• Chicken and waffles is a classic Southern dish that combines sweet and savory flavors.
  • The dish originated in Harlem, New York during the jazz age and became a staple in the South.
  • Choose juicy buttermilk-marinated fried chicken for the best chicken and waffles experience.
  • Make light and fluffy waffles to soak up all the syrup or gravy goodness.

There's something about the combination of sweet and savory that sets Southern hearts aflutter, and nowhere is this delightful contrast more evident than in the classic dish of chicken and waffles. This ultimate brunch extravaganza is not just a meal—it's a symphony of flavors that speaks to the soul of Southern cuisine. So grab your best cast iron skillet and your appetite, y'all, because we're diving deep into the world of chicken and waffles.

The Roots of Our Beloved Chicken and Waffles

Before we get to the nitty-gritty of cooking up this iconic dish, let's take a moment to tip our hats to its storied past. The history of chicken and waffles is as rich as the butter you'll slather over those golden waffles. It’s believed that the concept originated with Pennsylvania Dutch in the 1600s but truly found its soul in Harlem, New York during the jazz age. This dish became a staple for musicians who sought out hearty meals after late-night gigs. The tradition traveled down South, where it was embraced with open arms and has been a mainstay ever since.

Nowadays, you'll find variations across different Southern states, each adding their local flair—whether it's a drizzle of honey in Georgia or a sprinkle of spice in Louisiana. To explore some traditional Southern meals that complement chicken and waffles, take a look at traditional Southern meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Choosing Your Chicken: The Heartbeat of the Dish

Selecting the right chicken is crucial for creating an unforgettable chicken and waffles experience. You want pieces that are juicy on the inside with a crispy coating that sings when you bite into it. For that authentic Southern touch, nothing beats buttermilk-marinated fried chicken. It’s all about achieving that perfect balance between moist meat and crunchy breading.

Top Chicken Cuts

  1. Boneless chicken breast
    Boneless Breast - The classic choice for its lean meat and easy cooking.
  2. Chicken thighs
    Chicken Thighs - Juicier and more flavorful, they bring richness to your brunch plate.
  3. Chicken wings
    Chicken Wings - For a finger-licking twist, add these to your waffles with a drizzle of syrup.
  4. Chicken tenderloins
    Tenderloins - Tender and quick to cook, perfect for a lighter option.
  5. Chicken drumsticks
    Drumsticks - Add a fun, hands-on experience to your brunch with these meaty favorites.

If you're looking to master this essential component of Southern cuisine, check out our step-by-step guide to preparing traditional Southern fried chicken. And for those new cooks eager to get their hands dirty with more staple recipes, our list of essential Southern recipes for new cooks is just what you need.

The Waffle: A Blank Canvas Awaiting Your Masterstroke

The waffle might play second fiddle to its partner in crime, but make no mistake—it's an equally important component in this duet. The ideal waffle is light and fluffy on the inside while being perfectly crisp on the outside, ready to soak up all that glorious syrup or gravy goodness.

Southern-Style Crispy and Fluffy Waffles

You will need:

  • all-purpose flour bagAll-purpose flour
  • granulated sugarGranulated sugar
  • baking powder canBaking powder
  • table saltSalt
  • whole milk cartonWhole milk
  • eggs in cartonEggs
  • unsalted butter stickUnsalted butter
  • vanilla extract bottleVanilla extract
  • waffle ironWaffle iron


  1. Start by preheating your waffle iron.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, beat the eggs and then mix in the milk, melted butter, and vanilla extract.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Grease the waffle iron with a little butter or non-stick spray.
  6. Ladle the batter onto the waffle iron and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions until golden and crisp.
  7. Serve immediately with your choice of toppings.


For an extra-special touch, try separating the egg whites from the yolks and beat them to stiff peaks before folding into the batter. This will make the waffles even lighter and fluffier. Also, ensure all wet ingredients are at room temperature to achieve the most uniform batter. Happy brunching!

To truly understand how this dynamic duo works together in harmony, one must appreciate each element's texture and taste contribution. For more insights into balancing flavors like a true Southerner, visit our guide on Southern Living’s best tips and tricks for Southern cuisine.

Syrup or Gravy? That Is The Question!

When it comes to dressing your plateful of heaven, there are two schools of thought: syrup or gravy? Some folks swear by maple syrup's sweet kiss atop their crispy chicken skin; others won't have it any other way but smothered in rich country gravy. No matter where your loyalty lies, both options represent authentic expressions of Southern flavor profiles.

What's Your Favorite Chicken & Waffles Topping?

When it comes to dressing up your Chicken & Waffles, everyone's got their own secret sauce. Do you drown your dish in syrupy sweetness or douse it with savory gravy goodness? Cast your vote and let's see which topping takes the crown!

If you're feeling adventurous or just downright hungry for more classic dishes from below the Mason-Dixon Line, take our quiz on mastering basic Southern dishes at Grits N' Grace. Or perhaps dive into another hearty comfort meal with our recipe guide on fried chicken, grits, and biscuits.

