Cheesy fiery chicken-y sandwich

Recipe: πŸ§€ + πŸ”₯ + πŸ— + 🍞


Buldak is a Korean phrase that’s interpreted to mean: fire chicken (bul = fire, dak = chicken). Buldak is a heavily sauced chicken dish including course gochugaru (Korean chili flakes) and gochujang paste (Korean chili paste) in the recipe to bring the heat and spice.

Cheese buldak action shot!

In researching buldak for this post, I found a 2015 article from CNN Travel claims that for some South Koreans, eating spicy food is a stress reliever. After the year we’ve all had, I believe we can use some stress relief so I think we should make and eat more buldak.

This week we’re making cheesy buldak sandwiches inspired by a recipe from Maangchi. If you don’t know Maangchi, she’s a YouTube personality that cooks primarily Korean based food. She’s super wholesome and fun to watch. Here’s her video for Spicy fire chicken with cheese (Cheese Buldak: μΉ˜μ¦ˆλΆˆλ‹­) – she’s great, go watch it and try her recipe.

Maangchi’s buldak recipe is super spicy, but still very flavorful. It is a bit sweet and savory all at the same time and it leaves you with a pleasant lingering spicy heat that will keep each bite interesting. My wife and I both get excited when we make the decision to cook this dish again.

I altered the recipe to be whole boneless skinless chicken thighs which I prefer in a sandwich, but you can use chicken tenderloins or thin sliced/butterflied chicken breast if you’d like. The rest of the recipe is similar to Maangchi’s but I change the proportions and instructions to better fit sandwich making.

I like the idea of a larger, whole piece of chicken in my sandwich, but if you want to make a batch of cheese buldak with the chicken chopped up into bite sized pieces and put some leftovers in in a bun for sandwiching later, that’s a fantastic idea too.

There’s hot chicken and love beneath that beautiful layer of cheesy goodness. This is Maangchi’s recipe, click the links above for that.

As you’ll see in the photos below, I’ve made a ton of cheesy buldak sandwiches over the past year. I like it because you can whip up the sauce and cook the chicken within just a few minutes and then broil the cheese to melt and sandwich time comes super-fast after that.

The buns

I wanted a soft bun for these sandwiches, so I fell back on my potato bun recipe that I’ve been baking and tweaking for the past year or so. I whipped up a batch and sesame seeded most of the buns. I’ve explained this before, but if you want to add sesame seeds to a bun, you simply need to apply an egg wash (one whole beaten egg mixed with a tablespoon or so of water) and then sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds right before adding the buns to the oven.

2 hours and 45 minutes
Super soft potato buns

Need six super soft perfectly sized burger buns? The kind of bun that is slightly smaller than your burger patty so that you get a solid burger to bun ratio? Try this recipe.

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Do you prefer naked buns or sesame seed dressed buns?

The special ingredients

There are three special ingredients in this recipe that you might not be able to get at your local grocery. One ingredient isn’t quite as special as the others, but I still wanted to speak about it a tiny bit here.


First you add your chicken to this very spicy paste. Course gochugaru and gochujang paste are key ingredients for success.

Gochugaru

AKA: red pepper flakes or powder

I believe that the gochugaru is the least likely ingredient that you might find at your grocery store. I get mine at our local Korean market, but it’s easily available on Amazon (link below).

Make sure you buy the COURSE grind. I bought the fine grind the first time we made cheese buldak and it does make a big difference.

Gochugaru is the magic ingredient that you can use to adjust the heat in this recipe. Add more for more heat and less for less heat.

Buy Gochugaru (Amazon affiliate link)

Gochujang comes in tubs like the one here and squeeze tubes. We use it frequently, so we buy the tub.

Gochujang

There are many brands of gochujang, the one pictured is the one available at our local grocery and we enjoy it, but we have tried a few others. Gochujang is a great addition to marinades, stir frys and even things like mayonnaise for an extra flavor kick.

In our house we add gochujang to a few of our steak marinades and it has become something we just add a small or large spoonful to a lot of sauces and even soups if we want to add depth of flavor or spice.

Buy Gochujang (Amazon affiliate link)

If you’re making the main Cheesy Buldak dish, dice up a lot of low moisture mozzarella into half inch cubes. If you’re making Buldak sandwiches, you will want slices of cheese not cubes.

Low moisture mozzarella

Blocks of low moisture mozzarella should be at most large grocery store chains, but just remember, we’re not talking about the balls of fresh mozzarella here.

In a pinch you can use the shredded stuff for pizza, but I don’t really like pre-shredded cheese when you’re hoping for a good melt. Pre-shredded mozzarella has starches tossed in with the cheese to keep it from clumping.

If you can find a block of low moisture mozzarella, buy that.

Reheating leftovers

This recipe is quick to whip up once you have all your ingredients together. You could get it on some buns in half an hour or so. If you don’t eat all your sandwiches the first meal, you can easily reheat these for future sandwiches.

For reheating, I place a piece of chicken with a little scoop of sauce on a foil lined sheet pan and I bake it for about 7 or 8 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 C). After 7 or 8 minutes I remove the sheet pan, flip the chicken pieces (add more sauce if you have some) and cover it with cheese and return it to the oven. You can cook it another 3 minutes to melt the cheese or if you like your cheese to brown you could set it under the broiler for a minute or two.

In my experience with chicken thighs, the leftover sandwich is just as tasty as the first day.

Cheese buldak sandwiches

Here’s the recipe to try:

Cheese buldak sandwiches view printable page for this recipe

This is a spicy sandwich. The cheese and bun both help to cool things off a little, but you can adjust the heat by changing the amount of Gochugaru chili flakes. Inspired by Maangchi's Cheese Buldak recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast pieces
  • 14 cup gochugaru (course pepper flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 14 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup (or honey)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 14 cup water
  • 12 lb low moisture mozzarella cheese cut into slices
  • sliced green onion (garnish)
  • 6 soft hamburger buns or rolls

Directions:

In a medium bowl add gochugaru, gochujang, soy sauce, canola oil, black pepper, corn syrup, garlic and ginger. Stir well to combine. 

Add your six chicken thighs and mix everything up very well. You want all the chicken coated in the marinade. 

Place a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon of canola oil. Swirl the pan around to coat the bottom of the pan with oil as much as possible. 

When pan is hot, use tongs or a fork to place each chicken thigh in the hot pan. If your pan isn't large enough to cook all six thighs, you can cook in batches. 

DO NOT get rid of the bowl that has any leftover marinade in it. We will be using that to make our sauce

Cook each chicken thigh 3 minutes on the first side, flip and then cook 3 more minutes on the second side. Remove all chicken to a plate. 

Once all the chicken is done, add a quarter cup of water to the bowl where you marinaded your chicken. Mix the water around to loosen the marinade from the bowl. This will allow you to get it all into the pan. 

Pour all the leftover marinade with the water back into the pan where you cooked the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium. 

Add all of your chicken to the pan with the cooking marinade and nestle everything in together. 

Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. 

Remove pan from heat. 

Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil and add your pieces of chicken. If you're using large pieces make sure they're separated from the other pieces, if you're using small bite sized pieces make sure you place them in sandwich sized piles. If you're only making one or two sandwiches you can just add one or two pieces or chicken piles and use the rest for leftover sandwiches. 

