The Not-a-Rib Chicken Thigh Sandwich

Dear readers, I am happy to announce that after years of dedicated research, hours of development, and a few minutes of emotionally intensive food processor time, I’m finally ready to reveal my masterpiece.   Ladies, gentleman, and all the rest of you, I give you The Not-a-Rib Chicken Thigh Sandwich.


It’s a chicken thigh patty vaguely shaped like something that’s supposed to vaguely evoke a rack of ribs. It’s covered in sauce. It’s topped with onions and pickles. And more pickles. Really the pickles are the best part.

 Is this stunting? Oh yeah. It’s completely totally absolutely stunting.  It’s also the result of my wife telling me over and over for the past few weeks, “No, we are not going to [that fast food place] to get [that sandwich], that thing isn’t real.”  So of course, I made my own. 


Some tips:

  • Choose larger boneless thighs, or if you’re using small ones, consider throwing in a fifth thigh or part of one.  It’s just easier to work with a slightly larger patty.
  • Be selective with the rolls you choose. The rolls I used for the photograph were chosen because they looked as much like the famous one as possible.  They … they weren’t good.  Chewy can be a desirable quality in fine artisan bread – but that doesn’t mean chewy like gum chewy.
  • Soaking the white onion in water for a few minutes will crisp it up and take the onion-ey edge off it.
  • A good food processor is key to getting the texture right. There are a lot of choices out there, but I’ve used this one for 15 years. It’s pricy, but it’s still going strong after 15 years … and I love it.

The Not-a-Rib Chicken Thigh Sandwich

Recipe by DrewCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time



A chicken thigh clone of a famous fast food sandwich.


  • Chicken Patties
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 2 tsp kosher salt

  • ½ tsp liquid smoke

  • Sauce
  • 1 cup tomato ketchup

  • ½ cup brown sugar

  • ½ cup cider vinegar

  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

  • Garnish and Finish
  • Sub Rolls

  • 1 white onion

  • Dill Pickle chips


  • Patties
  • Preheat your oven to 300°F
  • Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces.
  • Add the chicken, garlic powder, salt, and liquid smoke to the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth and uniform.
  • Divide the forcemeat into 4 portions.
  • On a large sheet pan lined with parchment or a silicone mat, shape 2/3rds of each portion of the meat mixture into 3” by 6” rectangles.
  • Use the remaining 3rd to create “ribs” on top of the rectangle.
  • Repeat for the remaining 3 portions.
  • Bake at 300° F until firm – about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool
  • Make the sauce
  • Add all ingredients to a saucepan and cook until the sugar has dissolved, and the liquid has reduced by about ¼.
  • To Finish
  • Slice the sub buns, if necessary.
  • Peel, trim, and slice the onion end to end.
  • Simmer the patties in the sauce to re-heat.
  • Place a well sauced patty on the bottom half of a sub bun, top with sliced onions, and dill pickle chips.
  • Serve with fries.

Be sure to check out my other food project, The Weekly Menu!

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