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19 Fast Food Fried Chicken Sandwiches Ranked

chicken sandwich and fries
chicken sandwich and fries - Ant Dm/Getty Images

Burgers might be the first thing many people think of when fast food comes to mind, but the fried chicken sandwich is never far behind. The fast food model is particularly well-suited to this dish; they cook up at lightning speed, and are best enjoyed ripping hot out of the fryer. At their best, these sandwiches are sublimely salty, gloriously greasy, and colossally crunchy odes to the possibilities of hand-held poultry. Indeed, many people have fond memories of pulling out of a drive-through as they take their first stupendous bite of such a sandwich. In that moment, no other food comes close.

Unfortunately, just as many folks have experienced this meal as a deeply disappointing experience. At its worst, the fast food model turns out fried chicken sandwiches that taste more like doorstops than anything else, lacking crispiness, decent condiments, or high-quality meat. For every delicious dream, there's a limp, flavorless, oily slab. How's a fast food fan supposed to know where to turn? By paying attention to this list, of course. We're here to rank different fast food fried chicken sandwiches from the direly disappointing to the absolutely marvelous.

Read more: 14 Fast Food Restaurants That Still Don't Use 100% Real Chicken

Hardee's

Hardee's chicken bacon sandwich
Hardee's chicken bacon sandwich - Deutschlandreform/Shutterstock

When Reddit users convened to discuss the best chicken sandwich, they made one thing crystal clear: The Hardee's offering is one of the worst around. One particularly merciless user opined, "Hardee's breakfast is good. After that, I'm pretty sure they're just laundering money."

Brutal? Maybe. But it's also true. The Hardee's chicken sandwich is just plain bad. The chicken itself is limp, and lacks flavor -- it's more like a chunk of rubber than anything else. The breading, which has an unfortunate tendency to slide right off the meat, doesn't help matters. While the bun, pickles, mayonnaise, and bacon (in the case of the BLT chicken sandwich) are inoffensive, they're not actively good; each ingredient tastes like a pale imitation of itself, as though they've been sitting on the shelf for too long. The pickles, which lack genuine crunch and briny bite, suffer the worst. It all adds up to a frustrating, unpleasant, and distinctly bland eating experience. Give Hardee's a hard pass.

Dairy Queen

Dairy Queen chicken sandwich
Dairy Queen chicken sandwich - Twitter

It's quite possible you've forgotten -- or never even knew -- that Dairy Queen sells food beyond ice cream. Indeed it does, and some of it is even good. Unfortunately, this is not the case when it comes to its fried chicken sandwiches. First and foremost, the chicken is underwhelming. It doesn't completely lack flavor, like other offenders on this list, but it has the funky, generically meaty taste of chicken strips that have been in the freezer too long. The breading is okay, but it doesn't rectify this fatal flaw.

Then there's the bun. Fast food buns get squished all the time, but Dairy Queens' seem to deflate beneath the slightest pressure. What you end up with, most of the time, is two shingles of compressed dough, soaked through with mayonnaise. It's not enough to support the chicken, let alone the lettuce, condiments, and tomato slice. Opt for a chili cheese dog -- and a Blizzard, of course -- instead.

Arby's

Arby's chicken sandwich
Arby's chicken sandwich - Deutschlandreform/Shutterstock

A good chicken sandwich must balance many different textures. One stands above the rest in importance, however: that of the chicken itself. It should be succulent, tender, and juicy. Arby's chicken sandwich fails to achieve this, as one Reddit user vividly argued: "I had an Arby's chicken sandwich recently and it was bad. Chicken was dry and tough with hardly any flavor. Won't be trying that one again."

The chicken in Arby's sandwich is most like a well-worn shoe sole: leathery, stubborn, and -- judging by the texture and taste -- somewhat old. All the moisture left it long ago, and nothing can replace it. The breading tries to make up for this, as does the bright orange sauce of the buffalo crispy chicken sandwich. They're fine on their own; the buffalo sauce is even actively good. But nothing can overcome the fact that eating this chicken cutlet is like eating the bottom of an old pair of Doc Martens.

