Fried chicken sandwiches have taken over the fast food world in the United States. Chefs are getting rid of their complicated and over-the-top sandwich creations and going back to the basics.
With a warm, soft bun, a dab of mayonnaise or a special sauce, a few slices of pickles, and a perfectly fried chicken fillet, you can make a sandwich that is understatedly beautiful.
But not every fast food fried chicken sandwich is the same, so we did the hard work and tried them all to find the best one.
In this article, we’ll talk about what we found when we looked for the best-fried chicken sandwich at a fast food restaurant.
We’ll talk about our experiences with each chain, from the well-known ones to the less well-known ones, so that the next time you want a crispy, juicy, and tasty fried chicken sandwich, you can make an informed choice.
20. Dairy Queen Crispy Chicken Sandwich
People are going to Dairy Queen for things other than getting a Blizzard with a whole piece of cheesecake chopped up in it, which makes no sense to us at all.
But on the “Grill” side of the menu, you can get a full meal for a low price. For example, the “Crispy Chicken Sandwich Meal” comes with a drink, fries, and a small dessert for only $6 (depending on where you are).
Unfortunately, the fried chicken sandwich at Dairy Queen is about the same as what you might find at 11 p.m. in a half-abandoned airport terminal, though it costs one-tenth as much as an expensive, weak chicken sandwich in Terminal C.
The chicken itself has no taste at all. It tastes like it was boiled before being coated and fried, with no spice at all.
The bun falls apart into nothing almost right away, and the lettuce and tomato do nothing but make the sandwich look a little better. It’s a sad meal all the way through.
On the other hand, it does come with a treat, so some people might think it’s worth it to go through it.
19. Checkers Big Chicken
The Big Chicken sandwich from Checkers is all about a full quarter-pound of fried chicken breast, which is served on a sesame seed bun with just chopped lettuce and mayonnaise.
The good news ends there, though, because this sandwich seems like a much better idea on paper than it is in real life.
Even though they advertise the pre-cooked weight of the (weirdly ridged and bumpy) processed chicken filet, the finished product seems a little weak.
There isn’t much in the way of plumpness or moisture, and the breading is soggy and almost tasteless.
It starts to mix with the mayonnaise-covered cut interior of the bun to make a pasty sludge before you’ve even finished half the sandwich.
If fast-food restaurants use high-quality ingredients, their fried chicken sandwiches can be delicious and don’t need additional toppings to be enjoyable. On the other hand, the Checkers Big Chicken burger is the opposite.
18. Jack In The Box Chicken Sandwich
If you don’t live near a Jack In The Box, all you might know about them is that their logo is a strange clown named Jack.
If you live near one, you might think of it as “The Last Jedi” of places because you either love it or hate it.
Even though Jack is better known for its burgers, it does have a few different kinds of chicken sandwiches.
Most of the time, you’d probably choose one of their hot options, but they also have a plain chicken sandwich.
“Plain” is about right; it’s fine for a chicken sandwich. It’s just chopped lettuce and mayonnaise on a bun; there’s nothing special about it (some places use whole lettuce).
Most places sell it for $1, but like most $1 chicken, you have to wonder what it’s made of to be so cheap.
If you really like Tyson chicken pieces, think of Jack’s chicken as the Rolls Royce of probably frozen chicken.
If you’re in a pinch and there’s a Jack In The Box on your side of the road, you can get a cheap chicken sandwich there. But you don’t want to eat this while crossing the street.
17. White Castle Chicken Breast Slider
If you don’t live in one of the few states that love their sackfuls of tiny hamburgers, you may not have had the chance to eat at a White Castle lately.
White Castle is a 100-year-old chain of castle-shaped roadside restaurants that were once the pride of American roadside dining.
Many people still crave their small, 2×2-inch steamed burgers, but the chain’s attempts to branch out into other pocket-sized meals have been, at best, mixed.
There are a few ways to get chicken at White Castle: One is the strange and almost tasteless Chicken Ring Slider, which is made from shaped, highly processed chicken breast.
The Chicken Breast Slider is another option that seems more natural and tasty. A piece of very moist and juicy chicken breast is topped with just American cheese and served on one of White Castle’s famous steamed slider buns.
These little sandwiches have a surprising burst of flavour. The overall effect is like someone whispering a little puff of chicken breath into your ear while you are sleeping soundly.
