Tangy and juicy, pickles are a common addition to fast food options such as burgers and hot dogs. This can be attributed not just to their flavor but also their acidity, which cuts through the richness of the other ingredients, offering a palate-cleansing element that enhances the overall taste of the dish. However, despite being a staple of the fast food industry, traditionally pickles haven't appeared as a separate menu item at restaurants. That is until fried pickles came along and changed the game.
To transform pickle slices into a crispy, golden snack, restaurant kitchens coat them in a seasoned batter, typically made with a mixture of flour, cornmeal, and various spices like cayenne pepper and paprika. They then submerge them in hot oil, where the batter is turned into a golden, crunchy shell. The end result is an irresistible combination of a crispy exterior and a tender and zesty interior. The refreshing morsels of savory goodness are usually served with a flavorful dipping sauce and enjoyed as a shareable prelude to the main meal.
Whether you're a seasoned fried pickle connoisseur or an absolute newbie, there's always room for a new culinary adventure. To guide you along your quest, we have scoured community reviews to bring you a roundup of the best and worst renditions of the dish served at chain restaurants. Check it out!
Read more: The Best Wings In Every State
Buffalo Wild Wings: Fried Pickles
Despite achieving recognition primarily for their delicious buffalo wings and sauces, Buffalo Wild Wings offers plenty of other mouthwatering items. Unfortunately, the chain's fried pickles aren't one such item. At $9.99 a pop, Buffalo Wild Wings' Fried Pickles are also more expensive than most of their counterparts at other chain restaurants.
While we don't know what goes into the Buffalo Wild Wings fried pickles, we can tell you that they're served with a southwestern ranch sauce. However, if you're craving the chain's version of the dish, The Food XP offers a copycat recipe for the zingy snack and, according to the blog, the preparation time should take you only around 30 minutes. Aside from dill pickles, all you'll need is all-purpose flour, corn flour, seasoning, vegetable oil, and soda water to add a little fizz to the batter and make the end result more crunchy.
Most reviewers have found Buffalo Wild Wings' Fried Pickles underwhelming, particularly considering their rather steep price tag. For instance, one unimpressed diner says: "Fried pickles were decent but they weren't worth 8 to 9 dollars." In 2021, one Reddit user even asked whether the chain changed their fried pickle recipe rendering them stickier. One response was swift: "Cook here — the recipe changed a month or two ago. We're just as upset about it as everyone else — the old recipe was fine. They stick together way too easily in the fryers, so it's pretty difficult to keep them separated. Super frustrating."
Logan's Roadhouse: Hand-Breaded Pickles
A lot can go wrong with fried pickles. They can be too bready and tasteless or under-battered and greasy. They can also be over- or under-seasoned. With the tagline "Share 'em or keep 'em all to yourself. We won't judge," you would expect the Logan's Roadhouse fried pickles to make a lasting impression on your palate. Unfortunately, this doesn't seem to be the case. Served with the chain's Roadhouse Ranch sauce, the hand-breaded pickles haven't exactly captured the hearts of deep-fried food enthusiasts.
The biggest complaint by far is that Logan's Roadhouse's fried pickles are too salty. While we all taste salt differently, whoever came up with the chain's recipe for the snack obviously has a very high threshold for the seasoning. One disgruntled reviewer complains not just about the taste of Logan's Roadhouse's picked fries but also the chain's service and prices, saying, "Food is awful, fried pickles were so salty you could barely eat them, waited 40 min for my food, wayyyy overpriced!!" Another diner agrees about the excessive salt on the pickles, commenting, "Started with appetizers fried pickles & mozzarella sticks but couldn't eat pickles they were so salty."
O'Charley's: Crispy Fried Pickle Chips
Listed as an "O'Mazing Shareable," alongside O'Charley's Loaded Potato Skins and Spicy Jack Cheese Wedges, the chain's Crispy Pickle Chips are served with its special "Comeback Sauce" (read: ranch dressing). The menu item hasn't always been on the chain's menu, returning after a hiatus in October of 2020. Unfortunately, it seems that not everybody is willing to keep — well — coming back for the briny side.
While one reviewer proclaims O'Charley's Crispy Pickle Chips to be the chain's "best appetizer" and another comments that the side was perfect "and the dipping sauce was so good," this isn't the sentiment expressed by all diners. For instance, one unimpressed reviewer says: "We ordered fried pickles for an appetizer, they arrived drenched in grease. There was little to no flavor." Another diner also complains about the chain's frying practices, commenting, "They are wayyy over fried, with hardly any pickle left inside ... only a hard, burnt shell, that is also extremely salty."