In the next section of this ultimate guide to chicken and waffles brunch, we'll share some top-notch tips and tricks straight from seasoned Southern kitchens—ensuring your next brunch will be nothing short of legendary. We’ll also explore how these traditions tie into broader themes like Southern hospitality through homemaking traditions. Stay tuned!

Perfecting Your Chicken and Waffles

Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of perfecting your chicken and waffles. The secret to the best chicken lies in the marinade and breading. A buttermilk soak with a blend of spices such as garlic powder, paprika, and a hint of cayenne pepper gives that chicken a tangy kick that complements the sweet waffles. For an extra-crispy exterior, double-dip your chicken in seasoned flour before frying to golden perfection. As for the waffles, nothing beats homemade. A fluffy batter with a touch of vanilla and sugar makes for waffles that are ready to soak up syrup or gravy.

Crispy Southern Fried Chicken

You will need:

  • raw chicken piecesChicken pieces (legs, thighs, breasts)
  • buttermilkButtermilk
  • all-purpose flourAll-purpose flour
  • garlic powderGarlic powder
  • paprika spicePaprika
  • cayenne pepper spiceCayenne pepper
  • table saltSalt
  • black pepper spiceBlack pepper
  • vegetable oilVegetable oil


  1. Start by marinating the chicken pieces in buttermilk for at least 4 hours.
  2. Combine the flour, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper in a large bowl.
  3. Dredge the marinated chicken pieces in the seasoned flour mixture until well coated.
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a deep fryer or large pot to 350°F (175°C).
  5. Fry the chicken in batches until golden brown and cooked through, about 15 minutes per batch.
  6. Drain the fried chicken on a wire rack or paper towels.


Always use caution when working with hot oil to prevent burns. For a gluten-free version, you can substitute all-purpose flour with a gluten-free flour blend. The resting time on the wire rack also allows the chicken to finish cooking from residual heat without overcooking.

Don't forget about the toppings! Drizzle with pure maple syrup or, if you're feeling adventurous, a spicy honey butter sauce. And for those who swear by savory over sweet, a generous pour of creamy sausage gravy might just be your slice of heaven.

Fluffy Southern-Style Waffles: A Step-by-Step Guide

Ingredients for Southern-style waffles on a kitchen counter
Gather Your Ingredients
Start your waffle adventure by assembling all the necessary ingredients. You'll need all-purpose flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs, milk, and unsalted butter. Don't forget the vanilla extract for that classic Southern charm!
Whisking dry ingredients in a bowl
Mix Dry Ingredients
In a large bowl, whisk together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt. This dry mix is the foundation of your waffles, ensuring they rise to fluffy perfection.
Mixing wet ingredients in a bowl
Combine Wet Ingredients
In a separate bowl, beat 2 eggs and then mix in 1 3/4 cups of milk, 1/2 cup of melted unsalted butter, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. These wet ingredients will add moisture and richness to your waffles.
Combining wet and dry ingredients to make waffle batter
Create the Waffle Batter
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Be careful not to overmix – a few lumps are perfectly fine and keep the waffles tender.
Preheating a waffle iron
Preheat Your Waffle Iron
While your batter rests, preheat your waffle iron. A properly heated waffle iron is crucial for that golden-brown exterior. Brush it with a bit of butter to ensure your waffles don't stick and to add an extra hint of flavor.
Cooking waffles in a waffle iron
Cook the Waffles
Scoop the right amount of batter onto the center of the waffle iron (usually about 1/2 cup, but check your iron's instructions). Close the lid and cook until the waffles are golden and crisp. Patience is key; don't peek too early!
Southern-style waffles served with butter and syrup
Serve with Southern Hospitality
Serve your freshly made waffles hot off the iron with a generous dollop of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup. For the full Southern experience, pair them with some crispy fried chicken and savor the delightful contrast of flavors and textures.

The Art of Presentation

They say we eat with our eyes first, so presentation is key when serving up this Southern staple. Start by selecting your best plates – I'm partial to those with a bit of Southern charm, like classic Blue Willow or anything with a magnolia print. Place your golden-brown waffle as the base, then carefully stack your fried chicken on top. If you're serving family-style, consider a large platter where guests can help themselves.

Southern Style Chicken and Waffles Brunch Plate

Garnish is more than just decoration; it's an invitation to taste. Sprinkle some chopped chives or parsley for color contrast and freshness. If you've opted for syrup or honey butter sauce, don't drown the dish – instead, serve it on the side in a pretty pitcher or bowl.

Pairings That Please

A true Southern brunch isn’t complete without the right pairings. When it comes to drinks, you can't go wrong with sweet tea – it’s practically a Southern elixir. But if you’re looking to jazz things up, why not try a peach-infused mimosa or a bourbon-spiked coffee? For sides, keep it simple yet satisfying with creamy grits or fresh fruit dressed in mint.