It gives the idea that you have eaten food, even though all you see is a sad scattering of empty cardboard slider boxes.
16. Burger King Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Oh, Burger King. Sweet, sweet little Burger King. You’ve lost your way because you’re so focused on putting generic, flavorless shaved steak on burgers and cereal in drinks.
In order to make things easier, Burger King got rid of the “Tendercrisp” sandwich, which almost everyone hated, and replaced it with the “Crispy Chicken Sandwich.”
It’s a stripped-down, bare-bones return to the basics, with a filet of 100% white meat chicken that’s been breaded and served on a soft potato roll with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.
What should have been a reminder of how important the classics are turned out to be mostly a failure.
Even though the chicken filet itself is pretty crispy (if a little small and thin), most of the chopped lettuce ends up on your lap or in the cracks of your car seat, and the tomato is a sad, tasteless slab of mealy, flavourless water.
The “Spicy” version of this sandwich did slightly better in our tests because it had more flavour.
If you don’t put together simple ingredients properly, they can’t stand on their own.
15. Sonic Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Sonic Drive-In is hard to beat for those of us who like to eat in our cars and drink sweet ice drinks that taste like pickles.
The chain continues to serve rock-solid versions of standard drive-in food at low prices and with friendly service.
The Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich carries on this practice, with a few exceptions.
They typically serve the Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich on a Brioche bun with lettuce, tomato slices, and mayonnaise.
As with most of the other fried chicken sandwiches we tried, the bun is soft and warm, and the lettuce and tomatoes don’t add or take away much from the experience.
The chicken has a natural feel and is breaded in a way that makes it crisp and even. The chicken stays crunchy, but it tends to not have enough seasoning.
We don’t like how dry the sandwich is overall, which is kind of a problem with everything on the Sonic menu. I’m glad they have more than a million drinks to choose from…
14. Burger Fi Grilled Chicken Sandwich
So to speak, Burger Fi is the new kid on the block, and it’s proud of its super fresh products.
In 2018, they added chicken to the menu, which had mostly been meat before. They serve roasted chicken and, in some places, crispy chicken as well.
The standard comes with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and honey mustard BBQ sauce. If that sounds like a deluxe burger from Chick-fil-A with some CFA sauce on it, you’re right.
We thought the same thing. If you’re going to look for ideas, you might as well go for the big stuff.
People say a lot about how good the chicken tastes because it comes from a free-range farm.
The main trouble is that the chicken doesn’t have much taste. The honey mustard doesn’t do much to help this, so the lettuce and tomato are really what give it flavor (and there’s a lot of lettuce!).
The price is the other very big problem. Prices vary by location, but you can’t get this for less than $6, and that’s without a side or a drink.
It’s not Chicken Fi, but Burger Fi. If you’re going to pay for this place, stick with the burgers.
13. Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s Big Chicken Fillet
Depending on where you live in the United States, you either have a Hardee’s or a Carl’s Jr. or neither.
No matter where you go, the chicken is the same. It comes from the same place and tastes the same.
The Big Chicken Fillet Sandwich is made with their chicken. Everything they serve is “big” because it’s so big.
On a huge brioche bun, the sandwich has lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo. When they say “big,” they really mean “big.”
This bird piece is HUGE. It’s not really that bad. It doesn’t taste very good, but it’s pretty good to eat, with juicy chicken and light spice.
It’s just… big. Too big. If you just got off a three-year stay on a desert island, this might be a good first stop. If not, that sounds like a lot of chicken. Buyer beware.
12. Bojangles’ Cajun Filet
Have you ever gone to Bojangles’ for lunch or even dinner, and the next thing you know, you’re ordering breakfast?
Even though it’s not breakfast time, the thought of a chicken biscuit or a chicken and egg biscuit is so tempting, but they also have standard sandwiches.
Bojangles has some fancy chicken sandwiches, but the Cajun Filet burger is the most popular.
There is lettuce, tomato, and mayo on the sandwich. The chicken is the standard tasty food from Bojangles’, which is always worth the drive.
The chicken is crunchy and juicy at the same time, and the spice of the fried goodness makes it a tasty win.
The problem is the bun, which is too big and takes attention away from the chicken.
Or maybe it’s just because there’s a biscuit on the menu and there aren’t many times when you should choose a bun over a biscuit. The chicken at Bojangles’ is great, but you should eat it with a biscuit.
