It's homemade, but it tastes as good as Popeyes.

By Margaret Eby
March 11, 2019
Photo: Aaron Kirk; Prop Styling: Christina Daley; Food Styling: Robby Melvin 

It is a well known hosting trick that you don't have to make everything from scratch for it to be a delicious meal. At my friend's annual Easter potluck, people contribute their banana bread or chickpea salad or homemade biscuits, but the star is always the person who picks up Popeyes fried chicken to go along with the spread. I've seen picnics in the park near me with grills going but a telltale box of Popeyes nearby. It's delicious, and it's easy to pick up. But if you have a hankering to do some frying at home, and you really want to impress a party, here is a tip for you—you can make copycat Popeyes fried chicken at home, in the comfort of your own kitchen. The trick is all in the smart application of hot sauce. 

Part of what makes Popeyes chicken better than other fast food contenders is attention to detail. The crust of the chicken has a little kick in it, which you replicate here by applying hot sauce twice. First, you use it in the buttermilk marinade that you let the chicken sit in overnight. The acid in the buttermilk helps make the chicken tender, and infuses it with some of that vinegary hot sauce heat.

Get the Recipe: Make Copycat Popeyes Chicken

The next step has to do with dredging the chicken in seasoned flour and egg wash. Whenever I'm breading something, there are a few things I find helpful. The first is to make a quick breading station so that you can easily do a big batch of breading at once—I use two quarter sheet pans next to each other, one for the flour, and one for the egg mixture, but you could also use cake pans or casserole dishes. The second is that once you dip the chicken in egg and flour, you want to shake off the excess flour and kind of press it into the meat. If you see spots where the breading isn't sticking to the chicken as well as you'd like, don't worry. You can always give your chicken another dunk into the egg and back into the flour. This recipe calls for a double dunk anyway, but if that's not enough, you can go in a third time without fear. 

Then you want to carefully fry the chicken. If you don't have a fryer at home, never fear—you can deep fry without a fryer as long as you make sure that your oil gets to the right temperature, you're using a pretty deep vessel (so oil doesn't splatter everywhere), and you're using the right oil. Even if you don't have it in you to go to Popeyes, you can get all that flavor straight from your own kitchen.

 

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