Healthy Fried Chicken Sandwich (with a vegetarian option!)

dairy freedinnergluten freegrain freelunchrefined sugar free

Zack and I became addicted to fried chicken sandwiches when we were in Nashville, where 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 cookbook—our wedding cornflake fried chicken (which is baked), and the crispy orange chicken with broccoli rice (one of your favorite recipes). From the cornflake fried chicken, I stole the idea of making a non-dairy “buttermilk” to soak the chicken in. Then, we dip it in arrowroot, a gut-healing tuber powder that’s gluten-free and anti-inflammatory, and pan-fry it, a la the crispy orange chicken.

It’s actually a fairly simply recipe and it’s completely addictive. If you don’t want to make the full on sandwich, you can of course just eat the fried chicken on its own.

Oh! And there’s a vegetarian option! You can definitely use cauliflower instead of chicken if you’d like: just boil it 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 as specified.

Remember to tag me on Instagram (@lizmoody) if you make this recipe—I can’t wait to see!

healthy friend chicken sandwich

Healthy Fried Chicken Sandwich (with a vegetarian option!)

  • 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 necessary, but 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.

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