I recently learned of something called a southern bird dog sandwich and thought the concept made a whole lot of sense.
What are bird dog sandwiches?
If you endeavor into highly scientific research on google, you’ll learn that a bird dog sandwich is a name for a crispy, fried chicken tender served in a hot dog bun. Smart, right?
To be more specific, a Southern Bird Dog Sandwich is a fried chicken tender topped with crunchy bacon pieces, honey mustard, and shredded cheddar cheese in a hot dog bun.
After a bit of digging, the history of bird dog sandwiches starts with a now-closed restaurant in Anderson, South Carolina called Daddy Rabbitt’s. Daddy Rabbitt’s is no more, but the above link claims that they had bird dog sandwiches on their menu 25 years ago. Since then, there are several other restaurants in the Anderson area that have taken up the mantle and are serving bird dog sandwiches. JC’s Sandwich Shoppe (google photos link), also in Anderson, SC, is one of those restaurants. One of Daddy Rabbitt’s kitchen staff ended up founding this location and kept the bird dog sandwich alive.
In 2016, JC’s Sandwich Shoppe was making 250 bird dog sandwiches every day.
Where else can you find bird dog sandwiches?
It turns out I’m not the only one who is excited about slipping a chicken tender into a
hot dog bun bird dog bun. Earlier this summer, a North American buffalo wing chain, called Buffalo Wild Wings recently debuted its own version, named: Bird Dawgs. BWW’s versions are not focused on using the traditional South Carolina bird dog sandwich ingredients, but they are similar enough for me to see that they were inspired by the idea in the naming process.
Buffalo Wild Wings also seems to have created its own brand for “Bird Dawgs” and launched it as a ghost restaurant on the food delivery service, DoorDash. If you have a BWW nearby, you should also be able to see a listing for what appears to be a restaurant brand called Bird Dawgs that will send you chicken tender sandwiches on
hot dog buns bird dog buns that were cooked at Buffalo Wild Wings.
We’re going make the southern bird dog sandwich, but first, we’re going to make a few other versions since I think this idea has a lot of legs or maybe even fingers. Some of these toppings you’ve seen before on this blog and some you might not have. But newsflash, they’re all pretty good.
The bird dog buns
First, we’ve gotta make some hot dog buns. Um excuse me, I meant to say bird dog buns. This is a recipe I shared earlier this year, and it works great at my house and in my oven. You can buy a
hot dog bun bird dog bun pan if you want, but I get good results by simply putting your shaped dough logs close together (like 1 inch apart) for the final rise.
Placing the shaped dough logs close together means that they will rise to push against each other, which will force them to rise higher and create a seam in between each bun. The seam between each bun will create a flat bottom for the bird dog bun and the flat seam on the other side will give you space for the bun slice, and it will also give another surface for pre-bird-dog searing for color and loosening of the bun.
I topped some of the buns with poppy seeds as we do here in Chicago because SPOILER there’s something Chicago-style down below.
hot dog bird dog bun recipe. This recipe is on the easy side of bread dough recipes that I have on this site, so it’s something a beginner or novice baker can tackle with confidence.
The chicken tenders
There are two different types of chicken tenders that I made for this blog post. One type is baked and crunchy from a potato chip crust and the other is a more traditional, fried chicken tender. Keep reading for more info on each style.
The baked crispy chicken tenders
I’ll be straight with you. These tenders are baked and crispy, but not especially healthy. They’re not healthy because they’re crusted in kettle-fried potato chips. But they’re good, they are super crunchy and flavorful. The cleanup for these tenders is much easier than cleaning up after deep frying, which is a big deal in my experience.
I’m a fan of these tenders and we make them regularly. They’re great on their own or inside a bird dog bun with condiments of your choosing.
Here’s my baked tender recipe. The key is good crunchy kettle chips, but you can experiment with other chips if you’re adventurous.
The buttermilk fried chicken tenders
Below is the recipe for my deep-fried versions of crispy chicken tenders. This recipe requires a bit more work in the clean-up and oil disposal process than the baked variety, but the crispy exterior is easier to achieve. These fried tenders have the inherent crunch that you have to use kettle chips to get in the baked tenders and this version looks more like the fried chicken that you expect to see in a sandwich.
The frying process is easy and quick, you don’t necessarily have to have a thermometer, but it really does help to control the oil temperature and check the doneness of your chicken. With thin chicken tenders, your meat will probably be cooked before the outside turns golden brown, so internal chicken temperature probably isn’t as much of a problem.
Here’s my recipe for buttermilk fried chicken tenders. Give the recipe a shot if you enjoy good things and like to make yourself happy.