Burger King

Burger King chicken sandwich with fries
Burger King chicken sandwich with fries - Ant DM/Shutterstock

No one can say Burger King doesn't make its priorities clear: To this chain, it's all about the burgers. We can't quarrel with a solid Whopper, but we have issues with the fast food giant's chicken sandwich. Fast food fans on Reddit were unequivocal in their judgment; one noted, "Honestly, reading through this thread BK is so bad few even bother mentioning it. It is barely even in the running it is so bad."

What makes this chicken sandwich so underwhelming? Everything. Now, no individual ingredient is absolutely terrible -- it's just that every single one is at least a little bit disappointing. The chicken is clammy, and lacks vivid flavor. The bun is bland. The tomatoes and lettuce are pallid, sweaty, and limp. Somehow, this general mediocrity combines to become an aggressively unpleasant sandwich. Take a note from the chain's name and order a burger instead.

Wendy's

Wendy's crispy chicken sandwich
Wendy's crispy chicken sandwich - Deutschlandreform/Shutterstock

Once upon a time, Wendy's sold a good chicken sandwich. It was crispy, flavorful, fresh, and well-accented by veggies, condiments, and bun. Then, something happened. We don't know what it was exactly, but the public has noticed: One Reddit user lamented, "It used to be so good! Now all the Wendy's around here have flat, dried out pieces of chicken." Many quickly concurred, writing, "I'm not the only one who's noticed this, thank god!" and "Agreed! I used to be addicted to the Asiago Spicy but sometime last year I've noticed the quality took a huge nosedive."

What's the Wendy's chicken sandwich like now? As the first commenter noted, dry and flat. Other versions with added flavor, like the spicy, asiago ranch, and BLT chicken sandwiches, can't cover up this core issue. The buns and veggies are still good. But if it can't pull off a quick and dramatic recovery, it's doomed to the chicken hall of shame.

Checkers

Two Checkers chicken sandwiches
Two Checkers chicken sandwiches - Twitter

Checkers likes to keep things classic, most prominently by keeping the drive-in approach to fast food alive. But it also veers toward the old-fashioned with its food. For the most part, this leads to delicious, straightforward chow. But its chicken sandwiches are in sore need of an update, if not a complete reboot.

Now, these aren't the worst chicken sandwiches in the world. If you're jonesing for some poultry on a lengthy road trip and Checkers is the only place for miles around, you won't have a bad time scarfing down its offerings. The bacon BBQ Mother Cruncher is even fairy tasty ... but only because it brings two other elements into the chicken sandwich mix. There's something frustratingly bland about Checkers' chicken sandwich. Every individual ingredient, from the chicken to the bun, tastes like a mediocre version of itself. These sandwiches will keep you full, but they definitely won't impress.

Jack In The Box

Jack in the Box chicken sandwich
Jack in the Box chicken sandwich - Twitter

Jack in the Box offers a ton of food: A diner can nosh on mini pancakes, garden salads, New York style cheesecake, tacos, egg rolls, stuffed jalapenos, burgers, or potato wedges, among other options. This abundance has its charms -- you can take just about anybody to a Jack in the Box and find something they can eat -- but it also means that some of its offerings get the short end of the stick. So it goes with its chicken sandwiches.

Let's get one thing straight immediately: The spicy chicken sandwiches are pretty solid. Something about the added flavor takes them out of the so-so zone and into the realm of actively tasty. But Jack in the Box's non-spicy chicken sandwiches just don't deliver. They're never quite crispy enough, the buns tend to get soggy, and the pickles lack flavor. In short, they taste like afterthoughts in this Greek epic of a menu. Bottom line: Stick to the spicy sandwiches.

