I’m addicted to Houston’s Ding’s Chicken Sandwich. I don’t know anyone that doesn’t love it. The Hillstone Restaurant Group actually has a great menu and consistently plate delicious food, regardless of restaurant location. That says a lot.
Since the nearest Hillstone is a drive away, I decided to attempt a copycat recipe at home. Here’s my version – and it was absolutely amazing! The kind of amazing that still makes my mouth water just thinking about all the wonderful flavors, piled high. Wow, what a perfect bite.
Start but cutting the two large chicken breasts. I cut the breast in half and the thick part lengthwise to end up with six even sized pieces. Cover with plastic wrap and pound them with a mallet until they are about 1/2 an inch thick.
Place them in a plastic bag with 1 cup buttermilk (preferably full fat buttermilk if you can find it), 1-2 large garlic cloves (peeled and smashed), 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and about 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on your heat preference). Massage the chicken for a few minutes to ensure everything is mixed well and refrigerate overnight.
Before you take the chicken out to fry, make Ding’s Coleslaw and Spicy Mayo and refrigerate until you assemble the sandwich. Next, prepare a dredging station for the chicken. In one shallow bowl add 3/4 cup of buttermilk and in another prepare the all-purpose flour mixture by combining 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 Tablespoons cornstarch, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon garlic and onion powder and fresh ground black pepper. Pull one piece of chicken at a time out of the plastic bag and allow the excess buttermilk marinade to drain off. Coat in prepared flour mixture, then the fresh buttermilk and again in prepared flour mixture. Repeat until all pieces have been coated twice.
Note: Always discard any marinade that was used on raw meat to avoid cross contamination.
In a wide dutch oven skillet, add enough canola oil to cover 1/2 inch and bring to 350°F over medium-high heat. Use a candy/deep fry thermometer to verify temperature. Grab the chicken pieces with tongs and shake off excess flour. Slowly add to the hot oil and release the tongs away from you to avoid spatter. Fry the chicken in batches as not to reduce the temperature of the oil. If the oil is too cold, the breading will absorb the oil and not crisp up. I find that 3 pieces is enough for my skillet and I keep the thermometer handy to verify.
Fry the chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes per side depending on thickness. Transfer to a wire rack over a sheet pan to drain any excess oil and season with kosher or sea salt. In a separate skillet or flat top grill, butter and toast the brioche buns until golden brown, about 1 minute.
To assemble the sandwich, add a nice layer of the Spicy Mayo sauce on the bottom bun, add a fried chicken piece, Ding’s slaw, jalepeños or pickles (optional), cheese, tomato slices and crown the sandwich with the top bun.
The buttermilk marinade tenderized the chicken perfectly and it’s the best way to ensure a moist and flavorful fried chicken. Seasoning the flour simply adds layers of flavors and makes for a bolder flavor profile. The slaw adds crunch with the heat from the spicy mayo and freshness of the tomato. It’s just perfection and no wonder this is a Hillstone favorite. You can serve this with fries, salad or even enjoy them as sliders. Perfect for any meal or summertime entertaining.
Crispy Chicken Sandwich with Slaw & Spicy Mayo
A copycat recipe of Houston's Ding's Crispy Chicken Sandwich that will not disappoint. Perfectly moist and seasoned chicken topped with a delicious coleslaw and spicy mayo on a toasted brioche bun. This is as close to the original as anyone can get.
- 2 chicken breasts, boneless & skinless
- 6 brioche buns, butter cut sides
- Tillamook Swiss Cheese slices
- 2 tomatoes, sliced crosswise
- pickled jalepeños, optional
- canola oil (for frying chicken)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1-2 cloves garlic, peeled & smashed
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne can substitute with hot sauce
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon black or white pepper
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 3 Tablespoons pickle relish, drained
- 1 Tablespoon buttermilk substitute sour cream
- 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, drained
- 1 teaspoon brown country mustard
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
- ¼ teaspoon fresh black pepper
- 1 ½ cups green cabbage, finely shredded
- 1 cup savoy cabbage, finely shredded substitute with red cabbage
- 1 cup baby kale leaves, finely julienned
- ¼ cup scallions, finely chopped
- ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
- ½ cup mayonnaise prefer Duke's
- 1- 1 ½ teaspoons sriracha
- 1 splash cognac or brandy, optional
Cut the chicken in half and cut the thick part lengthwise. You'll have a total of 6 pieces. Place them on a cutting board, cover with plastic wrap and pound with a mallet until they are 1/2 inch thick.
Marinating the Chicken
Place the chicken in a plastic bag and add buttermilk, smashed cloves garlic, kosher salt and cayenne pepper. Massage the chicken for a few minutes to ensure everything is mixed well. Refrigerate overnight.
Whisk mayonnaise, pickle relish, buttermilk, horseradish, brown mustard, apple cider vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in mixing bowl. Add shredded cabbage, kale, scallions and parsley. Toss to combine. Cover and chill.
Note: Dressing can be made up to 3 days ahead. Combine with cabbages the day of for added crunch.
Whisk and combine all the ingredients in small bowl. Cover and chill.
Dredging & Frying the Chicken
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator. Prepare the dredging station for the chicken. Add 3/4 cup of buttermilk to a shallow bowl and in another shallow bowl whisk and combine all-purpose flour, cornstarch, sweet paprika, kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder and fresh ground black pepper.
Pull a piece of chicken at a time and allow the excess buttermilk marinade to drain off. Coat in prepared flour mixture, then the fresh buttermilk and again in prepared flour mixture. Repeat until all pieces have been coated twice.
Note: Discard the marinade.
Pour enough canola oil in a wide, heavy skillet to cover 1/2 inch depth. Heat over medium-high heat until deep-fry/candy thermometer reads 350°F.
Use tongs to slowly add the chicken pieces into the oil away from you to prevent any splatter toward you. Fry the chicken until golden brown, about 5 minutes each side. Fry the chicken in batches as not to reduce the oil temperature or the flour coating will absorb the oil. Transfer to a wire rack over a sheet pan to drain. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
While the chicken is frying, heat a flat grill top or another large skillet over medium heat and toast the buttered brioche buns until golden, about 1 minute.
Assembling the Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Spread the spicy mayonnaise on the bottom bun and place a fried chicken piece on top. Layer with Ding's Coleslaw, cheese, pickled jalapeños, tomatoes and top with the top bun.