Chicken parmesan bird dog
It seems a little complicated, but this was the first bird dog sandwich I made and the last bird dog sandwich I made for this blog post. I did a baked chicken tender test with panko breadcrumbs—which is what chicken parm usually is cooked with—but never went through with writing up the recipe. The second time I made these they were with the non-traditional baked tender recipe I shared above. Potato chips are not a traditional chicken parmesan coating, but they were tasty and crunchy.
In this case, I had some leftover marinara sauce (I don’t have a stand-alone recipe for the marinara sauce I use, but it’s in my meatball sub recipe) and I sliced a little fresh mozzarella on top and placed it under the broiler for just a second to soften the cheese.
Other than the bird dog bun and a crispy chicken tender, these are the ingredients you’ll need for this bird dog sandwich version.
- marinara sauce
- fresh mozzarella
- parmesean cheese
The Chicago-style bird dog sandwich
I wasn’t sure how well this would work, but it was pretty dang good. Basically, I just made a Chicago-style hot dog and replaced the wiener with a potato chip-crusted chicken tender. I wrote about Chicago-style hot dogs earlier in 2021 and you can go read that if you want or you can just buy the following ingredients and top a bird dog sandwich with them for a fun time.
- chopped onions
- tomato slices
- neon green pickle relish
- dill pickle spear
- sport peppers
- yellow mustard
- celery salt
Seattle-style bird dog sandwich
I swept up the ingredients for a Seattle-style hot dog and applied those to this Seattle-style bird dog sandwich. If you want to recreate this, you’ll need a bun, chicken tender, and the following toppings:
- pickled jalapenos
- cream cheese
- griddled onions
If you haven’t tried it yet and are skeptical, please believe me when I say that cream cheese is a top-tier hot dog AND bird dog sandwich ingredient. Try it.
Nashville hot bird dog sandwich
Once I started thinking about different flavorings and seasonings on fried chicken for this blog post, I immediately went to Nashville hot chicken. This is such an addictive sauce that even though my nose is running, and my mouth is on fire, I crave the next bite.
To make a Nashville hot bird dog sandwich you’re going to need a super spicy, cayenne-focused sauce, which is primarily fat or hot oil, cayenne pepper powder, brown sugar, and some salt. I’ve made Nashville hot pork chop sandwiches and Nashville hot fried fish sandwiches on the blog before. Go check those out for tips that might help you create your own Nashville hot bird dog sandwich.
Here’s a formula/recipe for some Nashville hot sauce to coat your tenders in:
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons hot oil (from chicken frying pan)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Put the above ingredients in a small pot and keep warm and stir until everything is fully incorporated.
Southern bird dog sandwich
This is inspired by the original version that is originally from Anderson, South Carolina.
Cheddar cheese, honey mustard, bacon pieces, plus a chicken tender on a
hot dog bun bird dog bun sounds like a good sandwich combination to me.
Cheddar cheese, honey mustard, and bacon topped crispy chicken tender inside of a bun? Yes, please!
Ingredients:Chicken and buttermilk marinade
- 4 to 8 strips of chicken breast meat or tenders (1 to 2 large chicken breasts)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce (optional for extra spice)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
- peanut oil for frying
- 4 hot dog buns
- 4 to 8 fried chicken tenders (1 or 2 per hot dog bun)
- cooked bacon strips, crumbled
- cheddar cheese, shredded
- honey mustard
Marinade chicken tenders: if you are using chicken breasts, slice the meat into thin strips.
Add salt, pepper cayenne pepper, and paprika to buttermilk (add hot sauce if you want extra spice). and whisk to combine. Put chicken strips in a zip-top bag or bowl with a lid. Pour buttermilk marinade over the chicken and store in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.
Fry chicken tenders: Make seasoned flour by combining flour with all the spices, salt, and pepper in a bowl or pan.
Remove one strip of chicken at a time from the marinade and dredge in the seasoned flour mixture until thoroughly coated on all sides. Place the fully coated chicken strip onto a piece of parchment or a sheet pan rack to rest.
Heat 2 inches of peanut oil in a skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Fry each strip of chicken for 6 to 7 minutes or until it reaches 165 degrees internal temperature. You'll probably want to fry for 3 minutes on the first side and then flip it to make sure you're getting the level of browning that you want. Continue cooking on the other side.
After frying, place the finished chicken tenders on a cooling rack over paper towels to drain some of the oil away.
Sandwich assembly: place one chicken tender (or two if they are small) inside each hot dog bun.
Top with some crumbled bacon, shredded cheddar cheese and honey mustard.
Serve and enjoy!
Make some tenders and turn them into bird dog sandwiches!
Check back next week when I tackle another one of those salad style sandwiches.