Copycat Church’s Fried Chicken Using the Vortex

I could make (and eat) ‘fried’ chicken using my Vortex BBQ all day long. It has never let me down. It has never been anything but easy. This copycat of Church’s fried chicken was no exception. Incredibly crunchy skin. Unbelievably moist and flavorful meat. And as easy as coating it, grilling it, eating it. Done.
There are no tricks or special handshakes that you need to know to get fried chicken right using the Vortex. And although a lot of sites say to rotate the lid every 15 minutes while cooking, I’ve not found that it makes a difference. I don’t over-crowd my grill and I make sure I have a super-hot fire. If you’ve found that rotating the lid is a requirement, let me know but so far, I’ve not had anything but success just keeping the lid right where it is. I also do not flip my chicken while it is cooking. Doing so will result in ‘batter loss’, a bad thing. Just keep it right where it is.

Also try my insanely-awesome proper pub fried chicken, another fantastic recipe for deliciously crispy tasty chicken cooked using the Vortex. You can also use off-the-shelf fried chicken coating to make spectacular chicken on the Vortex. Check out my Kentucky Kernel chicken too!

Copycat Church's Fried Chicken Using the Vortex
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-8 pieces
  • 4-8 pieces of chicken (I prefer bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs)
For the dry mixture
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3 teaspoons seasoned salt
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup Bisquick
  • 1 envelope Italian dressing mix
  • 1 envelope onion soup mix
For the wet mixture
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup cold water
For a crispier coating
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Fire up your grill with the Vortex BBQ. Let the coals get good and hot.
  2. Combine all of the dry mixture ingredients in a pie plate.
  3. In another pie plate, whisk together the eggs and water.
  4. Working in batches, dip the chicken into the wet mixture, then into the dry mixture.
  5. One more time, dip the chicken into the wet mixture and then the dry mixture.
  6. Transfer chicken to your grill grate around the Vortex and cook until done, about 45 minutes.
  7. Lightly brush the chicken with oil the last 5 minutes of cooking to get a crispier skin.

Proper Pub Fried Chicken using the Vortex

Tom Kerridge is a Michelin-starred pub chef in England. Yes, pub chef. That’s why I knew that his recipe for proper pub fried chicken would be something special, something incredible. And, oh me, was it ever. The seasonings give every single bite the most fantastic flavor. Tender, moist. And crunchy skin? Oh yes. You could deep fry it, but I cooked this chicken over charcoal using the Vortex and no oil. Yep, no oil (except for like a tablespoon to help crunch up the skin at the very end).
I have to admit something. I made a change to Chef Kerridge’s original recipe. Please don’t hate me, but I added hot sauce to the buttermilk brine. I could not help myself. I ALWAYS add hot sauce to my buttermilk when using it for chicken. Not a whole lot, just a little bit to add a slight kick and offset the sourness. You don’t have to do it, and you don’t have to tell anyone if you do.

Also try my copycat of Church’s fried chicken, also made using the Vortex.

Proper Pub Fried Chicken using the Vortex
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4 servings
  • 6-8 pieces of chicken (I prefer bone-in, skin-in thighs)
  • 2 1/4 (or more) cups buttermilk
  • Hot sauce, to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 4 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons chile powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground dried sage
  • 2 teaspoons ground white pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  1. Place chicken into a large resealable container.
  2. Add enough buttermilk to cover the chicken. Add hot sauce, if using.
  3. Seal and shake gently to coat the chicken and combine the hot sauce. Refrigerate overnight.
  4. Fire up your Vortex. Fill completely with coals. You'll need at least a 22" charcoal grill.
  5. Combine all dry ingredients and pour into a pie pan or alternatively, place in a large resealable bag.
  6. Working in batches, remove chicken from the buttermilk. Shake off excess and roll in the coating. Alternatively, add the chicken to the bag, seal and shake to coat.
  7. Place chicken around the edges of your grill. Cover and cook 30-45 minutes or until the chicken has reached 160 F as measured in several locations.
  8. Lightly brush the chicken with the oil and cook another 5 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 F as measured in several locations.

Easy Crispy Fried Chicken using the Vortex

There’s definitely no wrong way to make ‘fried’ chicken on your charcoal grill using the Vortex. I absolutely love it. For a long time I’ve been making my chicken using batter made from scratch. This time I decided to try an off-the-shelf batter mix usually meant for actual deep frying in oil. The result? Absolutely delicious, crunchy, moist fried chicken with about as little fuss and mess as possible. And no oil.
Any good fried chicken batter mix will work. It’s called easy crispy fried chicken for a reason. Just dip and put onto the grill. I prefer to use split bone-in chicken breasts or thighs. I recommend bone-in chicken because it will have more flavor and won’t dry out as easily as boneless. You can use boneless chicken but you might have to adjust the cook time. When I do need boneless ‘fried’ chicken I still cook it bone-on then remove the meat from the bone when done. If you prefer to make your own batter from scratch, try my super easy Vortex fried chicken recipe. For something a bit more fru-fru, make my spicy BBQ fried chicken. You’ll quickly see why fried chicken on the Vortex is fantastic!

