Whether you’re in a hurry or just craving some good old-fashioned comfort food, it always pays to know which places have the best fast-food chicken sandwiches. And as most of you know, America has been in the midst of a fast-food chicken sandwich battle for years. It seems like every franchise imaginable has tried its hand at chicken sandwiches. Of course, most of these are fried chicken sandwiches, so they’re not the healthiest option on the menu.
Speaking of fast-food menu items, a recent study found that fast food menus are even more unhealthy now than they were 30 years ago. It’s hard to believe that despite an obvious attempt by fast food chains to increase the number of healthy menu options, fast food menus are even more unhealthy than years ago. The research team found that fast-food entrees, sides, and desserts have all significantly increased in total calories and sodium over the study period. The portion sizes of fast-food entrees and desserts have also grown since the 1980s, and the variety of entree, side, and dessert options increased by 226 percent — or about 23 items per year. Among those new menu options are fast-food chicken sandwiches.
The reality of the situation is that people are going to eat fast food, regardless of how unhealthy menu items might be. However, eating healthy isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and according to a recent survey, eating healthy stresses people out. That’s right, according to a poll of 2,000 Americans examining what “healthy food” looks like, over 25 percent of respondents say the idea of eating healthy stresses them out. The survey also found that 26 percent of respondents say that it’s hard to maintain a healthy diet and that most of the challenge of eating healthy has to do with the cost of healthy ingredients and meals.
That being said, taste for yourself the winners of this ongoing battle in the fast-food industry. StudyFinds did the research, consulting 10 foodie review websites in an effort to bring you the best fast-food chicken sandwiches available on the market today. Our list is comprised of the five most frequently mentioned chicken sandwiches from across these sites. Is there one we missed? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
The List: Best Fast Food Chicken Sandwiches, According to Reviews
1. Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich
Topping the list of the best fast-food chicken sandwiches is Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich. Popeye’s released this gem of a chicken sandwich back in 2018, and the notorious chicken franchise hasn’t looked back since. “This legendary menu item has everything you’d want and expect from a classic fried chicken sandwich, and—get this—at one of the lowest prices in the pack. The sandwich‘s balance of crunchy buttermilk batter; cloud-like and sweet brioche bun; and crisp, tangy pickles come together like a symphony of fat, salt, and zest. The mayonnaise is velvety, while the two sizable pickles fill the surface area of the bottom bun, ensuring a kick of vinegar in every bite. The glorious chicken breast—the center of it all—has the perfect amount of salt, spice, and seasonings in one of the crunchiest batters of all the chicken sandwiches we ate, while still maintaining a juicy, succulent interior,” raves Thrillist.
The Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich is crispy, delicious, and affordable, and that’s what makes it one of the best fast-food chicken sandwiches you can buy today. Still, Popeye’s keeps this classic take on a chicken sandwich very simple. “It is safe to say that no other fast-food chicken sandwich in history has achieved the heights of popularity that Popeyes’ chicken sandwich has reached, especially in so short of an amount of time. This Popeyes menu item is often considered the ‘end all, be all’ for fast food chicken sandwiches. And if you’ve ever been lucky enough to get your hands on this tasty sandwich, then you know why,” writes Eat This, Not That.
Popeye’s popularity came due in large part to a successful marketing campaign around their classic chicken sandwich. Surprising given that Popeye’s isn’t known for sandwiches. Regardless, the chicken franchise knew exactly what people wanted from a chicken sandwich and they delivered. One of the most important ingredients to any chicken sandwich – the pickles.
“Early on we decided that pickles were an essential component to the perfect chicken sandwich. They provide texture, crunch and balance to the fried chicken. We loved the huge slices of pickles on the Popeyes sandwich that covered the whole surface of the bun, ensuring that there was the perfect amount of pickle in every bite. On this sandwich, the fried chicken pieces were large, well-battered and offered outstanding crunch,” adds Taste of Home.