11. Zaxby’s Southern TLC Sandwich
People eat chicken fingers, and their favourite places are very important to them. Here’s the secret: they’re all just selling sauce, and the “spoon” is a chicken finger.
But all the big restaurants out there make pretty good chicken. Even though “fingers” are what Zaxby’s is known for, you can also get a burger there if you want to.
For this post, let’s talk about both of them. The Chicken Fingers Sandwich is just chicken fingers on a bun.
It comes with its unique “Zax” sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes. On paper, this makes sense. But something doesn’t work right with Zaxby’s chicken, sauce, and greens on a bun.
Even though it doesn’t make much sense, it’s probably the one thing at Zaxby’s you don’t want to get.
There are also a few other classic chicken burgers. We’re going to focus on the regular old Southern TLC sandwich for our goals.
It doesn’t get much more “Southern homestyle” than lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise.
It’s hard not to want to put a Zax’s sauce on this, but if you do, you’re just back to the Chicken Fingers Sandwich (without the fingers).
It’s not that great, and you’d be better off getting another meal or just sticking with chicken fingers.
10. Arby’s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich
In 2016, Arby’s came out with the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich, which was their take on the “buttermilk” fried crispy chicken sandwich style.
It has a filet of fried chicken marinating in buttermilk and topped with shredded lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. It comes on Arby’s “Star Cut” bun.
The chicken itself was a bit of a letdown. It was too dry, lacked flavour (especially any tanginess or sweetness from the buttermilk), and had a breading that tasted mostly like “all the salt in the world.”
The thick-cut tomato was surprisingly juicy and full of flavour, and for once we got to try a fried chicken sandwich that didn’t have gallons of off-brand mayonnaise ruining it.
The “Star Cut” bun looked nice, but that was about it. We liked how soft it was, but it had an odd depth that made the sandwich feel too bready and out of balance.
9. Wendy’s Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Before a simple fried chicken sandwich became the “it” fast food item, the Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich was our gold standard for what a chicken sandwich from a drive-thru could be.
It has always stood out among fried chicken sandwiches that try to be like it. It has a perfectly balanced mix of spicy peppered breaded chicken that will wake you up without being too much.
It’s served on a faux-Brioche style bun and topped with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. But with more companies making chicken sandwiches, Wendy’s might not be able to keep up with the new competition.
The chicken on this sandwich is thinner than the chicken on many of the other sandwiches we tried, but it doesn’t taste any less good.
The classic Wendy’s heat remains, making their sandwich the most balanced of the bunch.
The biggest differences are in the quality and crunch of the breading, which can be “crunchy” on a freshly made sandwich or “soggy and lifeless” on a chicken patty that has been sitting around for a while, and in the tomato, which is almost always mealy and lifeless.
Even if you only have two of the five ingredients, this sandwich is still a winner.
8. McDonald’s Classic Chicken Sandwich
You expected this to be higher on the list. didn’t you? To be honest, so did we.
The Classic Chicken Sandwich, which is the most expensive item on McDonald’s “$1-$2-$3” value menu, seems to be a straight shot at rival Chick-fil-A’s continued success and growth.
The sandwich takes out all the extra parts and has a big piece of fried chicken on a bun with a few pickle bits and a new “Signature Sauce.”
The chicken is so big that it destroys the bun. It’s a lot like the chain’s “Mac Sauce,” but it has a little bit of heat.
One thing impossible to miss about this sandwich is that it never resembles the menu picture.
Instead, the Classic Chicken Sandwich appears as if someone hurled it out of a moving vehicle.
Every single one we tried and every single one we’ve seen online has a lot of squishing as if the last step of making the sandwich is for the line cook to slam both hands into it and then lovingly wrap it in paper.
Even so, there is a lot of chicken filet, and the pickles are a nice contrast to the salty buttermilk-fried chicken.
The “Signature Sauce” doesn’t overpower the rest of the dish, but it does add delicious messiness.
7. Culver’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich
You should find a Culver’s if you’ve never been there. They really care about using good products, and every time they take your order, they do so in a friendly way.
If you don’t already know, Culver’s puts their bread and butter on… butter burgers.
They also have a chicken sandwich, though. And what do you know? That’s one delicious meal.
The Crispy Chicken Sandwich is “Southern style.” It tastes like a real piece of chicken and has a nice feel. The standard toppings at Culver are not what you might think.
