chicken and waffles

Chicken and Waffles: A History and Our Easy Recipe

Don’t miss our ButcherBox recipe for “Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Gluten-Free Waffles (Organic Free Range Chicken)” at the bottom of the page.

Many of our favorite modern dishes are the product of culinary cultures colliding.

“Pizza Margherita,” a flatbread that featured tomatoes and cheese, is believed first to have been served in Naples, Italy in the 18th century — only after the introduction of tomatoes from America. Cheeseburgers are the result of German-American immigrants taking a traditional “Hamburg steak” and placing it on bread for convenience. Spaghetti noodles’ arrival in Italy by way of China, Korean tacos with kimchi and bulgogi…the combinations are endless.

Which brings us to the fantastic delight that is “Chicken and Waffles.”

Fried chicken — boneless or not — piled on top of a fluffy waffle with some melted butter and maple syrup is as American as it comes.

First, having bacon, sausage, and ham — or Canadian bacon — isn’t enough for us, so we had to come up with a new way to jam some more meat into our breakfast. Innovation!

Second, even though a breakfast food, we’ve found a way to incorporate chicken and waffles beyond the diner. It has evolved into something with a bit more cache than your standard quiche or breakfast burrito. For instance, chicken and waffles is a regular pass around dish at many cocktail events these days. At places like the Lower East Side’s Root & Bone and Brooklyn’s Sweet Chicks in New York, the dish can be found on dinner menus for between $17 and $25. Boston’s well-known Myers + Chang features their own take on chicken and “ginger” waffles, which is one of the hotspot’s more popular dishes.

History of “Chicken and Waffles”

Before digging into the background of this delectable combo, first we need to trace the origins of waffles and fried chicken in the U.S.

According to lore, waffles in America can be traced back to the arrival of the Pilgrims in Plymouth. As the story goes, the Pilgrims were introduced to the dish while exiled in Holland before heading to the New World. Waffles became more prominent after the Dutch populated what is now New York, bringing with them “wafles.” However, the figure credited with the widespread popularity and acceptance of the breakfast treat in America is none other than founding father Thomas Jefferson, who is believed to have brought one of the first waffle irons to the U.S. after discovering the apparatus in France.

The story of fried chicken’s birth in the U.S. is more complicated and entwined with the history of slavery in the South. A recent Atlantic feature, “As American as Fried Chicken,” does better than I could at digging into the complex background of the dish and its place in soul food traditions.

How Southern soul food and Dutch/Belgian culinary traditions came to be conjoined in one delicious dish is not necessarily agreed upon by food historians. Some point to the popularity of something known as Dutch “waffle frolics” in the South, at which African-Americans fused many of their cultural cooking traditions — including spiced chicken — with waffles or pancake-like crepes. Others believe that jazz-age Harlem was the birthplace of chicken and waffles as we know the dish today.

There is also another completely separate tradition of Pennsylvania Dutch chicken and waffles that uses a pulled or stewed chicken dinner as opposed to fried chicken piled on top of waffles with gravy.

While the origins are disputed, the popularity of the dish is undeniable.

How to Cook “Chicken and Waffles”

These days, you can find many different takes on chicken and waffles. In Nashville, the dish is combined with the city’s signature “hot chicken,” and versions of chicken and waffles with Buffalo chicken can be found at gastro pubs and restaurants in almost every city in America. Chicken and waffles with chocolate, gravy, variants of maple syrup, hot sauce, and more are widely available, and recipes abound for the dish. You can use a whole chicken, chicken tenders, or chicken breast, and can prepare it southern chicken-style or how ever you wish. Just make sure your chicken is golden brown and that you follow a fluffy, crispy waffle recipe.

Our in-house ButcherBox chef Yankel Polak has his own take on the dish. His “Gluten-Free Chix ‘n Waffles” recipe is one of the most popular among our ButcherBox recipes. You can check Chef Yankel out in the video below and find the recipe at the bottom of this page.

Chef Yankel suggests pairing this delicious, healthy dish with “a smoky maple syrup for the ultimate flavor bomb.” And make sure to have your waffle iron and a Dutch oven or a deep skillet handy!

Chef Yankel’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Gluten Free Waffles

chicken and waffles

GF Chicken n’ Waffles

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Course: Brunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Protein: Poultry
Diet: Gluten Free
Cut: Whole Chicken
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Marinating Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients

  • 1 ea ButcherBox Whole Chicken cut into 10 pieces

Marinade

  • 3 c buttermilk
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt

Coating

  • 2 c almond flour
  • 3 c gluten-free flour preferred - Bob's Red Mill 1-1 Baking Flour
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • 1 c coconut oil for frying
  • 1 c ghee for frying

Waffles

  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 2 c gluten-free flour preferred - Bob's Red Mill 1-1 Baking Flour
  • c milk
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ c coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup

Instructions

Marinade

  • Mix marinade ingredients together in a large enough container to hold chicken with marinade.  Toss chicken in marinade until will coated, cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.

Fried Chicken

  • Preheat oven to 350℉
  • First, BE CAREFUL!! Heat ghee and coconut oil in Dutch oven on medium, preheating oil to 350℉.  If you have a table top home fryer or an air fryer this is the time to use it!
  • Place almond flour, eggs, gluten free flour in three separate dishes.
  • Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and place on wire rack on top of a baking sheet to drain.
  • Gently coat chicken pieces:  1st - almond flour, 2nd - egg, 3rd - gluten free flour.
  • Once all chicken is coated carefully place 3-4 chicken pieces at a time into hot oil.  Do not over crowd.  If using the Dutch oven method for frying be sure to have a reliable thermometer to periodically test temperature.  Adjust temperature of stove (higher or lower) if necessary.  Also, BE CAREFUL!!
  • Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side or until lightly golden brown.  Transfer deep fried chicken to a baking sheet with roasting rack.
  • Finish cooking fried chicken in oven for approximately 20 minutes or until thermometer inserted into thickest part reads 165℉.

Waffles

  • Preheat waffle iron.
  • In a mixing bowl whisk eggs until frothy.
  • Add remaining waffle ingredients to frothy eggs and gently mix.  Don't over mix, batter will be on the chunky side.
  • Scoop waffle batter into hot iron and cook until golden brown.  Depending on how deep your waffle iron is use 1/3 c - 1/2 c of batter for waffles.
  • Serve waffles with fried chicken and a drizzle of your favorite maple syrup!
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dennis-keohane
Dennis Keohane

Dennis Keohane is the Editorial Director for ButcherBox.