On top of each piece of chicken add slices of mozzarella. Place sheet pan under the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes. Pay very close attention though, everyone's broiler is different and things can burn very quickly. 

Once the cheese is broiled and melted to your satisfaction, remove the sheet pan. Allow the chicken to cool for a minute or so and then add each piece to a bottom bun. Add a little extra sauce if you want and garnish with the sliced green onion. 

Top with the bun top, serve and enjoy. 

Some cheese buldak sandwiches to stare at

Here are four more examples of cheesy fire chicken sandwiches I’ve made over the past year or so.

Glorious spicy, melty goodness
Boneless chicken thigh cheesy buldak on a toasted sesame seeded bun.
A batch of chicken thighs or chicken breast pieces can be cooked in buldak over the weekend and reheated to create quick sandwiches during the week. I do this often.
If you like spice and cheese, I have the sandwich for you.

Try Maangchi’s recipe. Buy gochujang and gochugaru and keep them in the fridge for longer shelf life and you can make this recipe very quickly whenever you crave it. And believe me, you’ll start to crave this dish and sandwich.

Check back next week when you can Sea more of my Food!


One-pan fried* crispy chicken biscuit

*baked in an oven


Let’s get a few things straight. Fried food is awesome. Fried chicken is crispy and adds great texture to a sandwich. But the process of frying isn’t always so fun or pleasant.

Pros:

  • Crispy fried chicken tastes great.
  • Frying food is usually quick.
  • The crunch.

Cons:

  • Frying is messy.
  • Frying uses up a lot of oil.
  • Frying food can be less healthy than other cooking options.
Two crispy oven baked chicken thighs.

I think my biggest problem with frying food is the mess. Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot more time in the kitchen and whenever I fry something, it easily takes me twice the amount of time for cleanup. Oil splatters all over the place and your pan and utensils require extra care in cleaning.

Because of this, I decided to try to recreate some of the excitement and enjoyment of eating a fried chicken biscuit without the frying part.

I was looking up baked chicken tender recipes online and noticed that most of them are baked around 425- or 450-degrees F (230 C), which is only 25 degrees lower than my normal biscuit recipe. This led me to a train of thought where I could possibly bake the biscuits and the chicken at around the same time and oven temp.

Guess what? It works.

Once you get the biscuit dough together, you can dredge your chicken thigh (or breast meat/tenders) and bake the biscuits and the chicken on the same sheet pan.

One sheet pan with two future sandwiches on it. Note that the chicken side has aluminum foil that has been heavily sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

The biscuits

The biscuit recipe I use is in the recipe down below, but I figured I’d talk about it a bit here. I rarely bake a whole batch of biscuits at once these days. We’re a two-person household so there’s no need for us to have 7 or 8 biscuits at one time. Biscuits keep for a few days, but I find it more convenient to freeze the biscuits prior to baking if I don’t plan to eat them immediately.

This batch of biscuits bakes almost the same whether they are frozen or not. I think you might not get quite the amount of rise from a frozen biscuit, but they cook at the same oven temperature and almost the same time. You might need a couple of extra minutes on a frozen biscuit to fully brown the top. So, I suggest freezing biscuits so you can have them whenever the urge strikes you.

The chicken

You can cook this recipe with chicken thighs, breast meat or chicken tenders. If you’re going with chicken breast meat, I suggest you butterfly the breasts to make the meat a little thinner to ensure even cooking in the time required by the recipe. Anything thicker than 3/4 of an inch might not get fully cooked in 20 minutes. If you’re worried about that, I suggest you check with an instant read thermometer before biscuit sandwich time.

The whole recipe

Check out the whole recipe and give it a try next time you crave a chicken biscuit sandwich. If you’re too big of a “chicken” and afraid of making your own biscuits, you can skip that part and use the chicken part of the recipe for chicken tenders or another type of chicken sandwich. But I think you should try making biscuits.

You can also do this recipe with store bought frozen biscuits or the kind in the “can.” But those probably won’t cook at the same time or temperature, so you’ll have to cook them separately. In this case, I suggest cooking the biscuits first and chicken second.

One-pan crispy chicken biscuit view printable page for this recipe

All of the taste and excitement of a fried chicken biscuit sandwich without all the messy frying part. Oven-baked panko coated chicken thighs cook at the same time and temperature as my biscuit recipe making this an easy one pan meal. The biscuit recipe is based off of Southern Living's buttermilk biscuit recipe.

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Ingredients:

Buttermilk biscuits
  • 300 grams self rising flour (2.5 cups)
  • 1 frozen stick of butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Crispy oven baked chicken
  • 2 sandwich sized chicken thighs (you can use breast meat too, see notes below)
  • 14 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce (your favorite brand)
  • 34 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 12 teaspoon black pepper
  • non-stick cooking spray (Pam or another brand)

Directions:

Biscuits: Using a box grater, grate frozen butter into the sifted self rising flour. Stir to combine until the butter is fully coated by flour. Put bowl in freezer for 10 minutes 

Combine buttermilk to bring together as a dough. Stir no more than 15 times. Overworking the dough at this stage could cause your finished biscuits to be more tough.  

On a floured surface dump out dough and roll with a rolling pin. Dust with flour as needed when dough gets sticky. Fold the dough over on itself five different times creating layers. Roll dough to 1/2 or 3/4 inch thick.

Cut biscuits into circles or squares and place on a piece of parchment paper. When cutting, you do not want to twist the cutter. Twisting while cutting will ruin the layers that you created with folding. 

Once all your biscuits are cut, place the parchment paper on a sheet pan into a freezer if you want to freeze the biscuits to cook later. If you plan to cook the whole batch now, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F (230 C). If you choose to freeze the biscuits, leave in the freezer for an hour on the sheet pan until they get hard enough to move to a zip top bag or freezer package of your choice. They will still bake at 450 F (230 C) for just about the same amount of time. 

Crispy chicken: Get your chicken thighs out of the refrigerator and start to set up your chicken dredging station. You will need three bowls for this. 

The first bowl will contain your all purpose flour. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper to the flour.  

The second bowl will contain your whole egg, mayonnaise and hot sauce. Add these three ingredients and whisk to combine well. 

The third bowl will have the panko bread crumbs, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. whisk to combine. 

Line half of a sheet pan with aluminum foil. The other side should have a piece of parchment paper. 

Spray the aluminum foil side with cooking spray, this is where your chicken will go. 

For each chicken thigh, coat with flour in the flour bowl, then dip into the egg mixture (ensuring that it's fully coated everywhere) and finally press into the panko bread crumbs until each piece is fully coated. Place on the cooking spray sprayed aluminum foil. 

Spray the top of each piece of chicken with cooking spray, this will help the chicken brown and crisp up better. 

Place your uncooked biscuits on the parchment paper side of the sheet pan and place it in the oven when it is fully up to temperature. 

Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven and flip each chicken thigh. Spray the top side of the chicken again with cooking spray. 

Bake for another 10 minutes. At this point your chicken should be done and you can remove it to a wire rack to rest. Your biscuits might or might not need an extra minute or two. Check the tops of your biscuits and if they're not brown enough, cook for another 2 or 3 minutes, keeping an eye on them so that they do not brown too much. 

Once the biscuits are browned to your liking, remove from the oven. Split each biscuit and add a crispy chicken thigh and any condiments you might want and enjoy. 

