I Ranked 5 Fried Chicken Sandwiches From America’s Favorite Places & One Actually Offended Me
"If you served me this in a school cafeteria, I would drop out."
This Review article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
For the last several years, fried chicken sandwiches have been having a moment!
I feel like all of America's most popular fast-food chains have been taking turns in the spotlight by unveiling their own rendition of the Southern staple food.
And as a self-proclaimed "sandwich reporter" with a decade of experience in the food & beverage industry, I decided it was time once and for all to declare a true winner in the race for the best fried chicken sandwich.
I chose five of the most popular fast-food restaurants to go head to head in this grease-coated showdown: KFC, Wendy's, Zaxby's, Chick-fil-A and Popeye's.
I ordered all of the menu items as-is with zero modifications.
They are all the restaurants' versions of a "classic" fried chicken sandwich, and no additional condiments or sides were added.
I have ranked these meals from worst to best based on texture, flavor, and value.
5. Wendy's Classic Chicken Sandwich
A classic chicken sandwich from Wendy's. @maevecbrowne | Instagram
Verdict: Oh, Wendy, you've let me down. I had high hopes considering this was the only sandwich that came accompanied with lettuce and tomato, but what I found when I unwrapped that silver and red foil was nearly inedible.
If you served me this in a school cafeteria, I would drop out. The texture of the chicken was beyond dry, it was upsetting, with a mysterious white film coating the breading. The bread was chewy, and the bland, and the mayo was flavorless. It smelled like grease and plastic.
I want to give Wendy's the benefit of the doubt, considering chicken is not their specialty, but this left my tastebuds downright offended. It was also the most expensive of all the competitors.
4. KFC's Classic Chicken Sandwich
A classic chicken sandwich from KFC. @maevecbrowne | Instagram
The Verdict: The classic chicken sandwich from KFC right off the bat looks more promising. The breading wasn't bad, but the patty itself was a little dry and under-seasoned. The only spice note I could identify was a whole lot of salt.
The bread was a little bland, and it needed more mayo to make up for the lack of moisture from the chicken. It wasn't terrible, but overall it was unremarkable. Their bone-in chicken is much better.
3. Zaxby's Signature Chicken Sandwich
The signature chicken sandwich from Zaxby's. @maevecbrowne | Instagram
The Verdict: This sandwich had the best sauce of all the offerings, it was tangy and peppery and the chicken was significantly better in quality than the previous contenders.
I liked the potato bun, but it felt like there was some flavor missing. Overall, I wasn't mad at it, but I think I prefer their signature tenders paired with their Texas toast as opposed to the actual signature sandwich offering.
2. Popeye's Classic Chicken Sandwich
Classic Chicken Sandwich from Popeye's. @maevecbrowne | Instagram
The Verdict: Deciding a runner-up was a difficult choice, because Popeye's has really mastered the sandwich game. Even after sitting in my passenger seat for 15 minutes, the chicken was SO crispy.
The bread was soft but buttery, and the pickles brought the perfect hint of acidity to cut through the richness of the mayo. It is incredibly greasy though, and I prefer something just a hint lighter. At the end of the day, you can't go wrong with a Popeye's sandwich.
1. Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich
A chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A. @maevecbrowne | Instagram
The Verdict: Is this really a surprise? Nobody can articulate what exactly it is that makes Chick-fil-A so good, but it is addictive. The chicken is so juicy it doesn't need a sauce, and the flavor is unmatched.
The bread is perfectly buttery but not overly greasy, and the protein is the star of the show. The quality of their chicken was clearly superior in texture, and taste. The tender filet has the perfect chew to it, and the breading maintains a mysterious ability to stay crispy over time.
This also happened to be the cheapest of all the options, and the value to-deliciousness ratio landed it a spot as my #1.
Though there are dozens of fried chicken sandwiches on the market right now, not all are created equal.
I hope this list will serve as your guide for future lunch break endeavors, and that they may lead to a satisfying afternoon food coma.
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