10 Best Fried Chicken Chains In The US, Ranked

Whether you would like to admit it or not, fast food is a staple of American culture. Some companies and brands that started in humble beginnings have exploded into worldwide economic powerhouses that can be found in all corners of the globe. The most iconic fast food joints serving burgers and fries seem to overshadow the many other forms fast food comes in, such as one that has a lot more to offer than people think: fried chicken.

Fried chicken is one of the most simple, delicious foods in existence. It's crispy, juicy, and comforting, and all it is is dredged and deep-fried chicken. It is a food that can be easily made at home, but fried-chicken chains go a lot deeper than the common ones you drive past daily. There are chains that are hard to come by, represent different cuisines from around the world, and some can stand up to any fried chicken cooked by a professional chef.

Even if fast food only makes its way into your diet once in a while, satisfying your craving with some greasy goodness should always be considered as an option. Here are our top fried chicken chains in the U.S. Some are old reliables, some you may have never heard of, and some may be worth an interstate road trip.


This list would not be complete without the kernel. KFC is one of the most recognizable brands on the entire planet, currently operating in over 145 countries in 25,000 locations. The fries chicken giant started back in the 1930s when Harland Saunders began serving fried chicken to weary travelers at a service station in Corbin, Kentucky. Over the next decade, he worked to perfect the master blend of 11 herbs and spices we still hear about today.

According to KFC, its chicken is made in a series of three simple, but specific steps. First, each piece of chicken is inspected for quality, then rolled seven times in the closely guarded blend of herbs and spices, and finally pressure-cooked at a low temperature to preserve as much flavor as possible.

KFC prides itself on serving full-sized, old-fashioned styles meals. Its chicken is obviously the staple of the menu, but the classic sides consisting of mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, biscuits, coleslaw, green beans, and corn are available, but chicken is all you really need. KFC is not the greatest fried chicken in the world, but the many locations and straightforward menu make it an old reliable that will always get the job done. After all, it is finger-lickin' good.


Wingstop is an unsung hero of the fried chicken game. Although the chicken does not come in the form most commonly associated with the dish, it sells breaded and fried wings, which is qualification enough.

Wingstop was founded in 1994 through a single location in Garland, Texas. Three years later, it opened the company up to franchising and is currently operating in 1,500 restaurants around the world. What makes Wingstop worthy of a spot on this list is its variety. A spectrum of heat is home to 12 different flavors including Louisiana Rub, Spicy Korean, and Atomic. The website even has a "Wing Calculator" that helps customers determine their exact number of required wings based on the number of people and whether they are snacky, hungry, or starving.

Not only does Wingstop offer a variety of wings, but it also offers a wide variety of french fries to go with them. These include Louisiana Voodoo fries, cheese fries, buffalo ranch fries, and cajun fried corn. Wing Stop claims to be in the flavor business, not the wing business, and as far as chain restaurants go, it is fulfilling that mission.

Pollo Campero

This next chain on the list is the first to come from outside of the United States but has since become available in 18 states plus the nation's capital. Pollo Campero, which translates to "country chicken," was founded in 1971 in Guatemala as a family-owned business utilizing a fried chicken recipe passed down through generations. The chain exploded in Latin America and eventually made its way into the Southwestern U.S. and continued on from there, according to Thrillist.

The fried chicken you will find at a Pollo Campero is not like the ones at KFC or other common American fried chicken chains, however. The flavors boosting up the chicken and sides at Pollo Campero are distinctly Latin, which means a lighter, more delicate dredge served with lime wedges for that extra zesty vibrance.

If you've never been to a Pollo Campero, you can expect the usual combo options of fried chicken and sides, but not the Southern staple sides you are probably used to. The sides here include rice, beans, plantains, and tortillas in addition to fries and coleslaw. Pollo Campero has accumulated something of a cult following in Latin America and the U.S. As mentioned earlier, however, the chain only has locations in 18 states. If you have tried Pollo Campero or get the chance to do so, you will most certainly come to realize that the hype is more than justified.