Notes:

Chicken: If you want to use breast meat, you will probably need to butterfly the meat so that it is thin enough to cook in time. Your meat needs to be no more than 3/4 of an inch thick to ensure that it is cooked sufficiently in 20 minutes. Chicken tenders would work well at this oven time and temperature if you want to use those. 

Biscuits: If you're using store bought biscuits, you will need to check the time/temperature and follow the instructions on the package. This one pan method works because the biscuit recipe I use works well with the time/temperature that the chicken needs to cook at. 

More crispy chicken biscuit sandwiches

Add a little honey mustard and you’re in heaven.

If you like your fried chicken biscuits with honey mustard, this is a great recipe you might be interested in

10 minutes
Honey mustard sauce

Add a fantastic pop of flavor to a sandwich or make this sauce as a dip for your next chicken tender night.

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This one has pickled jalapenos and a creamy chipotle sauce.

Below is my recipe for a chipotle sauce. It’s great on tacos, nachos, burgers and chicken sandwiches. Try it on your next sausage biscuit. You may remember, I used it in my Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco post.

10 minutes
Spicy Chipotle Sauce

Similar to the sauce they have at Taco Bell, this is a flavor explosion that can be added to pretty much any sandwich.

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A little melted cheddar makes every chicken biscuit better.
One-pan crispy chicken biscuit sandwich with a spicy avocado salsa. I bought the avocado salsa from the deli section of our local grocery.

This is a fairly easy recipe to replicate a fried chicken biscuit at home with less guilt. It totally scratches my chicken biscuit itch without leaving my kitchen covered in splattered oil. I’d love to hear what you think if you try this recipe.

Comment down below or tag @beerinator in your instagrams or tweets!


What in the Taco Bell is this!?

Is it a Sandwich or Taco or Sandwich Taco or Taco Sandwich!? πŸ€”


It’s $1.49 if you order online, but $2.69 if you order at the store. They’re charging you an extra $1.20 per Sandwich Taco to talk to a real person.

Way back in February 2021 a place called Taco Bell announced a Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco (most real writers would shorten this to CCST or something but instead I’m going to spell it out every time because it’s fun). I spontaneously tried to make it that week and did OK, not great. There were things I knew I needed to change and this week I finally tried Taco Bell’s version and I set out to make my recipes better.

The Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco (NOT CCST) comes in two flavors. Spicy and Not Spicy/Regular. The only difference is the Spicy one has five or six pickled jalapenos on it. Taco Bell did not use much creativity with the differences here.

Both Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos have a soft and puffy flatbread, spicy chipotle sauce and one small chicken tender that is tortilla crusted and fried.

If you look closely, the puffy flatbread looks different in promo materials now compared to how it looked to me back in February. The photo from February (below) had a very consistently browned puffy shell and the one in the promo materials now (above) looks much more like a pita or regular flatbread.

When I saw it back in February and I noticed the consistent browning I was questioning how it was cooked. A tortilla or flatbread will hit the hot surface and it will not get consistent brown color because the baking soda (for a tortilla), or in this case yeast (for a flatbread) will make things start to bubble and the dough won’t consistently touch the surface.

Because of this image, back in February, I figured it had to be made in some sort of hot press to get solid consistent browning. Like the photo below. Also, it looked to me like the flatbread might have been pan seared in oil.

Taco Bell promo materials for the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco from February 2021.

At that time, my thought was to make flatbread in a panini press instead of in a skillet like most other flatbread recipes. This led to my test breads being thinner and not as puffy I wanted.

Fast forward to now and I see all their promo stuff no longer has that consistent browning and it just looks like a soft pita or super thick tortilla.

I made the tweet below back in February when they announced that this taco was coming.

Click through on the above image/tweet to read the thread where I talked about what I did back in February. I did ok, but I had some flaws.

At that point I had good tortilla crusted chicken, decent chipotle sauce and store-bought pickled jalapenos. My flatbread was pressed too hard in an attempt to get that consistent color, but everything was still really good.

Fast forward to now and none of the flatbreads in Taco Bell’s Sandwich Tacos have any browning or consistent color at all.

Trying the Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos

Here’s the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos that I bought last week. I had a wild idea to put some cheese sauce on one of them, so I added chips and nacho cheese to my order to see how that worked. It was ok, but the cheese sauce didn’t really help anything.

One regular and two spicy. The only differences are the pickled jalapenos. Nacho cheese and chips in the back for extra necessary calories.

These Sandwich Tacos are not very big. The chicken breast piece is basically the size of 2 chicken nuggets. I got out my kitchen measuring tape (you have one of these, right?) and the flatbread was right around 4 to 4.5 inches diameter.

Here’s a bit of a close-up. The flatbread was really soft and pillow-like.

The Sandwich Taco experience

Apparently adding jalapenos means 10 more calories.

These were way better than I expected. The flatbread was soft and pillowy. The chicken was moist and a tiny bit crispy on the outside and each sandwich taco was sauced fairly well. There wasn’t a whole lot of flavor in the chicken or the breading and it would have been better if the chicken had been a bit crunchier to contrast the soft flatbread. But overall, this was a good experience.

I think my biggest complaint here is that there’s a severe lack of creativity in the two versions. The only difference is the pickled jalapenos? I think it would have been good to have had a version with Taco Bell’s jalapeno ranch and maybe some lettuce or diced up tomato on top. When I mentioned this to my wife, she told me that you could recreate this jalapeno ranch version while ordering online or with the app, but I didn’t consider this until after I made my yearly Taco Bell trip.

Another idea for Taco Bell would be to make a sauce like a Nashville Hot sauce and dunk the tender in that and serve it with pickles or pickled jalapenos. Taco Bell is owned by the same ownership as KFC so they can figure this out and make this Sandwich Taco line expand. If you’re reading this, Taco Bell, pay me my money.

Let’s make our own Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco

First, we have to get together all of our ingredients.

The spicy chipotle sauce

When I tried to make the Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco back in February, I started working on this recipe. Except for the color, I’ve got the flavors close now.

This is my third or fourth iteration of this chipotle sauce recipe. Even if you don’t plan to make Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos, this sauce is great on things like mashed or baked potatoes. Make the sauce and use it for a dip for fries or spread it on your next sausage biscuit. It’s a great sauce and easy to make.

10 minutes
Spicy Chipotle Sauce

Similar to the sauce they have at Taco Bell, this is a flavor explosion that can be added to pretty much any sandwich.

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The pickled jalapenos

The only thing that makes the Spicy and Non-spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos different from each other is the pickled jalapenos. I’ve got an easy recipe for those that is based off of my Spicy MSG pickle recipe. Make up a batch of these for your next nacho or taco night. Or just add them whenever you want to add a bit of heat and texture to a sandwich.

25 minutes
Pickled MSG jalapenos

Need a spicy kick with a bit of crunchy texture in your next sandwich? They're also perfect to spice up your next nacho or taco night.

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The flatbread

The flatbreads I made were between 4 and 5 inches in diameter.

The flatbread I made this week isn’t quite as light as Taco Bell’s but it’s still really soft. The recipe isn’t a super approachable recipe for beginners, simply because the dough turns out wet and sticky. I had to use a lot of flour when shaping the pre-cooked flatbreads to get it to shape in circle-ish shapes. You could add more flour to the dough at the beginning and that would make the shaping process easier, but then you’d end up with a denser flatbread.

