We Ranked 10 Fast Food Spicy Chicken Sandwiches By Their Heat Levels

Since Popeyes introduced its chicken sandwich in 2019, and pandemonium around it ensued, it seemed like every other fast food chain that had chicken on its menu raced to catch up and bring customers to its doors (and drive-through windows). While some of the places on this list have actually offered a signature chicken sandwich since way before Popeyes' creation (we see you Chick-fil-A), many of these spots are newer to making the sandwich.

But it's not just about the traditional, original chicken sandwich for us. Being the spice fiends we are, we decided to set out on a quest to taste-test as many spicy chicken sandwiches as we could in our area to see which one was not the overall best, but the spiciest of the bunch. If you love spicy foods but can't handle the most extreme heat, or if you get bored when it's not scorching your taste buds off, this is the ranking for you. By the time you've read our verdicts, you'll know which particular chains offer the spicest chicken sandwiches on the market.

It's important to note that with some of the spicy chicken sandwiches on this list the heat came from the actual chicken and its breading; and for others, the heat came from an added sauce on top. Grab your Tums, and let's get tasting.

10. Popeyes Spicy TRUFF Chicken Sandwich

Remember: We are ranking based on spice here, not how delicious the sandwich was overall (though we'll touch on that so you can get a sense of it, too). In last place in terms of the spice factor, we had Popeyes' limited-edition Spicy TRUFF Chicken Sandwich, which was a collaboration with the well-known and trendy truffle sauce company, TRUFF. This sandwich featured Popeyes' delicious signature chicken, pickle slices, a brioche bun, and, obviously, TRUFF's spicy mayo on top.

For this chicken sandwich, the heat came from the sauce. We definitely want it noted that the sauce is delicious; but for the sandwich we got, there wasn't a ton of the sauce on there. So since the sauce coverage was limited, it made the spice pretty limited, hence its spot in last place. Even if there had been more sauce on there, it was a very mild spice, so it still would've landed in last place spice-wise.

9. Burger King Spicy BK Royal Crispy Chicken

While many people see Burger King as a direct competitor to McDonald's, we find that it tends to march to the beat of its own drum most of the time. Case in point? The current Burger King version of a spicy chicken sandwich. Called the Spicy BK Royal Crispy Chicken, we found the flavor of this sandwich to be the most unique among all of them. On the spicy sandwich, you will find tomato (which we weren't fans of), lettuce, a standard bun, the spicy sauce, and the chicken patty.

What made this sandwich taste so unique was the sauce. It was, indeed, spicy, as it had to be to qualify for this ranking, but it wasn't your typical hot-sauce or even barbeque-sauce spicy. Instead, it tasted like it had intense Asian spice influences, and it was actually a bit more sweet than spicy. While it just barely edged out Popeyes in terms of spice (landing it in second-to-last place), the spice wasn't the prominent flavor here. Instead, the sweet chili flavor shined through the most, making it an individual experience that we think you would love if you enjoy sweet and sour chicken.

8. Bojangles Cajun Chicken Filet Biscuit

Bojangles' spicy chicken "sandwich" was one of the tastiest ones we tried in this whole ranking. If we were ranking spicy chicken sandwiches based on overall flavor instead of heat, this one would definitely be in the top three. The Cajun Chicken Filet Biscuit was flavorful; the biscuit was buttery but not too crumbly, and it was the actual chicken that was flavored with various Cajun spices to bring the heat instead of there being an added sauce on top.

This one definitely turned things up on the Schoville levels, but probably only a notch or two from the bottom two. It was spicy, for sure, but it was bearable, pleasant, and edible, which is more than can be said for a lot of the other sandwiches on this list. Bojangles should be visited if you're a bit timid with spice, but should be skipped if you're a spicy chicken sandwich warrior.

7. Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich

At first glance, we thought the fast food place gave us the wrong order. It genuinely looked just like a regular, plain chicken sandwich ─ so much so that we googled it to double-check what it was supposed to look like before diving into our first bite. But, there was no mistake made here: This was for sure a spicy chicken sandwich. Like Bojangles, this one brought the spice in the actual breading of the chicken instead of in a sauce on top, which we generally found makes an overall spicier sandwich.

We quite enjoyed the spice level of the Wendy's sandwich, and didn't find it unbearable in any regard. It was definitely a level up in terms of spice from Bojangles, which is why it ranked higher. But, again, it was still edible and orderable (we think) for the average spice lover, instead of being so hot it should come with a warning.

6. Chick-fil-A Spicy Chicken Sandwich

We consider the Spicy Chicken Sandwich from Chick-fil-A to be just as much of a classic as its original chicken sandwich (and to any Chick-fil-A higher-ups out there, we're begging you to release spicy chicken nuggets). The Spicy Chicken Sandwich from this chain is a popular mainstay on the menu for a reason: It's delectable. We thoroughly enjoyed this sandwich, but in terms of spiciness ranking, it comes in right about the middle.

