Fried Chicken Pizza with BBQ Sauce, White Cheddar, and Cabbage Slaw
This pizza is like a really great fried chicken sandwich that you can slice into pieces and share. And, you really should share. Share with your family and your friends and your neighbors. Because the only thing better than fried chicken is eating it with BBQ sauce, white cheddar cheese, and cabbage slaw all piled onto of a soft, chewy pizza crust.
Let's break this bad boy down, shall we? Here's what we've got going on here...
- Homemade pizza crust. Don't worry. It's super easy and nearly fool proof. Also, you can totally sub in the prepared, packaged variety if you wish.
- BBQ sauce. Instead of the traditional marinara, this pizza is covered in BBQ sauce - whichever kind of bottled sauce your little heart desires.
- Pickled Onions. Pickled onions take about 5 minutes to prepare and will last for weeks. They are magical on this pizza, but should also make a regular appearance on your sandwiches and salads. You can thank me later.
- Cheeeeeeese. Lots of gooey, melted white cheddar. Because cheddar and BBQ sauce and fried chicken are meant for each other. Does that make them polyamorous? I dunno. Not the point.
- Fried Chicken! If you don't like fried chicken, what are you even doing with your life? Ok, ok. I know. Some of you are vegetarians and vegans and I admire you greatly and am following your lead and consuming a lot less meat and dairy than I used to. Even still. Here's a bunch of delicious vegetable based recipes. Because this isn't the pizza for you.
- More cheese! This pizza has cheese under the fried chicken and even more melted over the fried chicken. Because sometimes there's no such thing as too much cheese.
- Jalapeños, baby. The pickled variety that you'd normally put on nachos. You know why they are great on nachos? Because pickled jalepenos and gooey melty cheese are also meant to be together. Choose the spicy or mild variety depending on your mood and tolerance for heat.
- Cabbage Slaw. I have had many, many people tell me that they don't like coleslaw and then devour a plateful of this cabbage slaw. It's not overly mayonnaise-y and what little mayonnaise is in there is balanced with things like vinegar, BBQ sauce, and loads of fresh herbs.
I hope I've convinced you that you need this pizza in your life. But, before you get cooking, there's a few things you ought to know that will help you fit pizza making to YOUR schedule and your taste buds.
Marinating/ Brining the chicken
At least a couple of hours before you start making pizza, dunk the chicken in a zip top bag or other container and smother it with buttermilk, coconut milk and spices. You can do this up to 24 hours ahead of time, which is usually what I do, getting the chicken soaking in all that goodness the night before.
Every ingredient in the marinade is designed to infuse the chicken with flavor while also making it more tender and juicy. Soaking chicken (or any meat or poultry) in liquid and a generous amount of salt seasons the meat from the inside out. While it soaks, the salt gently seeps into the meat, adding both flavor and moisture.
Having said all that, the marinade is not 100% necessary. If you simply don't have time, forget to do it, or just don't feel like it, go ahead and skip the step altogether. Marinate chicken will be more flavorful, tender, and moist. But, non-marinated chicken will still be delicious.
The Pizza Dough
This recipe calls for my all-time favorite homemade pizza dough. I've been making it for years, and it never fails me. How many other things can you say that about in life???
If you have a stand mixer, whipping up this dough is ridiculously easy. If you don't have a stand mixer, the whole process isn't more difficult - it's just going to require a bit of some elbow grease. But, honestly. Kneading dough is kind of fun and especially useful if you are in need of a healthy way to dispose of any pent up frustrations. 😊
Making homemade pizza dough can totally be manipulated to fit your schedule. It only requires about an hour of time to rise, so if you start the dough 90 minutes before you want to put your pizzas in the oven, you'll be golden. You can also make the dough in the morning and leave it in the refrigerator to rise. Chilling the dough will slow down the activity of the yeast, so the dough can chill out for hours, rising slowly all day long.
As with marinating the chicken, if you don't want to make pizza dough from scratch, just pick up a couple of packaged pre-made crusts at your local market. Once you've covered them in BBQ, cheese, and fried chicken, how could they not be delicious?
The Cabbage Coleslaw
Just like the marinating chicken and pizza dough, the cabbage slaw can be prepared in advance. Making the slaw only takes about 10 - 15 minutes and it will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
As I said earlier, I've served this slaw, to many people who say they dislike coleslaw and so far every one of them has gobbled it up. The problem with most coleslaw recipes is that they are positively drenched in mayonnaise. This makes them heavy and well, kinda gross.
