26 Best Toppings To Add To Your Chicken Sandwich

Burgers may get all the press, but that doesn't mean they deserve sandwich superiority, particularly when you consider the merits of the chicken sandwich. The fried, breaded versions have a distinct crisp you won't find with other sandwiches, while the grilled type is often far juicier than its beefy cousins. Consider that chicken sandwiches tend to be on the lighter side, and you'll realize it's a shame to write them off as anything inferior to a run-of-the-mill burger.

With a chicken sandwich, however, it's the toppings that matter just as much as the chicken itself. Below is a list of the best toppings to add to any chicken sandwich. Use it as a guide to help determine where to start when building a chicken sandwich's flavor profile, but don't feel limited to what is listed here. Honestly, anything can be a chicken sandwich topping if you're creative (and hungry) enough.

1. Lettuce

Lettuce, of course, is at the top of any list. In fact, most sandwiches aren't complete without a layer of crunchy green leaves. This is especially important when it comes to fried chicken sandwiches, as you need something light and fresh to balance out the fried breading.

Make sure to think about what kind of lettuce you want on a burger before you head to the produce aisle. Iceberg lettuce is crisper, but it can be watery. Romaine has a bit more flavor, but if it's not fresh enough, it can easily wilt. Pile it on for a crisp serving of veggies.

2. Tomatoes

Tomatoes can also add some much-needed freshness to a chicken sandwich, and they're one of the most common sandwich toppings out there. However, there are a few things to think about before topping a sandwich with tomatoes. First of all, are the tomatoes properly ripe? Underripe tomatoes can be hard, chewy, and even grainy, which is something to avoid.

Secondly, it's important to only put tomatoes on a sandwich right before it's time to eat. If tomatoes are left sitting too long next to the bun or breading on a chicken sandwich, things can start to get soggy quickly.

3. Onion

Onions are an essential topping for any sandwich, as they add a distinctive bite that simply can't be derived from any other ingredient. While many opt for red onions (especially when eaten fresh) on sandwiches, it's important to keep an open mind. Depending on what type of chicken sandwich is being made, consider going for sweet onions or even sautéed shallots instead.

If you like onions but don't enjoy how strong they tend to be, soak your onions in some water before using them in a chicken sandwich. This process will ensure the flavor is a bit more muted.

4. American cheese

Of course, there are plenty of different types of cheeses that can be added to a chicken sandwich, but it's hard to deny that American cheese is a classic. 

Is American cheese the best cheese out there when eaten on its own? Of course not. But it really gets its chance to shine when sitting atop a chicken patty. Importantly, the patty should be hot when stacking the cheese on top of it, as the intention is to melt it just slightly. Otherwise, the sandwich is left with a cold hunk of dairy that will distract from the actual chicken itself.

5. Ketchup

For some people out there, a sandwich isn't a sandwich without ketchup. If that's how you tend to think, you'll want to put some of the red stuff on your chicken sandwich. 

Although some don't like ketchup's sticky sweetness, it works quite well in a chicken sandwich because it complements all the other salty flavors the sandwich has going on. That touch of sweetness brightens the whole flavor profile and makes every bite that much more delicious.

Want some ketchup with an extra kick? Try mixing it with hot sauce before adding it to the chicken sandwich. Tabasco makes a particularly solid choice.

6. Mayonnaise

Every sandwich needs a sauce, but not everyone is a ketchup person. For those who abhor the red, sweet sauce, they might be looking for an alternative, and it's hard to beat mayo. Mayonnaise makes the perfect addition to a chicken sandwich because it offers the sandwich some much-needed creaminess. Good mayo also has a bright tang to it that can break up some of the heaviness of a fried chicken filet.

There are plenty of different mayonnaise brands to choose from, so experiment with a few different brands to find the right fit. In a pinch, mayo can even be made at home.

7. Pesto

All too often, chicken sandwiches follow the burger formula: lettuce, onions, tomato. What if someone wants to switch things up and try a different way? That's when it's time to pull out the pesto. This fragrant, basil-heavy sauce can give a chicken sandwich a lovely floral quality that works especially well when working alongside ingredients like mozzarella and even bacon.

Find jarred pesto at any local grocery store in the sauce aisle; it's also pretty easy to make at home in a food processor. If going this route, it will likely result in a fresher basil flavor in the finished sandwich.

8. Guacamole

Guacamole is not just for tortilla chips — it turns out it can make an exceptionally delicious chicken sandwich topper as well. It may not be the first sauce people think about adding to a sandwich, but because it contains so many different burger-adjacent ingredients as it is, it's a no-brainer to plop it onto the sandwich if it's in the fridge.

As always, fresh guacamole will work best, but for those who don't want to go through the process of making guacamole from scratch, store-bought will do. Make sure to spread it thick on the bun before digging in. This is one of the few sandwich toppings that can stand on its own, without the help of other ingredients.