Top Brunch Beverages

  1. Southern sweet tea
    Sweet Tea - The quintessential Southern refreshment offers a sweet counterbalance to the savory chicken.
  2. Bourbon lemonade cocktail
    Bourbon Lemonade - A zesty twist on a classic that complements the crispy chicken with a hint of Southern charm.
  3. Sparkling wine
    Sparkling Wine - Bubbles add a festive touch and cut through the richness of the dish.
  4. Buttermilk in glass
    Buttermilk - For the purists who love to echo the buttermilk batter of the chicken in their choice of drink.
  5. Iced coffee in glass
    Iced Coffee - The robust flavor of coffee provides a delightful contrast to the sweet and savory brunch classic.
  6. Fruit-infused iced tea
    Fruit-Infused Iced Tea - A refreshing and lighter option that pairs well with the heartiness of chicken and waffles.
  7. Bloody Mary cocktail
    Bloody Mary - Spice it up with this bold cocktail that stands up to the flavors of the South.
  8. Mint Julep cocktail
    Mint Julep - A refreshing Southern classic that brings a touch of elegance to your brunch.
  9. Peach iced tea
    Peach Iced Tea - A sweet, fruity beverage that embodies the essence of Southern summers.
  10. Arnold Palmer drink
    Arnold Palmer - The legendary mix of lemonade and tea offers a tangy flavor that pairs wonderfully with the meal.

If you want to explore other traditional Southern meals that complement your brunch spread, consider adding dishes like shrimp and grits or biscuits smothered in gravy. These hearty additions can round out your menu and offer something for everyone at the table.

Explore more traditional Southern meals | Southern Living's best tips and tricks | Mastering Southern Chicken and Rice

Bringing It All Together

To host a memorable brunch that exudes Southern hospitality, remember it's all about creating an experience that feels like home. From setting the table with care to choosing music that sets the mood – think bluesy jazz or upbeat country – every detail contributes to the ambiance.

"A shared meal is the communal thread that ties us together – it's where stories are told and memories are made."

To keep guests engaged while they wait for their plate of deliciousness, set up an interactive quiz about Southern dishes at your gathering spot.

The Ultimate Southern Style Chicken and Waffles Brunch Quiz

Think you know your Southern cuisine? Test your knowledge of the classic Southern dish, Chicken and Waffles, with this mouth-watering quiz!

In addition to great food and company, sharing stories about the origins of chicken and waffles can spark conversation and deepen appreciation for this beloved dish. Did you know that its roots trace back not just through American history but also European traditions?

Popular Southern recipes | Classic comfort meal recipes | Essential recipes for new cooks

Incorporating these elements into your brunch ensures guests leave satisfied not only by their palates but also by their hearts. And isn't that what true Southern cooking is all about? So go ahead; invite over some friends, whip up some chicken and waffles using our guide above, pour yourself some sweet tea (or bourbon), and enjoy the art of slow living — one delicious bite at a time.

Southern Style Chicken and Waffles with Grits N Grace

You will need:

  • raw chicken breastsChicken breasts
  • buttermilkButtermilk
  • hot sauce bottleHot sauce
  • all-purpose flourFlour
  • waffle mix packageWaffle mix
  • eggs in cartonEggs
  • milk bottleMilk
  • maple syrup bottleMaple syrup
  • stone-ground gritsStone-ground grits
  • cheddar cheese blockCheddar cheese
  • butter stickButter
  • vegetable oil bottleVegetable oil
  • seasoning blend for chickenSeasoning blend (paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper)


  1. Start by marinating the chicken in a mixture of buttermilk and hot sauce for at least 2 hours.
  2. Preheat your waffle iron and mix the waffle batter according to the package instructions.
  3. Combine the flour and seasoning blend in a shallow dish.
  4. Dredge the marinated chicken in the seasoned flour.
  5. Fry the chicken in vegetable oil until golden and cooked through.
  6. Pour the waffle batter into the waffle iron and cook until golden brown.
  7. Prepare the grits by boiling water, then whisking in the grits and cooking until creamy.
  8. Stir in grated cheddar cheese and a pat of butter into the grits until melted and smooth.
  9. Serve the fried chicken on top of the waffles with a side of cheesy grits.
  10. Drizzle with maple syrup to taste.


For an authentic Southern experience, let the chicken marinate overnight. The longer it soaks, the more flavorful and tender it will be. Don't skip the hot sauce in the marinade—it adds a subtle heat that's classic to Southern cuisine. If you're feeling adventurous, try making your own waffle batter from scratch!

If y'all are looking for more ways to bring Southern charm into your home beyond the dining table,

rediscover homemaking traditions here.
Jackson Beaumont
Home decor, Southern architecture, Antiquing, History

Jackson Beaumont is a Southern gentleman with a flair for home decor. Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Jackson has a keen eye for Southern style and elegance. He loves to share his tips and tricks for creating a warm and inviting home.

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