Easy Crispy Fried Chicken using the Vortex
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3-4 pounds
Note: I've found that rotating the lid isn't very necessary, specially on smaller grills. You can experiment by not rotating and checking the chicken after 30 minutes. If the pieces are cooking evenly you can skip rotating the lid.
  1. Fire up your charcoal grill with the Vortex insert. Get the coals good and hot.
  2. In a large bowl combine 5 tablespoons of the batter mix with 1/4 cup of cold water.
  3. Place the remaining batter mix in a shallow pie pan.
  4. Working piece-by-piece, dredge the chicken in the wet batter mix. Shake off any excess then roll the chicken in the dry batter mix.
  5. Transfer chicken to the grill, placing along the edges.
  6. Cover and cook for 1 hour, rotating the lid 90 degrees every 15 minutes.
  7. Check for doneness (165 F as measured in the thickest pieces of chicken), remove and serve.

Fried Chicken Salad Sandwiches

I had some fried chicken leftover in the fridge. I’m completely ok with chowing down on cold leftover chicken. But I’m even more ok with chopping it up and using it in fried chicken salad sandwiches. It’s the perfect way to use up leftovers, and the perfect sandwich for a picnic.

Fried Chicken SaladThis is an incredible version of chicken salad. I love the buttermilk in the mayonnaise. The mustard adds a bit of kick. But all the flavors in the sauce mixture do not overpower the chicken. You can still tell that there’s fried chicken in there. It’s a great twist.

Don’t have leftover fried chicken on hand? Any cooked chicken will do just fine in this salad. Want a spicier chicken salad? Try my spicy chicken salad sandwiches or my fried chicken breast sandwiches.

Fried Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Creole mustard (or substitute Dijon)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cups leftover cold fried chicken, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 croissants, split (warmed if desired)
  1. Whisk together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, mustard, Italian seasoning, cayenne and lemon in a large bowl.
  2. Add in the chicken, parsley, celery and green onions. Stir gently to combine and coat with the dressing ingredients.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve chicken salad on croissants.

Fried Chicken Breast Sandwich

I was watching an old Food Network show the other day. I think it was with Bobby Flay, where he visited this great little place in Nashville, Tennessee that was famous for Nashville-style fried chicken. I drooled through the entire episode. The fried chicken looked fantastic. Done right, in cast iron over gas. And then, they made it Nashville-style by adding a bunch (and I do mean a bunch) of cayenne pepper. You just knew it was good (and perhaps painful for some). I decided to take the same approach to a sandwich.

Fried Chicken Breast SandwichI fried up a couple of coated chicken breasts. By themselves they were absolutely outstanding. Crunchy outside, moist and flavorful inside. I made one Nashville-style and realized I had made the perfect fried chicken sandwich. Seriously kicked up chicken on a bun with cooling lettuce, tomato and mayo.

Can’t take the heat? Tone it down or just make it ‘normal’. You won’t be disappointed either way.

Also try my fried chicken salad sandwiches.

Fried Chicken Breast Sandwich
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 sandwiches
  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved horizontally
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons plus 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Oil, for frying
To make it Nashville-Style Hot
  • 6 tablespoons cayenne pepper (or less, depends on how hot you want it)
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
For the sandwiches
  • 6-8 Buns
  • Mayonnaise
  • Tomato, sliced then
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Pickles
  1. Toss the chicken breasts with black pepper and 2 tablespoons of the salt. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
  2. Whisk the eggs, buttermilk, and hot sauce together in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk the flour and remaining 4 teaspoons of salt in another large bowl.
  4. Heat 2" of oil to 325 F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.
  5. Working in batches, dredge chicken in flour.
  6. Shake off excess then dip into the buttermilk mixture.
  7. Shake off excess then dip again into the flour mixture.
  8. Shake off excess then fry until golden brown on both sides, 10-12 minutes.
  9. Transfer to a rack or paper towel-lined plate to cool.
To make it Nashville-Style Hot
  1. Whisk cayenne, brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, and paprika in a medium bowl.
  2. Carefully whisk in 1 cup of the deep fryer oil.
  3. Brush mixture onto both sides of the cooked chicken breasts.
For the sandwiches
  1. Slather buns with mayo. Add tomatoes, chicken, lettuce, and pickles.