13 Popular Chicken Wing Chains, Ranked Worst To Best

It would be difficult to name a food item more American than the chicken wing. No matter the occasion, no matter the venue, and no matter the company, the humble chicken wing is always a crowd-pleasing favorite. Although it was born out of and remains the pride of Buffalo, New York, the chicken wing has rightfully earned its place on the Mount Rushmore of distinctly American foods.

In fact, according to the National Chicken Council, Americans are estimated to eat 1.45 billion chicken wings during Super Bowl LVII. With the big game coming up once again, there is no more reliable food option for entertaining than chicken wings. When you have company over, however, sometimes it is more enjoyable to just order out the food and enjoy your time together rather than have to worry about preparing it all yourself. After all, it is the biggest game of the year and you don't want to miss any of it.

There are, however, countless chicken wing options to choose from, so here are the ones you should look out for and consider, conveniently ranked.

13. Chili's

Chili's is a family-friendly establishment offering classic chicken wings both boneless and bone-in. This Texas-based chain restaurant was founded in 1975 in Lavine, Texas, and currently has over 1,600 locations. Since its first location opened, Chili's has earned some very unique accolades.

For example, in 1994, Chili's had the highest number of margarita sales in the entire U.S., and in 2005, it was featured in an episode of NBC's "The Office." Its most impressive accomplishment, we think, is that Chili's has raised over $97 million for St. Jude's Children's Hospital through its Create-a-Pepper campaign, notes the site.

As for its wings, Chili's keeps things very basic, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The available sauces include the house barbecue, classic buffalo, and honey chipotle. Although there are only three options, sometimes the classics are all that is required to satisfy a wing craving. In that most fundamental regard, Chili's has you covered. It is understood that Chili's is not specifically a chicken wing chain, but its simple lack of options does keep it further down on this list.

12. Applebee's

As is the case with Pizza Hut, Applebee's may not be a wing-centric establishment, but the wings offered are definitely worth some attention. Applebee's was founded by Bill and T.J. Palmer in 1980 in Atlanta, Georgia. Since then, it has grown to over 2,000 locations.

Applebee's offers boneless wings, as well as double-crunch, bone-in wings. The double-crunch wings are battered and fried twice, which makes them extra crunchy on the outside and extra juicy on the inside.

You can order either type of wing with your choice of sauce, the choices including garlic parmesan, honey pepper, sweet Asian chile, regular buffalo, and extra hot buffalo. As mentioned earlier, many times a craving for wings is more than satisfied with the tried-and-true flavors, and Applebee's offers exactly that. Although the options are limited to just a handful, the wings at Applebee's remain a perfectly viable option that will not disappoint.

11. TGI Fridays

TGI Friday's is another casual, family-oriented chain restaurant similar to Applebee's and Chili's, but this one takes its wings up a notch in terms of options. The sauce choices at TGI Friday's include Blaze-It, a classic buffalo sauce, garlic parmesan, Dragon Glaze, Whiskey Glaze, Nashville Hot, and Apple Butter Barbecue. Plus, you have the option of ordering one order of a single sauce, or the Wings Roulette Platter, which includes up to three different sauces.

TGI Friday's does quite well in the wing department for a chain restaurant that is not centered around them. The menu at TGI Fridays includes everything from burgers and barbecue ribs to pasta and seafood and even Asian-inspired dishes, but it keeps its wings in check within that wide variety. Plus, you can enjoy a craft cocktail from the bar at the same time. If you just want them as an appetizer or as the main course, TGI Fridays can give you just a sample or a full-scale meal.

10. Dave & Buster's

Dave & Buster's is obviously more known for the arcade games, but this chain also takes its wings very seriously, and even reserves a section for them on its menu. The chain was founded in the late 1970s but was originally two separate establishments. One was owned by Buster and the other one was owned by Dave. Buster had opened a casual restaurant next to Dave's entertainment and games venue, and after noticing that both of their customers frequented both locations, they decided to combine their businesses to form Dave and Buster's.