It is for sure a spicy one, and if you can't tolerate spice well, we recommend stopping around this far into the piece, or just eating this sandwich slowly and with a side of dipping sauce. The two pickle slices on top help a little bit to cut the edge, but not much. The breading on this sandwich is what makes things spicy, and the actual flavor of the spice is enjoyable as well as a bit intense. From here is where things really start to heat up (pun intended).

5. Smashburger Scorchin' Hot Crispy Chicken Sandwich

If you assumed that Smashburger only had regular beef burgers, you'd be wrong. While its chicken section of the menu is fairly limited, and it doesn't always advertise the spicy chicken sandwich on the menu in person, you can always get it. The Scorchin' Hot Crispy Chicken Sandwich is an experience in and of itself that you simply don't want to miss out on if you're a spice fanatic. If you like Chick-fil-A's spicy chicken sandwich but always wished it was, perhaps, one degree spicier, that's what Smashburger's version basically is.

While the actual chicken does taste different to Chick-fil-A's (the recipe is just so unique there), the spice is pretty similar, with Smashburger just inching it out. This sandwich automatically comes with some mayo and pickles on top, with, again, the actual chicken bringing the spice to the table. We quite enjoyed this sandwich, despite it amping up the spice level. We're still in the tolerable range of spice right now, folks, but buckle up for some sandwiches that take spice to places it probably shouldn't be taken.

4. McDonald's Spicy McCrispy

Tasty sandwiches are what McDonald's does very well, and that doesn't just apply to its beef burgers. McDonald's chicken sandwiches taste (in our opinion) better and more real than its chicken nuggets. The spicy version, called the Spicy McCrispy, is a delightful sandwich that, as you eat it, makes you question just how much your taste buds can handle.

The sauce carries the spiciness with this sandwich, but that turned out to be a good thing. It tasted like a spicy mayo sauce, and the mayo component in that really helped to cool things down ─ for about three seconds, that is. With every delicious bite, this sandwich had us wondering what the boundaries of our spice tolerance were, and whether or not this sandwich would reach them. Ultimately, it was still edible if paced while eaten, and the spice was still tasty and not mean or aggressive.

3. KFC Spicy Chicken Sandwich

With what's probably some of the actual best chicken on this list, KFC also happened to have a high-heat spicy chicken sandwich, hence its position near the top. The KFC Spicy Chicken Sandwich, as it's named, had a spicy sauce on top that blew almost all of the other spicy sauces out of the water. It also featured some gigantic, thick pickle slices on top that were a bit too much for us, and this sandwich decided to teter the line between edible and, well, not.

If spice is your middle name, try this bad boy out for lunch (you can even see the spic-flecked sauce oozing out the side of this sandwich in the image). Otherwise, we suggest either avoiding it or asking for the sauce on the side so that you can pace yourself with it. This sandwich was solid, but it wasn't officially the spiciest thing we put our stomachs through for this ranking.

2. Arby's Buffalo Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Arby's was in its own lane in this lineup. Like Burger King, the fast food chain decided to throw away the guidebook and opt for an entirely different take on the classic spicy chicken sandwich. As you can see in the photo above, this entire chicken patty was smothered, nay, bathed in a spicy Buffalo sauce. While other spicy chicken sandwiches had sauces lightly smoothed or dolloped on top, this chicken sandwich felt like it was 80% sauce and 20% sandwich.

This is a pure Buffalo sauce through and through, and it also featured a cooling sauce on top of the spicy sauce for the sauciest sandwich of them all. While being easily the sauciest, it was also the second spiciest. We enjoyed the Buffalo flavor for sure, and have been known to sample a Buffalo sauce-covered chicken wing now and again, but an entire chicken sandwich's worth of Buffalo sauce is a lot for any person. Beware of the spice with this one.

1. Shake Shack Hot Chicken Sandwich

If you're in a self-destructive mood, head to Shake Shack. Its Hot Chicken Sandwich on the limited-edition menu is sure to ruin your day and the entire inside of your mouth, like it did ours. Scratch that; it'll also ruin your lips and sting anywhere it touches. This chicken sandwich is beyond spicy: It's off the Scoville charts completely.

While other spice flavors can be intense but enjoyable, this one is just plain mean. It bullies your mouth into immediate pain, and you begin to question every decision you've made in your life that brought you to this point. We couldn't bear more than two bites of this sandwich ourselves, but if you're an all-time spice champion ... we would still even caution you before trying this one out. Even the mound of coleslaw on top couldn't counter the spice of the chicken. This was absolutely the spiciest of the spicy chicken sandwiches.