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Who Invented Chicken and Waffles?

It’s hard to imagine a dish more uniquely American than chicken and waffles. This unexpected flavor combination is the meal you didn’t know you needed.

Whether you’re a lifelong connoisseur of this classic or you’ve never tried it before, we have the scoop on this delicious dish. 

Join us as we discover where chicken and waffles came from and where to get the best plate near you.

Let’s dig in!

What Is Chicken and Waffles?

Crispy fried chicken and fluffy waffles combine to make an unexpectedly delightful dish. Savory and sweet, this tasty combination is the ultimate comfort food. It’s the perfect meal for any time of day. 

It’s also a great hangover cure. Whether you’re wrapping up a long night out or just waking up after one, chicken and waffles will soak up the booze and get you back in gear. 

While many establishments claim to have invented the dish, its origins likely go back further than initially thought. 

Woman holding chicken and waffles
Enjoy the perfect savory and sweet combination by ordering some chicken and waffles.

When Was Chicken and Waffles Invented?

Fried chicken undoubtedly has its roots in the American South. Enslaved African-Americans are commonly credited with combining west African flavors with Scottish cooking techniques. 

Throughout the U.S., fried chicken gained popularity after the abolition of slavery, and freed blacks took their signature dish north. 

On the other hand, waffles became standard in America in the 1600s. In the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, waffles with fried catfish were a staple in the 1800s. Later, they served savory waffles with fried chicken and gravy. 

One well-accepted origin story for the dish credits the Wells Supper Club in Harlem, New York, in the 1930s. It’s thought that hungry jazz musicians chowed down on chicken and waffles in the early morning hours between dinner and breakfast. 

Is Chicken and Waffles Unhealthy?

While chicken and waffles are the epitome of comfort food, no one’s claiming they’re actually good for you. 

Fried chicken is high in sodium and saturated fat, while waffles are typically made of refined carbohydrates. Not to mention, most people add a hearty pat of butter and a hefty drizzle of syrup over the top. 

If you’re watching your caloric intake, you’ll probably want to avoid indulging in this dish too frequently. But every now and then, eating like a king is good for the soul.

Chicken and waffles
The history of how chicken and waffles came to be is rooted in the American South.

Best Places to Get Chicken and Waffles

While we may not know exactly where this dish started, we can definitely tell you where to get some of the best chicken and waffles today! 

Below are some of the most celebrated restaurants featuring this American classic. 

Steuben’s (Denver, Colorado)

Steuben’s Uptown in Denver, Colorado, is an homage to the famous restaurant, bar, and jazz club it’s named after. This “fine diner” serves up regional American classics like New England lobster rolls, Philly cheesesteak sandwiches, and of course, chicken and waffles. 

Their take on the dish features juicy, crispy, bone-in fried chicken over a fluffy Belgian waffle, topped with made-from-scratch chicken gravy. This late-night eatery is a hotspot for locals craving a good meal after a night on the town. It’s also been featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken (Nashville, Tennessee)

Nashville hot chicken is having a moment. And perhaps the best place to get it is at Hattie B’s. This Nashville, Tennessee, establishment serves boneless fried chicken and waffles topped with deliciously sweet maple syrup.

While it’s hard to beat the original, we should note that Hattie B’s has expanded. Now hungry diners from Atlanta to Las Vegas can enjoy the classic flavors of Hattie B’s Hot Chicken at eight different locations around the country. 

Join The Debate: Help us decide which chicken reigns supreme, Nashville Hot or Buffalo Chicken.

Yardbird (Miami Beach, Florida)

Miami’s Yardbird restaurant is an award-winning favorite among locals and vacationers alike. This eatery is all about flavor and features a range of American classics. 

Their spin on chicken and waffles is definitely unique. Yardbird serves a Vermont sharp cheddar cheese waffle and crunchy, tender fried chicken topped with chilled spiced watermelon, honey hot sauce, and bourbon maple syrup. 

And if Miami is too far of a trek, Yardbird has six other locations throughout the U.S. and also one in Singapore. 

Sweet Chick (New York, New York)

Sweet Chick is a love letter to New York City in restaurant form. 

Owner John Seymour was raised in New York and has deep roots in the area. He was inspired to build a restaurant centered around chicken and waffles when he first learned of Harlem’s influence on the dish. And that’s exactly what he did. 

Backed by New York rap sensation Nas, Sweet Chick expanded to six other locations in the U.S., with more international restaurants to come. 

The Breakfast Klub (Houston, Texas)

The Breakfast Klub is one of the most beloved eateries in Houston, Texas. The laid-back atmosphere and reasonable prices make this a staple for everyone, from CEOs to college students. 

This family-owned institution is all about community. They insist that anyone who walks through their doors is family. This philosophy, combined with a killer menu, has made them very popular in Houston. 

Their “wings and waffles” feature a Belgian waffle topped with six chicken wings, powdered sugar, and a strawberry garnish. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can swap out the waffle for French toast or a stack of pancakes. 

Pro Tip: Don’t know if a visit to Houston for chicken and waffles is right for you? Before you decide to go, make sure you know Is Houston Safe at Night?

Give Chicken and Waffles a Try

We can’t say for sure who invented chicken and waffles, but we can tell you this is a dish you don’t want to miss. Sweet and savory, crunchy and juicy, any spin on this classic is sure to be a winner. 

You might even be willing take a few extra points on your cholesterol if it means getting to indulge in this American classic from time to time.

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