Let’s argue: Which fast-food chicken chain has the best fried chicken?

OPINION: I recently watched a TikTok video in which a man said he thought Zaxby’s and Raising Canes have the best fried chicken, and that got me thinking. 

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Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

One thing about me as a Black woman, I am definitely going to live up to the stereotype of a Black person who enjoys the delicious taste of fried chicken, watermelon and red Kool-Aid. That’s just me. 

But I know it’s a lot of y’all, too. I have recently seen multiple videos on TikTok in which people rate their favorite fast-food fried chicken restaurants. I’m going to say from the jump that I disagree with a lot of what I have seen in these videos, especially the one in which a Black man claimed that KFC chicken is seasoned better than Popeyes (It’s not!). 

That man legit rated Popeyes a 7/10 while saying KFC was an 8/10, and I know from personal experience that that is a big ass lie, but I’m not here to yuck anyone else’s yum. We all have different tastes in fried chicken, and we all like our fried chicken in different ways. 

As an example, I am a Los Angeles native who currently lives in Los Angeles, and I have eaten fried chicken all over my city. I know people love to come here and go to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles because that’s all people from out of town talk about. 

Honestly, Roscoe’s chicken ain’t all that. I am not saying their chicken isn’t good; it definitely is, but the way people be raving about it would have you think there was magic in it, and I can honestly say the deli in the Albertson’s on Crenshaw and 39th seasons its fried chicken way better than that, and it’s a lot cheaper. 

Also, if you are going to come here and go to Roscoe’s, go to the one on Washington and La Brea or the one on Sunset and Gower in Hollywood. I know some of y’all like to try to be adventurous and prove that you are “good on every block in every city,” but that Roscoe’s on Manchester and Main is not the place for you if you are not from here. Not to mention, that particular location fries their chicken hard as a rock, so unless you like your chicken extra brown and extra extra extra extra crunchy with a side of you might get jacked or killed, don’t go to that one. 

Anyway, I’ve strayed way off the topic. 

I personally have a few fast food favorites when it comes to fried chicken, and yes, I consider Roscoe’s to be fast food even though it’s a sit-down restaurant with no drive-thru; I have definitely placed an order on the phone as I’m driving to the location and gone to pick it up. 

But in the traditional sense, there are a number of drive-thru options that are some real winners. 

I personally love Church’s Fried Chicken. Their pieces are ginormous; the meat is always seasoned to the bone; the skin is perfectly crunchy, and their biscuits are divine. Their sides may not be that great, but the chicken and biscuits are top-tier, and in my area, they have a special right now where you can get three pieces of dark-meat chicken with a biscuit for $4. I take mine with all thighs, please

Popeyes chicken is also top-tier. That spicy hits so different with one of their strawberry sodas. The red beans and rice win every single time, and I hear some locations have even brought back the cajun or “dirty” rice. Pro tip: Ask them to put gravy on your cajun rice and thank me later. 

The biscuits at Popeyes are debatable. You literally have to get them and eat them while they are hot. If you let it cool down even for a minute, it becomes a choking hazard. A Popeyes biscuit can be a lethal weapon in the right hands, so be careful, but that chicken? Baby, that chicken is what you want. 

When I was in the South, I loved Bojangles chicken. I thought Bojangles was the North Carolina version of Popeyes when I was down there because their brand colors are/were similar, and I had never heard of them before I got down there. They are only in 15 states and east of the Mississippi, but if you ever come upon one, you need to go to there. The chicken is good, but their biggest draw for me is those little sweet potato pies they sell year-round. Get fat if you want to; those joints are a fried handful of heaven. 

Now that I think about it, I don’t even really remember what Bojangles chicken tastes like because, in my mind, the only memory I have of them is those sweet potato pies. So don’t trust me on the chicken, but definitely trust me on the pies. 

People put places like Zaxby’s and Raising Canes on the list, too, and if you consider Costco frozen chicken tenders to be a delicacy, I’m not gonna hold you with any of my commentary to the contrary. 

What I will say is that the bread at Raising Canes is enough to make me want to eat myself into a carb coma, and their lemonade is up there with Chick-fil-A.

Speaking of Chick-fil-A, they have good nuggets, good lemonade, and the original sandwich is good. That’s about all I can say about the Homophobic Jesus chicken spot.

Lastly, KFC is fried chicken for white people. You know how I know this? My white daddy loved him some KFC. In his defense, he loved fried chicken period, but we used to get KFC a lot as kids, and I blame him. 

Now, if I were going to rank the places I just listed, my rankings would be as follows:

  1. Popeyes
  2. Church’s
  3. Albertson’s/Grocery store fried chicken (I heard Publix chicken is LIT, and I want to try it)
  4. Bojangles
  5. Chick-fil-A
  6. Raising Canes
  7. Zaxby’s
  8. KFC

I know my list is way different than y’alls, so I want to hear from y’all. Which fried chicken place do you think has the best fried chicken? 

Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.

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