Just about any fried chicken sandwich is some degree of delicious. Deep fried pieces of poultry coated in spices on buttery buns just hardly ever go wrong. But while the floor is high, only certain fried chicken sandwiches are worth crossing bridges for. You'll find those sandwiches right here in this guide.
The piece of fried chicken that comes in The Notorious T.F.C. (which stands for Taiwanese fried chicken) is more like a steak than a patty. A whole chicken leg is deboned and pounded to form a juicy, tender cutlet that spills out of a sesame bun on all sides. To complete this masterpiece, a copious amount of daikon slaw is tossed in along with a creamy, spicy sauce for some kick. You might think you can't finish this sandwich—but it's so good that you'll prove yourself wrong.
Indian fried chicken sandwiches might seem new to the East Village and NYC at large, but according to the owners of Rowdy Rooster—who also happen to run Dhamaka, Semma, and Adda—pakora-style chicken is a common street snack in Northern India. Their "Big Rowdy" sandwich is crunchy and covered in yogurt and pickled onions, and it comes on a soft, buttery pao bun. There are three heat levels to choose from, and the spiciest one is genuinely sweat-inducing.
photo credit: Dane Isaac
A sandwich is only as good as its architecture. In this case, Chick Chick dredges a juicy thigh and fries it twice, then tops the whole thing with a ton of cayenne and paprika. On the bottom, you’ll find cold butter lettuce and thick, slightly sweet pickles, all with a cooling white sauce—made with mustard, mayo, buttermilk, and black pepper—seeping down the side. The result is a perfect union of Nashville flavor and Korean fried chicken texture.
Pecking House is permanently closed
photo credit: David A. Lee
The chicken sandwich at Pecking House will make you forget about the one from Popeyes—and you should believe us when we tell you that this is very high praise. Its thin, charred cabbage gets cooked down in a ton of dark soy sauce, making each strand the perfect complement to the crunchy, juicy piece of fried chicken breast. Factor in the pineapple jam and brioche bun, and this is a sandwich you won’t stop thinking about.
photo credit: Ben Hon
Double Chicken Please
There are two fried chicken sandwiches at Double Chicken Please, and we feel like the one with salted duck egg gets all the attention. But the version with hot honey is the reason why we put this place on this list. With sweetness and spice from the honey, salt from the seasoned batter, sourness from some pickles, and an herbaceous Thai basil sauce, this sandwich is anything but one-note.
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken
Even as extreme chicken lovers, we reached a point in our research for this guide when we couldn’t bear to consume another fried breast on a soft bun. Then we checked back in on Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. Their hot, sweet sandwich made us forget that we'd tried 20 sandwiches in one week. It was like falling in love with chicken again—this time with the help of some syrupy chipotle honey mixed with spicy mayo and a supple potato bun. If you want to stick to the classic, their regular fried chicken sandwich is also excellent.
This sandwich is a study in harmony. Sweet and salty pickles and ginger-pepper sauce bring kick to every bite. The scallions and pickled veggies add brightness and crunch, and the fried chicken leg acts as a call for all white meat sandwiches to perform their swan songs.
Your brain only has so much real estate for remembering fried chicken sandwiches. But between the tangy lime leaf aioli, pickled jalapeños, chili, and lemongrass, Saigon Social’s spicy and herbaceous version will boot out any excess memories of tasteless fried chicken. This Vietnamese spot opened on the LES in the spring of 2020, making it the newest, best fried chicken option on this list. If you’re at all drawn to chicken sandwiches with genuine heat, you won’t be disappointed.
The hot chicken isn’t the best sandwich at Mekelburg’s, just as “to thine own self be true” isn’t the best line from Hamlet. It may be overshadowed by this Williamsburg spot’s meatloaf sandwich, but it's still phenomenal. Just as the thin layer of skin—which acts like a sponge soaking up the spicy sauce, cayenne, and hot honey—seems like it might completely mask the flavor of the juicy meat, the sweet and tangy kewpie mayo arrives to keep the heat in check.
We’re confident that the fried chicken sandwich at Peaches Hothouse went to the Cristiano Ronaldo school of self-promotion. On the menu, it’s called “The Best Chicken Sandwich Anywhere,” and the bun is lathered in comeback sauce—a combination of mayo, ketchup, honey, and Cajun seasoning. Juices from the Nashville-style hot chicken run down your hand as soon as you pick this sandwich up, while the cayenne on the hot and extra hot versions hits your nose like smelling salts. And like Ronaldo, this sandwich lives up to the hype every time.
A pretzel buns is often a red herring. At Emmy Squared, however, it doesn’t disguise average ingredients. You barely notice it until you’re about halfway through the katsu-style Nashville hot chicken, and you’ll appreciate how the crust of the bun remains crisp despite soaking up the Alabama white sauce underneath.
You expect to hear it said about high-quality steak or Santana guitar riffs, but “like butter” isn’t a description you typically associate with fried chicken sandwiches. That’s because very few of them are like the version at Diner in Williamsburg. This sandwich's meat is so tender that if it weren’t for the thin layer of crispy skin, it’d be nearly impossible to tell where the buttery meat ends, and the buttery potato bun begins. Just know that it’s only offered at lunch and brunch.