Popeye's may not have been around as long as KFC or have the same global presence, but it does place higher in this list than KFC. Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen was founded in 1972 in New Orleans. The original restaurant did not open under its current name, however. It was actually opened as "Chicken-On-The-Run" by Alvin C. Copeland Sr. and served traditional Southern-style fried chicken. After a few weeks of poor performance, Copeland reopened his chicken joint as Popeye's, named after Popeye Doyle, a character in the film "The French Connection." Not only did he change the name, but he reoriented the menu to better fit the Pelican State, serving New Orleans-style fried chicken instead. Four years later, Popeye's expanded to its first franchise location, and the brand never looked back. Now, there are nearly 3,000 Popeye's locations in the U.S. with locations abroad, as well.

The New Orleans-style fried chicken served at Popeye's is different from traditional in that there is a far greater presence of spice. Popeye's utilizes its home state's iconic Cajun seasoning that is zesty, mildly hot, and packed with flavor. The result is a fried chicken that is unique and lively but remains as comforting and familiar as any other.

Popeye's was keen to stick to what made it great for decades, but that was until the chicken sandwich craze that occurred a few years back. In 2019, Popeye's debuted its own fried chicken sandwich and quickly won over many customers from its competitors.


This next french chicken chain on the list is one most people have probably never heard of. That's because it only began expansion to the U.S. within the past decade, according to Business Insider.

Jollibee was founded in 1978 and has since become the fast food titan of the Philippines. The chain is famous for its unique combination of its "Chickenjoy" fried chicken and sweet spaghetti, a duo some may consider heresy, but the chain is expanding quickly for a reason. A common way Jollibee is described as a cross between McDonald's and KFC. The fried chicken is the main player on its menu, but it also serves burgers, burger steaks, and chicken sandwiches. The spaghetti, however, is what catches people off guard, for better or worse.

Whether Jollibee's seemingly peculiar menu piques your interest or not, it certainly made quite a splash when its first location in the U.S. opened its first Midwest location in 2016, Business Insider also states. Thousands of intrigued customers flocked to the location on its opening day, some of which stood in line for upwards of eight hours to get their first taste. As the word spread, hour-long waits continued every day for several weeks. Now, there are 70 Jollibee locations in the U.S. with more certain to be on the way. If you come across one of the locations, consider yourself lucky, and when it comes to the spaghetti, don't knock it 'till you try it!


If you still haven't indulged in the transcendent experience of Korean fried chicken, or any Korean barbecue for that matter, find your nearest Bonchon and go there as soon as possible.

The flavors found in Korean barbecue are really unlike any other. The punchy, sweet, and spicy gochujang and smoky gochugaru are two iconic ingredients that make Korean barbecue and Bonchon chicken what it is. Not only do these flavors make for absolutely delicious chicken, but Korean-style fried chicken is also deep-fried twice, which brings the crunch we know and love to a whole new level.

Bonchon was founded by Jinduk Seo, whose mission was and still is to bring the comfort food and flavors of his home to the whole world. After all, the term "bonchon," translates to "my roots." Seo is accomplishing just that, and every crunchy bite of Bonchon chicken confirms it. Bonchon's menu does not stop at fried chicken, however. It also features Korean cuisine staples, including bulgogi, chicken katsu, and bibimbap, to name a few. It is the fried chicken, however, that really is king. It can be ordered with a brushing of either soy garlic or spicy sauce, both of which are made at Bonchon's global kitchen in South Korea and distributed directly to the location.

Bonchon currently operates in South Korea, the U.S., Australia, and seven other countries in Southeast Asia. As stated above, if you haven't had Korean barbecue yet, you should, and Bonchon is a great place to start.

Raising Cane's

It would be difficult to think of a more nostalgic, formative, comforting food than chicken fingers. For the better part of almost any American childhood, chicken fingers are the tried-and-true choice whenever ordering food. Most fast-food chains offer them, but there is one that dedicates its entire business to the humble chicken finger, and that's Raising Cane's. It also has an almost comical backstory.

