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Southern Chicken and Waffles

June 16, 2023
Shanika | Orchids + Sweet Tea
Create the most classic dish that's guaranteed to get the entire family linking their fingers-----Southern Chicken and Waffles. No need for frying, yet the chicken is well seasoned + extra crispy, and the waffles are as tender as they need to be!

Southern Chicken and Waffles

Southern Chicken and Waffles recipe made with a nice mix of chicken pieces that are seasoned in two layers (both base + coating), coated with cornflakes and breadcrumbs for an extra crunch. Based with soft, tender waffles, this Southern classic is sure to have the entire family satisfied. You won’t believe how flavor-packed this recipe is! Completely dairy-free. Gluten-free, Air Fryer, + Make Ahead options.

Chicken and waffles on a plate with fork and knife with sliced strawberries.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links via Amazon for products that I wholeheartedly love and receive commission from.

When it comes to this Southern Chicken and Waffles recipe, it's a classic that is a must! Not only is it absolutely delicious, but it also makes for the best breakfast and dinner. It's literally the best invention ever created, because you get to enjoy extra crispy, but juicy fried chicken with fluffy waffles and the plays on texture and taste speaks volumes. This dish is what I grew up eating in Florida and once I introduced my husband to it a few years ago, he became hooked to say the least.

The best part about this recipe is that you can keep things traditional with actual large pieces of chicken like this Crispy Oven Fried Chicken or create a nice spin with chicken tenders if you're a lover of them-----definitely recommend these Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders. Of course, I always have my non-meat eater peeps covered and these Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings/Bites will do the trick---just omit the buffalo sauce if you want to keep it more classic. Need some food inspiration? Look no further than our lineup of 21 Soul-Satisfying Southern Comfort Food Recipes.

Why Do People Eat Chicken and Waffles Together?

According to a bit of research, it's said that Chicken and waffles were on the menu at a Harlem restaurant during the 'jazz era' of music and that the dish was designed to be served between dinner and breakfast in the early hours when musicians were likely finished with their sets. Hence, the popularity of enjoying this dish for brunch and keeping the combination flourishing.

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Ingredients on a white wood table including cornflakes, oil spray, eggs, breadcrumbs, flour, dijon mustard, and milk.

How to Make Southern Chicken and Waffles

Cooking crispy baked chicken tenders is generally an easy process---in total of about 30-35 minutes. You first start by slicing (if using chicken breasts), cleaning and washing your chicken pieces to ensure that they are clean and ready to be seasoned. I like to wash my chicken with both vinegar and lemon to help keep things clean and sanitized.

Once your chicken is clean, then it's patting dry and seasoning time! I'm all about seasoning every "layer" of my food, therefore, the chicken gets direct seasoning and so does the coating. Let everything marinate for 5-10 minutes or overnight (preferably 1-2 days) tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for the best results.

Then you dust the chicken tenders and add them to the wet mixture of some kind, and bread them in a cornflake-breadcrumb crust before baking/roasting for crispness.

Finally, you'll whip together the waffle batter, cook everything in your heated waffle maker, assemble, and wallah.

Chicken on a baking sheet.

Chicken and Waffles Ingredients

  • Fried chicken. You can keep things traditional by following my Crispy Oven Fried Chicken recipe or switch things up with Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders or cauliflower bites for no-meat eaters.
  • All-purpose flour. I recommend organic flour from Bob’s Red Mill. You can also sub with their GF Baking flour for the gluten-free option.
  • Cane sugar. I always go with organic! This is a great sweetener that keeps your waffles light, but you can also sub with maple syrup, date syrup, coconut sugar, or brown sugar. If you’re not vegan, honey also works.
  • Baking powder. This leavener will lighten your waffles so they’re fluffy and airy. Make sure your baking powder is fresh (not expired!) for best results.
  • Eggs. This is the binder for the batter. For an egg-free option, simple substitute your eggs with 2 “flax eggs”.
  • Banana. This is an optional variation for a different flavor of waffles. Use ver ripe bananas for the sweetest flavor.
  • Almond milk. You can use any dairy or dairy-free milk you have on hand.
  • Vanilla. Another important flavor boost to these waffles.
  • Vegetable oil. I like to use a high-quality organic vegetable oil, but you can also use coconut oil, an organic version of canola oil by La Tourangelle or melted vegan butter, if preferred.
Ingredients on a white wood table including banana, flour, vanilla, eggs, milk, and maple syrup.

