Chick-Fil-A, McDonald’s, Popeyes and More: Who’s Winning the Chicken Wars?

by Emily Morgan

Fast-food chains are working around the cluck to come out on top of the ongoing chicken sandwich wars.

The battle over the best sandwich first began two years ago, when Popeye’s fired the first shot with its famous, now a fan-favorite chicken sandwich. In response, a plethora of chicken sandwich chains has upped their game to be crowned America’s favorite chicken sandwich.

Although the pandemic created a brief hiatus on the battle, the chains are ready to take home the title. Now, new players have entered the game. Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Arby’s, and Zaxby’s have all launched or re-launched their signature sandwiches with their own advertising campaigns.

Two chicken sandwich connoisseurs, John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman of Michigan, took the streets to dub their favorite fast-food chicken sandwich. Here are their results:

Chicken Sandwich Specialists Put Restaurants to the Test

Coming in at number six on their list is none other than the golden arches itself, McDonald’s. According to Gonzo, the sandwich was “dwarfed in size compared to the other sandwiches in the market.” He adds that it “lacks the depth of flavor and meatiness.” As for Amy, she holds nothing back when it comes to her critique “The sandwich itself is incredibly small, would I consider almost a slider? Yes, I would.” She adds, “It’s not really crispy at all. Insipid and uninspired.”

Next up is Wendy’s, who entered the chicken wars chat last fall. Although they tried to get in on the game, they need to go back to the playbook. “It has a nice crispy crunch to it, but just lacks the excitement in presentation and flavor as some of the others. The spicy chicken had no real kick,” Gonzo says of their two different sandwiches. “The chicken was pretty lame thickness-wise,” Sherman says, adding that it “lost all crispiness due to the mayo overload.”

Sitting at number four for Gonzo and Sherman is the colonel himself. In the spring, KFC replaced the “Crispy Colonel” with an updated chicken sandwich. In the past, KFC has also launched a Cheetos sandwich and a donut fried chicken sandwich. As for Gonzo, he says it’s “pretty darn good” but says it “falls a little flat is in flavor and balance.” Sherman shares the same sentiment. “It is instantly recognizable with the famous 11 herbs and spices that KFC is known for.”

Narrowed Down to the Top 3

Making its way into the top three is the classic Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich. Classic, delicious and straightforward, Chick-Fil-A hasn’t changed up their recipe. And it seems to be working for them, just look at their drive-thru lines. However, Sherman recommends you opt for the spicy deluxe version to add some depth of flavor.

In second place, the duo pegged the chain that first tossed the gauntlet in the chicken crusade: Popeyes. According to Gonzo, “It still holds up after all the hype, and still is a must when you don’t have time to get a locally produced sandwich from your favorite neighborhood restaurant.”

Finally, claiming the title as the pairs’ number one choice is Burger King. Calling it “an elevated sandwich that really is in a league of its own.” From the attention to detail to the size to the crinkle-cut pickles, BK’s version is a meat masterpiece.

“Just watching the process that BK is undertaking to make these fresh chicken sandwiches will instill a level of respect for what they are attempting,” Sherman notes of the chain’s dedication to excellence.