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Chicken and waffles are delicious and a family favorite for many! Crispy boneless thighs with flavorful meat that matches the fluffy texture of the waffles beautifully. However, if you’ve tasted this meal before, you might be seeking a way to spice things up.
Chicken and waffles are all about the contrast between the spiced, crispy chicken and slightly sweet, fluffy waffles. But that doesn’t mean it has to be the same dish each time you make it. Keep reading for fun ways to spice up your chicken and waffles, and make sure that they are delicious every time.
What Is Chicken and Waffles?
Chicken and waffles are exactly what they sound like: delicious, crispy fried chicken set atop fluffy waffles. From Louisiana to Georgia, various stories claim to be the origin of this southern culinary classic. As with many recipes, hundreds of chefs and localities have all claimed credit for the original. So, it’s difficult to know the precise origin of this dish, which actually makes it more of a cultural dish.
The spices, toppings, and type of chicken used in chicken and waffles can be customized to create unique flavors with each dish. However, key ingredients that must be included each time are chicken, buttermilk, and breadcrumbs.
One thing is certain: the combination of hot Southern fried chicken that is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside with flawlessly cooked waffles is absolute paradise. I hesitate to call it comfort food, but it seems to come pretty close.
Key Ingredients in Chicken and Waffles
The magic of this household favorite comes from great ingredients and a specific process to create elements of flavor for maximum deliciousness. While the rest can be switched up to make it your own, be sure to include these things for the best chicken and waffles:
- Chicken: You can’t have chicken and waffles without this essential ingredient. It makes no difference if you pick boneless, skinless thighs or tenders. Really, it’s all about preference. Tenders are delicate and juicy, whereas darker meat is very tasty when breaded and fried. Boneless will cook significantly faster than bone-in, but bone-in and skin-on are both acceptable options. Essentially, it’s down to personal preference and in many ways, what you have been used to over the years.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: This is going to add the best crunch to your chicken. Panko has a light, airy texture that aids in crisping when cooking. This makes it ideal for fried foods since it absorbs less oil than breadcrumbs, keeping food crisp and crunchy. When you bite into regular breadcrumbs, they are still crispy but don’t have the same crunch.
- Buttermilk: A nice buttermilk brine is essential for the best fried chicken. Soaking chicken or other meats in buttermilk tenderizes the meat. While stronger acids, such as lemon juice or vinegar, might tenderize meat, they can also dry it out. However, marinating the chicken in buttermilk keeps it moist while tenderizing the flesh and imparting flavor.
A good thick waffle is another necessity. While there are various recipes for waffles that will work, Belgian waffles will give you the best results. Belgian waffles are distinguished by their extra-large and deep square pockets, which can be filled with butter, syrup, and various toppings whereas conventional waffles are thinner and don’t hold up as well.
Fun Ways to Spice Up Chicken and Waffles
There are many recipes out there that claim to produce the best or most authentic chicken and waffles. But authentic doesn’t always mean fun. If you’re bored of traditional chicken and waffles, here are a few ideas to help you kick it up a notch.
Seasonings to spice up your waffles
The seasoning you add to the waffle batter plays a big part in determining how your chicken and waffles will taste. The typical seasonings used are garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, and pepper, but you aren’t limited to just these.
Feel free to explore with different seasonings. Maybe you’d like to try out Thai spices, or you’re craving the flavors of rosemary and sage. Want something sweeter? Try spices like cinnamon and cardamom. Think about the taste you’re hoping to achieve and then use spices that will help get you there.
Toppings for your chicken and waffles
Toppings have the ability to completely transform a dish. Here are a few combinations to try if you are looking for something new:
- Chutney: This is a delicious accompaniment to the chicken and waffles. The thick consistency and mild sweetness cut through the dryness of the waffles and chicken.
- Bananas and toasted coconut: This combo will basically turn your savory meal into a tasty dessert. Try adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you’re feeling extra daring.
- Syrup or honey: You can’t go wrong with this classic breakfast topping. Honey and syrup both have a sweet flavor that goes well with the chicken and waffles. Individual honeys also provide a variety of flavors. You can add anything from a suitable Canola (rapeseed) honey to robust flavor and aroma of British Ling Heather honey.
- A fried egg: There aren’t many dishes that can’t be enhanced with a fried egg. Try leaving the yolk runny for some extra umami.
