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Melba Wilson's Fried Chicken and Waffles

Cook Time:
25 mins
Prep Time:
20 mins

Chef notes

For me, this dish represents tradition, serendipity, resourcefulness and family cooking. It's a fun, delicious tweak on a soul-food classic, and that's exactly what I like to do: honor our roots while also updating and elevating the genre. It can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Technique tip: If your waffle iron has a light on it, make sure to check it. If not, check the waffle after 2 minutes for color and consistency. For the waffles, start with 1½ cups flour before deciding whether your batter needs more. As the saying goes, you can always add more, but you can never take away. What I normally do, and what I suggest that you do, is make one as a sample check to see if it's puffy enough and moist enough on the inside. Based on that, you can decide whether or not to add more.

Swap option: You can sub oat milk, coconut milk or almond milk.

Special equipment: A waffle iron.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 1½-2 cups whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • nonstick cooking spray, for the waffle iron
Fried Chicken
  • 1 (3-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon brown mustard
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons Sazonador seasoning


For the waffles:


In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg.


In another bowl, whisk together the milk, egg yolks and melted butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined. The batter shouldn't be lumpy, but don't over-mix it.


In a clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until almost stiff and fold them into the batter.


Heat a waffle iron and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Ladle one quarter cup of the batter into the middle of the hot iron and close the lid. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until cooked through and golden brown. Repeat with the remaining batter, respraying the waffle the waffle iron before each addition.

For the fried chicken:


Put the chicken pieces in a bowl. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper, paprika, poultry seasoning and garlic powder. Add the mustard and, using your hands (clean, of course), massage all the seasonings into the meat. Pour in the buttermilk, cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.


When ready to cook, pour 3 inches of oil into a deep, heavy-bottomed skillet (preferably cast iron) and heat to 325 F over medium heat.


While the oil is heating, combine the flour and Sazonador seasoning in a large brown paper bag. Add a few pieces of chicken at a time to the seasoned flour and shake the bag like you really mean it.


Fry the chicken in batches until it is beautifully brown and crispy on one side, about 15 minutes. Then turn and cook on the other side until the chicken registers 160 F on an instant-read meat thermometer, about another 15 minutes. As the pieces are done, transfer them to drain on paper towels.


Plate the waffles, top with fried chicken and serve with your toppings of choice (maple syrup, butter, etc.).