2. Chick-Fil-A Original Chicken Sandwich
The second spot on the list of the best fast-food chicken sandwiches goes to none other than the Chick-Fil-A Original Chicken Sandwich. Chick-Fil-A is the franchise that inadvertently started the chicken sandwich craze facing America today. Where most restaurants focus on either sandwiches or fried chicken, Chick-Fil-A focuses on fried chicken sandwiches, specifically.
“Since coming onto the scene in the 1960s, Chick-Fil-A’s original chicken sandwich has been extremely popular—and for a good reason. It features a boneless chicken breast that is breaded, seasoned, and then pressure cooked (in peanut oil) to perfection. Tangy dill pickle chips help the sandwich achieve the perfect amount of bite, and its buttered bun adds a nice touch,” explains Eat This, Not That.
The peanut oil that Chick-Fil-A uses helps give their sandwiches a distinguishable taste. And, Chick-Fil-A’s chicken is moist and flavorful, something that is essential for one of the best fast-food chicken sandwiches.
“We decided of all the sandwiches sampled, Chick-fil-A’s won out with chicken that was moist and flavorful as well as perfectly seasoned. The sandwich had a great crunch while the toasted and buttered bun kept the sandwich moist and satisfying. In addition to the original chicken sandwich we sampled, Chick-fil-A also sells a deluxe chicken sandwich, spicy chicken, spicy deluxe, grilled chicken, and grilled chicken club,” writes Taste of Home.
Ever wonder what makes Chick-Fil-A so good? You might be surprised to learn that the famous chicken sandwich shop uses a special ingredient to create the perfect sandwich. “If you actually look at the ingredients you’ll be surprised to see vinegar listed there — that’s the secret. It’s a scientific trick that tells your brain that the food you’re eating is bright and fresh. That perfect fried goodness is the result of pressure cooking, which also speeds up the process and gets the fresh chicken out more quickly. The crazy thing is it’s so simple. It’s just bun, chicken, and that little surprise — an unexpected pickle hidden under the chicken that gives it a bit more sour crunchiness. The pure simplicity is what takes it to a whole new level,” adds Mashed.
3. KFC Original Chicken Sandwich
Frying into the third spot on the list of the best fast-food chicken sandwiches is the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Original Chicken Sandwich. Like many of the other best fast food chicken sandwiches, KFC keeps its chicken sandwich simple and basic.
“KFC has maintained a legacy of crispy, pressure-fried chicken excellence for more than 70 years, and its version of a fried chicken sandwich helps prove why. This is a chicken sandwich that’s confident in its very essence: A massive slab of thickly-cut chicken breast, fried to craggy perfection in the Colonel’s secret blend of original herbs and spices, lovingly cradled by a soft, warm potato bun, and topped simply with a few pickles and a swipe of mayonnaise,” writes Mashed.
KFC’s price point is also right on par with the competition, and that makes consumers happy. However, KFC offers their chicken sandwich with various sauces you can add-on, and that also makes a big difference. “For $4.99, a pleasantly juicy and well-seasoned chicken patty was served on a toasted bun with mayonnaise and pickles. Aside from the classic option, KFC also offers a spicy version. The chicken was hearty and crisp, and the sandwich was well-balanced. It was definitely an enjoyable sandwich that we would gladly order again,” writes Taste of Home.
When KFC first tried its hand at a chicken sandwich, the results were less than ideal. Despite that setback, KFC picked itself up, dusted itself off, and came back into the chicken sandwich arena with a winner. “KFC’s previous crack at a fried chicken sandwich, the Crispy Colonel, was merely solid, not exceptional. So, when the chain unleashed the all-new KFC Chicken Sandwich in early 2021, it arrived to somewhat low expectations and the extremely high bar set by Popeyes. How could it defy the former and, at the very least, get near the latter? The colonel found a way,” adds Thrillist.
4. Wendy’s Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich
The fourth spot on the list of the best fast-food chicken sandwiches goes to Wendy’s Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich. Wendy’s is known for using fresh ingredients and toppings on its hamburgers and the crew at Wendy’s has carried that over to its chicken sandwich, too.
