the world, hands down, is fried chicken and waffles. This sweet and savory combo is a huge favorite among so many and for very good reason. Research shows us that chicken and waffles was born out of the Harlem Renaissance as early as the 1930s, gaining popularity from Harlem restauranteur Joseph T. Wells.

Similarly, Wells’ famous restaurant, Wells Supper Club, often was the busiest in the wee hours of the morning; hence the evening/morning combination that Wells became known for serving. All in all, it’s no surprise that this scrumptious combo is so popular! There’s no time of the day needed to enjoy it.

fried chicken tenders on small baking sheet with syrup on the side

What Makes For The Best Chicken and Waffles?

Okay now, let’s talk about how to make the best chicken and waffles!

  • Ingredients: It all starts with great spices and flavor-forward ingredients for maximum deliciousness, y’all. For the fried chicken, I’m using things like garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and white pepper, to name a few. And in my waffles, you’ll find flour, cornmeal, and buttermilk.
  • Process: Is the chicken brined in buttermilk and spices or nah? Listen, the very best fried chicken most definitely includes a good buttermilk brine…please don’t let anyone tell you different! Thus, the overall process to make a bangin’ plate of chicken and waffles truly does matter!

What Kind Of Chicken Parts To Use?

This recipe calls for chicken tenderloins, specifically, and has been tested as such. It also goes for ingredient quantities and cooking time. While you absolutely can make chicken and waffles using other chicken parts (bone-in pieces: breasts, thighs, legs, etc.)- please be advised that doing so is at your own discretion/experimentation.

⇢ To me, boneless fried chicken works so well for chicken and waffles.

Homemade Buttermilk Waffles or Bust!

I know you love them Eggo’s, I do as well, ha. But friends, once you make homemade waffles, no store-bought waffles compare. I’ve already made a homemade buttermilk waffles recipe that’ll serve you good! These are my holy grail, homemade waffles that I swear by, they’re crisp yet fluffy with ample flavor from the buttermilk and cornmeal, chef’s kiss.

These babies are literally just waiting to be topped with cronchyyy fried chicken and generously soaked in all the maple syrup! Truly the best! 🙌🏾

black hand pouring syrup over plate of chicken and waffles

How To Make Fried Chicken At Home

(Note: please see the recipe card directly below for the complete written instructions.)

  1. Buttermilk soak. Letting the chicken marinate and sit in a seasoned buttermilk bath creates flavorful + moist chicken. My buttermilk brine includes buttermilk, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, smoked paprika, and a few squirts of hot sauce.
  2. Seasoned flour dredge. After sitting in the buttermilk brine, the chicken will get sopped up and coated in the seasoned flour. This is the big factor that gives fried chicken that signature, crunchy crunch coating on the outside. The flour is also seasoned so that flavor is ensured at every stage prior to the chicken going into the fryer. Seasoning is life, mmmkay!
  3. Fry it up! We’re nearly finished. I like to use a deep fry thermometer to ensure that my oil is precisely on point. It’s one of my trusty kitchen items that I highly recommend having in your arsenal. However, you can use the old school method of inserting the end of a wooden spoon into the center of the oil. If there are little bubbles around it, then the oil is hot and ready. Otherwise, let it continue to heat up.
  4. Serve it up! Go on and plate up that chicken and waffles. Enjoy!

Helpful Equipment For Frying Chicken

  • Deep fry thermometer: A handy tool to monitor precise temperatures.
  • Dutch oven: These enameled cast-iron pots are perfect for conducting and evenly distributing heat. They are the most used types of vessels in the BBR kitchen and what I consider to be my coveted pieces of cookware!
  • Kitchen spider: This tool allows for getting things easily out of the hot pot.
  • Shallow pie plate: My fave for flour dredging- a bowl/deep plate works, too!
close up of chicken and waffles with berries on a plate

Ingredient Substitutions, Tips + Tricks, & FAQs

As with many recipes, you may have additional questions regarding things to do (or change) for this chicken and waffles recipe. Like other BBR recipes, I always recommend sticking to the recipe as it is written in the recipe card, below. However, here’s some extra tidbits in case you need ’em:

  • Can I make these using an air fryer? Because these chicken tenders are dredged in flour, no. I have not tested this method, but it may be possible to forego the flour and coat the tenders in plain panko breadcrumbs instead, and then air fry that way. I recommend baking in the air fryer at 400°F for around 4-5 minutes on each side. To be precise, check for chicken doneness using an internal thermometer that should read at least 165°F.
  • Buttermilk soak, how long? If pressed for time, the shortest amount of time advised is at least 3 hours. However, for best results, I recommend keeping the chicken in the buttermilk brine overnight. This gives the chicken plenty of time to sit and for the connective tissues in the chicken to break down and tenderize. Tons of flavor builds up the longer the chicken marinates (but be mindful, no more than overnight, 8-10 hours).
  • Can I use gluten-free flour? Yes, absolutely! To keep things gf-friendly, use your fave gf flour in place of all-purpose flour as a 1:1 ratio.
  • Let it rest, woosah. After frying, let them rest on a wire rack. This allows for any excess oil to drip off and for the juices within the chicken to settle.
  • How much oil do I need? Just enough for the oil to come halfway up the pot, enough for the chicken to float. Splattering may occur with too much oil.
  • How do I get rid of oil? After frying, let the oil cool all the way back down to room temperature. Afterwards, use a funnel to strain the oil back into the same container it came from. Then discard like normal. Boom.

Waffle Best Practices 🧇

  • How to keep waffles warm: Make the waffles in advance so that they’re ready. Lay the waffles in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Then place them in the oven (right around 200°F) until ready to serve.
  • Don’t stack waffles! Stacking them right after they’ve cooked will yield soggy waffles. I’d hate that for you. Instead, as you cook, place each waffle in a single layer on a wire rack to allow the steam to breathe/ventilate.
  • Serving: Lots of softened butter and plenty of syrup, amen.
chicken and waffles with berries on white plate with syrup on the side

Y’all gotta make this Chicken and Waffles recipe. Breakfast, brunch, or just because- you’re in for a treat! Be sure to tag @butterbeready in your BBR recipe creations, I sure love to see it when you do. Until next time! 🤟🏾

*This post was originally published on 6/15/2020 and updated as of 6/1/2022.

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chicken and waffles with berries on white plate with syrup on the side

Chicken and Waffles Recipe (The Best!)

  • Author: Quin Liburd
  • Prep Time: 30m
  • Cook Time: 30m
  • Total Time: 1hr
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Breakfast, Brunch
  • Method: Deep Frying
  • Cuisine: Southern

Description

Listen, this homemade Chicken and Waffles recipe has never looked better. Super crispy and perfectly spiced buttermilk fried chicken paired with fluffy and tender golden waffles! One of the most iconic and scrumptious Southern pairings!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb chicken tenderloins (about 67 pieces)
  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground white pepper (or black pepper), divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika, divided
  • hot sauce, optional
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • Buttermilk Waffles, click link for full waffles recipe
  • pure maple syrup & softened butter, for serving

Instructions

For the buttermilk waffles:

  1. Prepare the buttermilk waffles as directed in that recipe. Then reheat the waffles, as needed, so that they’re ready to serve once the fried chicken is done.

For the fried chicken:

  1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Then place the tenders in a large resealable plastic bag or a large container that can be fitted with a lid. Cover the tenders with buttermilk, 1 teaspoon each of salt, garlic powder, onion powder, white pepper, and smoked paprika. If you’d like, add a few squirts of hot sauce in as well.
  2. Use your hands (fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to massage everything together, making sure all chicken is fully coated in the buttermilk brine, and then seal/cover. Transfer into the refrigerator to marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight for the best results.
  3. In a shallow pie plate, combine flour with the remaining 1 teaspoon each salt and garlic powder, followed by 1/2 teaspoon each onion powder, white pepper, and smoked paprika. Whisk the mixture together to thoroughly combine- then set the seasoned flour aside.
  4. In a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. For optimal precision, use a deep fry thermometer to heat the oil up to 350°F.
  5. Back to the chicken, set a baking sheet aside. Take a piece of chicken from the buttermilk brine, shaking off any excess, and dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour mixture. Be sure to generously coat the chicken, filling in all un-floured gaps and crevices. Shake off any excess and set the dredged chicken onto the baking sheet. Repeat this process until all chicken tenders are fully coated.
  6. While the oil is heating, allow the chicken to rest on the baking sheet.
  7. Once the temperature is reached, carefully place the chicken into the hot oil. Note: I like to add about 4-5 chicken tenders in at a time to avoid overcrowding. Fry the chicken until golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165°F. Then place the fried chicken onto a clean baking sheet fitted with a wire rack (or lined with paper towel).
  8. Repeat the process until all chicken tenders have been fried. Make sure the oil is back up to 350°F in between each batch of frying chicken. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes.
  9. Place the warm waffles on plates and top with the fried chicken. This recipe is best served immediately with softened butter, warm maple syrup, and fresh fruit- if desired. Enjoy!

Notes

  1. Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.

Keywords: chicken and waffles, fried chicken, southern food, homemade waffles, how to make chicken and waffles

2020 Juneteenth Cookout Takeover

Click here to see a full + complete list of participants!