London’s Best Fried Chicken Sandwiches
A bad fried chicken sandwich isn’t really that bad, is it? Think back on even the most disappointing chicken schnitzel you’ve rammed between two slices of dry Hovis and it’s likely you’ll still have at least vaguely fond memories of how that meal tasted. The combination of 'fried chicken + bread + some sort of condiment' is one that it’s hard to do wrong. But it’s also one that’s hard to do right.
The good majority of fried chicken sandwiches that you can find in the UK are painfully average; a miasma of “okay” that clog up Deliveroo like hair in a shower drain. The fervour with which those delivery apps try to get me to purchase a supposedly “Korean-inspired” burger with offers like ‘33% off!’ and ‘Free Delivery Over £15!’ is nothing short of impressive. The sandwiches themselves, however, rarely are. The ubiquity of “just fine” fried chicken sandwiches is unfortunate considering that cities like London, in particular, have got a thriving fried chicken scene.
Icons like Morley’s and Chicken Cottage sell affordable boxes of fried chicken that, when you get a freshly-fried batch, can make you question why you’d ever eat anything else. So why is it that most places falter at putting those golden, craggy thighs and breasts fried chicken in a sandwich?
Take a quick nip across the pond to the United States and you’ll see that America has a fried chicken sandwich scene that’s almost as competitive, and almost as big a part of the cultural zeitgeist, as its bone-in fried chicken culture. Popeye’s and Chick Fil-A are national staples and both lay serious claim, moustachioed colonels be damned, to having the most popular fried chicken sando in that great nation. Outside of the big chains, cult American restaurants like Hattie B's and Howlin' Ray's amass huge queues pretty much all of the time.
You could argue that London's fried chicken sandwich ecosystem is no less competitive, but you can't deny that it does operate on a much smaller scale. It’s more about street food stalls set up by entrepreneurs enthralled by that Nashville-accented approach to fast food or chains birthed by ex-investment bankers that became enamoured with gochujang after a year abroad. But while there might not be as many outlets for katsu-inspired sandos as you’ll find in America, the Big Smoke has actually got some very good fried chicken sandwich sellers that call this city home. And more than a couple that could give Chick-Fil-A run for their money any day of the week.
That's why I’ve decided to help you out the next time you're feeling fried chicken FOMO by collating this list of the very best fried chicken sandwiches in London. From Mother Clucker to Seoul Bird, these are fried chicken sandwiches that are worth crossing the road for.
When Butchies first opened up as a street food stall at Broadway Market in 2013, London’s fried chicken sandwich landscape was still very much in its embryonic stage. KFC was probably your best bet for a consistent chicken burger up till that point, so when Butchies burst onto the scene with their fried buttermilk chicken sandwiches, it was easy to see why people queued up in droves. Today, Butchies boasts five permanent shops in London and the brand hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down its expansion. With their sandwiches still handmade fresh in-store on a daily basis, the quality of the chicken used at Butchies is what makes their sandwiches so undeniable. Not only do they use high-welfare Red Tractor-accredited birds, sustainably sourced from a single farm in South Yorkshire, but all the meat is halal-certified, too. Butchies original sandwich with “OG” sauce and house pickles is one of the best ways to spend £6 in the city. Find out for yourself why they’ve done such roaring trade over the years.
Lucky's Hot Chicken
There’s fried chicken sandwiches and then there’s fried chicken sandwiches. Ben Cook, the founder of Lucky’s Hot Chicken, makes a mean fried chicken sandwich, served between buttered brioche slices, that’ll have you sweating something serious. Available in a variety of heat levels that range from the mild ‘Country’ to the lip-rippingly spicy ‘Good Luck’, the sandos here are some of the best and brightest new additions to KERB’s street food arsenal. The ‘Sweet Heat’ is the undeniable hero dish; a fried chicken thigh – roughly the size of a baseball mitt – is thrown between two slices of buttery bread alongside ‘nduja mayo, cheddar cheese, pepper jelly, pickles, lettuce, and a cheeky drizz of hot honey. Get on it. Now.
Upper Ground, SE1 9PX
Chick ‘N’ Sours
It’s easy to take Chick ‘N’ Sours’s ‘K-POP’ sandwich for granted when it seems like every other restaurant on Deliveroo nowadays is selling some iteration of a vaguely Korean-inspired chicken burger. But that burger – which consists of a gloriously craggy fried thigh dashed with gochujang mayo, chilli vinegar, sriracha sour cream, and spicy slaw – was likely the first intro that many people had to the concept of Korean fried chicken back when Chick ‘N’ Sours launched in 2015. Okay, to be more specific, it was likely the first intro that many white people had to the concept of Korean fried chicken. But my point still stands. And Chick ‘N’ Sours’s fried chicken sandwiches are still very good. Tasty fried chicken, soft and squishy handmade buns, and ice-cold beers are what keep me coming back to Chick ‘N’ Sours after all these years and I’m sure that’s what’ll keep you coming back, too.
