When the craving for fast food rears its ugly head it’s comforting to know that we can create our own relatively healthy versions of our favorite take out meals at home! This week we had the craving for some Chick-fil-A Original sandwiches which, if you haven’t heard of them, are these moist and flavorful fried chicken pieces served with a a tangy Pickle on a deliciously soft and fluffy Roll that’s been buttered and lightly toasted. It’s arguably a “no-frills” sandwich, but don’t let its simplicity fool you, this sandwich is absolutely delicious and, once we make it ourselves, 100% clean eat and homemade!
It’s worth noting that I developed this recipe by utilizing the listed ingredients on the Chick-fil-A website and one thing I observed was that the authentic version contains a lot of sugar, which I’ve reduced quite a bit, and a lot of MSG (which I’ve omitted since it’s not an ingredient I usually have on hand). Aside from that, the ingredient list was followed with cleaner substitutions being made.
To make our clean-eat version we’re going to need to prep the chicken a couple hours in advance by cutting it to size and making a brine using the juice from our homemade pickles that consists of water, distilled white vinegar, fresh dill, raw organic sugar, salt, garlic, red pepper flakes and black peppercorns.
We’ll pour the cooled brine over the chicken (topping it with water to ensure full coverage) and allow it to marinate for at least 2 hours. Once that’s done, all that’s left to do is bread and fry our chicken and assemble our sandwich! 🍔
For our wash, we’ll be using eggs and milk that will be whisked together until smooth.
As for the breading, we’ll need white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour) with some baking powder added in and a spice mix of salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, raw organic sugar, garlic powder and potato starch.
The spices will be blended together in a high powered blender until they are a fine powder. Since the black pepper and raw organic sugar are more granular, blending it all together ensures that it can be thoroughly incorporated into the flour, thus allowing for our chicken pieces to have total flavor coverage once we bread them.
With our ingredients prepped, it’s time to set up our breading station and preheat our oil.
It’s best to work in small batches so we’ll keep the line going by rotating our prep and breading and resting our fillets while others fry. As for the prep order, here are the steps:
1. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. If we don’t do this we risk the separation of our crust from our chicken.
2. Dredge the chicken in the flour, this removes even more moisture and allows for a thin layer that the egg mixture can adhere to.
3. Shake off any excess flour and dip the chicken into the egg wash, being sure to evenly coat both sides.
4. Dredge the chicken in the flour once more. Press the chicken cutlet into the flour to ensure that all sides completely coated.
5. Allow the coated cutlets to rest for a few minutes for the breading to “set”. This not only creates a crunchier texture but it keeps the flour from falling off once the chicken hits the oil. Do not skip this step!
And the final step is to fry your chicken. Once the breading has set, into the hot oil it goes to fry for a few minutes until the underside is golden brown before carefully and gently flipping it over and frying the other side until golden.
Remove the fried fillets from the pan and set them onto a wire rack to cool so that the breading doesn’t get soggy and any excess oil can drip off. Seriously though, doesn’t that look delicious?!
The last step is to assemble our sandwich by slicing one of our soft and sweet Hawaiian dinner rolls in half, lightly buttering and toasting just the insides, setting one of our Homemade Pickles (pictured in the sandwich and in the background) onto the bottom bun and topping it with one of our fried chicken pieces before crowning it with the top bun.
Though I think this sandwich is perfection in and of itself, you can “upgrade” it to a deluxe sandwich by adding lettuce🥬, tomato🍅, and cheese 🧀 to it.
Just as good is our healthier option of a Chick-fil-A Grilled Chicken Sandwich that cuts back on the carbs by skipping the chicken’s breading and frying in favor of grilling it!
Clean Eat Copycat Chick-fil-A Original Sandwich
- 2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cups homemade pickle juice
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 cup Whole Milk
- 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1/2 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 1/2 tbsp raw cane sugar
- 1/2 tsp potato starch
- extra light olive oil (for frying)
For serving: Buttered and toasted homemade Hawaiian buns and homemade pickle slices
- Wash, clean, and slice your chicken into pieces that are just slightly larger than your bread/rolls.
- In a large bowl or baking dish, pour the pickle juice brine (made from water, distilled white vinegar, fresh dill, raw organic sugar, salt, garlic, red pepper flakes and black peppercorns) over the chicken fillets and add just enough water to cover the chicken. Set the chicken into the refrigerator for at least two hours.
- In a large bowl, add the baking powder to the flour.
- Add the remaining spices (salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, raw organic brown sugar, garlic powder and potato starch) to a high-powdered blender or grinder and blend until combined into a fine powder. Add the spice powder to the flour/baking powder and mix well to evenly distribute.
- Whisk together the eggs and milk until smooth and fully blended.
- Add enough oil into a frying pan or skillet to cover at least one inch and heat the oil until hot (but not smoking).
- Pat each fillet of chicken dry using paper towels and dredge them in the flour, shaking off any excess.
- Dip both sides of the floured chicken fillets into the egg wash and then back into the flour, being sure to press down so that the flour adheres to the chicken.
- Gently shake off any excess flour and set onto a plate to allow the breaded fillet to rest for a few minutes.
- After the fillets have rested, carefully place them into the hot oil, working in small batches. Fry until both sides of the fillet are golden brown (and the internal temperature of the chicken is about 165°F)
- Remove the chicken from the oil and place the fillets onto a wire rack to cool.
- Original: Slice a Hawaiian Roll in half and lightly toast and butter it. Place a homemade pickle onto the bottom bun and top with a crunchy fried chicken fillet and the top bun.Deluxe: Add fresh lettuce and a slice of tomato to the bottom bun, top with a fried chicken fillet and cheese slices of your choice before setting the top bun into place.
- *Note that the nutrition information provided is an estimate per fried chicken fillet and not for the whole sandwich.