clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wingin’ It: Fried pickles with Tennessee whiskey sauce as the Bills face the Titans

I fried up a bunch of other stuff too

You like football. You like food. So do we! So much so, in fact, that we smash the two together to bring you a Buffalo Bills-inspired recipe each week. Whether it’s a take on an opponents’ fave or some real mad scientist **** coming your way, Wingin’ It is the spot to watch. This week we’re prepping for the Tennessee Titans!

Wingin it fried pickles

My research this week revealed that fried pickles are a big thing in Tennessee and, let’s face it, deep frying stuff is fun. You can see I did an onion ring too, and there’s also a hot dog in that mess. Recipes varied from simple breading (seasoned flour essentially) to complex batters. I rolled with a sticky batter that can be used for juuuuuuust about anything. I paired it with a BBQ/wing sauce hybrid featuring a well-known brand of Tennessee Whiskey.

Fried Pickles and Buffalo Whiskey Sauce

Serves: 6-10
Active Time: 40 min
Total Time: 90 min

You’ll need: Candy/Deep frying thermometer, utensils to safely remove items from hot oil


2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
12 cup hot sauce
14 cup apple cider
14 cup ketchup
14 cup whiskey
14 cup brown sugar
12 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper
14 tsp salt

Vegetable oil for frying (see below)
1 cup flour
1 tsp salt
12 tsp baking powder
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp onion powder
1 12 cups buttermilk
32 oz. pickles (chips or sandwich slices), patted dry using paper towels

  1. Prepare sauce: melt butter in a medium sauce pan on MED/LOW. Add onions and sauté until they turn milky/translucent in color.
  2. Stir in liquid ingredients (hot sauce, ketchup, cider, whiskey)—this prevents the onions from burning.
  3. Stir in sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Simmer until thickened, about 30 min, stirring occasionally. Continue to step 4 to prepare oil while pan simmers. Remove from heat when done (see gallery below for tips).
  4. Prepare oil: Add at least 1” of oil but no more 2” at the bottom of a large pot. Heat pot until oil is somewhere between 350ºF and 375ºF (check temperature with candy thermometer).
  5. Prepare batter: Combine flour, salt, baking powder, black pepper, and onion powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir in buttermilk until smooth.
  6. Dredge dried pickles in batter and carefully place one-by-one in hot oil. Frying should be done in small batches. (Mine took about five min per batch.)
  7. Flip prepped pickles as needed—aim for a medium to darker brown and remove safely onto paper towels (preferably on a tray or plate as the excess oil will soak through). Repeat until done. Feel free to batter and fry other things!

Wingin’ It Tips and Prep Gallery

Just a couple relevant pictures this week. I’ve often made sauces where the instructions are something like we see above. “Simmer until thickened.” There’s lots of advice out there on what this means but, as they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I have two GIFs to help you sort out high-sugar sauces like most BBQ recipes.

The first GIF is an early warning sign. When you begin to simmer, bubbles will look a lot like water. They pop quick and the whole process is incredibly rapid. In this GIF you can see that the bubbles no longer look like they’re bursting. Instead it kind of looks like they’re sinking back into the mixture. That means things are starting to thicken and you need to be conscientious about stirring. At this stage, the sauce will start sticking to the sides of the pot. Left long enough, it could burn. I use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and mix the “concentrated” sauce back in.

The second GIF shows bubbles that are no longer even sinking. They’re hanging around and new bubbles are building on top of them. This is a good indication that the sauce is either done or very, very close. Burning at the bottom can happen here if you’re not careful. It’s always okay to lower the heat if you’re worried, things just take a bit longer. Better safe than sorry. Another tip I like to share when thickening is to keep a small piece of foil to the side at all times. You can put a drop of the sauce on the foil. It should cool in ten seconds or less and picking up the foil and tilting it will show the viscosity/thickness of the sauce in its current state.