BAO’s fried chicken bao is as cute as it is delicious. Which, considering how dinky and adorable these fowl little fellas are, is no mean feat. Sandwiched in a candy floss-soft sesame bun is a perfectly fried nugget of chicken that’s been dressed to the nines with golden kimchi, hot sauce, Sichuan mayo, and a judicious sprinkle of coriander. Yes, you’ll be able to polish the whole thing off in about two bites but those two bites will be very, very enjoyable. And you can always order another bao straight afterwards. In fact, I’d recommend you do.
Are you sitting comfortably? Have you got an inhaler stashed somewhere nearby to resuscitate yourself should you start to see pinprick stars of light and lose your breath? Good. Because what I’m about to tell you is going to make you awfully excited. Bake Street has got a makhani fried chicken sandwich on its weekend menu. Yes, that’s a fried chicken sandwich slathered in a rich butter chicken sauce. And yes, it’s just as good as that sounds. That fried chicken sandwich is one of the best chicken dishes in the whole city and it’s only really given a run for its money by Bake Street’s very own Nashville hot chicken bun – a spicy cayenne-dipped wedge of fried chicken that's layered in a soft bun with cheese, hot mayo and an obligatory scatter of lettuce. Bake Street pretty much has a duopoly on the best fried chicken sandwiches in London. You should really go there this weekend.
58 Evering Road, Lower Clapton, N16 7SR
Created by the same folks behind Chick ‘N’ Sours, CHIK’N is an equally apostrophe-heavy fried chicken joint that specialises in a more casual fast food-y offering than its elder brother. Not that that means it’s a downgrade from Chick ‘N’ Sours in any way, shape, or form. CHIK’N’s sandwiches are just as grand. Made with buttermilk brined chicken breasts that have been fried under pressure to achieve that hallowed crunch, each fillet is a forceful challenge to the roof of even the most hardened mouth. The “straight-up” burger – which is my personal fave – comes with nothing but pickles, lettuce, and a tart buttermilk and herb mayo. Y’know: just in case you didn’t get enough of a buttermilk buzz from the breast.
Developed by Ana Gonçalves and Zijun Meng from TĀ TĀ Eatery, the Sichuan burger at this Taiwanese eatery is already becoming something of a Soho classic. A perfectly fried chicken thigh deposited on a sweet and squidgy pineapple bun, it’s a simple sandwich that achieves its success by preventing any of its composite elements from drowning each other out. The darker thigh meat adds a much-appreciated depth that bounces off a fresh cucumber salad while the slow numb of Sichuan chilli oil stays with you well after you’ve finished the burger and ruined a novella of napkins. Hit up Mr Ji for one of the finest fried chicken sandwiches in London, bar none.
72 Old Compton Street, W1D 4UN
On The Bab
On The Bab are best known for their Korean-style street food and Yangneyom-style fried chicken. The best way that I’ve found to style it out at any of the chain’s London-based restaurants (they’ve also got outlets in Paris and Seoul) is with a fried chicken bao. That fried chicken comes coated in a crispy batter, drizzled in a spicy sauce along with some additional salady bits, and tossed into a pillowy bao. The soft pliability of the bao makes for a nice textural contrast to the crunchy chicken while the sweetness of the bun offsets the spiciness of the chicken to bring the whole thing home. A well-made fried chicken sandwich.
Thunderbird Fried Chicken
There are now six Thunderbird Fried Chicken spots spread across London, offering a mix of delivery and sit-down service, so you really haven’t got much of an excuse if you haven’t tried their burgers out yet. Especially if you consider yourself a true fried chicken sandwich aficionado. The owner, Matt Harris, is a former F3 race car driver who once tried his hand at Nascar over in the States. Needless to say, he didn’t have a huge amount of luck with that. But he has turned TFC into a popular fried chicken franchise where you get your chops around some genuinely great fried chicken sandwiches. So, who’s the real winner, eh? The ‘Meltdown’ sandwich is probably the best of the bunch: a juicy fried chicken breast that’s slathered in molten miso-jalapeño cheese sauce and garlicky red pepper aioli on a bed of fresh lettuce and snappy pickles in a squishy bun. Yes, please.
Kwispy Fried Chicken
I’m going to be honest with you: one of my primary reasons for including Kwispy on this list of the best fried chicken sandwiches in London is down to the fact they serve waffle fries. Which, as we all know, are superior to regular fries in every single way. One of the other reasons they're on this list is that they do seriously make some of the best fried chicken burgers around town. Kwispy started life as a street food stall in April of 2019 and have now got themselves a real deal, sit-down residency at John the Unicorn in Peckham. The 'Original' – which comes with lettuce, house-made pickles, American cheese, and a choice of house-made chipotle sauce or smoked aioli between a seeded brioche – is a belter but the decadent 'Truffle Bun' with parmesan cheese and white truffle mayo is just as good. Order both. Because why the hell not.