“Wendy’s may be known for its Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers… but what has people hooked is their Crispy Chicken Sandwich. Made using lightly breaded chicken breast, crisp lettuce, thinly-cut tomatoes, and pickles, all piled on a toasted bun, this sandwich which has been on Wendy’s menu for years got a recent upgrade in 2020. The result? A crispier, juicier, more tasty chicken sandwich that definitely doesn’t hold back on flavor,” writes Eat This, Not That.
Wendy’s piles the veggies on top for a delicious, satisfying, and hearty chicken sandwich. The Classic Chicken Sandwich is only the beginning, too. Wendy’s offers some really neat varieties of this classic fast food menu item. “In this sandwich, we found there was a nice crunch from the lettuce without overwhelming and taking away from the chicken. The chicken patty was on the thinner side, but the balance with the veggies helped the chicken shine through.… Besides the Classic Chicken Sandwich, Wendy’s offers several other flavorful sandwiches including spicy, grilled, Asiago Ranch Club, Big Bacon Cheddar, and a new Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich,” adds Taste of Home.
Surprisingly, Wendy’s Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich is fairly low in calories. When you consider the toasted bun and light, crisp veggies on top, it’s easy to talk yourself into eating one of these beautiful fast-food chicken sandwiches.
“The bun itself is pretty light, which helps to keep the calories under 500. The actual patty itself is somewhat heavy thanks to the thick, bready coating, though it is still a delicious option. The sandwich is then dressed in regular toppings- such as mayonnaise to add some tenderness and moistness to the chicken breast and pickles for that necessary burst of acidity. Wendy’s also adds crispy lettuce, which offers some fresh crunchiness to balance out the fried nature of the breading as well as the heavier nature of the mayonnaise. The toasted bun acts as an excellent accompaniment to the filling,” explains Whimsy and Spice.
5. Culver’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich
Rounding out the list of the best fast-food chicken sandwiches is none other than Culver’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich. Similar to Burger King, Culver’s is best known for their delicious burgers. However, Culver’s does it a little differently than other chains in that they make their burgers with butter.
“If you’ve never been to a Culver’s, you should find one. They really stress quality ingredients, and practice a friendly service each time they dutifully take your order. Culver’s—if you don’t know—makes their bread and butter on… butterburgers. But they also offer up a chicken sandwich. And wouldn’t you know it? That’s a darn tasty sandwich,” writes Mashed.
Culver’s makes tasty hamburgers, so it stands to reason their chicken sandwiches are on point as well. Culver’s uses a quality bun and a delicious batter to create one of the best fast-food chicken sandwiches you can get. “With a juicy yet crispy chicken patty that has been well seasoned in a crunchy and delicious batter, the Culver’s Crispy Chicken sandwich is underappreciated yet super tasty. The kaiser bun that contains the patty and the toppings is soft and fluffy, making for an excellent contrast to the crunch of the chicken,” adds Whimsy and Spice.
Culver’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich doesn’t come standard with any sauce or mayonnaise, which definitely resulted in some critics not liking this sandwich. However, Culver’s does offer an assortment of sauces that you can add to this sandwich, similar to the way Chick-Fil-A offers sandwiches.
“The Culver’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich sells for $4.29. It’s served on an attractive toasted bun with lettuce, tomato and pickles. There isn’t any mayonnaise on this sandwich, but Culver’s offers a variety of sauces, so you can add any you prefer to make the sandwich your own. Even before taking a bite, we appreciated this sandwich being served in a box rather than a bag because it helped protect the bun and kept the sandwich from being crushed in transport. We also enjoyed the burst of freshness from the veggie toppings on the Culver’s sandwich,” writes Taste of Home.
You might also be interested in:
- Taste of Home
- Whimsy and Spice
- New Star Cafe
- The Takeout
- Restaurant Clicks
- Eat This, Not That
- Menu and Price
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.