This slaw does have some mayonnaise in it, but just enough to add a touch of creaminess. Rice vinegar and plenty of fresh herbs brighten the flavor of the vegetables while a touch of BBQ sauce ties the whole thing together.
Piled on top of a cheesy slice of pizza with crispy fried chicken, this slaw is the proverbial icing on the cake.
Pickled Onions are ridiculously easy and pack SO much flavor.
When a recipe really works - meaning, all the flavors are working together and having a little party in your mouth - it's usually because there is a lovely balance between sour, bitter, salty, and sweet. In this recipe, pickled onions add acidity and a touch of sweetness that balances the salt in the fried chicken and cheddar cheese perfectly.
Making pickled onions is as simple as chopping an onion and letting them soak in a vinegar bath. But, they'll keep in your refrigerator for weeks and will take your sandwich, salad, and pizza game to a whole new level.
The secret to super crispy fried chicken.
Two secrets, actually.
For super crispy fried chicken, the process goes like this: Dredge the chicken in flour that's been seasoned with some salt and other spices if you like. Dip the flour covered chicken in beaten eggs, then coat it in Panko Bread Crumbs.
When you're coating each piece in Panko Bread Crumbs, it's important to really press the crumbs into the chicken so the outside is covered in a nice, thick, layer that will generate maximum crunch after frying. I usually roll the chicken around in the crumbs to give it an initial coating, then burry the chicken in the crumbs and use the heel of my hand to press as many crumbs into the chicken as possible.
The second thing that's super duper important to perfect fried chicken is knowing what the temperature of your oil is, and the best way to do that is with a deep fry thermometer. Well, it's really the only way. You can't really discern the temperature of hot oil by sight, and if you try to monitor the temperature by gauging how fast the chicken is frying there's a good chance you're either going to end up with soggy, oil soaked chicken (from the temperature being too low) or chicken that's burnt on the outside and raw on the inside (from the temperature being to high).
If you don't already have one, a deep fry thermometer will cost you less than $10. Even if you only fry food once in a while, I think you'll find it more than worth it.
Just to recap - the components of this pizza can be made ahead of time, hours or even days in advance.
So fit the recipe to your schedule. You're the boss. If the pickled onions, coleslaw, and marinating chicken are in the refrigerator, and the pizza dough was made in the morning, you'll be eating BBQ Fried Chicken pizza in under an hour.
So, while homemade pizza can certainly be weekend fare, spread out over a few leisurely hours in the kitchen, with a little planning it can also be something you throw together on a Tuesday night.
Other Recipes You Might Like:
- Ham and Cheese Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Apple Butter
- Homemade Meatball Pizza
- How To Make Homemade Pasta
- Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Spicy Cranberry Relish
- Pan Fried Chicken Thighs with Honey Chili Glaze
- Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Pineapple Coleslaw
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #alittleandalot on Instagram.
For the Pizza:
- 1 recipe Homemade Pizza Dough *See notes for more information about homemade dough and substitutions.
- 1 cup bottled BBQ sauce (whatever brand you love)
- 1 cup pickled red onions
- 1 ½ lbs white cheddar cheese, sliced thin or shredded (*see note)
- About ⅔ cup sliced pickled jalapeños, spicy or mild (optional)
For the Fried Chicken:
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup full fat coconut milk, from a can (can use another cup of buttermilk instead)
- 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp salt, divided
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 3 tsp smoked paprika, divided
- 1 tsp ground cayenne
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 large eggs
- A couple dashes of hot sauce (optional)
- 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
- 2 cups vegetable oil (for frying)
For the Cabbage Coleslaw:
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp bottled BBQ sauce
- 2 tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tsp salt
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 small red cabbage (about 1 lb shredded)
- 1 large carrot
Marinate the Chicken: (*See note)
- Chop the chicken into pices that are 1-2 inches in size. Put them in a zip top bag or large bowl.
- In a bowl or large measuring cup, stir together the buttermilk, coconut milk, 2 tbsp salt, onion powder, garlic powder, 2 tsp paprika, and cayenne. Pour over the chicken and stir to make sure the chicken pieces are well coated.
- Refrigerate chicken in the marinade for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Make the Cabbage Coleslaw:
- Add the mayonnaise, BBQ sauce, rice vinegar, and salt to a bowl and stir to combine. Stir in the chopped cilantro and parsley.
- Cut out the core from the cabbage and remove any outer leaves that are wilted. Cut the cabbage into quarters then slice each quarter into very thin slices - about ⅛-inch thick.