McDonald's

McDonald's chicken sandwich in cardboard box
McDonald's chicken sandwich in cardboard box - rblfmr/Shutterstock

Debate emerged on Reddit, as it often does, over McDonald's chicken sandwiches. "McDonald's isn't bad, it's just really average," one user argued. "I'm going to have to challenge you by saying that average is not good when it comes to a spicy chicken sandwich," another disputed. "Pass on McDonald's. It's genuinely not worth it." The first user countered, "I never said McDonald's was good. I said it was average."

In arguing, these two diners managed to capture McDonald's chicken sandwiches in full. They're not awful, especially when compared to many other sandwiches on this list. But they're not great, either, and if you hold spicy chicken in esteem, you will be disappointed by the chain's effort. No single element fails, exactly. Rather, they're all just sort of ... there. These sandwiches will fill you up and please your wallet ... and that's pretty much where the experience ends. It's not a catastrophe, but it's nothing to write home about.

White Castle

White Castle chicken slider
White Castle chicken slider - Twitter

White Castle is famous for one thing (beyond its presence in a certain series of classic stoner films, that is): beef sliders. This reputation is well earned -- the sliders are tasty and fresh, no matter where or when you wander in. Sadly, everything else on the menu is a bit of a step down. This is disappointing, but it's also not calamitous. Unlike other entries on this list, White Castle manages to maintain a consistent level of quality with its second-tier foods, especially its chicken sliders.

These brief bites, which range from the bacon and cheddar chicken slider to the chicken and waffles slider, keep things simple. The chicken is crispy, reasonably flavorful, and never dry or tough. The buns, cheese, and other ingredients won't blow your socks off, but they do the job they're there to do. It all adds up to a decent experience, and decent is nothing to sniff at.

Sonic

Sonic fried chicken sandwich
Sonic fried chicken sandwich - Twitter

Sonic's chicken sandwich keeps things classic, for the most part: It consists of a breaded chicken breast, tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise, and a bun. Its greatest flourish is the fact that the bun is brioche, with is indeed a point in its favor; its light sweetness complements the chicken quite well. This largely straightforward approach leads to a tasty, satisfying, dependable sandwich. So why isn't it higher on this list?

The issue lies in comparison. This sandwich is solid ... but if you've had anything else on the Sonic menu, you'll find it disappointing. Somehow, it lacks the flavorful punch of the chain's burgers, shakes, and fries. It doesn't even compare well to its other chicken dishes -- the popcorn chicken easily outshines it. If you've never been to Sonic before, go ahead and get the chicken sandwich. If you have, resist the urge to branch out and stick to an old favorite.

Raising Cane's

Raising Cane's fried chicken sandwich
Raising Cane's fried chicken sandwich - Twitter

Raising Cane's specializes in chicken. Indeed, it's built its entire empire on breaded, fried poultry. The chain's chicken fingers are darn good, being crispy, hearty, salty, and satisfying. How, then, does its chicken sandwich have such a middling ranking on this list? We can't say what, precisely, goes wrong in the sandwich-making process to make the finished dish so comparatively underwhelming. We just know that something happens, and it ain't good.

Now, Raising Cane's chicken sandwich is not bad. It's just not as good as its unadorned chicken fingers. Somehow, when trapped between two buns, the chicken loses potency. The breading particularly suffers; it loses a lot of crispiness with the addition of bread and condiments, and if it's been out too long, quite a lot of flavor as well. There's just no good reason to opt for it over straight-up chicken fingers -- which, luckily, the chain never lacks.

KFC

Hand holding KFC chicken sandwich
Hand holding KFC chicken sandwich - Patcharaporn Puttipon4289/Shutterstock

You'd think KFC would have perfected the fried chicken sandwich. "Fried chicken" does, after all, make up the latter two letters of the acronym that has become the chain's name. But in fact, KFC's effort is middling. It's not bad, by any means -- in fact, it's quite possible to have a very nice time scarfing down this sandwich. The chicken itself is juicy and full of flavor, the breading is crisp, the bun is tender, and the pickles are deliciously briny.