Tips for the Crispiest Chicken

To make sure your Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders get as crispy as possible with the use of a “coating”, follow these simple tips:

  • Make sure each chicken piece has plenty of space on the baking sheet. The airflow helps things crisp up.
  • When using a baking sheet, add a wire rack atop the parchment paper so that chicken tenders can crisp up nicely on all sides without you having to do any "turning".
  • Cook chicken tenders until completely crisp prior to adding sauce so that they have minimal liquid and avoid soggy-ness.
  • After rinsing your chicken pieces, be sure to pat dry completely until they are as dry as possible before adding seasoning.

How to Make Crispy Chicken Tenders in an Air Fryer?

To make your crispy chicken tenders in an air fryer, it's very similar to doing it the oven. The only difference would be the cook time and adding them to a basket versus a baking sheet. Once you've seasoned, dusted, and coated your chicken tenders, add them to your air fryer basket, spray with cooking oil, and cook them at 360 degrees for 10-15 minutes. NOTE: You might want to spray your basket with cooking oil to ensure that your chicken doesn't stick to it during cooking.

Waffle batter in a bowl with a wooden spoon on a white wood table.

Belgian Waffles vs. Traditional Waffles

Waffles of any variety are excellent eats. There are quite a few differences between Belgian waffles and traditional waffles. Belgian waffles tend to have the following characteristics:

  • Thick
  • Fluffy
  • Golden
  • Round
  • Crisp
  • Cake-like

Belgian waffles are almost always thicker and fluffier than a regular waffle. That is the main difference. It often has to do with the thick and fluffy waffle batter, however, the size and shape of your waffle iron also make a big difference. Also, some recipes from Belgium are leavened with yeast for an even fluffier waffle.

Traditional waffles are thinner and crisper. They are leavened with baking soda/powder only. These waffles tend to look like this:

  • Crunchy
  • Square or round
  • Thin
  • Small
  • Less fluffy
Waffles on a white plate on a white wood table with bananas.

How to Make Waffles Vegan and Gluten-Free

Turning traditional recipes plant-based or gluten-free is much easier than one might assume. For every regular ingredient, there is a plant-based alternative and a gluten-free alternative.

For example, to remove eggs from a recipe to make it vegan, you can use soaked flaxseeds, applesauce, egg replacer, or mung bean. All of these items are totally vegan and are a binding ingredient in cooking or baking, much like eggs.

Making foods gluten-free can be easy as well. There are many flour blends out there that are GF, yet mimic the ease and simplicity of regular wheat flour.

Some GF flours I like are:

  • Oat flour
  • Almond flour
  • 1:1 all-purpose GF flour
  • Rice flour (brown or white)
  • Tapioca flour
  • Corn flour (cornstarch)

Common Q + A's for Southern Chicken and Waffles

How do you store leftovers?

Place any leftover ingredients in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

How long do the waffles last?

Leftovers can be tightly sealed in a zip loc bag (once fully cooled) and either refrigerated for a few days or frozen. To serve, reheat waffles in the oven on 400 degrees for a few minutes until warmed through.

Can you freeze the waffles for longer?

Absolutely! To store waffles for longer periods, simply add them unto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer for 2 hours. Once fully frozen, remove and store them in a zip loc and freeze for up to 3 months.

Can I make chicken + waffles ahead of time?

Yes! All ingredients can be made and individually stored as meal prep (up to 2 days prior) and assembled when ready to serve. 

Can I use something other than vegetable oil for the waffles?

Of course! I like to use a high-quality organic vegetable oil, but you can also use coconut oil, an organic version of canola oil by La Tourangelle or melted vegan butter, if preferred.

Do I need a mixer for the waffles?

Absolutely not! With this recipe, everything is made in just one bowl and using your hands and a spatula. The batter is pretty manageable, therefore, there is no need for a mixer! Plus, we don't want any over-mixing, so I highly suggest doing this manually, unless you absolutely have to, then of course a hand mixer will do!

What is the best waffle maker?

Honestly, I use my Belgian waffle maker by Cuisinart, which is absolutely perfect and it allows for me to control the heat settings to avoid my waffles from getting too golden. However, you can always use any waffle maker that you love!

Why does the coating fall off of my chicken?

Believe it or not, this has happened to me plenty of times. Moisture is the worst enemy in frying chicken. This is why dusting your chicken with flour as I've mentioned before should be enough to create a moisture barrier around the chicken; otherwise, the moisture created during the cooking process is going to create steam that will cause your breading to flake off.

Why put chicken in milk before frying?

The calcium in milk is thought to kick-start a natural enzyme in the chicken that helps it tenderize. This is the same for using plant-based milk also.

Why do you add baking powder to flour for chicken?

As I've mentioned, adding a good amount of salt to your chicken helps to keep your chicken moist without adding extra moisture to the coating. However, if you don't want to add too much salt to your chicken, adding 2 teaspoons of baking powder to the flour before dredging helps to create a crispy coating and do the same thing as salt would!

