Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles copycat recipe by Todd Wilbur
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Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles

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Forty-five years ago, chicken and waffles sounded like an unusual combination to most people, but not to Herb Hudson. He loved the dish so much when he lived in Harlem, New York, where it was created, that he brought it west in 1975 to Long Beach, California, and turned the concept into a chain of seven legendary Los Angeles restaurants that were successful for decades.

But Roscoe’s has recently fallen on hard times. reported in January 2018 that the chain had declared bankruptcy and owed $27 million. Snoop Dogg, known over the years for claiming Roscoe’s as his favorite restaurant, told TMZ that he was going to buy the chain and call it Snoop Dogg’s Chicken ‘N Waffles. That deal never happened.

I’m not sure what’s in the cards for Roscoe’s, but I thought it might be a good idea to head out to the Roscoe’s on Gower in LA and do a little hacking, and the sooner, the better. Once there, I ordered plenty of extra chicken and waffles to go, popped them into the cooler, then headed back to Vegas and got to work.

The chicken at Roscoe’s is Southern-style, which usually means the chicken is soaked in buttermilk, but several workers there insisted that wasn’t the case. So instead, I brined the chicken in a simple salt solution and was pleased to discover that it tasted like theirs. By peeking into the kitchen I observed that Roscoe’s chicken is pan-fried, which is a very Southern thing to do with chicken, so we’ll do the same with our clone. My waiter claimed they use canola oil.

As for the waffles, they’re made special with a secret combination of spices added to the batter. I noted a strong taste of cinnamon and vanilla, with just a dash of nutmeg. To be sure, I confirmed these three ingredients with a very helpful server from another table who was proud to talk about the recipe, and even high-fived me when I called out the correct secret ingredients.

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Chicken Brine
  • 8 cups water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Canola Oil for frying
Chicken Breading
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons MSG
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 8 pieces of chicken with the skin on (drumsticks, wings, thighs, breasts)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half
  • 15 ounces (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup water
On the Side
  • Whipped butter
  • Maple syrup
You will also need
  • Waffle iron
  • Do This
    • Restaurant/Brand
    • Instructions
      1. Make the brine by combining the water with the salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the chicken and chill for 4 hours. When the chicken is done brining, rinse it off with cold water and blot it dry.

      2. Fill a large heavy pan, like a cast-iron skillet, with 3 to 4 inches of oil and preheat the oil to 330 degrees F. Use a thermometer on the side of the pan to monitor the temp.

      3. Make the chicken breading by combining the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Combine the eggs with the milk in another medium bowl.

      4. Bread each piece of chicken by first dipping it in the egg-milk mixture, then in the seasoned flour. Coat the chicken well with flour on all sides, allowing it to sit in the flour for a few minutes so that the flour sticks.

      5. Gently lower the chicken into the oil in small batches and fry it for 20 to 24 minutes, depending on the size of the piece. The oil should drop to between 300 and 325 degrees F, which is where it needs to stay as the chicken fries. Any hotter and the chicken may become too dark on the outside before it’s cooked on the inside. Flip the chicken over after every 5 minutes so that it cooks evenly, then remove the cooked pieces to a rack or paper towel–lined plate. You can keep the chicken warm on a baking sheet in a 275-degrees-F oven until all the chicken is done and you’re ready to serve it.

      6. The chicken takes a while to fry, so you’ve got some time to make waffles. Fortunately, they’re easy. First step: heat up your waffle iron.

      7. Combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on high speed. Mix in the melted butter, then the half-and-half. Combine the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then add the dry combo to the wet stuff, along with the water, and mix it up with your mixer until smooth.

      8. Spray the waffle iron with nonstick cooking spray, then spoon ⅓ cup to ½ cup of batter (depending on the size of your waffle iron) onto the center of the waffle iron.


      9. Cook each waffle for 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown. The recipe should produce at least 8 waffles, and probably a couple more than that.

      10. On each plate, set 2 pieces of fried chicken next to a stack of 2 waffles with a scoop of whipped butter on top, and serve the maple syrup on the side.

      Serves 4.
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I'm Todd Wilbur,
Chronic Food Hacker

For 30 years I've been deconstructing America's most iconic brand-name foods to make the best original clone recipes for you to use at home. Welcome to my lab.

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