What could be the problem, then? It all comes to down to proper sandwich ratios. One Reddit user summed things up perfectly when they wrote, "KFC's Famous Chicken sandwich is alright but the chicken: bun ratio is really off in some bites, sometimes you get a perfect bite of chicken and bun, some you just get bun, some you get a huge bite of chicken." If you're lucky, you end up with a delectable sandwich. If not ... well, you won't have a bad time, but it certainly won't be the greatest chicken sandwich you've ever had.

Popeye's

Popeye's crispy chicken sandwich
Popeye's crispy chicken sandwich - Tony Prato/Shutterstock

Do diners, as the slogan goes, love that chicken at Popeye's? They do indeed, and it's not hard to see why. This chain serves up delicious, golden-brown poultry in the form of nuggets, tenders, wings, and, yes, sandwiches. For the most part, it's all pretty darn spectacular. In addition to its juiciness, tenderness, and fresh-tasting flavor, Popeye's fried chicken is particularly distinguished by its excellent breading. It's rich without ever being unpleasantly greasy, perfectly seasoned, and irresistibly craggy. As far as fast food fried chicken goes, it's top tier.

Sadly, the sandwich undermines its greatness. This is by no means a bad sandwich. In fact, it's actively good. But the buns trap the hot food's steam, and some sandwiches get a little squished in the assembly process. This takes the crispy, crackly bite out of that toothsome breading. What results is still a tasty sandwich, but it lives in the shadow of every other form of chicken on the Popeye's menu.

Zaxby's

Zaxby's fried chicken sandwich
Zaxby's fried chicken sandwich - Twitter

Zaxby's is all about poultry. Its fried chicken sandwich is a solid example of this success -- but it's not without its flaws. Let's start with the strengths. First and foremost, Zaxby's chicken sandwich is lavish. No corners are cut here: You're getting a serious slab of chicken enrobed in gloriously crunchy breading, flavorful mayo and pickles, and a buttery, golden brown bun. This is the kind of sandwich you eat before you go on a 10 mile hike. Moreover, every single bite bursts with high-quality flavor.

So, what's the problem? Well, a big old sandwich is a wonderful thing ... but it can also be kind of an ordeal to eat. Zaxby's chicken sandwich has a tendency to fall apart. As you take a bite, mayo dribbles out the other side onto your pants. Pickles fall into your lap. At some point, you'll wonder if you need a knife and fork. Is it worth this trouble? Yeah. Is it a pain to eat? Also yeah. Bottom line: Stock up on napkins before buying this sandwich.

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A sandwich and fries
Chick-fil-A sandwich and fries - Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Chick-fil-A's chicken sandwich is the cornerstone of its entire existence. It keeps things simple, with a fried chicken breast, pickles, and a delicately sweet bun. Every element is flavorful, texturally sound, and well-prepared. The chicken and pickles play especially well together: Chick-fil-A opts for a slightly lighter breading, which allows more pure chicken flavor to come through; this meaty deliciousness is thrown into delectable contrast by the sharp, bright taste of the pickles.

But that bite can sometimes be a bit much. "Chick-fil-A is high quality everything but they go hard with the pickles (in the chicken, the breading, and on the sandwich)," declared one perceptive Reddit user, "and [it] can be off putting for people not accustomed to it." Indeed it can. Now, some people love pickles. For them, this sandwich might very well be the one they've been looking for their entire lives. For others, however? They might find themselves a bit overwhelmed by the brininess of this stacked sandwich.

Shake Shack

Shake Shack chicken slider
Shake Shack chicken slider - Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Shake Shack offers a few different chicken dishes; the current line-up includes the hot chicken, avocado bacon chicken, and chicken shack sandwiches. While they're all delicious, they rest on the foundation of that last, humble sando. The chicken shack is a strong base to build on: It includes a fried chicken breast, lettuce, pickles, mayo, and a potato bun. What results is a uniquely flavor-packed sandwich that doesn't taste quite like anything else on this list.