- Peel the carrot, trim the ends and shred with a cheese grater or food processor.
- Add the cabbage and carrot to the bowl with the rest of the slaw ingredients and stir to mix. Cover and chill until ready to use. Can be made up to 2 days in advance.
Make the Fried Chicken:
- Add the flour, remaining teaspoon of salt and paprika, and ground black pepper to a shallow dish or pie plate and stir to combine.
- Crack the eggs into a seperate shallow dish or pie plate and add a couple dashes of hot sauce, if using. Whisk to combine.
- Dump the panko bread crumbs into another shallow dish or pie plate.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, roll it in the flour, then dip it in the eggs, and coat with panko. As you coat the chicken in the panko, press it into the chicken so you get a nice thick layer. (see images and video for a visual)
- Add the vegetable oil to a large, deep saucepan and set it over high heat. Use a deep fry thermometer to monitor the temperature of the oil. When the oil reaches 325 degrees (F), start frying the chicken. Add a few pieces of chicken to the hot oil and cook until golden brown on one side. Using metal tongs, flip the chicken pieces over and cook until golden brown on the other side. Remove the chicken pieces to a paper towel lined plate and repeat with the remaining pieces of chicken. While you fry the chicken, do your best to keep the temperature of the oil as close to 325 degrees as possible.
Assemble and Bake the Pizzas:
- Place a Pizza Stone inside the oven, positioning it on the middle rack. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. (*Don't have a pizza stone? See note below.)
- Divide the cheese into three equal portions and set aside.
- Divide the dough into three equal portions. Work with one portion at a time, keeping the remaining dough covered so it doesn't dry out.
- Gently pull and press the dough with your fingers into a circle that's roughly 10 inches in diameter. Place the dough onto a pizza peel that's been well dusted with flour. (You can also use a rimless baking sheet instead of a pizza peel.)
- Spread ⅓ of a cup of BBQ sauce over the pizza dough, leaving about an inch of room around the edge of the dough. Scatter about ⅓ of a cup of pickled onions over the BBQ sauce and top with about ⅔ of one of the portions of cheese.
- Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone and let bake for 14 minutes, until the cheese is completely melted and bubbly and the crust is begining to brown.
- Use the pizza peel to remove the pizza from the oven and scatter ⅓ of the fried chicken pieces over the surface. Cover the chicken with the remaining ⅓ of one of the portions of cheese.
- Return the pizza to the oven and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes longer, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and begining to brown in a few places.
- Use the pizza peel to remove the pizza from the oven. Scatter a few jalepeno slices over the top and slice it into 4 pieces. Serve the pizza with the cabbage coleslaw, allowing each person to add as much to the top of their slices as they like.
- Repeat steps 4-9 with remaining dough and pizza toppings.
- You'll need about 2 lbs of pizza dough for this recipe, which is how much you'll get from my Favorite Homemade Pizza Dough recipe. You can also use a pre-made crust; this recipe makes enough toppings for 3 medium-size pizzas. If using a pre-made crust, adjust the bake time according to the crust package directions.
- If you want to make less pizza: Make a half batch of Homemade Pizza Dough. Or, make a full batch and freeze the leftover dough. Just form the extra balls of dough into balls, wrap individually, and freeze for up to 3 months. Let defrost in the refrigerator overnight in a covered bowl (unwrapped) to allow for expansion as the dough thaws.
- Marinating the chicken is optional, but recomended. If you want fried chicken pizza now and don't want to wait for the chicken to soak in the marinade (I get it), it's ok to skip this step. The buttermilk marinade tenderizes the chicken while flavoring it and really does make a difference. But, skipping the marinade and moving straight to the breading and frying will still result in delicious fried chicken. Just add another teaspoon of salt to the flour so the chicken won't be bland.
- One day I accidently ordered sliced white cheddar cheese instead of grated cheese and it turned out to be a happy mistake. Thin sliced white cheddar cheese from the deli case is so easy to layer over pizzas. Having said that, grated cheese works just as well.
- Baking Pizza on a pizza stone or pizza steel ensures a lovely crisp bottomed crust. This recipe was tested using a pizza stone, but a pizza steel would also work. If you don't have either, you can bake your pizza on a baking sheet. Cover the baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Build the pizza on the baking sheet, then place in a preheated oven. Increase the bake time by 3-6 minutes to ensure the crust is baked through.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 946Total Fat: 39gSaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 159mgSodium: 1401mgCarbohydrates: 90gFiber: 7gSugar: 15gProtein: 43g