Recipe The "Un-Popeye's" Chicken Sandwich, Variant One (Lettuce Wrap)

Mountain Cat

Über Member
12 Apr 2019
Local time
8:27 PM
Hilltowns of Massachusetts
Not sure how many of the various international folks on this site have heard about the arrival of the fast food chain Popeye's. I've never actually eaten in one, but their chicken sandwich seems to have overwhelmed the unresisting part of the US this past August or something. I found a copy-cat recipe online and decided to make over that one to something I personally would enjoy. IE, a lettuce wrap instead of the brioche bun, and the use of skinless and boneless chicken thigh instead of that less-appealing breast meat.

The Popeye's chain has no place near me, so I can't verify the original taste, but I'll say both variants I made were seasoned nicely for me, and I appreciate choosing to use lettuce wraps - always.

pop-assembling recipe 1.jpg

Here we go! In the photo: about to assemble.

For the Marinate:

  • 1 cup / 235 mL buttermilk (or enough to cover the chicken).
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 7 – 8 total ounces / 200 – 225 total grams / 2 medium-large boneless skinless chicken thighs. (Basically, use one thigh per person; this recipe makes two. For four – double everything except the buttermilk, which merely needs to cover.)
For the Breading: (This one contains gluten)

  • 7 – 8 total ounces of boneless skinless chicken thigh, see above…
  • 4.5 ounces / 0.875 cups of self rising flour. Source recipe does not recommend Lily (whatever brand that is).
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/16 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 large beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup / 120 mL buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons milk
For the Cooking:

  • High temp oil for frying. (I used a bare minimum of grape seed oil.)
For the Surround and Toppings:

  • Thick lettuce leaves for wrap – Romaine or Iceburg
  • 6 – 8 dill pickle slices
  • 2 tablespoons mayo, preferably home-made. (I used store-bought because I wasn’t going to have much use for the rest of a batch and the store bought lasts longer. And I already had some of that.)


Remove any fat from the chicken. I find kitchen scissors are at least as efficient as a knife for this task. You might consider using the tines of a fork to pierce the smooth side of the chicken (thigh or breast) in order to further the marinating process, and tenderization. Make sure whatever cut of chicken you use, it is no thicker than 1/2 inch (1.3 cm). You can slice the piece in half longitudinally to make two thigh filets, if needed. You can trim off bits aesthetically, of course.

In an appropriate bowl, place the chicken, add enough buttermilk to cover, and add the salt. Make sure this coats all sides of the chicken pieces, which will also help mix in that salt. Set aside in the fridge for 4-5 hours.

Remove from fridge, remove marinate by washing. Dry with paper towels.

Allow to sit at room temp for 45-60 minutes, so the meat will cook more evenly.

Preheat your high temp cooking oil to about 350 - 375 F / 175 - 190 C a suitable pot or pan. High heat is your friend for this. Also – for whatever reason, the higher the temperature of the oil (as long as the temperature is within the smoke point for that particular oil), the less oil will be absorbed into your meal.

To make the breading, combine all the dry ingredients together in a bowl that will be suitable for breading the pieces.

And in another bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk and milk.

When everything is ready, dredge the chicken in the flour, then in the egg batter, then back into the flour again. This second time you want to build up a craigy or bumpy texture on your chicken. You can let the pieces sit there a bit.

Place each piece on a plate to rest five minutes, then cook in the hot oil, 6-8 minutes. You want this golden brown, and to reach an internal temperature of 185 F. Since I limited the amount of oil used, I flipped pieces at 6 minutes, and carried on for at least another five. Watch as you cook – cooktops are definitely NOT all alike.

Remove from skillet and place on a rack to drain for at least a couple minutes.

Each lettuce “bun” should get about a 1/2 teaspoon of mayo, top and bottom. 3 or 4 pickle slices should adorn per each bottom “bun”. (And of course, sub in a real bun, or perhaps even a couple slices of toast, for all this if you should prefer…)
Top Bottom