Here's How Chick-fil-A Makes Perfectly Crispy Chicken

The secret is out.

Chick-fil-A is a Southern staple. We've loved and lost the Carrot-and-Raisin Salad, and are still a little sour about the removal of our beloved Lemon Pie. But one item on Chick-fil-A's menu that has our hearts fully—and won't change—is the restaurant's iconic fried chicken fillets. Known best when sandwiched on a bun with a couple of pickles, Chick-fil-A's classic chicken sandwich is the one we crave on Sundays (and promptly pick up on Mondays). The chicken is tender, crispy, and flavorful, begging the question—how does a fast food chain master fried chicken so perfectly?

Chick-fil-A Meal
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Get the Scoop on Technique

To answer this question, we took a visit to Chick-fil-A's Atlanta, Georgia, headquarters, where the company has a handful of test kitchens, mock restaurants, and an innovation center—all of which are there to help the company improve their already-successful business model. One of our stops, of course, was to visit Alexa Griffith in Culinary Commercialization, who gave us the scoop on how Chick-fil-A breads each sandwich perfectly. The technique is similar to how we'd make Mama's fried chicken, with one notable difference: there's some exercise involved. Chick-fil-A employees, who hand-bread all of the restaurant's chicken daily, are encouraged to get up on their tip-toes to firmly knead the seasoned flour mixture into the meat, repeating the process on both sides. According to Alexa, it's hard work. "You're using some calf muscles...So think about doing this for an entire shift. Our team members get their workout in."

After being tossed in the perfect seasoning blend, the hand-breaded chicken goes into a pressure fryer. Then it’s assembled between two buttered, toasted buns and topped with two carefully placed pickle slices. It’s a process that seems simple, but when it all comes together, it’s so right.

Make Your Own

We know Chick-fil-A isn’t going to give up its secret recipe anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own version of its delicious chicken at home when a trip through the drive-through isn’t possible. Try these Copycat Chick-fil-A Chicken Minis for those Sundays when a craving hits. These little bites will taste familiar thanks to a pickle juice marinade and a dunk in a cayenne-laced buttermilk wash. Serve these minis on Parker House Rolls brushed with honey butter. They’ll convince you it’s a weekday. 

Now that you know the trick to their crispy chicken, learn some other Chick-fil-A secrets, like what gives the chicken tortilla soup that extra kick, facts employees know, and how they make the nuggets.

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