This flatbread recipe is a whole lot closer to the actual Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco than my last attempt when I cooked it in a flat panini press. This is more like just making fat flour tortillas.

When you’re making flatbread like this, make sure you give it some time wrapped in a clean towel after you cook it to steam and get soft. If you need to reheat one of these puffy flatbreads, do so in the microwave covered with a damp paper towel for 30 seconds or so. This will bring it back to a softened and pliable state.

I measured the official Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos, and they were around 4 to 4.5 inches long. I shot for that diameter in my flatbreads and got close.

Recipe Card
1 hour and 30 minutes
Puffy flatbread

Soft and puffy flatbread can be used for Sandwich Tacos (thanks Taco Bell) or it can be as a substitute for naan or pita. Put some tomato sauce and melt some cheese on top and you've got yourself a fantastic personal pizza.

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The chicken

I made buttermilk jalapeno brined chicken that was crusted with tortilla chips and then fried. The whole recipe for this sandwich is down at the bottom of this post.

Tortilla crusted and fried chicken breast pieces waiting their turn.

The final showdown

Here’s Taco Bell’s on the left versus mine on the right. I got damn close. My flatbread is soft and pillowy, but not nearly as light as the one Taco Bell makes. I think they probably have flatbread scientists working on theirs.

My chicken was much crunchier and the whole thing was warmer, since I ate mine just a couple minutes after frying. But my chicken also had more spice and flavor when eaten on its own.

The sauce and the pickled jalapenos in mine were at least as good if not better than the Taco Bell ones. My chipotle sauce is a tiny bit spicier than Taco Bell’s. Overall, this was a success. It just took figuring out what direction they were taking with the flatbreads to understand where I needed to head for copying them. Now I know and knowing is clearly half the battle.

The big showdown. Click for bigger if you want to study the details.

I even made an image compare for you to see how close they are. This might be easier for phone or small screen comparisons. Check down below for the whole recipe.

Taco Bell’s version on the left and my version on the right. This was a fun “sandwich” to tackle.

My Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco copycat recipe:

Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco copycat view printable page for this recipe

A copycat recipe to recreate a Taco Bell Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich Taco. Spicy and crispy fried chicken in a puffy flatbread with a creamy chipotle sauce and pickled jalapenos.

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Ingredients:

Buttermilk jalapeno marinade
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 12 cup pickled jalapeno liquid
  • 3 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large chicken breast cut into four even pieces
Seasoned flour/tortilla chips
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 12 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • peanut oil for frying (2 inches high in your large pan)
Sandwich Taco assembly

Directions:

In a medium sized bowl add buttermilk, pickled jalapeno liquid, hot sauce, kosher salt and black pepper and whisk to combine. Put chicken in a zip top bag or bowl with a lid. Pour buttermilk jalapeno marinade over chicken and store in fridge for at least an hour or overnight. 

Make seasoned flour by combining flour and crushed up tortilla chips with all the spices, salt and pepper in a bowl, plate or pan.

Remove one piece of chicken at a time from the marinade and dredge in the seasoned flour mixture until thoroughly coated on all sides. Press firmly to make sure there are no dry spots on the chicken. Place fully coated chicken onto a piece of parchment or the rack of a sheetpan to rest.

Heat 2 inches of peanut oil in a skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Fry each piece of chicken for 5 to 6 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 finished chicken on a cooling rack over paper towels to drain some of the oil away. 

Assemble each of your Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos with a good squirt of your spicy chipotle sauce on the puffy flatbread. Add a piece of fried chicken on top and garnish with four or five pickled jalapenos. 

Serve and enjoy

Notes:

If you don't make the puffy flatbread, you could buy super soft tortillas or even buy store bought naan and cut it to the shapes that you need with a knife. 

Final Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos

Here’s a few more photos of my final Crispy Chicken Sandwich Tacos. This was a great Sandwich Taco, probably the best Sandwich Tacos I’ve ever made. Even if you don’t want to make your own Sandwich Tacos, you could use some of the other recipes I’ve shared to make other things that aren’t Sandwich Tacos.

A little close-up sauce dripping action.
Crunchy tortilla crusted chicken that is seasoned well makes all the difference in the world.
I think we nailed it.

Hopefully you all enjoyed my foray into Sandwich Tacos. Maybe next week we’ll tackle something closer to normal. Or maybe I’ll make a Curderburger?


Alice Springs chicken sandwich

This might or might not be the National sandwich of Australia.


Alice Springs on the map.

G’Day, sandwich enthusiast! According to google and wikipedia, Alice Springs is a remote town in the Northern Territory of Australia. Home to 25,000+ mates and ZERO Outback Steakhouses, Alice Springs is located right around the middle of the country.

Alice Springs also happens to be a chicken dish on the very beef heavy Outback Steakhouse menu. I first encountered this dish back in the 90s when I frequented chain restaurants a bit more than I do today. My wife (then girlfriend) and I were both fans of Alice Springs chicken and we even bought a cookbook that had a copycat recipe for it.

Pulled from the online Outback Steakhouse menu. Look at all that broccoli. That’s too much broccoli. All this for 16 Dollerydoos.

The copycat cookbook

In 1997 “Top Secret Restaurant Recipes” by Todd Wilbur was released. This is the first cookbook I had seen at that time that showcased “copycat” recipes. The cookbook had many recipes that attempted to duplicate flavors of existing dishes from chain restaurants. Applebee’s, Chili’s, Outback and Red Lobster are just a few of the restaurants that were showcased in the cookbook. As late-20-something, novice cooks, we tackled the Alice Springs chicken recipe from this book and my memories are of us enjoying it a lot and the result being very similar to the actual restaurant menu item.

When writing this blog post, I dug through some old boxes and found my copy of the cookbook and compared it to the MANY Alice Springs chicken copycat recipes on the internet. Spoiler alert: almost all of them are very close to the same recipe from this book.

Released in 1997. A few of the restaurants recreated in the book no longer exist. True copycat recipe history.
The Alice Springs chicken layering technique presented in Top Secret Restaurant Recipes.

Looking back on it I realize why this recipe is easy to copycat correctly and why so many online recipes are so similar. It’s because it’s an easy entrΓ©e. Alice Springs chicken is grilled chicken marinated in honey mustard, with cooked mushrooms and bacon on top and then you melt cheese on it. Very few ingredients and easy to put together.

If you’re handy in the kitchen, the hardest part of the recipe is getting your ingredients together to make the honey mustard sauce/marinade. If you wanted to cut some corners, you could even buy honey mustard dressing off the shelf and it would work.

Once you have the honey mustard marinade your next steps are grilling chicken, cooking bacon, cooking mushrooms and then layering everything and sticking it all in the oven for a few minutes. If you were having a dinner party, you could technically cook your chicken, bacon and mushrooms hours before you planned to eat and assemble the dish in a baking pan and bake right before serving. This would leave you lots of time to enjoy the company of your guests and talk to them about how cool my blog is.

Reheating tip: because this dish is finished in the oven to get the cheese melty, it makes it super easy to reheat as well. Just pre-heat your oven to 350 F and cook a leftover Alice Springs chicken stack for 8 to 10 minutes and you’re all set. If you’re cooking Alice Springs for one or two people, you could even refrigerate all the parts (cooked mushrooms, bacon, chicken) separately and assemble, covering with cheese when you’re ready to cook them.

