healthy friend chicken sandwich

Gluten Free Fried Chicken Sandwich (dairy free + vegetarian option!)

This Gluten Free Fried Chicken Sandwich is a way healthier, way easier remake of the Hot Fried Chicken Sandwiches you’d find in Nashville. Marinaded in a dairy-free “buttermilk”, breaded in seasoned, whole-grain cornflakes and almond flour, and pan-fried in anti-inflammatory avocado oil, this gluten-free fried chicken sandwich comes together with pickled veggies and hot honey atop of a perfectly hot bun.

gluten free fried chicken sandwich

Why you’ll love this gluten free fried chicken sandwich

As a healthy cook book author, you might be surprised that a healthy fried chicken sandwich was even on my mind. When Zack and I were in Nashville, we became addicted to fried chicken sandwiches, and we quested to find the best hot chicken in the city (we ended up liking Prince’s the best, but it’s an ongoing mission).

When I was hosting book club last week, I asked Zack for recipe ideas for me to “healthify.” “A fried chicken sandwich,” he said, and suddenly my mind was off and running:

What if it was perfectly crunchy with craggy edges, without using any gluten-filled flour?

What if I topped it with quick pickled cucumbers and red onions, for an acidic counterpoint to all that sweetness?

What if I drizzled the whole thing in hot honey?

I settled on a technique that married two recipes from my Healthier Together cookbook—our Wedding Cornflake Fried Chicken (which is baked), and the Crispy Orange Chicken with Broccoli Rice (one of our favorite recipes). From the Wedding Cornflake Fried Chicken, I stole the idea of making a non-dairy “buttermilk” to soak the chicken in. Then, we take note from the Crispy Orange Chicken recipe. We dip the soaked chicken in arrowroot powder, a gut-healing ingredient that’s gluten-free and anti-inflammatory, and pan-fry it in heart-healthy avocado oil. Sound AMAZING? Oh, she is.

What makes this fried chicken sandwich healthy?

This delicious fried chicken recipe swaps everything that makes fried chicken traditionally unhealthy for nutrient-rich ingredients that make you feel AMAZING. It’s got the perfect balance of protein, gut-healing vegetables, and pure deliciousness. It’s also a fairly simply recipe and completely addictive. Your body’s going to love:

  • Pickled onion and cucumber. Adding fermented foods with tons of probiotics will help improve digestion.
  • Avocado oil. A big part of what makes fried chicken typically unhealthy is the oil it’s fried in. This recipe involves pan-frying the chicken in avocado oil, which is a heart-healthy fat that’s studied for it’s anti-inflammatory affects.
  • Apple cider vinegar. Wonderful for balancing blood sugar, helping you feel full, and supporting weight loss.
  • Arrowroot flour. Used as an IBS treatment, arrowroot flour is a very healthy alternative to cornstarch and flour.
  • Honey. Adding sweetness with extra antioxidants!

How to customize this delicious fried chicken sandwich

  • Make it vegetarian! You can easily use cauliflower instead of chicken in this recipe! Just boil the cauliflower in heavily salted water until just fork-tender, then drain it and pat it dry. Skip the buttermilk-soak and proceed with the rest of the steps.
  • Make it a salad. If you’re not into buns, this fried chicken recipe would also be great on top of this Strawberry Pistachio Salad or this Roasted Vegetable Sheet Pan Salad.
  • Choose your bun. I’m team pretzel bun all the way, but this fried chicken recipe would be also delicious on gluten-free sesame buns, Hawaiian rolls, or even a sourdough roll which contains less gluten and is easier to digest than whole wheat flours!

What to make with this Gluten Free Fried Chicken Sandwich

The Fried Chicken Sandwich will fill you up all on its own, however, if I’m making this for a weekend get together, I love to turn the meal it into a full Nashville-inspired experience!

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healthy friend chicken sandwich

Gluten-Free Fried Chicken Sandwich

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Liz Moody



For the quick-pickled veggies

  • 2 Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced (if you can’t find Persian, use half of a normal cucumber)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons honey, divided
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, divided

For the fried chicken

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, divided
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken tender
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup arrowroot flour (this is the brand I use at home)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Avocado oil, to pan-fry

To assemble

  • 4 buns of choice (gluten-free if desired, I love a pretzel bun)
  • Hot honey (purchased, or use the recipe in my book)


  1. Make the pickled veggies: Add the cucumbers to a small bowl, and top with 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1/2 teaspoon of fine grain sea salt. In a separate bowl, add the red onion, and top with remaining 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1/2 teaspoon of fine grain sea salt. Set aside.
  2. Make the chicken: stir together the almond milk, apple cider vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let sit for 10 minutes, then add the chicken, ensuring its submerged. Cover with plastic and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the arrowroot flour, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt. 
  4. Set up a frying station next to the stove with the beaten egg in a wide shallow bowl and the arrowroot powder next to it. Pour avocado oil until it’s about 1/4″ deep on a large skillet. Warm over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  5. Remove chicken tenders piece by piece from the buttermilk mixture, shaking them dry before dipping them in the egg to cover, and then the arrowroot.
  6. Place in pan, and repeat with the next piece, leaving a good amount of room between chicken pieces (you may need to do a few batches). Cook for 5-7 minutes per side, until brown and crispy before turning. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. 
  7. To assemble, toast the buns, then smear with hot honey. Add fried chicken. Drain the pickled veggies and add a generous amount of both on top. Serves 4.