- Bacon and brown sugar bourbon: This combination can bring your dish to the next level, adding a balance of sweet and deep smoky flavor.
- Salsa and guacamole: Give your chicken and waffles a Tex-Mex flair with some homemade salsa and guac.
- Buffalo sauce and blue cheese crumbles: This pub favorite combo is a perfect way to add a bit of spicy and tang to your dish.
- Cabbage slaw and ginger-lime dressing: If you’ve opted for Thai spices in your batter, try pairing your dish with a topping a fresh cabbage slaw and a ginger-lime dressing for the full experience.
- Cheese slices: When it comes to fast food, cheese has got to be high on every list of favorite toppings. The question is, what cheese do you choose? You can’t beat American cheese for its gooey meltability or texture. However, if you prefer a bit of a tang, try a slice of mature sharp cheddar. If you’re feeling adventurous, a little blue cheese, like Roquefort, will certainly make the dish unique.
You could also try classic toppings like fresh fruit or gravy but make it new by adding something else to the mix. Think of chicken and waffles as a vessel for your favorite flavors, and don’t be afraid to get creative.
Sides with chicken and waffles
While there are different ways you can prepare your chicken and waffles to bring variety to your dish, you could also mix things up by adding a side.
- Mac and Cheese: The creamy mac and cheese will pair well with the waffles and the crispy chicken, and the flavors match each other nicely.
- Grits: Grits have a moderate flavor that will not dominate the main course. It has a thick and silky consistency; therefore, it will complement the fried chicken and waffles.
- Eggs: It makes no difference whether you want it scrambled, fried, or boiled, eggs are one of the greatest foods to have for breakfast. They are high in protein and highly nutritious.
- Corn: The sweetness of corn goes well with the spicy fried chicken. Plus, it’s one of the easiest side dishes to make.
- Potato Salad: This is another dish that allows you to express yourself. It’s created with potatoes and other ingredients like boiled eggs, celery, and apple cider vinegar, lending a creaminess to the plate.
- Fresh Fruit: This will add a sweet, fresh element to the dish that helps cut through the oil and spices of the fried chicken.
When choosing a side, make sure you take other flavors into account. Potato salad might taste well with buffalo sauce, but with syrup as a topping, things might get a bit weird. You want your side to complement your dish, not clash with it.
What are chicken tenders. Are they the same as chicken breasts?
Although chicken thighs seem to be the most popular option for chicken and waffles, chicken tenders are another well-liked option. But what are they?
Chicken Tenders are the white meat strips on the inner side of each breast and next to the breastbone or ribs, so each chicken has two tenders. They are also known as tenderloins or hanging tenders. Anatomically, they are the bird’s pectoralis minor muscles, while the main part of the breast are the pectoralis major muscles.
Chicken Tenders, although the length of a chicken breast, are narrower and about half the size, making them perfectly bite-size. As the name suggests, they are more tender than the rest of the breast meat, making them softer and easier to chew. Provided they are not overcooked they are also thought of as being moister and more succulent than the rest of the chicken breast and the processed meat in chicken nuggets. The tenderness combines perfectly with the crispy bite of the deep-fried breadcrumb batter.
These qualities make chicken tenders particularly appealing to children. No doubt a certain amount of nostalgia about eating these in childhood persists into later life and has helped make chicken tenders a staple of American snack fast food.
Research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that chicken tenders have more intermediate fibers than the main part of the breast and that the muscle fibers are of uniform diameter throughout their length, unlike those in the main breast. Which helps to explain why the meat is more tender.
If you wondered whether chicken tenders are the same thing as chicken goujons, they are not. Chicken goujons, also known as chicken fingers, chicken strips and chicken fillets, are usually made from other parts of the breast meat.
Just as you might add toppings to your morning waffles, a few extras added to chicken and waffles can make them even more delicious. Whether you are serving the dish for breakfast, dinner, or the occasional dessert, these flavor combinations can help liven up a classic dish and make it more fun.
Tosh learned how to cook while watching his Polish Mom at home. He also worked in a family-owned restaurant while a student and learned much from the chefs. Cooking has always interested him, especially the hearty Polish recipes he learned from his mother. He has helped create and appeared on cookery shows on radio stations in Scotland.