17-19 Dalston Lane, E8 3DF
The Chicken Hatch
The Chicken Hatch is a peripatetic poultry peddler that you’ll be able to find at a variety of different markets across London. Your best hope of getting your hands on one of their excellent fried chicken sandwiches – and seeing their vintage French food truck in-person – is by following them on Instagram. £8 will get you any of The Chicken Hatch’s bronze and seeded brioche buns that come filled with buttermilk fried chicken and a thoughtful assortment of other ingredients. The best of the lot are probably the ‘Hot Bun’ and the ‘Don’t Breathe On Any Bun’. The former is your classic “this is gonna get hot and heavy” fried chicken burger with buffalo sauce, shredduce, cheese, pickled cucumber, and a zesty lemon and cracked black pepper mayo while the latter is topped with roasted garlic aioli, rocket, vine-ripened tommies, and grated parmesan. Repeat visits are necessary to work out which burger is your personal number one.
What’s the difference between Mother Clucker’s fried chicken sandwiches and the rest of the hot poultry buns you’ll find flogged in London? Well, for one, Mother Clucker’s birds are tea-brined, buttermilk soaked, and double-dredged for the ultimate crispy coating. They also made the decision to serve their juicy breasts in a bouncy potato roll – a touch of Americana which I very much approve of. The standard chicken sandwich here only costs £5 and comes with lime mayo and house pickles. It’s simple, satisfying, and a worthy lunch or dinner option.
6 Dray Walk, E1 6NJ
Coqfighter might have found its first permanent home in Shoreditch's Boxpark but in just a few short years the fried chicken slinger has grown to encompass three separate restaurant locations and a series of delivery kitchens. Australian-born founders Troy Sawyer, Deacon Rose, and Tristan Clough were inspired by the Korean chicken joints they used to eat in Melbourne’s Chinatown district and have triumphantly transplanted some of that late-night eats energy to London. Ordering the ‘Original’ burger is the move to make. A golden fried chicken thigh, pink pickled onions, sambal mayo, Korean hot sauce, and shredded iceberg in a seeded bun? That’s just fucking tasty, man. There’s no denying that.
Other Side Fried
Opening up any fried chicken joint in south London is a bold move. It’s an especially bold move when you’re charging as much as £8.45 for a fried chicken burger. The underside of the river is the birthplace of fried chicken institutions like Morley’s and trying to produce a piece of piping hot poultry better than they do isn’t easy. Other Side Fried is one of the many trying to match Morley’s reputation, but one of the only few succeeding. The fried chicken sandwiches you can get from this Atlantic Road spot are stellar. The ‘Honey Butter’ burger, in particular, is a riot of sweet and savoury flavours thanks to the addition of smoked honey butter that makes it well worth its price point. The secret to the crackly exterior of Other Side Fried’s chicken is also painfully simple: they double-fry their birds. Say what you want about fried chicken gentrification, but OTF are making fried chicken sandwiches the right way.
3 Atlantic Road, SW9 8HX
Westfield is a strange place filled with more people touting River Island bags than I’m normally comfortable with, however, even I’m capable of putting my prejudices aside for a moment and entering into its glossy depths for one of Seoul Bird’s Seoul burgers. Judy Joo’s Seoul Bird has had a bit of a stop-start run thanks to the impact of the pandemic but it remains a standout option in Westfield’s packed food court. The signature Seoul burger is the perfect fuel for retail therapy: a Korean fried chicken that’s lightly tossed in a spicy sauce and joined by kewpie mayo, red onion and iceberg lettuce in an airy potato bun. All of the chickens here are sourced from high-welfare farms and Seoul Bird fries them up in 100% pure rapeseed oil. Just in case you wanted to know that those chicks were being looked after in a happy place before they found themselves in an equally happy place inside your stomach
Westfield London Shopping Centre Ariel Way, The Balcony, W12 7GE
I bloody love a bao and the ‘Bao Diddley’ fried chicken bao at Mr Bao is a bloody good bao. It’s hard to turn down a steamed bun at the best of times and it’s even harder to turn one down when it’s practically bursting at the seams with fried chicken, wasabi mayo, house kimchi, and a chef's kiss of that astringent love-it-or-hate-it coriander. Mr Bao marinates their chicken for 24-hours to ensure it's always as tender as possible and their efforts are certainly rewarded by the end result – a juicy, heavily deep-fried piece of meat that’s astonishingly light to eat. If you can’t be bothered to go to Mr Bao in person you can always try making your own Bao Diddley at home using their official recipe.
293 Rye Lane, SE15 4UA