Raising Cane's was founded by Todd Cook, who came up with the idea for a restaurant that only sold chicken fingers for a college course and was given the lowest grade in the class. After graduating college in 1994, Cook believed in his business, but he could not get a loan from any bank. In order to fund his dream, he began working as a boilermaker in Los Angeles before fishing commercially in Alaska. Finally, two years later, Cook returned home to Louisiana with enough money to open his chicken finger restaurant. Today, there are over 600 locations in 36 states, and it is one of the most searched-for fast-food chains in the country.

What makes Raising Cane's great is that it decided to just do one simple thing really, really well, and that's all it does. You can order chicken fingers and french fries, and that's it. This brand may have perfected a craft that didn't really require perfection, but, nevertheless, one bite of a Raising Cane's chicken finger will transport you back to the dish that fueled your childhood.


Chick-fil-A is not only known countrywide for its original chicken sandwich but it is also recognized as having some of the friendliest, kindest staff of any restaurant chain out there. When you go to Chick-fil-A, you don't only have some excellent chicken with that iconic sauce, but you also get to have pleasant interactions with the people who serve it to you. That's why it's so high up on this list.

S. Truett Cathy opened a diner in an Atlanta suburb called "The Dwarf Grill." His business thrived for decades and eventually allowed him to open the very first Chick-fil-A in 1967. His business remains a family-run business, now run by Cathy's grandson, Dan. Cathy was devoted to the customer experience as well as to his employees. In fact, since 1973, Chick-fil-A has funded over $35 million worth of higher education for its employees.

Even though Chick-fil-A is widely known and popular, only 2,000 locations currently operate across the country. This is still a large amount, of course, but one would think its deliciousness and customer service would propel it to the level of its more omnipresent competitors. Depending on where you live in the U.S., that is almost what makes Chick-fil-A great; wanting your fix requires a bit of a venture that can only be made once in a while. When it is made, you can rest assured it will hit the spot every single time.

Hattie B's

It seems as though Nashville hot chicken has been undergoing something of a frenzy over the past few years. The flavor-packed, irresistible dish that is sure to help clear your sinuses is merely fried chicken brushed with spicy oil. While Nashville hot chicken can now be found on menus all over the country, no city does it better than Nashville, and no place in Nashville does it better than Hattie B's.

Although the chain was only founded 10 years ago, it has been quick to make a name for itself that has already gained national recognition on television shows like David Chang's "Ugly Delicious." Heat levels at Hattie B's begin with mild, then medium, hot, damn hot, and, finally, shut the cluck up. For those who seek out spicy food and enjoy taking it on as a challenge, your next one awaits. For those who don't usually go for spicy food but want to indulge in the hot chicken craze and see what it's all about, Hattie B's will take care of you just as well.

There are now 10 Hattie B's locations in the U.S., four of which are in Nashville, and the others are in Birmingham, Memphis, Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Dallas. Clearly, the amazingly tasty chicken at Hattie B's is not readily available to most people. Therefore, if you find yourself in any of those cities, a stop at Hattie B's is mandatory for your itinerary.

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken

Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken earns the top spot on the list by taking the beautifully simplistic pleasure of fried chicken and turning it into something greater than the sum of its parts.

The original restaurant was opened in the 1950s by Napoleon Vanderbilt in Mason, Tennessee. At first, the chicken was sold out of the back door of a local tavern, and demand grew so intense that members of the community supplied the means necessary to open a restaurant. Once the original owners passed away in the early 1980s, Napolean's son, Gus Bonner, took over. Since then, 33 new locations have been opened, gaining national recognition. In 2001, GQ Magazine name Gus's one of the top 10 meals in the U.S. worth flying for.

The menus at Gus's are as simple as they come, but offer the coveted option of choosing exactly what piece of the chicken you want. Each plate includes a side of coleslaw, baked beans, and white bread, along with your choice of breast, thigh, wing, or leg. Fast food has its well-deserved place in the culinary world, but many chains just can't stand up to a home-cooked meal or one from a more renowned restaurant, no matter how delicious they are. Well, Gus's is on its own tier of chain restaurants. Each location provides as great a plate of chicken as can be had anywhere made by anybody. It is the southern staple of the Southern staple.