Chicken and waffles on a plate with sliced strawberries and a glass of milk.

What Goes with Chicken and Waffles?

Although this chicken and waffles recipe is filling in and of itself, you can also enjoy a heartier meal with a good side dish that compliments the flavors, such as:

More Amazing Brunch Recipes to Try Next!

MADE OUR RECIPE(S)?

If you tried this Southern Chicken and Waffles recipe or any other recipe on my website, please please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how you go in the 📝 comments below. I love hearing from you.

Chicken and waffles on a white plate on a white wood table with a glass of milk and strawberries.
Chicken and waffles on a white plate on a white wood table with a glass of milk and strawberries.

Southern Chicken and Waffles

June 16, 2023
5 from 7 votes
Create the most classic dish that's guaranteed to get the entire family linking their fingers-----Southern Chicken and Waffles. No need for frying, yet the chicken is well seasoned + extra crispy, and the waffles are as tender as they need to be!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Serves: 4 servings

Ingredients

CHICKEN:

  • 1 Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders (See Notes!)

CLASSIC WAFFLES:

  • 3 cups organic all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups organic cane sugar
  • 1 ½ Tbsps baking powder
  • 2 tsps ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 3 large organic eggs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (See Notes!)
  • 2 cups Almond milk
  • pure maple syrup, for drizzle

VARIATION (OPTIONAL):

  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed

Instructions

TO MAKE THE CHICKEN:

TO MAKE THE WAFFLES:

  • Preheat your waffle maker to desired setting–medium-high heat worked for me! 
  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cane sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt. Create a well in the middle.
  • Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla in the well of the dry ingredients and stir together well (using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon) until fully incorporated and batter looks smooth. NOTE: If using bananas, add it in with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine until smooth.
  • Now, let the batter sit for 2-3 minutes while it slightly thickens and rises, which means that the ingredients have activated. NOTE: the batter should be pourable but not 'runny' at all. It should slightly stick when whisk is lifted up, as a test for thickness. NOTE: DO NOT OVER-MIX!
  • Next, spoon batter into your waffle maker (½ cup approximately) and cook according to your waffle iron’s instructions. 
  • Once each waffle completes, add to a baking sheet and place them in the oven on the lowest setting (to keep them warm). Repeat until all waffles are made.

ASSEMBLY:

  • To serve–stack waffles (whole or cut) unto each prepared plate followed by 2 pieces of chicken and toppings (fresh strawberries or other berries), and drizzle with maple syrup, if desired.
  • Bon Appetit!

Tips & Tricks

  • STORAGE: Place any leftover ingredients in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • MAKE AHEAD: All ingredients can be made and individually stored as meal prep (up to 2 days prior) and assembled when ready to serve. 
  • STORAGE [WAFFLES]: Leftovers can be tightly sealed in a zip loc bag (once fully cooled) and either refrigerated for a few days or frozen.To serve, reheat waffles in the oven on 400 degrees for a few minutes until warmed through.
  • FREEZE WAFFLES: To store waffles for longer periods, simply add them unto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place in the freezer for 2 hours. Once fully frozen, remove and store them in a zip loc and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • STANDARD WAFFLES (NON-BELGIAN): This recipe will make more than 6-8 waffles for this recipe.
  • GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To make these waffles GF, I recommend using a GF Flour Blend (Bob’s Red Mills has a great version!). NOTE: If the batter mixture is too ‘thin + runny’, simply add additional GF flour, ¼ cup at a time.

Nutrition

Calories: 794kcal | Carbohydrates: 150g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 140mg | Sodium: 986mg | Potassium: 187mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 76g | Vitamin A: 208IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 460mg | Iron: 6mg

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Script text: Xx, Shanika

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  1. Yes! I am a southern girl too and it's so true that anything ate in the morning is considered breakfast haha. These look great!

  2. What a fun and hearty way to start my day! Looks so easy and flavorful; can't wait to give this a try! Yum!

  3. What a delicious combination and play on traditional chicken and waffles! I love your version and those waffles look and sound amazing!

  4. Love the idea of making the the wings in the air fryer and making the waffles with sweet potato - they look delicious and I can imagine the waffles have a great gently sweet flavor.

  5. I'm such a sucker for chicken and waffles! Would never have guessed those waffles were flourless. They look so light and fluffy.

  6. Oh wow, this looks great! I love waffles and I'm weak for sweet potatoes, so I think I'll try just make the waffles on their own! Do you think it would taste nice if I boil the sweet potatoes before mashing instead of roasting them?