The Best Fast-Food Fried Chicken, Ranked
In November 2019, Taco Bell became the latest fast-food joint to throw cash in on America’s fried chicken frenzy. After Popeyes dominated the summer with its own fried chicken sandwich, we say the more chicken, the merrier!
But as each restaurant cooks up new tasty, deep-fried meals, it made us wonder — which place has the best fried chicken? We’ve taken a look at each contender’s menus and based our ranking on user reviews (and our stomachs) to determine which fast-food joint serves the best fried chicken meal.
And yes, there’s plenty of fowl humor to get you through the countdown.
40. KFC’s Beyond Fried Chicken
Look, if you have to introduce your product to the world with a tagline like "it’s still finger-lickin’ good," then you know you’re serving something far from tasty. This meatless mess may have only been tested in one store for five hours, but we’re doubling down on ranking it dead last on our chicken-fried countdown.
39. McDonald’s Premium Chicken Selects
Take a look at this picture of McDonald’s Premium Chicken Selects. What exactly is going on here?! Are McDonald’s sad excuses for chicken tenders just stretched out chicken nuggets? This is ridiculous. There’s barely any chicken in their thin, flabby tenders.
38. Burger King’s Chicken Fries
Have you ever wondered what deep-fried gummy worms look like? Go to Burger King and grab yourself an order of Chicken Fries. They’re long, thin and available in a possessed-looking french fry box. It’s like an assortment of tiny fried entrails with a box featuring the dreaded poultrygeist.
37. Chester’s Livers & Gizzards
Deep in the South is where you’ll find a Chester’s Chicken restaurant. And in true Southern tradition, this chicken shack offers up some deep-fried livers and gizzards. But beware— this is a delicacy that is not treated delicately.
36. McDonald’s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich
McDonald’s has the high honor of having the first fried chicken sandwich on the list. In reality, that makes it the worst fried chicken sandwich on this list, but because we’re about to ruffle their feathers, the least we could do is give them a compliment.
35. Krispy Krunchy Chicken’s Tender Biscuit
When you wake up in the morning, a breakfast sandwich usually calls for some bacon, eggs, a warm bun and maybe some cheese or avocado to add a nice touch. KKC appears to have the warm biscuit under control, but breakfast chicken? Explain yourself.
34. Checkers and Rally’s Big Chicken Sandwich
Size isn’t everything in a sandwich — unless you say your sandwich is big. Then you’re opening yourself up to ridicule. And the chicken isn’t big! It’s a quarter-pound of meat (pre-cooked) sandwiched between two small pieces of bread.
33. Mrs. Winner’s Chicken Dinner
For a trip to Mrs. Winner’s, you’ll need to head to the Southeast to wrestle yourself up a nice two-piece dinner combo. But when you scroll through some of the Yelp reviews of some of their establishments, the food and service are reason enough to fly elsewhere.
32. The Organic Coup’s Signature Sandwich
Would you like an unseasoned, uncooked collection of bland vegetables in your fried chicken sandwich? I didn’t think so. The Organic Coup is the San Francisco Bay Areas rising fast-food chain of so-called “healthy” chicken sandwiches.
31. Jack in the Box’s Spicy Chicken with Cheese Sandwich
We’re going out on a limb here, but a spicy sandwich should taste spicy, correct? Apparently, there are egg-ceptions. Jack in the Box promises to lure you into flavor country with Jack’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich, but this sandwich only takes you to the desert.
30. Whataburger's Whatachick'n Sandwich
What-a-basic fried chicken sandwich. Look, I’m not going to hate on Whataburger for lacking in perfecting the art of a fried chicken sando. They’ve got plenty of good concoctions up their sleeves, and some of them are top contenders in this list! But this is not the one.
29. Chester’s Chester Breaster Sandwich
If you’re hankering for some Southern-fried chicken, this is not the spot. There are plenty of amazing, soulful restaurants to visit instead. Online reviews of this sandwich are severely lacking in that sweet, Southern charm.
