The Key Ingredient For Perfectly Juicy Chicken Burgers

It seems like everywhere you turn, a fast food restaurant is debuting a new chicken sandwich. Popeyes seemingly started the recent craze, as their 2019 chicken sandwich went viral on social media and sold out in some stores, much to the chagrin of their customers (via Good Morning America). Then, in November 2022, Wendy's released a new cheesy version called the Italian Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich, which has a literal patty of fried mozzarella cheese. Around the same time, Popeyes began selling a new blackened chicken sandwich with cajun and creole spices. Surprisingly, however, American demand for chicken sandwiches in restaurants has been decreasing on and off since 2021, with the majority of people preferring to eat theirs at home, according to Tastewise.

Perhaps this is due to decision fatigue or consumers not wanting to get caught in the crossfire of heated fast food debates. Either way, making a chicken burger at home is a relatively easy feat, and the best part is you can customize the sandwich to your exact specifications. You'll need mostly ground chicken, mayo, and seasonings to make the actual patty, according to Feel Good Foodie, but if you want to ensure your chicken burgers are the juiciest ones around, there is a key ingredient you won't want to forget.

All you need is a simple panade

According to Kitchn, a seasoned panade is a crucial component in a supremely juicy chicken burger. If you've never heard of it before, a panade is simply a combination of bread and milk that is added to ground meat to retain moisture during cooking, according to The Spruce Eats. Bread is used because its starchiness allows it to soak up moisture, which counteracts the meat's natural characteristic of releasing liquid when being cooked. For chicken burgers, Kitchn recommends combining breadcrumbs with mayo for a creamy component and mixing the panade into ground chicken with your fingers. If you'd rather stay away from mayo, 101 Cooking for Two suggests using an egg or sour cheese for your panade.

This may sound foreign to you, but if you've ever dabbled in home-cooked meatloaf or meatballs, chances are you've already made a panade. For perfectly juicy meatballs, you may want to add in an egg as well, especially if you're making them in large quantities. And breadcrumbs aren't the only option for your starchy component. According to Culinary Hill, you can use cracker crumbs, cooked rice, or cooked potatoes. 

While we have panade to thank for succulent meat today, allrecipes shares that it was originally used as filler in ground meat. But once it was removed and peoples' meatballs became firm and rubbery, panade was quickly reinstated. And we never looked back.