The Alice Springs chicken

Here’s a photo of our finished Alice Springs chicken. My recipe (down below) differs from most of the online recipes you’ll find because it uses my wife’s favorite honey mustard recipe as the base for the marinade.

Our homemade Alice Springs chicken and side salad with tangy tomato dressing.

Below is a slideshow of my Alice Springs building action. As I was saying above, if you have all the pieces, but only need two servings per night, you can store the cooked components in the fridge and bake just what you need per night.

45 minutes
Alice Springs chicken copycat recipe

An easy recipe meant to replicate the flavors of Alice Springs chicken. Honey mustard marinated grilled chicken with grilled bacon and mushrooms covered in melted cheese? Yes please.

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The bread

Add some honey to some softened butter and then go to town on this sweet bread.

I could have served up an Alice Springs chicken sandwich on any type of bread. But I decided to make a sandwich with bread that I remember from Outback Steakhouse.

When you eat at Outback, they bring you a very dark bread with a big knife to munch on before your meal. I haven’t eaten it in many years, but I remember it being somewhat dense and sweet and great with a little butter spread on top.

If you search King Arthur Baking’s website for “outback,” you get nothing. But if you search google for “King Arthur’s outback bread” you get their recipe for Honey Wheat Black Bread which is clearly a very similar recipe to the bread you find at Outback Steakhouse. This is the recipe I used.

I had to order some Black Cocoa Powder from Amazon, but everything else was ingredients I had on hand or could pick up at my grocery store. The black cocoa powder is different from regular cocoa powder, and it is supposed to help with the dark color. I haven’t tried this recipe without it, but I might do that soon to see if it makes much of a difference.

I can taste hints of cocoa in the bread. It makes me think of a very dark chocolate brownie in some ways.

This bread is fantastic for snacking or to accompany a meal. I would certainly suggest trying this recipe if you’re a baker looking for something new to bake.

I don’t own a nice thick wooden handled knife, but I remember that’s how they served the bread at Outback.

I baked both round buns and 5-inch-long rolls with the same recipe. Let us slice up one of the round buns and get down to sandwich action.

The crumb shot. This bread is good for snacking, slicing and spreading with butter (or even better, honey butter). It’s a bit dense for most sandwiches. But it still didn’t fall apart. It would probably be great in loaf form sliced for patty melts or grilled cheese.

The other copycat book

After I had already photographed all these sandwiches and written this whole sandwich blog post, I found the original Top Secret Restaurant Recipes cookbook in a box in my garage and then I decided to buy the second one. Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 was published in 2007 and has a recipe for the Outback Bread which is VERY different than the King Arthur recipe that I used.

The recipe from the 2007 book uses blue, yellow and red food coloring to get the darkness instead of the black cocoa that I bought. There are other recipes online for this bread and many of those use food coloring too, but most seem to call for caramel food coloring. I’m guessing that things like black cocoa and caramel food coloring just weren’t as readily available as they are now.

The sandwiches

Here we go, it’s sandwich time.

Instructions:

  1. Take some Alice Springs chicken and put it between buns or bread
  2. Add extra honey mustard as needed
  3. Eat and enjoy
Grilled chicken, mushroom, bacon and cheese. What’s not to like?
The full Alice Springs chicken sandwich with Outback black bread and side salad with tangy tomato dressing.
The final Alice Springs chicken sandwich on a 5-inch-long honey wheat bushman bread roll.

Hopefully Australia won’t try to Boot me for this one.

The sandwich is good so the punishment would be worth it probably.

Alice Springs chicken is easy and super tasty. Honey mustard coated grilled chicken, bacon, mushrooms all covered in melted cheese is fantastic.

Earlier I wrote about how you can turn this dish into a fast-to-prepare dinner party recipe. And I also wrote and showed you how you can turn it into a sandwich. I think my work is done here. Add it to your list of dishes to make for a quick weeknight dinner and maybe put the leftovers on a bun. Check back next week when I pit one sandwich against the same sandwich somehow.


The General’s takeout sandwich

What is Captain Picard’s favorite Chinese takeout ?

Make it Tso!


My typical Chinese takeout option is General Tso’s chicken. Crispy fried chicken under a sweet and slightly spicy sauce? Yes, please. Today I’m going to show you how I make it and turn it into a sandwich.

The history of this dish has more to do with the American palate than food from actual China. A brief history of General Tso’s Chicken from the Smithsonian tells us that the backstory of General Tso’s chicken has some interesting drama. A Chinese chef named Peng Chang-kuei moved to Taiwan and at his restaurant there he invented General Tso’s chicken which was not at all like what we are familiar with today. In the 1970s a New York chef (Tsung Ting Wang) visited Taiwan and got the inspiration to make a similar dish that was more tailored to the American palate. Years later, the inventor of the dish ended up opening a restaurant in NYC where he had to change the flavors in his original dish to be closer to the one that was already popular in the States.

That Smithsonian post also mentions an entertaining documentary about General Tso’s chicken that I watched a couple of years ago. The documentary is called: The Search for General Tso (currently not free anywhere, but it was worth the $3.99 rental for me). If you want to learn more about the history of General Tso’s chicken and need something to watch, I’d recommend it.

If you’ve never ordered and enjoyed General Tso’s chicken, it’s bite-sized pieces of chicken breast or thigh meat that has been fried crispy and coated in a sweet and spicy sauce. Often General Tso’s will appear on the menu with a little pepper 🌢 beside its name, denoting the spice. Most of the time the General Tso’s that I receive from my delivery driver has very little heat and spice. Don’t worry, my recipe down below is pretty spicy but there’s also a very easy method to adjust the spice level.

Today we’re going to turn General Tso’s chicken into a fantastic chicken sandwich. Let’s get down to business.

Here’s a picture of my General Tso recipe. You should cook it yourself.

The buns

Once again I used my soft potato bun for most of these sandwiches. I’ve been testing my recipe for the past few weeks and this seemed like another good chance to put it to use. But another good recipe I’ve used in the past that would be a great option for this sandwich (that I didn’t think of until later) would be King Arthur’s Japanese Milk Bread Rolls. The technique used in this recipe leads to an unbelievably soft and squishy bun and would work well with the sauced up fried chicken.

But as I said, my potato bun recipe is the one that I used. I did sprinkle sesame seeds on most of them and to do that, you need an egg wash made of one whole egg and a tablespoon of water whisked thoroughly. Just prior to baking your buns, paint each one with your egg wash and then sprinkle as many sesame seeds as your heart desires on top. Take into account that some of your seeds will end up falling off.

If you end up sesame seed-ing your buns, do not baste them with melted butter after coming out of the oven like my recipe states for plain potato buns.

2 hours and 45 minutes
Super soft potato buns

Need six super soft perfectly sized burger buns? The kind of bun that is slightly smaller than your burger patty so that you get a solid burger to bun ratio? Try this recipe.

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The chicken

Sometimes we make General Tso’s chicken with breast pieces and sometimes with thigh pieces. I think thigh meat in general (GENERAL – get it) is better for this recipe but my wife prefers white meat, so that’s when I use breast.

The chicken is fried in a mixture of corn starch and all purpose flour and this blend makes it light and crunchy.