28. Sonic’s Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Meanwhile, Sonic’s version of the fried chicken sandwich has all of the elements people usually look for but fails to impress in the end. The chicken is a tad bland, and the shredded lettuce is often a mess. Remember — presentation matters!
27. Burger King’s RODEO Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Want to know why the chicken crossed the road? To get away from all of these extra ingredients! If done right, the RODEO Crispy Chicken Sandwich could have been Burger King’s blue ribbon winner. Sadly, the sandwich is too ambitious for its own good.
26. Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s Bacon Swiss Crispy Chicken Filet
This sandwich is a classic case of a restaurant cutting corners to serve the bare minimum. The addition of Swiss cheese and bacon is a solid touch to make your chicken sandwich stand out among the others, but that involves some extra effort. No eggs-cuses!
25. Arby’s Buttermilk Chicken Bacon Swiss Sandwich
Looks like someone got the memo about alternatives to Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s bland bacon and Swiss sandwich. Arby’s prides itself on serving quality deli meats at their restaurants, and they follow through when you compare their bacon and Swiss to other fast-food joints’ versions.
24. KFC’s Crispy Colonel Sandwich
Don’t ruffle your feathers quite yet. This crispy-looking sandwich can be deceiving. Yes, this adorable little sandwich has all the makings of a delicious treat: very crispy chicken, sweet-as-pie pickles and a healthy dose of mayonnaise.
23. Bojangles’ Cajun Filet Sandwich
This is going to sound bird-brained, but this sandwich needs a better chicken-to-bread ratio. We need more chicken! There’s never enough delicious Cajun-spiced chicken in comparison to the hefty amount of buttered bread that takes up most of this sandwich.
22. Chick-fil-A’s Chick-n-Strips
Chick-fil-A has some very tasty chickens. Their secret recipe for their fried chicken makes them one of the leading fast-food restaurants in the country. Just last year the fast-food giant raked in $10.5 billion in sales, making them the top-selling chicken-focused restaurant in the pecking order.
21. KFC’s Original Recipe Chicken
This is the original fast-food fried chicken. Colonel Harland Sanders opened his first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise way back in 1952. While we’re sure there have been some tweaks to the recipe since then, you have to give it up to the OG of the fried fast-food feast.
20. Zaxby’s Club Sandwich
If you haven’t heard of Zaxby’s, then hightail it down to the Southeast. They have a very diverse selection of fried chicken sandwich options, but the Zaxby’s Club is a real winner. They take two pieces of their delicious Texas toast and add their signature Chicken Fingerz with bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, American cheese and mayo.
19. Bojangles’ Chicken Supremes
A good recipe goes a long way. Take Bojangles’ Chicken Supremes, for instance. Just the right blend of brown sugar and hot Cajun spices actually makes each bite nice and flavorful. The tasty tenders are a solid example of finger-lickin’ fried chicken.
18. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
Raising Cane’s has the most exquisite boneless chicken fingers this side of the drive-thru. Their attention to quality and detail is what helps separate these fingers from others. They promise meat that’s always fresh, never frozen, and blended with a special marinade to lock in moisture and flavor.
17. Wendy’s Spicy Avocado BLT Chicken Sandwich
Did you bring a tarp to the drive-thru? You’re going to need one if you’re planning to chow down on Wendy’s Spicy Avocado BLT Chicken Sandwich. Don’t get us wrong; all of the best flavors are in this sandwich, but it comes at a very sloppy price.
16. Krispy Krunchy Chicken’s Krispy Chicken Sandwich
This plucky little coop serves up one tasty crispy sandwich. And so what if KKC is attached to gas stations? You can fill up your tank while snagging one sweet, Cajun sandwich. A full tank and a full stomach isn’t such a bad deal.
15. Gus’s Fried Chicken’s 3-Piece Dinner
With 29 restaurants and counting, Gus’s (yes, that extra S is perplexing) promises to prepare “fresh, never frozen, natural, hormone-free chicken and deep-fried in peanut oil.” Their meticulous attention to detail and Southern hospitality makes for one seriously delicious fast-casual meal.
