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El Sazon Fried Chicken Sandwich


We were driving home the other day, and we noticed the line for the drive-through at Popeye’s looped out of their parking lot and all the way down to the end of the block, causing a little traffic jam at the intersection. That’s how that Popeye’s has looked almost every afternoon since they launched their chicken sandwich. “We could make a chicken sandwich like that,” we thought. But then, it hit us. NOPE! We could make a *better* chicken sandwich by fusing some amazing Puerto Rican and Peruvian flavors.


This sandwich is pulling from three traditions: American Southern, Puerto Rican, and Peruvian. The citrus is Puerto Rican, while the addition of milk turns it into a buttermilk marinade, which gives the sandwiches the signature crunch, and the Salsa Criolla brings a lightly acidic taste of Peru.




  • 1/4 onion
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds or ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 TBS Goya Adobo
  • 1 tsp freshly ground peppercorns
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 packet Goya Sazón or Sa-són Accent
  • 1 TBS Puerto Rican hot sauce, such as Pike Boricua or habanero hot sauce


Chicken Sandwich:

  • 4 chicken thighs, skin and bone removed
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 cup corn meal
  • 1/2 TBS fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground peppercorns
  • 1/2 TBS garlic powder
  • 1 cup salsa Criolla
  • 1 cup Secret Sazón Sauce*
  • 4 Pan Sobao buns or other sweet burger buns
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying


Salsa Criolla:

  • 1 medium red onion, cut in half and sliced very thinly
  • 2 TBS fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 Aji Amarillo pepper or 1 scotch bonnet pepper, sliced very thinly


  1. Place chicken thighs into a large bowl. Combine all marinade ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour 1 cup over the chicken and massage until completely coated. Marinate at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large cast-iron pan over medium heat or set a deep fryer to 350°F.
  3. Combine flour, corn starch, salt, pepper, and Sazón in a baking dish or shallow bowl.
  4. Remove chicken thighs one at a time from marinade and dredge in flour mixture until completely coated.
  5. Fry for five minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers an internal temp of 160°F.
  6. Remove to paper towel-lined plate or baking sheet.
  7. While chicken thighs are frying, cut Pan Sobao buns open lengthwise. Melt butter over medium heat in a large pan or on a griddle.
  8. Place buns cut side down into the melted butter until they are golden and toasted. Alternately, toast in the oven under a broiler set to low.
  9. Remove buns to a plate, and spread 2 TBS Secret Sazón Sauce on the bottom bun.
  10. Top with a fried chicken thigh, then pile Salsa Criolla on top.
  11. Place top bun onto the sandwich and call all your friends over.




*Note: The Secret Sazón Sauce is still locked in the vault. A simple substitute would be 1/4 cup mayo, 1/4 cup ketchup, half of a habanero pepper, sliced very thinly, 2 minced garlic cloves and 1 TBS cilantro. If you have Caribbean green seasoning or Sofrito, you can mix that in with the mayo and ketchup.

Keywords: Chicken, Fried Chicken, Main Dish, Latino Dishes

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