If you’ve ordered any of the fried chicken based options at your local Chinese takeout restaurant, you know that it tastes best to eat as soon as you can. Leftover Chinese chicken dishes are still good, but if the chicken was originally fried, there’s going to be no crunch at all left when you reheat it.

One way around this would be to fry your chicken pieces and then only sauce the amount you want to eat for that meal. If you have leftovers, you can refrigerate the chicken pieces and the leftover sauce separately and then bring them back up to temperature and sauce when you’re ready to eat your leftovers.

Here’s some chicken fresh out of the frying oil. You can see that it has a very thin and light coating and it is very crispy right out of the frying pan.

Fried chicken breast pieces.
Fried chicken thigh pieces.

The sauce

In my sauce I used dried arbol chilis.

Heat warning: there are dried red chilis in this sauce. This is why there’s typically a little red chili icon beside 🌢 General Tso’s chicken on your local takeout menu.

As you can imagine, the dried red chilis can be really spicy. There are a couple of things you can do to reduce the heat here and the first one is pretty obvious: use less dried red chilis. The second option to reduce the spice would be to break the chilis and remove and discard as many seeds as possible before adding them to the sauce.

All those seeds become little heat bombs which are fantastic or fantastically bad depending on your heat tolerance and/or enjoyment.

My experience with the spice level of this recipe is that if you’re eating the General Tso inside of a bun, you can handle a lot more heat than you could if you’re just eating it plain or on top of rice. The bun really goes a long way to reduce the spiciness for me.

Add the fried chicken back to be coated in the sauce and you’re ready to go. Remove all the chilis if you are worried about accidentally biting into one.

The recipe

Here’s the recipe we use for General Tso’s chicken at our house. This is a solid recipe that we enjoy with or without sandwiching.

45 minutes
General Tso's chicken

This is my spicy and sweet, better than take-out version of General Tso's chicken.

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The sandwiches

And here we go. I made sure to have thinly sliced green onion and sesame seeds for garnishing each sandwich.

Sometimes I used sesame seed buns and sometimes not. These are all from the same potato bun recipes as above (because I tried to do a bunch of testing on the recipe). The round ones I shaped like normal potato buns for burgers and the longer ones I rolled out into about 5 inch long buns.

Leftover next day General Tso sandwich.

The below sandwich was a whole boneless skinless chicken thigh that I marinaded and flour coated just like my recipe for normal General Tso’s and then I fried whole. I think this worked just fine, but to be fair, it wasn’t any better than a sandwich made with a bunch of small fried chicken bites like the other sandwiches.

I wouldn’t necessarily suggest trying this because it made little difference. Just make the normal General Tso recipe with the bite size pieces of fried chicken and make your sandwich that way.

A whole boneless skinless chicken thigh fried and then cooked briefly in General Tso sauce.

Make General Tso’s chicken

Just do it. Even if you don’t end up sandwiching it, this is a good recipe and in my experience it’s better than most of what I can get via delivery or takeout at my house. Watch out for the spice if you’re sensitive to that, but you can easily control the spicing with the amount of peppers you choose to use. Check back next week when I am possibly revisiting a classic or maybe doing something weird again.


Buffalo fried chicken sandwich

The boneless buffalo sandwich

No buffalo were harmed during the production of this blog post.


Buffalo chicken wings and blue cheese dressing is a top tier flavor combination in my opinion and it turns out that it isn’t that hard to make either component. According to the National Chicken Council, the early version of the concept that became Buffalo wings was invented in 1964 at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, New York. Blue cheese dressing’s origin story is a little more complicated but it seems that we’ve had a form of blue cheese ever since a distracted shepherd accidentally left cheese behind and later discovered blue cheese in a cave outside of the village Roquefort, France in the 7th century.

The combination of buffalo sauce and blue cheese dressing is very popular in sandwich form and you can tell this from its appearance on thousands of menus across the United States. I get really excited about buffalo chicken wings and am interested when I get the opportunity to move those flavors into sandwich territory. A buffalo chicken sandwich is an experience that I crave when I see it on a menu.

It’s time to start this business and I hope you’ll follow me along the way as I make a couple of buffalo chicken wing inspired sandwiches. Please grab three or five napkins and join me.

Brioche buns

Four of my prettiest buns. Aren’t you glad I didn’t say two?

The bun I used this week was the King Arthur Baking brioche bun recipe. This recipe is a good one but you need to know in advance that it’s an overnight rest/rise recipe. This just means you need to start the bun recipe the day before you need buns.

You also MUST have a stand mixer or bread maker for this unless you’re ready for 25 or 30 minutes of solid hard core stirring. For the first 20 minutes of my stand mixer churning at a solid 4 speed, it looked like I was making a cookie dough. But somewhere around the 20 minute mark my dough started coming together and pulling off of the side of the bowl.

One of the biggest lessons I learned during this process was found in the accompanying brioche King Arthur blog post (these accompanying posts are the best). They suggested when you’re putting the buns onto the parchment for the final rise, you should flatten the dough balls. Their technique was to use a bench scraper or a large measuring cup to evenly push down the dough and twist it to help with making the ball circular.

This was fantastic advice and it helped me make very smooth looking buns. I probably would never have thought of this on my own, but looking back it makes so much sense and I will be applying it to my future bun bakes, brioche or not. You should buy a good bench scraper like this one (Amazon affiliate link) if you don’t already have one. If you’re buying a bench scraper and not using this link, make sure it has measurement lines on the edges. When I’m baking biscuits and using my bench scraper, I can use the measurement marks to get consistent heights on my biscuits it also helps when shaping 5 or 6 inch long sandwich rolls.

Crumb shot! Look at my beautiful bun.

The sauces

Buffalo sauce

Two ingredients and you’re done. Boom. I don’t need to say much more here. Frank’s RedHot will give you the buffalo flavor you’re probably most used to, but you can use your favorite hot sauce too. Go nuts.

Recipe Card
10 minutes
Buffalo sauce

Making wings? This recipe is for you. Two ingredients and a tiny bit of time on the stove and you\'re ready to go. This is also great to sauce your chicken tenders for a spicy option.

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Blue cheese dressing

In my opinion, blue cheese dressing is 100% required if you’re making Buffalo sauced meals. Some folks will say they prefer Ranch, but they are wrong. The flavors just blend so well that I can’t imagine one without the other. This is a super easy recipe and it’s very similar to my Ranch recipe.

10 minutes
Blue cheese dressing

Thick and tangy with flavors from the sharp and flavorful blue cheese sets us up in a place where this will be great for sandwiches or salads. Add more buttermilk (or milk) to thin it out if you want it pourable.

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Grilled buffalo chicken sandwich

I made both a fried and grilled version of the buffalo chicken sandwich. For my grilled version I decided to make some slaw and since I had a lot of blue cheese dressing, I chose to use that instead of mayo as the creamy part of the slaw recipe. This slaw could be made with store bought blue cheese dressing too. If you’re using store bought, be careful when adding the dressing – add it slowly to make sure you don’t use too much. Just incorporate a little at a time and stir until you get the slaw dressed the way you like it.

Recipe Card
Blue cheese slaw

Similar to a lot of slaws you've probably had but with the tang of blue cheese. This slaw would be good as a side dish or on top of a buffalo chicken sandwich.