The secret is in the unique flourishes Shake Shack puts on each ingredient. Opting for a potato bun gives the sandwich a sweet, dense base that never gets soggy or bland. The breading is a tiny bit wispier than average, which gives the sandwich an almost airy feel. But the mayo eclipses it all. This isn't your daddy's mayo -- it's an herby, buttermilk-based take on the condiment, and it absolutely rules. Somehow, its rich, piquant flavor brings the entire sandwich into delicious harmony. Granted, it might not be for everybody; the classic choices are classic for a reason. But if you're amenable, you're in for a great time.

Biscuitville

Biscuitville spicy chicken honey biscuit
Biscuitville spicy chicken honey biscuit - Twitter

Those who live outside of Virginia and the Carolinas have never known the soft, fragrant, savory delight of a Biscuitville biscuit. This regional chain takes the fluffy Southern specialty to the peaks of flavor, with its fried chicken biscuit sandwiches serving as particularly vivid high points. How good are these biscuits? We'll let a Reddit user sum things up for us: "Ex Greensboro resident here, now in OH. I would slap everybody's mama for a Biscuitville near me."

These sandwiches are almost absurdly simple: They boil down to nothing more than a biscuit and a fried chicken breast. Even the spicy chicken-and-honey biscuit only adds the titular spice and honey. What lofts it above the competition is the superior quality of both ingredients. Biscuitville's biscuits are made fresh all day, meaning you're guaranteed to get a sumptuously cloudlike biscuit no matter when you order. The chicken is also juicy, savory, plentifully seasoned, and fried to perfection. Simple? Yes. Boring? Never.

Bojangles

Bojangles chicken sandwich and fries
Bojangles chicken sandwich and fries - Nourinet/Shutterstock

How do we love thee, Bojangles? Well, normally we'd say, "Let us count the ways." But, as a Reddit user neatly summed up, it really comes down to one glorious fact: "Sandwich? Y'all need to just go to Bojangles and get a spicy chicken biscuit."

Don't get us wrong: Bojangles' standard chicken sandwich is tasty as heck. It's tender, savory, creamy, briny, and crunchy -- basically, everything you could want from a fried chicken sandwich. But the Cajun chicken filet biscuit is a marvel of modern fast food. It consists of nothing more than a buttermilk biscuit and a Cajun-seasoned fried chicken breast, and yet, it contains multitudes of flavor. The Cajun seasoning blend is spicy, sharp, sweet, and smoky, all at once. The breading is a crispy, craggy, salty, fatty dream. The chicken breast is the platonic ideal of poultry flavor. If you're absolutely set on the standard bun-mayo-pickles-chicken set-up, go ahead and opt for the chain's other chicken sandwich. But if you're even a little bit curious, we urge you to try the biscuit.

Culver's

Culver's fried chicken sandwich
Culver's fried chicken sandwich - Twitter

Midwesterners are a blessed bunch -- they get to eat at Culver's. This chain is deservedly famous for its decadent butter burgers and frozen custard, but its chicken sandwiches are every bit as good, if not better. These are hearty affairs, boasting sky-high buns, thick-cut pickles and tomatoes, and substantial chicken breasts. That's a lot of flavor, and the spicy option ups things even further; as one Reddit user put it, "I like Culvers spicy chicken the best -- it's got actual heat to it whereas most of the others don't really register as spicy to me."

You might assume such a sandwich would struggle to harmonize these big, bold ingredients. But any guide to Culver's will praise its chicken sandwich for doing that and more. This is a complex, multifaceted, deeply flavorful symphony of a sandwich, rich with vegetal freshness, lusciousness fattiness, and the savory glory of truly great poultry. An utterly fantastic seasoning blend, which goes a bit heavier on the onion and garlic, ties it all up in a delectable bow. This isn't just a chicken sandwich -- it's the chicken sandwich.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.