Waffle Fried Chicken with Spicy Bourbon Maple Syrup

Waffle fried chicken is chicken coated with waffle batter and fried until crisp on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. With maple syrup for the kiddos and spiked syrup for the adults.

I’m not a waffle-and-fried-chicken kind of guy. I never quite got the combination. I got fried chicken, sure. Who doesn’t? And I got waffles. But never the twain had met on my plate. I don’t know when the idea to combine them–essentially, coating chicken pieces with waffle batter–hit. But it intrigued me. I liked the idea of the slightly sweet batter frying up crisp while tucked inside was juicy thigh meat. (You can use chicken breast, if you must [insert BIG eye roll], but dark meat is so much more flavorful, Blanche!)

I drenched my first attempt in pure maple syrup, and it was…an unmitigated disaster. Nothing but sweet stickiness. That’s when I reached for the bourbon. I even added some to the syrup. And a little cayenne and hot sauce lent the maple sweetness some depth and balance. I’d like to take credit for the nugget-ized version you see here (I originally went with strips), but these were the brilliant idea of our photographer, Cenk Sönmezsoy. Huzzah, huzzah!David Leite

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • Serves 6


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Heat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and top with a wire rack. Slip the pan and rack in the oven.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, eggs, hot sauce, and vanilla.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet ingredients, and whisk until no lumps remain. Let the batter sit in the fridge for 15 minutes. The batter will be very thick.

Add the chicken to the batter and stir to coat each piece.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the maple syrup, bourbon, and butter just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 minutes.

Stir in the cayenne pepper, remove from the heat, and cover to keep warm while you fry the chicken.

Add enough oil to a large saucepan or Dutch oven to reach about 3 inches (8 cm). Place over medium-high heat, attach a deep fry thermometer to the side, and heat until the oil registers 360°F (182°C). Alternatively, you can use a deep fryer and follow manufacturer’s directions for heating the oil.

Add a few pieces of chicken to the oil. Be careful to only add a paltry number of pieces as you don’t want to come anywhere close to crowding the pan.

You want to be careful to add only a few pieces to the pan at a time not just so pieces don’t clump together. When you add anything to hot oil, its temperature will initially plummet and then slowly climb. The less chicken you add at a time, the less the temperature will fall. And a steady temperature ensures a dark, crunchy exterior that’s not underdone or soggy in any way.

Fry the chicken, maintaining the oil temperature at 360°F (182°C) as best you can, until the batter is golden brown and the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.

If, after you flip the nuggets to cook the other side, they insist on flipping over again, simply use a slotted spoon or the tips of tongs to gently hold the nuggets in place.

Drain the fried chicken on paper towels and transfer them to the rack in the oven to keep warm while you fry up the rest.

Serve hot and pass the spicy bourbon maple syrup, plain maple syrup, and hot sauce on the side.