KFC Zinger Burger or Chicken Burger is the perfect fried chicken sandwich with an added “Zing!” for lovers of a little extra heat. Crispy chicken thighs are balanced by a creamy burger sauce, placed on a toasted brioche bun. This copycat recipe is going to be your most requested meal.
While the Zinger Sandwich had quite the launch in the
USA…literally, they launched it into space…it’s
sadly since been discontinued. However, it had already existed in over 120
countries for nearly 30 years prior to that launch, and in most of those
countries, it’s still a menu staple. But if you’re in the U.S., thankfully you
can follow along with this recipe instead of having to hop on a plane.
The Zinger is your classic chicken sandwich, with an added spiciness. It’s not overly hot, and the heat is balanced nicely by the creamy sauce and lettuce. As always, the beauty of making this recipe at home is that you can also adjust the heat to your own personal preference.
What is a Zinger Burger?
A Zinger Burger is KFC’s original fried chicken recipe with a spicy twist. Hot fried chicken is sandwiched between a sesame bun together with lettuce and a creamy dressing for a classic chicken burger with a hint of spice.
Ingredients for Chicken Zinger Burger
- Boneless chicken thighs: While you can use chicken breasts for this recipe too, chicken thighs work best. They’re super flavorful and will give you a melt-in-your-mouth moist chicken inside the crispy skin.
- The Marinade made of buttermilk, hot sauce, salt, and pepper: This marinade is not only going to seep into your chicken, loading it with flavor, but it’s essential to get the coating to stick to the chicken evenly. If you can’t find buttermilk in store, it’s super easy to make. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon or white vinegar to 1 cup of whole or 2% milk, then stir and let it sit for about 10 minutes. The milk will start to ferment by thickening and you will have the perfect ready-to-use buttermilk.
- Dredging Mix: The mix is made of all-purpose flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, dried oregano, white pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, and paprika. Make sure you mix all the ingredients into the flour well, for an evenly distributed taste.
- Vegetable Oil: Vegetable oil is the ideal frying oil because it has a higher smoke point.
- Zinger Burger Sauce: This burger sauce is the best of all condiments in one. Mayonnaise, ketchup and mustard are blended together then met with a dash of white vinegar for the perfect ‘zing’!
- Sesame Seeds Burger Buns: You can use any burger bun you would like, but for the authentic Zinger Burger Copycat, you’ll need Sesame Seed Burger Buns. The soft, white bread is the perfect complement to your crunchy chicken coating.
- Butter: Buttering your burger buns is optional, but it will add an extra layer of creaminess to your burger.
- Romaine Lettuce: It adds a refreshing touch to cut through some of the oiliness of your fried chicken.
How to Make Zinger Chicken Burger
Step 1: Marinate the chicken
Add buttermilk, hot sauce, salt and pepper to a large mixing bowl. Mix well and add chicken. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
Step 2: Make the dredging mix
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, oregano, white pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika and salt. Mix well and set aside.
Step 3: Fry the chicken
Heat the oil to 350˚F. Working one at a time, remove each piece of chicken from the marinade. Place it in the dredging mix and coat it thoroughly. Slowly lower the breaded chicken pieces into the oil. Fry each piece for about 10-14 minutes, turning each piece every 2 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F.
Step 4: Make the burger sauce
In a medium bowl, whisk together mayo, ketchup, vinegar, and mustard sauce.
Step 5: Assemble Zinger Burger
Toast the buns on a skillet or grill until golden brown. Then spread softened butter on the cut-side of the buns. Place the bottom bun on a plate. Then spread some burger sauce. Place the crispy chicken on top, add lettuce, and drizzle more burger sauce. Add the top bun on top. Serve hot with French fries and salad.
Tips & Tricks for the Best Zinger Burger
- Marinating your chicken: For the best possible flavor, I recommend marinating your chicken for at least 3 hours, to give the marinade a chance to sink in. At the very least, give it a solid hour to sit in the fridge before continuing.
- Don’t fry your chicken cold: Once it’s done marinating, let your chicken sit on the counter for half an hour. If you dredge it and fry it straight from the fridge, the cold chicken will drop the temperature of the oil and you’ll get an uneven fry. Frying it once it’s back to room temperature is optimal.
- Use a thermometer: Using a candy/ deep-fry thermometer will help you monitor your oil to get a nice even cook. You’ll want the temperature to stay between 300 – 350 F degrees.
KFC Zinger Burger Sauce
This sauce is so packed with flavor, you’re going to be adding it to all your burgers from now on. Whisk together mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard and just a hint of white vinegar. You can add more of any condiment if you favor it. It’s the perfect all-encompassing condiment and balances out the heat of the chicken nicely.
What’s the Difference Between Zinger Burger and Fillet Burger?
There’s nothing that says you have to be able to handle the heat. If spicy isn’t your thing, the Fillet Burger is a classic, mild, fried chicken sandwich. It’s the Colonel’s original recipe, and there’s a reason it’s still around.
How Hot is a Zinger Burger?
While not overwhelming, the heat in the Zinger Burger is still pretty long-lasting. It comes from cayenne pepper, which is a medium-ranked pepper in terms of spiciness. So if you like a little extra kick to your meal, this is the perfect level for you.
If You Like This Recipe Try Out These Copycat Recipes
If you tried this recipe, let me know how your Zinger Burger turns out in the comments below!
Homemade KFC Zinger Burger Recipe
For the Chicken Fillet
- 4 boneless chicken thighs I recommend using chicken thighs for the best result, but you can also use chicken breasts
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 ½ tablespoons hot sauce optional
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
For Frying the Chicken
- vegetable oil
For the Burger Sauce
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 4 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons mustard sauce
For the Zinger Burger
- 4 burger buns (sesame seed hamburger buns)
- 1/2 bunch green leaf lettuce
- butter optional
- Marinate the chicken: In a large mixing bowl, add buttermilk, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Mix well and add chicken. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
- Make the dredging mix: In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, oregano, white pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika and salt. Mix well and set aside.
- Fry the chicken: When ready to cook, place a large pot or saucepan over medium-high heat and add 2 inches of oil. Heat the oil to 350˚F (177˚C)
- Working one at a time, remove each piece from the marinade. Shake to remove excess, and then place it in the dredging mix and coat thoroughly. Tap off the excess.
- Slowly lower the breaded chicken pieces into the oil. You’ll notice that the temperature will drop slightly, so adjust the heat so that the temperature will stay between 300-350˚F. (Make sure not to crowd the pan).
- Fry each piece for about 10-14 minutes, turning each piece every 2 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F
- Remove the chicken from the oil and place on a cooling rack. Let them rest for 10 minutes.
- Make the burger sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together all the sauce ingredients.
- Assemble Zinger Burger: Toast the buns on a skillet or grill until golden brown. Then spread softened butter on the cut-side of the buns.
- Place the bottom bun on a plate. Then spread some burger sauce. Place the crispy chicken on top, add lettuce, and drizzle more burger sauce.
- Add the top bun on top. Serve hot with French fries and salad.
- Make sure to keep the oil temperature between 300-350˚F.
- I suggest marinating the chicken for at least 3 hours. If you are in a rush, you can marinate for 1 hour. But don’t skip this process as it will give you more juicy and tender chicken.