The wing sauce choices at Dave & Buster's include classic buffalo, honey bourbon barbecue, Carolina-style barbecue, spicy Korean, chipotle barbecue, hot buffalo, garlic parmesan, and Sriracha honey. It also offers a variety of dry rubs, including sweet heat, lemon pepper, Jamaican jerk, cajun, and Old Bay. No matter which way you choose to enjoy your wings here, you can do so with a super friendly, positive environment around you full of great service, fun, and games.

9. Domino's

Obviously, Domino's is more known for its pizza, but its menu has grown into a wide array of options, including chicken. The chain was founded as a single pizza restaurant in 1960 and has since become to behemoth you know it to

In addition to the usual wing sauce choices of buffalo, garlic parmesan, and honey barbecue, Domino's also offers wings with toppings on them, such as crispy chicken and tomato and spicy jalapeño pineapple. If all you want is wings, there is plenty to choose from, and if you want wings as an accompaniment to pizza, you do not have to settle for the typical, basic options.

Domino's prides itself on fast delivery times and launched its online delivery service in 2007. In recent years, it introduced the Domino's tracker so customers can follow their order every step of the way, so not only can you get great chicken wings at Domino's, you can get them fast.

8. Zaxby's

Zaxby's is another chicken-centric chain restaurant, this one primarily found in Georgia and the American south. Zaxby's was founded in 1990 by Zach McElroy, who set out to create an establishment centered around chicken and the signature Zax Sauce. Thankfully, there are now over a dozen different sauces for you to dip your wings in.

The wing sauces at Zaxby's include a range of heat levels, including Wimpy, or mild, Tongue Torch, or medium, and Nuclear, which is the hottest. There is also hot honey mustard, sweet and spicy, teriyaki, barbecue, and buffalo garlic blaze.

Trying each signature Zaby's sauce is made even easier through its rewards programs. Customers can earn points with each dollar spent, and the more rewards points you accumulate, the more rewards you can cash them in for. So, if you don't know which wings to choose, you can choose them all and reap even more benefits later on.

7. Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut is another chain more known for its pizza, stuffed crusts, bread sticks, and value boxes, but not only does Pizza Hut sell chicken wings, its sister franchise, Wing Street, but also specializes in them.

The wing options on the Pizza Hut menu include the typical reliable favorites, such as buffalo, honey barbecue, garlic parmesan, sweet chili, and two hotter versions of the buffalo sauce. Pizza Hut also offers dry rubs, including lemon pepper and cajun-style wings. Wing Street, on the other hand, offers wing flavors that are more unique and harder to come by, especially at a chain that places more of a focus on pizza. These include a peri-peri, hickory brown sugar, chipotle, and honey sauce, to name a few.

More often than not, Wing Street locations double as Pizza Hut locations, so if you are ever in need of satisfying both cravings, this spot has you covered in both departments with plenty to choose from.

6. Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks is a lesser-known chain restaurant that takes its bar food very seriously, and that means great wings. The theme surrounding Twin Peaks is a very rustic vibe. The interior of each location is designed like a woodsy cabin and the chain does its best to transport its guests into the "Lodge Man-tality." The sports bar offers scratch-made food and serves its beers in its signature 22-ounce mugs at precisely 29 degrees Fahrenheit. The glass mugs are frosted ahead of time to keep the beer ice cold.

Not only is there a wide variety of wing sauces to choose from at Twin Peaks, but guests can also choose exactly how their wings are prepared. Those choices include the typical boneless or bone-in, but also bone-in breaded, smoked, or grilled. Then, choose from a list of 10 sauces that include the regular classics as well as more unique options such as pineapple habanero, spicy garlic, and its hottest sauce, the reaper.

5. Wings and Rings

This next chicken wing chain dedicates its entire business model to viewing sports. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, Wings and Rings is a smaller-scale chain that does exactly what its name suggests. It specializes in chicken wings and onion rings, the only two food items you really need in order to enjoy a game. Wings and Rings have grown into multiple states across the U.S., but it has never lost its focus on what it does well.