9. Buffalo sauce

All chicken sandwiches are good, but buffalo chicken sandwiches might just be the best of the bunch. There's nothing like the tangy, spicy, and deliciously fatty sauce that gives chicken an orange-y tint. 

There are a few different ways to use buffalo sauce on a chicken sandwich. Of course, coating the chicken patty in the sauce is a good idea; it transforms the whole flavor profile of the chicken sandwich. But if that's too strong a flavor,  just spread a thin layer on top of the chicken patty — it all depends on what kind of flavor intensity is desired.

10. Honey mustard

Sweet and savory fans have another chicken sandwich topping option to choose from. Honey mustard has a lot of the complexity and acidity of yellow or Dijon mustard, but the inclusion of honey also gives it a sweetness that sets it apart from other types of mustard. Different brands of mustard have different sweetness levels, ranging from subtle, nuanced sweetness to ketchup-level sugar contents.

Ideal for those who like their chicken sandwiches super sweet, others might want to limit honey mustard usage if employing other sweet ingredients like ketchup or hot honey. Otherwise, those fresher, brighter flavors might have a hard time shining through.

11. Hot honey

For those who love sweet and savory combos with spicy food, there's nothing like a fried chicken sandwich dripping with hot honey. It's a dynamic ingredient that can transform an average chicken sandwich into something special. It gives off chicken and waffles vibes, while the heat adds an element that isn't typically found in a lot of dishes.

Of course, those who don't like sweet ingredients with meat or have an aversion to spicy food are probably not going to like hot honey on a chicken sandwich. But for those looking for a less-typical topping — and love the juxtaposition of sweet and heat — it's the perfect ingredient.

12. Tartar sauce

Some may think of tartar sauce as a condiment entirely reserved for fried seafood, but it has far greater potential. Tartar sauce can make an unconventional, intriguing addition to a chicken sandwich. For those who like mayonnaise but wish it had more flavor, tartar sauce is an ideal alternative. It's made with mayo, pickle relish, and sometimes capers and various herbs. The result is a sauce both creamy and fresh, subtle but flavorful.

Luckily, tartar sauce is easy to make at home. It's also something often hanging around in the fridge, just waiting for an excuse to pop the lid and unleash its unique taste.

13. Pickles

For many, pickles are the one absolute essential among chicken sandwich toppings. Consider the chicken sandwiches at Chick-fil-A, Popeyes or countless other hot chicken joints, often little more than a few pickles atop a thick chicken patty. 

Few toppings could hold their own on a chicken sandwich with nothing else to support them, but pickles can. Perhaps it's because their flavor, their texture, their whole essence is the exact opposite of fried chicken, creating a perfect harmony of contrasting ingredients. Crispy, fatty fried chicken is begging for a juicy, briny vegetable to give it more brightness and acidity. It's enough to perhaps warrant a petition, making pickles and chicken the new peanut butter and jelly.

14. Pickled vegetable slaw

When desiring something fresh, crunchy, and colorful to add to a simple chicken sandwich recipe, it's best to not overthink things. Sometimes, something as simple as a pickled vegetable slaw can transform an average weeknight dish into something that tastes like it came from a restaurant and not a home kitchen.

Make a pickled vegetable slaw at home with whatever veggies are in the fridge; ingredients like cabbage, carrot, chile, and onion work best. It only takes a few minutes to quickly pickle vegetables, so this is a quick trick for making chicken sandwiches feel just a bit fancier.

15. Bacon

Bacon is the ultimate sandwich enhancer, the perfect remedy for making a sandwich heartier and more filling. It's all over burgers all the time, of course, but the bacon phenomenon carries over to chicken sandwiches as well. 

When used sparingly, bacon can be a crunchy addition to a chicken sandwich, particularly when paired with fresher ingredients like lettuce, tomato, and onion. It automatically turns an average chicken sandwich into something that tastes and feels enjoyably indulgent. However, it's important to avoid soggy bacon at all costs — it can make a sandwich chewy and greasy if not cooked to perfection.

16. Scallions

Love the bite of onions but can't stand how strong they are? Wish you could enjoy that onion flavor, but without continuing to taste them for hours after finishing the meal? If so, scallions may be the answer. 

Scallions are more mild than most other types of onions, so their freshness and flavor is delivered without any of the mind-bending intensity of raw onions. They can bring a unique, pleasurable flavor to a chicken sandwich. When looking for the mildest scallion experience possible, use the tops (aka the green part) of the scallions, which have a greener, less intense flavor than their white counterparts at the bottom.

17. Potato chips

Most of the classic chicken sandwich toppings are as dependable as they are iconic, but sometimes it pays to get creative. 

Stack potato chips on roast beef sandwiches, put them on subs — on "The Bear," they were even added to an omelette. So, why shouldn't a chicken sandwich be fair game? They're the perfect way to add more crunch and texture to a sandwich, and they help give the dish a saltier flavor profile.

Potato chips, particularly the thinly cut variety, can get soggy quickly when exposed to sauces and other moist ingredients. So, make sure to add them to the sandwich immediately before consumption.