You get lettuce, tomato, and pickles, but there is no sauce. No mayo, no mustard, no special sauce.
Still, you won’t miss it at all. This chicken sandwich has all the water it needs from the tomato.
When you think of Culver’s, you don’t think of chicken, but this is a great and surprising chicken sandwich that you should add to your list of ways to eat chicken.
6. PDQ Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Do you know about PDQ? You will. When it comes to quick service, they’re one of the places to keep an eye on.
The Tampa-based chain is growing all over the country thanks to its tasty chicken. What does PDQ mean?
Zaxby’s or Raising Cane’s come to mind: A place that serves chicken fingers and is known for its sauce, or sauces, in this case.
But just like those places, they have a chicken burger. And, since you asked, the signs inside the shops say that PDQ stands for “People Dedicated to Quality.”
The Crispy Chicken Sandwich is PDQ’s basic sandwich. It has crunchy fried chicken, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and pickles.
The reason PDQ is becoming more popular is because their chicken is really good. For a “sauce place,” they bring really tasty chicken with just a touch of heat and a perfectly crunchy chicken breast that isn’t too crunchy for a sandwich.
When a PDQ opens in your area, skip the chicken strips and go straight for the crispy burger.
You’ll be surprised by how good it tastes. The only bad thing about the sandwich is that it has too much lettuce. About half of the greens would be better.
A chicken burger with pimento cheese and potato chips is also available. We’re not rating specialty chicken sandwiches, but if we were, oh boy… if that doesn’t make you want a PDQ close, you don’t have taste buds.
5. Raising Cane’s chicken sandwich
It’s hard to go somewhere and not get what they’re known for. Raising Cane’s is a place to get chicken fingers, so we don’t blame you if you never even looked at the sandwich menu.
The chicken at Cane’s is just good. Many people may think that it’s just the sauce that makes the chicken taste good, but that’s not the case as the restaurant is known for their signature sauce. But what if you put it between two rolls?
Even though they have great chicken, they know that the sauce is the boss. The normal chicken sandwich is just three chicken fingers on a bun with lettuce.
The trick is that they put the sauce on for you. In fact, they put Cane’s sauce on both the top and bottom buns to “double sauce” it.
If you like the chicken and the sauce, just put them between two pieces of bread and add some lettuce.
It’s so easy, but it tastes so good. Sometimes it’s that easy: don’t try to change the chicken finger, just put it on a bun and eat it.
4. KFC Crispy Colonel Sandwich
For more than 70 years, KFC has been known for making great pressure-fried chicken, and its version of a fried chicken sandwich helps show why.
This chicken sandwich is sure of what it is at its core: A huge piece of thickly cut chicken breast, fried to crispy perfection in the Colonel’s secret mix of original herbs and spices, wrapped in a soft, warm potato bun and topped with just a few pickles and a swipe of mayonnaise.
The thick, juicy, and highly flavoured chicken is the main attraction here. But KFC really starts to stand out from its competitors when it comes to sauces.
Customers can add more flavour to their Crispy Colonel Sandwich with the company’s Smoky Mountain BBQ, Georgia Gold, or Nashville Hot sauces.
To add flavor without compromising the sandwich’s crunchiness, these sauces use oil.
Whether you like your free chicken taste to be sweet and smoky or hot and spicy, KFC gives you a variety of choices that put the chicken itself front and centre, where it belongs.
3. Popeyes Chicken Sandwich
Good for Popeyes! They made a few sandwiches—keyword: few—and then watched as the viral world turned all the free press they could handle (and maybe a little more) into the great chicken wars of 2019—literally wars.
All of that is great for Popeyes, but what really matters is how the Popeyes Chicken Sandwich tastes.
For the build, they are going with pickles, like Chick-fil-A, and adding a few to a buttered brioche bun.
At Chick-fil-A, you can add your own sauces to your chicken. At Popeyes, the mayo is already on the bun, so you don’t have to.
There is a lot of mayonnaise, and the chicken is really crunchy. That really sets it apart from other chicken burgers; most give up taste for crunch, but Popeyes gives you a little bit of both.
The bad thing about a lot of crunches is that it takes oil to make it, so this sandwich may have a lot more grease than most others.
Once you get past the double-breaded breast, you’ll notice that the chicken tastes like chicken.
Indeed, the taste of Popeyes’ fried chicken sandwich may be different due to their decision not to salt the chicken.
