Chicken Sandwiches That Are Better Than Hamburgers
In the world of sandwiches, burgers are booming. While a juicy burger is pretty spectacular, chicken can be every bit as good when allowed to shine. The problem is many eateries don’t even give it a chance, resorting to the same formula of a grilled breast, sliced tomato, a few lettuce leaves, and maybe a smear of mayo. That’s hardly an inspiring meal. With a bit of imagination, though, the bird can be a perfect canvas for different flavors and cooking methods. Try one of these six sandwiches, and you’ll convert to team chicken.
1. Indian Pulled-Chicken Sandwiches
You don’t have to order takeout to enjoy a meal packed with the taste of India. This delicious sandwich from Food & Wine uses rotisserie chicken, curry powder, and jarred chutney to make a seriously flavorful sandwich in record time. The method is pretty similar to making a standard chicken salad. Blend the yogurt dressing in the food processor, then toss it with shredded chicken, cilantro, and scallions. A few leaves of arugula add a peppery bite that goes perfectly with the sweet and spicy salad.
- ¾ cup plain, whole-milk yogurt
- ¾ cup mango chutney
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
- 1 small rotisserie chicken, shredded, skin and bones discarded
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup baby arugula
- 4 sandwich rolls, split
Directions: In a food processor, pulse yogurt, chutney, lime juice, and curry until blended, but not entirely smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl, add chicken, scallions, and cilantro. Toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Lay arugula over rolls, top with chicken mixture, and serve.
2. Chicken Caesar Ciabatta Sandwiches
Even a massive chicken Caesar salad can leave you feeling hungry after just a few hours. Make a more substantial meal by turning the classic dish into this sandwich from Damn Delicious, adapted from a recipe on TLT — The Little Things. Loaded with chicken, lettuce, Parmesan, and a creamy dressing, it really hits the spot when you’re looking for something that can power you through the rest of your day.
Instead of the classic dressing, this recipe streamlines things by using some purchased mayonnaise. While eight anchovies might seem like a lot, don’t skimp on the little fish. They add a rich, salty taste that you just can’t get from any other ingredient. For even more flavor, we like to top this sandwich with a few pickled banana peppers.
- 8 anchovies, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Splash of Worcestershire sauce
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup romaine lettuce leaves
- 1 pound boneless, skinless, thinly sliced chicken breasts
- Kosher salt an freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 ciabatta rolls, toasted
- ¼ cup shaved Parmesan cheese
Directions: Whisk anchovies, garlic, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce to blend. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add water to thin, if desired.
In a small bowl, combine romaine with ½ tablespoon dressing, and toss to coat. Set aside.
Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook, flipping once, until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Let rest 5 minutes. Slice across the grain into strips.
Serve sandwiches on ciabatta with lettuce, chicken, Parmesan, and more dressing.
3. Chicken Bacon Ranch Panini
The combination of ranch dressing, chicken, and bacon nearly guarantees whatever meal you’re making will be tasty. This toasty sandwich from The Pioneer Woman boosts the flavor even more by adding some cheddar cheese. It’s every bit as good as a panini from your local coffee shop, but without the snobby baristas.
- 8 slices crusty French bread
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more
- Olive oil
- 2 whole chicken breasts, cut in half from top to bottom
- Spicy mustard
- Ranch dressing
- 4 thick slices sharp cheddar cheese
- 8 slices bacon, cooked, and cut in half
Directions: Cook halved chicken breasts in butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until just cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Slice into strips and set aside.
Spread a generous amount of mustard on half of bread slices. Spread a generous amount of ranch on other half of slices. Arrange chicken, bacon, and cheese on mustard-coated bread. Top with ranch-coated bread. Butter both sides of bread, and grill in a panini maker until outside is toasted and cheese is melted. Alternatively, use a large skillet, and weigh down sandwiches with another heavy skillet. Flip halfway through.
Cut sandwiches in half, and serve.
4. Fried chicken Sandwich with Slaw and Spicy Mayo
Making fried chicken can be quite a lengthy process that requires marinating the meat, dredging, and cooking in several batches. This recipe from Son of a Gun, featured in Bon Appétit, is much speedier thanks to boneless chicken that doesn’t call for an overnight buttermilk bath. The slaw makes a perfect topper, because it’s crunchy, cool, sweet, and spicy.
Make sure your chicken is completely coated in the flour mixture so you get the best crunch. To do this, dredge the chicken in the flour, then the buttermilk, and one final dunk in the flour. Starting with the dry ingredients gives the buttermilk something to stick to, so you won’t have any naked spots.