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The prep for my grilled chicken was really simple. I didn’t go complicated with seasoning, since I was going to dunk the chicken into my buffalo sauce. I simply seasoned a boneless, skinless chicken thigh with salt and pepper and grilled it. On this occasion, I used a grill pan in my kitchen, but you can obviously grill it however you want. 4 or 5 minutes per side and you should be golden. An instant read thermometer like this one (Amazon affiliate link) will help you if you’re not sure when your chicken is fully cooked. I’m also a big fan of the ThermoPop at around thirty five dollars.

Grilled buffalo chicken with a blue cheese slaw on brioche.

Flamin’ Hot Cheeto crusted buffalo chicken sandwich

I bought a few small bags of Flamin’ Hot flavored snacks (Fritos, Cheetos and Funyuns) and we had a little sampling at home (Funyuns were the best). I took the leftover Cheetos and figured I would use them to crust fried chicken thighs. Then I coated it in buffalo sauce, which was undoubtedly overkill, but I still did it. The Flamin’ Hot flavor didn’t stand out as much, but the crunch and texture really did. This was a winner. The cheetos stood up to the sauce and kept most of their texture and snap.

I’ve included the full recipe for my Flamin’ Hot Cheeto crusted buffalo chicken sandwich below. Give it a try and let me know how yours works out! Check back again next week where I’ll be trying my hand at more sandwiches.

Frying action shot. Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on left, regular fried thigh on right.
Flamin' Hot Cheeto crusted buffalo chicken sandwich view printable page for this recipe

Spicy but not overwhelming flavors along with the cooling blue cheese dressing leave you with a flavorful piece of still crunchy fried chicken. Get extra napkins.

Tags:

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken thighs or breast pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 14 cup buttermilk
  • 1 12 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 12 cups crushed Flamin' Hot Cheetos
  • peanut oil for frying
  • buffalo wing sauce (link to recipe)

Directions:

Season both sides of your chicken with salt and pepper.

Get three bowls, plates or pans that are large enough for a piece of chicken to lay flat. 

Make seasoned flour by combining flour with the salt and pepper in a bowl or pan. 

Prepare another bowl or pan and add 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of buttermilk. Season with salt and pepper. Stir well to combine.

Add your crushed Flamin' Hot Cheetos to your third bowl or pan

Using one piece of chicken at a time dredge in the seasoned flour mixture until thorougly coated on all sides. Then coat in the egg and buttermilk mixture. Make sure chicken is fully coated. Then place chicken into the Flamin' Hot Cheetos and firmly press until chicken is heavily coated. Place fully coated chicken onto a piece of parchment or the rack of a sheet pan to rest. 

Heat 2 inches of peanut oil in a skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 

Fry each piece of chicken for 6 to 7 minutes or until it reaches 165 degrees internal temperature. If your chicken is really thick you will likely need a little more time. 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 finished chicken on a cooling rack over paper towels to drain some of the oil away. 

Toss fried chicken pieces in buffalo sauce and place each chicken piece on a bun. Top each buffalo sauce coated thigh or breast piece with blue cheese dressing, lettuce and tomato (if desired).

And since you made it this far I have another sandwich to look at. This one was fried AND slaw’ed.

Fried boneless, skinless chicken thigh soaked with buffalo sauce and topped with blue cheese slaw on brioche.

Caesar Sandwich

Caesar’s sandwich must be above suspicion

Eat a salad with your hands!


Caesar salad dressing is an amazing condiment. It has umami savoriness from the anchovies and worchestershire, citrus zing and zest from the lemon juice, and the garlic and dijon tang are always welcome additions to any sandwich. If you don’t mind a little arm workout it can be prepared in just a few minutes with a good whisk and bowl. This week I made some and put it to use in a few sandwiches.

The bread

King Arthur Baking’s Hearth Bread loaf in more of an Italian style shape

I made caesar salad sandwiches in three different ways. For the first two, I used King Arthur Baking’s Hearth Bread recipe. This is a super easy recipe that is written for folks who know how to make dough and for people new to the process as well. They have good instructions for how to knead the dough with and without a stand mixer. If you follow the recipe, you’ll end up with two shaped Italian or French style loaves (meaning the loaves aren’t baked in a pan). If you are new to making bread, I suggest you read the accompanying hearth bread blog post that King Arthur’s team wrote up.

This recipe leaves you with two loaves. If that’s too much bread for you to eat in four or five days, you should slice both loaves when it has cooled and package one loaf in a plastic freezer bag and store in the freezer until you’re ready to eat it. Bread freezes and thaws very well and the frozen loaf will be just as good as the fresh one. When ready to eat, pull a few slices out in advance to thaw or you can thaw it in a toaster or oven.

“Bread” number two

The other sandwich adjacent ceasar thing I made were chicken caesar salad wraps. I used the flour tortilla wrap recipe below. This recipe is also how you’d make flour tortilla’s for burritos or breakfast tacos. Keep it in your wheelhouse. This recipe is making 4 large burrito sized tortilla wraps but if you were just making taco sized tortillas it would make between 6 and 8.

1 hour and 35 minutes
Flour tortilla wrap

Tortillas aren't just for burritos. Get wrappin!

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The dressing

This is the important stuff. The heart of a caesar sandwich is the dressing (some might say the heart is the romaine hearts, but they’d be wrong – but still kinda right). You could stop here and buy dressing at the store, but it’s fun and a bit of a fulfilling workout to make your own. The process is similar to making mayo, but with a little less arm action.

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20 minutes
Caesar dressing

Great for a salad or used as the spread on a sandwich. Caesar dressing is a super garlicy and tangy sauce to dress your sandwich veggies.

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Sandwich one

Here’s the set-up for my chicken caesar sandwich with parmesan frico.

For the first caesar sandwich variation, I made a parmesan frico. This means I cooked up parmesan cheese until it melted together and became crisp. You do this in an oven at 350 F (175 C) degrees for 8 to 12 minutes. This is super fun to watch cook. It expands and bubbles and is constantly moving in the oven while it bakes. Take a minute out of your busy life and watch.

Make sure you use parchment or a silpat on your baking sheet so that nothing sticks. Once you’ve got a round disk of tan cheese, let it cool fully and it’ll add nice texture to your salad or in this case, salad sandwich.

On all of my sandwiches I used pan seared boneless and skinless chicken thigh. I simply salted and peppered the chicken and cooked in a medium high skillet for 5 minutes on the first side and then flipped and cooked for another 4 or 5 minutes. I often use an instant read thermometer to make sure meat is done. If you have a thermometer you need to get to 165 F or 74 C.

Caesar sandwich
Pan seared salt and pepper chicken thigh, parmesan frico and caesar dressing tossed romaine

Sandwich two

The second sandwich I made was very similar to the first one, but a little bit more of a classic “chicken lettuce tomato” style. I added salted tomato slices and this time I also tossed my chicken in the dressing. We had gotten Chinese delivery the night before and my order of chow mein came with lots of fried chow mein noodles so I stole some of those and slipped them in with my romaine lettuce before dressing for added crunchy texture.

Caesar Sandwich
Chicken thigh, tomato slices and caesar dressing tossed romaine leaves with fried chow mein noodles

The Wrap

Caesar salad wrap with bacon and homemade croutons

The third “sandwich” I made this week was in wrap form. This is the version that you’ll see on a lot of deli/sandwich restaurant menus. You can eat a salad with your hands!