Even though the sandwich might not be everyone’s choice, it is a favourite of many. Our readers voted Popeyes’ Chicken as the place with the best-fried chicken.
2. Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich
Chick-fil-A puts a lot of extra effort into making a tasty meal. If you look at the list of ingredients, you might be surprised to see vinegar. That’s the key.
It’s a science trick that tricks your brain into thinking that the food you’re eating is bright and fresh.
Pressure cooking is what made that fried food taste so good. It also speeds up the process and gets the fresh chicken out faster.
The crazy part is that it’s so easy. It’s just a bun, a piece of chicken, and a surprise pickle under the chicken that gives it a bit more sour crunch.
The fact that it’s so simple takes it to a whole new level… and almost makes it the best.
Chick-fil-A is what pizza is like in the twenty-first century. People say that there’s no such thing as bad pizza, but it’s not true. You can never get bad Chick-fil-A.
1. Shake Shack Chick’n Shack
In recent years, Shake Shack has become very popular because of one easy idea: take fast food to its highest level and serve it quickly to keep the line moving.
The practice continues with the Chick’n Shack, Shake Shack’s much-hyped move into the world of fried chicken sandwiches.
The first thing you notice is the huge piece of fried chicken breast that is bigger than the soft, toasted potato bun it is served on.
Its seasoned, craggy sides hang out like college students at Mardi Gras. In fact, it doesn’t look like a piece of chicken is sitting on a bun. Instead, it looks like a piece of chicken is wrapped around a bun.
Even though the chicken is huge, it stays incredibly crunchy. Each bite of spicy breading breaks into a juicy chicken breast with a natural texture.
A thick layer of what look like artisanal pickles (not the weird, yellowed cheap dills served at other fast food places) goes well with the chicken’s fattiness and adds a lot of acid to cut through all that richness.
The lettuce doesn’t have any special flavor (lettuce rarely does), but Shake Shack tops it with their herbed mayonnaise, which has a delicious blend of thyme, green onion, parsley, and pepper.
The Chick’n Shack, like much of Shake Shack’s menu, is a great example of how even a simple chicken sandwich can be delicious if you take the time to balance the different parts and find good ingredients.
It looks easy, but it’s really not. It’s delicious and should be the new standard for fried chicken sandwiches.
In conclusion, the fried chicken sandwich is a classic fast food that has passed the test of time.
Some fast food chains have done a great job of making tasty sandwiches, but others haven’t.
From the soggy to the crispy, we’ve ranked the top fast food fried chicken sandwiches from worst to first.
There’s a fried chicken sandwich for everyone, whether you like Chick-fil-A’s sweet and tangy chicken or Popeyes’ spicy and tasty sandwich.
So, the next time you’re craving fast food, try one of these meals and see which one you like best.
FAQs – Ranking Fast Food Fried Chicken Sandwiches From Worst To First
A fried chicken sandwich consists of a piece of fried chicken served on a bun or bread with a variety of sauces and condiments.
Fast food places such as KFC, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Popeyes, and many others offer fried chicken sandwiches.
Ranking fast food fried chicken sandwiches depends on various factors, such as evaluating the quality of the chicken, the breading, the sauces and condiments, and the overall taste.
Which fried chicken sandwich from a fast food place is the worst is a matter of taste and opinion. Some critics have pointed out that certain sandwiches lack flavor or suffer from being too dry or too wet.
Who has the best fried chicken sandwich at a fast food place is a matter of taste and choice. On the other hand, some sandwiches have earned praise for their thick and juicy chicken, crispy breading, and flavorful toppings.
The amount of calories in a fried chicken sandwich from a fast food chain depends on the type of sandwich and the chain. But a lot of sandwiches have a lot of calories, fat, and salt.
Fast food fried chicken sandwiches are high in calories, fat, and salt, so eating too many of them can be bad for your health. But if you eat them in moderation, they can be part of a healthy diet.
Yes, you can make a fried chicken sandwich at home with fresh chicken breasts, breading, and a variety of toppings and sauces. There are a lot of ideas online.
People often put lettuce, tomato, pickles, cheese, bacon, and sauces like mayonnaise, mustard, and hot sauce on a fried chicken burger.
You can use websites like Yelp or Google Maps to find fast food places near you that serve fried chicken sandwiches. You can also check scores and read reviews to find the best sandwich.