Mayo and slaw
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
- 4 cups thinly sliced cabbage
- ½ cup bread-and-butter pickle slices, plus ¼ cup pickle juice
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 (8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved crosswise
- Peanut or vegetable oil
- 4 white sandwich rolls
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Directions: Mix garlic, mayonnaise, and hot sauce to combine. Cover, and chill. Toss onion, jalapeño, cabbage, pickles, and pickle juice in a large bowl to combine. Cover, and chill.
Whisk flour, pepper, and ½ teaspoon salt in a shallow bowl. Pour buttermilk into another shallow bowl. Working one piece at a time, dredge chicken in flour mixture, shaking to remove excess. Dip in buttermilk, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge again in flour mixture, shaking to remove excess. Repeat with remaining chicken.
Pour oil into a large heavy skillet to ½-inch depth. Preheat oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry chicken until golden brown and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet, and season with salt. Spread cut sides of rolls with butter. Heat another large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook rolls until browned and crisp, about 1 minute. Spread with mayo, then top with chicken, slaw, and top of bun. Serve.
5. Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich
Most of us think of a thick, glossy sauce when we hear the word teriyaki. But it actually refers to the cooking method rather than the condiment. Typically, it’s made with just soy sauce, mirin, sake, and sugar. Most American versions thicken the mixture with cornstarch to add body, and add other ingredients to boost the flavor. While this sweet and savory sandwich from Jamie Cooks It Up definitely isn’t a traditional use, it’s a delicious way to get your teriyaki fix.
Pineapple rings give this sandwich the prettiest presentation. You can purchase canned ones, or look for cored pineapple at the grocery store. If you prefer to buy the whole fruit and don’t have a corer, you can slice the pineapple into planks instead. It might not look as fancy, but it will taste exactly the same.
- Teriyaki sauce
- 4 chicken breasts
- Salt and pepper
- 4 pineapple rings
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 4 slices mozzarella cheese
- 4 lettuce leaves
- 4 hamburger buns
Directions: Heat grill to 350 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain pineapple rings of excess juice and set aside. Lay a medium sized piece of foil over grill, and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and lay over foil. Turn heat to low, and cook 8 minutes. Open lid, and lay another piece of foil on grill, and drizzle with oil. Add onions, spreading into an even layer, and season with salt and pepper. Close grill, and continue to cook.
When chicken is almost cooked, move onions to one end of foil, and drizzle a little more oil on foil. Add pineapple rings and cook. Flip chicken, and allow to finish cooking. Remove onions once golden.
When pineapple rings turn golden, flip, and brush with teriyaki sauce. Continue cooking just to warm through, then remove from grill. Brush chicken with sauce, and cover with a slice of cheese. Turn grill off, and close cover. Once cheese has melted, remove chicken.
Brush buns with sauce, top with chicken, pineapple, onions, and lettuce. Serve.
6. Tequila-Lime Chicken Sandwiches with Guacamole and Chipotle Mayo
Guacamole is a great dip for chips, but it also makes a fine sandwich spread. Try this zesty chicken recipe from Host The Toast to give it a try. With marinated chicken, creamy guacamole, melty cheese, and crisp bacon, this meal tastes like a combination of fajitas and a club sandwich. If you have trouble finding ripe avocados at your store, you can always purchase pre-made guacamole.
- ¼ cup tequila
- Juice of 3 limes
- Juice of 1 orange
- ½ tablespoon chili powder
- 1 jalapeño, seeded, and minced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
- Monterey Jack cheese
- 8 strips bacon
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1 small red onion, minced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tomato, chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ cup chipotle sauce
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
Directions: Combine tequila, juice from three limes, orange juice, chili powder, jalapeño, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and chicken in a large zip-top bag. Marinate at least one hour or overnight.
Make guacamole by mashing avocado in a medium bowl, then adding red onion, garlic, tomato, and remaining lime juice. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. In another bowl, combine chipotle sauce and mayonnaise. Cover guacamole and mayo, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. On a foil lined baking sheet, cook bacon until crisp, about 20 minutes. Set aside. Turn oven to broil. On a broiler pan coated with cooking spray, cook chicken about 6 minutes per side, until just cooked through. Top each with a piece of cheese, and broil just to melt, about 30 seconds.
Layer sandwiches with mayo, chicken, bacon, guacamole, and cilantro. Close bun tops, and serve.