The wraps I made had chopped bacon and croutons made from a couple of leftover sandwich buns (cut bread into bite sized pieces, toss in olive/canola oil and spices and bake in a 400 F (200 C) degree oven for 7 to 10 minutes – start checking at 7 so you don’t burn them).

I think the biggest thing I am walking away with from caesar sandwich week is how great caesar dressing is in a sandwich application. I want you to try a sandwich with caesar dressing on it and let me know how yours turned out.


Chicken Bacon Ranch (CBR) sandwich

Which came first: the chicken, the bacon or the ranch?

Everyone loves chicken. Everyone loves bacon. Not everyone loves ranch and those people are wrong.


A better writer than myself would try to explain why chicken, bacon and ranch work so well together or why this combination has become so popular in spots like fast food menus, Hot Pockets and Pillsbury casseroles. But instead I will just tell you how I made my version of this sandwich.

The rules for the Chicken Bacon Ranch sandwich are pretty simple. It’s chicken plus bacon plus ranch. I’m actually quite surprised I had to tell you guys this, but here we are. Sometimes there’s cheese and in sandwich form you’ll usually have some veggie options and either a bun bun or bread sandwiching the whole thing together.

The bun

The bun I chose to bake for my Chicken Bacon Ranch sandwich was King Arthur Flour’s Harvest Grain Bread recipe. This recipe is solid but if you follow it exactly, you’ll end up with a loaf instead of buns. To turn this into buns, you either need a scale or you can just try to divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. For those using a scale, I tested with 90 grams and 100 grams and they’re both a pretty good size for a sandwich. I like my buns to be smaller than the meat/patty so when I do this again, I will stay in that range.

To make buns, you follow the above linked recipe, divide your dough (after the first 1 hour rise time) into 8-ish portions and you then should roll each portion fairly tightly into balls and place on a parchment lined sheet pan. Let rise again for 1.5 to 2 hours and then bake at 350 F (175 C) for between 15 and 20 minutes. Before I put my buns in the oven, I cracked an egg into a bowl and added a little water to create an egg wash and then I brushed each bun with wash and sprinkled some of the harvest grain mix on top. This gives you the very optional seeded look.

It’s not called a Chicken Bacon Ranch Lettuce Tomato, but maybe it should be. CBRLT rolls off the tongue.

The chicken

This is the marinade recipe I came up with for my chicken. I named it spicy because there is a noticeable level of heat, but it’s not so spicy that it’ll knock your socks off. You can easily fix that though by simply adding more sriracha or cayenne. You also could choose to add more honey if you like your marinades to be a bit sweeter.

I chose to grill my chicken, but you could easily cook it in a skillet or grill pan on your stove.

35 minutes
Spicy Grilled Chicken

A quick and easy chicken marinade recipe for the grill. It\'s very easy to adjust the level of heat by adding or subtracting the sriracha.

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The bacon

If you need to make a lot of bacon for sandwiches here’s my technique. Almost not even enough to create a recipe for it, but I did it anyway and will probably reference it in a lot of future sandwich posts. The oven technique is just so convenient to make too much bacon and store it in a container in the fridge for future quick sandwiches.

Recipe Card
30 minutes
Oven baked bacon

Want a super easy way to make a lot of bacon for sandwiches with very little effort or cleanup?

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The ranch

You won’t believe this, but I actually like my ranch dressing recipe better than the real thing and I’m a fan of ranch. It’s the MSG. The addition of MSG brings this recipe a lot closer to buying the Hidden Valley Ranch dust packets and mixing with mayo and sour cream/buttermilk at home (this is the best way to make HVR – bottles aren’t as good).

The difference in this ranch recipe with and without the MSG is stark. The glutamate just adds an extra savoriness that makes me think we’ve located the real Hidden Valley. I use Accent brand which is 100% monosodium glutamate, but you can find straight M.S.G. in the spice aisle at grocery stores too. Or you can definitely find it online.

10 minutes
Homemade ranch dressing

The valley isn't so hidden, when you know the secret recipe. This recipe allows you to vary the consistency of the final product.

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I added lettuce and tomato and put them all together into this very tasty sandwich. To answer the “which came first” question posed in the title. The chicken and then the bacon and then the ranch. It’s right there in the name!

Chicken, bacon and ranch sandwich
Grilled Chicken Bacon Ranch

Cheddar cheese biscuit with fried chicken

Cheese on cheese on cheese

You like cheese!? I like cheese!


My wife bought a box of white cheddar grooves and when we opened them we learned that this box was magical. A bunch of the crackers in the box were very heavily seasoned with the white cheddar flavor dust. Most were so full of dust that you could no longer see the “grooves.” Of course when something phenomenal like this happens in your life, you tweet about it and I did.

Magical Box of Cheez-it Grooves!

One of the replies to my tweet boldly told me I should use cheez-its as the coating on some fried chicken. I read the reply at 4 am and realized that the lunch portion of my day was planned.

The day before, I had baked up a batch of my savory cheddar cheese biscuits and I had also made a batch of cheddar beer cheese spread for crackers and snack time.

40 minutes
Super savory cheddar cheese biscuits

These savory biscuits are great on their own and even better with chicken or pork for a breakfast sandwich.

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15 minutes
Cheddar Beer Cheese Spread

Cheese spreads aren\'t only for crackers. Spread on any sandwich for a burst of extra cheesy flavor.

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Put those two recipes together and add a cheez-it coated fried chicken thigh and that’s a sandwich all figured out.

For the chicken, I basically made my normal buttermilk fried chicken (recipe below) except when it came time for breading, I brought each thigh from the buttermilk marinade, coated with the seasoned flour, then I put it back in the buttermilk marinade and finally I crusted each thigh in crushed up cheez-its. Then I rested them for a few minutes while my oil heated up and fried according to the recipe.

Here’s the cheez-it frying in action. Glorious.


Buttermilk fried chicken thighs view printable page for this recipe

A quick and easy recipe to prepare fried chicken for sandwiches. The cayenne gives it some heat. You can omit that if you don't want it spicy or even double it if you're extra bold.

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Ingredients:

Buttermilk marinade
  • 1.5 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 12 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (or breast meat cut into sandwich size pieces)
Seasoned flour
  • 1.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 12 teaspoon paprika
  • peanut oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Add salt, pepper cayenne pepper and paprika to buttermilk and whisk to combine. Put chicken in a zip top bag or bowl with a lid. Pour buttermilk marinade over chicken and store in fridge for at least an hour or overnight. 
  2. Make seasoned flour by combining flour with all of the spices, salt and pepper in a bowl or pan that is large enough for a piece of chicken to lay flat in the flour. 
  3. Remove one piece of chicken at a time from the marinade and dredge in the seasoned flour mixture until thoroughly coated on all sides. Place fully coated chicken onto a piece of parchment or the rack of a sheet pan to rest. 
  4. Heat 2 inches of peanut oil in a skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
  5. Fry each piece 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. 
  6. After frying, place finished chicken on a cooling rack over paper towels to drain some of the oil away. 

Notes:

A boneless skinless fried chicken thigh is usually a really good size for a biscuit or sandwich on a small bun. Typically a breast could be too large for your bun, so you may want to butterfly it or cut it into a shape that will more closely fit your bun or bread choice.


The final Cheez-it biscuit sandwich

Cheez-it crusted fried chicken thigh with cheddar beer cheese spread on a cheddar cheese biscuit.