Wings and Rings make its very own homemade sauces in-house, including its original lineup of original, roasted garlic, mild, medium, hot, and extra hot. Currently, it offers 17 different options, including a blueberry barbecue, a Nashville dry rub, and a ghost pepper ranch. No matter what sauce you decide, you can also select its heat level, ranging from mild to atomic.

Wings and Rings are also accessible to guests who are vegetarian or vegan, as the menu includes cauliflower wings that can be tossed in any sauce you like. There is also a catering menu available, so if you are entertaining for the big game or for any other reason, you can get a wide variety of wings for everyone.

4. Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings is simply a classic, reliable, and always satisfying choice for chicken wings. Although its menu goes well beyond wings, it is always Buffalo Wild Wings' namesake that reigns supreme. With over 1,200 locations in all 50 U.S. states and Washington D.C., it is maybe the most popular chicken wing chain on this list, and for a reason.

Buffalo Wild Wings offers 26 different sauces. In addition to the typical buffalo and barbecue variations, the menu includes super hot options such as the Blazin' Carolina Reaper sauce, Mango Habanero, and Asian Zing. For guests who may not have a taste for very spicy wings and sauces, there are also options that place more of an emphasis on flavor rather than heat, such as the Jammin' Jalapeño, orange chicken, and Caribbean jerk.

If you are still wary about burning your taste buds, the menu also includes a comprehensive heat scale so you can know exactly what you are ordering. There is plenty to choose from at Buffalo Wild Wings, no matter your heat preference.

3. Hooter's

Hooters was founded in 1983 in Clearwater, Florida by six people with zero restaurant experience who decided to go for opening a restaurant. Well, the chance they took seems to have worked out just fine, and with it, some excellent wings we're ranking in the top three.

The wings menu at Hooters offers six different styles of chicken wings. The traditional Hooters Original wings are the most classic. The smoked wings are marinated overnight and then smoked over hickory wood. The Daytona Style wings are naked wings, meaning that they have no breading on them, and tossed in the Daytona-style wing sauce and then seared on the grill.

There are also roasted wings, which are seasoned and cooked in an oven, a healthier alternative to frying. At Hooters, ordering wings is almost mandatory, and you can rest assured whichever style you get, will be done more than right.

2. Bonchon

You may have never heard of this chicken chain before, but if you are ever fortunate enough to come across a Bonchon location, it is an absolute must-try. Furthermore, if you have never had Korean fried chicken before, you must. It is a food that checks off every single box. It is sweet, spicy, crunchy, acidic, and packed to the brim with flavor.

Bonchon Chicken was founded in 2002 by Jinduk Seo in Busah, South Korea. While most of its locations are found in its home country, there are currently 114 locations in the United States, as well as in multiple other countries all over the globe.

The menu options at Bonchon may not be very extensive, but for those who have yet to delve into the realm of Korean fried chicken, it's really all you need. There are only two options, soy garlic and spicy, the latter being the iconic mix of seasonings and spices, most importantly gochujang, or hot pepper paste, and gochugaru, hot pepper flakes. Even after you try both of them, these two classic choices will remain all that is required to satisfy your craving for this delicious, one-of-a-kind style of chicken wings.

1. Wingstop

Coming in at the number one spot on this list is Wingstop, a chain restaurant dedicated entirely to chicken wings and really nothing else. Wingstop was founded in 1994 in Garland, Texas, and currently has over 1,500 restaurants around the world. The first franchised Wingstop location opened in 1997, and by 2004, the chain reached the milestone of one billion wings sold.

According to Wingstop, the chain is not in the wing business, it is in the flavor business. Everything at Wingstop revolves around its always-fresh wings. The fries and sides are only there to uplift the wings, which come in a wide variety of sauces and rubs. There's the classic buffalo flavor in an assortment of heat levels, dry rubs such as the Louisiana and lemon pepper, as well as more unique sauces like Hawaiian and Korean.

The Wingstop website even provides its customers with a wing calculator, helping them figure out exactly how many wings to order. All you have to do is input the number of people eating and then select the hunger level as snacky, hungry, or starving, and the calculator will tell you how many wings to order. As an establishment that focuses solely on the chicken wing, it is safe to say it knows what it's doing.