14. Wingstop’s Crispy Tenders
Wingstop is obviously proud of their strong wing game, but don’t shake a tail feather at their crispy tenders. If you’ve got the stomach for it, try out a few… or all of their 12 different flavors.
13. Culver’s Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Turns out the Midwest can throw down in the spice department! Culver’s got its start in Wisconsin back in ‘84 before spreading throughout the Midwest thanks to their famous Butterburger. But don’t shake your tailfeather at the rest of their menu!
12. Jollibee’s Chickenjoy
If you haven’t tried Jollibee’s Chickenjoy, do yourself a favor and fly to the nearest one immediately. The Filipino fast-food chain is slowly increasing its American locations, and fans couldn’t be jollier about it.
11. White Castle’s Chicken & Waffles Slider
White Castle created something truly magical after finding a waffle iron. They take a crispy chicken breast, cover it in creamy country gravy, top it with bacon crumbles and sandwich it between two Belgian waffles.
10. Zaxby’s Nibblerz
The best-kept secret of fast food in the South is Zaxby’s Nibblerz. An order of Nibblerz consists of three Zaxby’s Chicken Fingerz smothered in Zaxby’s signature Zax Sauce and tucked inside of three tiny buns.
9. Whataburger’s Honey BBQ Chicken Strip Sandwich
Texas toast. Chicken strips. Two slices of Monterey jack cheese. Honey BBQ sauce. Poetry in deep-fried motion. Whataburger, the Texas-based chain knows how to make big burgers, but don’t count them out in the chicken department.
8. Burger King’s Spicy Chicken Caesar Sandwich
The Spicy Chicken Caesar Sandwich is the royal burger joint’s fine-feathered offering. The white-meat chicken filet is flavored with just the right amount of heat before getting fried and topped with fresh lettuce, tomato, crispy bacon, shaved Parmesan cheese and creamy Caesar sauce.
7. Raising Cane’s Chicken Sandwich
Who knew a Kaiser roll came with fast food? The folks at Raising Cane’s prepared a solid fried chicken sandwich with a simple Kaiser roll, piece of lettuce and their special Cane Sauce to amplify the taste of the crispy tenders.
6.Church’s Chicken Mixed Meal
Church’s has an im-peck-able recipe for fried chicken. The batter has a great consistency, so its thickness provides a killer crunch with the juicy chicken. Plus you get a big ol’ Texan-sized portion with your order, so wear your most elastic pants when you eat at Church’s.
5. Chick-fil-A’s Chicken Sandwich
These days, the top hen in the henhouse is Chick-fil-A’s Chicken Sandwich. It’s a dependable, albeit basic, sandwich among its competitors. It’s just a big chunk of seasoned fried chicken with a little bit of butter on the bun and a smattering of pickles to bring in some zest. But that’s it!
4. Hattie B’s Hot Chicken Sandwich
This family-owned joint is a new contender in the chickenfight for the country’s best fried chicken. Hattie B’s started out in Nashville in 2012 but has quickly spread with locations in Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta and Las Vegas.
3. Whataburger’s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit
Say goodbye to sausage and eggs or pancakes and hashbrowns and head to Whataburger. Seriously. Get. Into. This. Biscuit. If you haven’t been to Whataburger for breakfast, you are missing out on a golden treat.
2. Popeyes’ Chicken Sandwich
Marketing aside, there’s a reason Popeyes’ Chicken Sandwich was the squawk of the summer in 2019. Their crispy, buttermilk-battered and hand-breaded white meat chicken with pickles and spicy Cajun spread is a zesty, flavorful take on fried chicken sandos across the country.
1. Shake Shack’s Chick’n Shack
Drumstick! Err... Drumroll! It’s Shake Shack for the win! This giant fried chicken sandwich is, without a doubt, the best of them all. Their perfectly crispy fried chicken is always a little too big for its bun, which makes each bite chick-full of delicious meat.