18. Jalapeños

Sometimes, adding a bit of heat to a chicken sandwich keeps things interesting. This is why it's important to keep jalapeños on hand. They're not the spiciest peppers out there, but they pack enough heat to make them suitable for serious spice lovers.

There are a few different ways to use jalapeños in a chicken sandwich. If the plan is to avoid that super intense heat, use pickled jalapeños, which tend to be milder than their fresher counterparts. If using the fresh variety, either cut the jalapeños into rings to use on sandwiches, or roughly mince them to create more of a pepper salsa situation.

19. BBQ sauce

To those who are fans of barbecued chicken, it's a no-brainer to consider adding BBQ sauce to a chicken sandwich. If desiring just a hint of that smokey, sometimes sweet flavor, drizzle a bit of the sauce onto the bun before digging in. If looking for a more intense flavor, glaze that chicken in the sauce before or after cooking it.

Although BBQ sauce can work on any type of chicken sandwich, it's best when used on a grilled chicken sandwich. The sauce can sometimes make the breading soft and soggy, and it could otherwise compete with the crispier texture of fried chicken.

20. Pepper Jack cheese

Looking for a way to add some mild heat to a burger? Consider the delights of pepper jack cheese, which is much more dynamic and multi-faceted than many of its counterparts. 

While pepper jack has that creaminess expected from cheese, especially when in the form of a slice, it also contains hot peppers that produce a slight burn. Some pepper jack cheeses are milder than others, but they're generally appropriate for people who can take a small amount of spice.

A single slice of pepper jack cheese can elevate any chicken sandwich into something with increased flavor and complexity.

21. Pineapple

Some people really love fruit, and are among those who would consider putting a slice of pineapple on a chicken sandwich. The combination works great, because it taps into that salty/sweet dynamic that makes for a memorable sandwich. Pineapple also offers some marked acidity, which can counteract the fattiness that comes from the chicken patty. It's a classic combo that almost always turns out delicious.

Pineapple works perfectly on a grilled chicken sandwich because the lack of breading makes for a fresher bite that pairs well with fruit. However, even a fried chicken sandwich can benefit from a thin slice of this tropical treat.

22. Mozzarella

If desirous of a chicken parmesan feel in a chicken sandwich, it's hard to go wrong with mozzarella cheese. It may not be the first kind of cheese that comes to mind when thinking about what works best with chicken, but it's a match made in heaven. 

Put mozzarella on a grilled chicken sandwich (although it also works on fried sandwiches), alongside some tomato sauce and maybe even a bit of basil. The flavor combo is incredible, and it feels fancy despite how easy it is to put together. Make sure the cheese melts a little bit before serving the sandwich.

23. Peach sauce

If the hope is to make a chicken sandwich that tastes like something a celebrity chef would make, inspiration can be had from David Chang's chicken sandwich at Fuku

Chang's sandwich contains chicken thighs, pickles, and sweet Georgia peach sauce. While the latter might raise some eyebrows, it's a unique, sweet and utterly out-of-the-box addition to any dish that typically come across as salty; in short, it works really well with the typical flavor profile of a chicken sandwich. Peach sauce can add a light, refreshing, deeply flavorful punch to any standard sandwich, taking it into the realm of the extraordinary.

24. Papalo

Of course, there are many types of chicken sandwiches all over the world — cultures from around the globe enjoy poultry stuffed between two pieces of bread. One of the world's most delicious chicken sandwiches, however, might just be the cemita milanesa de pollo, which hails from Mexico. 

This sandwich is piled high with a variety of ingredients, but one of the most interesting is papalo, also referred to as summer cilantro. It's a green herb that has a similar flavor profile to arugula, cilantro, and mint, and adds a bright freshness to fried chicken. If some can be found in the local supermarket produce section, give it a try.

25. Maple butter

Whether making a chicken biscuit for breakfast or simply looking for a way to add sweetness to a chicken sandwich, consider using maple butter. 

The fattiness of this butter, combined with the sweetness of the maple syrup, are a match made in heaven. It tastes good on its own, of course, but might be even better spread over a simple slice of bread — or ideally, the two of them that surround a chicken sandwich. Starbucks figured this out, capitalizing on the flavor with a chicken breakfast sandwich. Maple butter is ideal for those who think hot honey sounds appealing but don't like spice.

26. Emping chips

Want to add some crunch to the sandwich? Try Emping chips, a Southeast Asian snack that is highly addictive. 

Harold Dieterle's Kin Shop in NYC's West Village designed a fried chicken sandwich topped with Emping chips, and although it'll be hard to beat that version, you can at least give it a try at home. Find them at a local Asian grocer, or possibly online. If attempting to recreate the Kin Shop sandwich, you'll also need dark meat chicken, hot pickles, brioche buns, and a veggie slaw. The homemade sauces may be hard to recreate, but give it a try if you're feeling adventurous.