Sonic Drive-In: Pickle Fries
Sonic Drive-In's Pickle Fries aren't the classic circular pickle chips sold at other restaurant chains. Just like their name suggests, the pickles are cut into the shape of fries before being coated in a light tempura batter and fried. For good measure, the side is served with a buttermilk ranch sauce.
Re-released in September 2023, the chain's fried pickles have come and gone over the years to the frustration of some diners. For instance, in April, one exasperated X user (on the platform formerly known as Twitter) tweeted, "It's criminal for Sonic to not bring back the pickle fries for summer." While Sonic has paid heed to the clamor of its devoted patrons by reintroducing the appetizer, it's unclear whether this time the fried pickles are here to stay.
The reviews for Sonic Drive-In's Pickle Fries have been mixed. Food Rankers has rated the snack at a high 8.5 out of 10 for its delectable flavor, slight crispiness, and lack of any greasiness. On the downside, the reviewer points out that some of the fries can sometimes be overcooked. Other patrons draw unfavorable comparisons between the snack and Sonic Drive-In's discontinued PICKLE-O's, with one reviewer saying, "Whatever you do, do NOT under any circumstances let Sonic convince you to try the pickle fries they currently have on their menu. They are inedibly bad." A Reddit reviewer agrees, saying, "Mine didn't look anything like the picture and tasted like sweet pickles. I was personally disappointed."
Zaxby's: Fried Pickles
Zaxby's Fried Pickles weren't always a permanent item on the chain's menu. Instead, they would regularly appear and disappear as a limited-time item. Not everybody was happy about this state of affairs. When in 2020, Zaxby's posted on Facebook, "Who else wishes Fried Pickles were ALWAYS on our menu?," one fried pickle fan responded, "Well, why AREN'T they always on the menu? They're great!" A similar thing happened the following year when a Facebook user said, "Why can't these be a permanent menu item? It's obvious EVERYONE loves them." Finally hearing the outcry, Zaxby's turned the snack into a permanent menu item in 2023.
Made with crinkle-cut slices of dill pickles dusted in cornmeal breading, Zaxby's Fried Pickles have been selected as one of USA Today's 10 Best Fast Food Sides in the 2023 Readers' Choice Award. Despite this, reviewer reactions to the deep-fried starter have been mixed. While some diners obviously love the snack, others haven't been so keen on the dish, with one patron saying, "The pickles are thinly sliced so the breading overpowered the pickles themselves ... disappointing." Another diner also gives the snack a damning review, commencing, "These were, unequivocally, the worst fried pickles I have ever had. All I could taste was the cornmeal in the batter."
Hooters: Fried Pickles
While we may not all be on the same page when it comes to Hooters, their fried pickles stand out as some of the finest among restaurant chains. Handmade to order — so you know they haven't been sitting around McDonald's style — the savory side dish is served with the chain's tangy dipping sauce. The fact that numerous websites have tried to recreate the chain's fried pickle recipe only adds to its appeal. While no recipe is the same, most of them seem to call for a mix of whole wheat and all-purpose flour, vegetable oil, buttermilk, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, and, of course, the star of the show — dill pickles.
The fried pickles at Hooters have received glowing reviews from the chain's patrons. One content diner praises the tangy snack, saying, "The fried pickles were hot, crispy, and not greasy at all. They were served with an appropriate amount of dipping sauce (extra at that!) and were full of salty goodness. These are among some of the best fried pickle chips I've had anywhere. For real." Another satisfied reviewer agrees, advising: "If you've never had them, you must try them ... so yummy."
Texas Roadhouse: Fried Pickles
Don't be surprised if you find yourself fighting over the last fried pickle while dining at Texas Roadhouse. The shareable snack isn't just perfectly prepared but also comes with your choice of Cajun or ranch dressing. Opt for the ranch sauce if you're in the mood for a smooth and creamy condiment, or add a lively kick to your starter with a little Cajun sauce.
The Fried Pickles at the Texas Roadhouse have garnered rave reviews from satisfied diners. One TripAdvisor reviewer even credits the chain with broadening their appetizer horizons, saying, "Texas Roadhouse will always have a place in my heart for introducing me to the best beer snack ever, deep fried pickles."
With so much going for them, it's little wonder that fried pickle enthusiasts have been on a quest to recreate the magic with their own Texas Roadhouse-inspired recipes for the dish. While all recipes are a little different, to transport your taste buds straight to fried pickle paradise, you'll want to make a batter with all-purpose flour, Cajun seasoning, oregano, basil, cayenne pepper, salt, and vegetable oil. Meanwhile, to prepare the dip, mix together mayonnaise, horseradish, ketchup, and Cajun seasoning.
Read the original article on Mashed.