Food & Drink

G&G Readers Weigh In on the Best Fried Chicken Sandwich

Chick-fil-A? Popeyes? Sure, but there are plenty of others doing chicken right

Photo: Courtesy Chick-fil-A, Popeyes

The Great Fried Chicken Sandwich War of 2019 started innocently enough earlier this month when Louisiana-born Popeyes rolled out its newest offering, a crispy fried chicken sandwich with pickles and mayo. Georgia-based Chick-fil-A was quick to claim ownership of the original fried chicken sandwich, and soon, everyone from Wendy’s to The New Yorker was weighing in. (Popeyes announced this week that it has temporarily run out of the chicken sandwich, but plans to bring it back “as soon as possible.”)

Garden & Gun readers know a thing or two about the subject, so in this week’s Talk of the South newsletter (sign up here), we asked, “Who makes the best fried chicken sandwich, and why?”

Just over half the respondents gave the nod to Chick-fil-A, about a fifth said Popeyes, and the rest mentioned other restaurants.  

Among the comments:

Team Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A is king because they don’t need any extra sauce or fixins. The chicken is prepared just right with a soft bun and then the pickle takes it on home. Simplicity at its best. —Melinee F. 


The best chicken sandwich is the original: Chick-fil-A. Something about that marinated chicken and the best crust and just pickles. I never feel guilty about eating one or two! —Carlos F. 


Chick-fil-A is head and shoulders above the Johnny-come-latelys because of the taste. It is incomparable and can’t be matched for flavor. —Joyce W.


I’m a Georgia girl … so if it’s a soft drink, it’s a Coke, and if it’s a chicken sandwich, it’s a Chick-fil-A. End of conversation. —Rhonda F.


In December 1965, I ate my first Chick-fil-A sandwich at the Dwarf House in Hapeville, Georgia, and 54 years later, they are still moist and delicious with extra pickles. —Ron E.


Team Popeyes

The breading was a huge win. Crispy with a capital C. The chicken was juicy and tender. Then there is the brioche bun. A masterpiece of shiny and soft with a hint of yeast and golden brown goodness. The pickles and spicy remoulade made me “shiver me timbers,” as Popeye would say! —Patricia B. 


Both good, but surprised to have to admit Louisiana knows best. Popeyes is the best I ever had—except Mom’s, of course. —Warren W. 


Hands down, Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich beats all other contenders. Crispy and crunchy, juicy and well seasoned on a bun that can handle this much meat. Simply dressed so that the pure and simple flavors are the stars of this sandwich. —Sue A. 


The best chicken sandwich is at Popeyes. Why? It’s huge. It’s crispy. And the best: It comes in a spicy version. —Catherine Y.


In support of other teams 

Look under the radar and you will find that Zaxbys’ Southern TLC beats them all. The pickle is unique to Zaxby’s, and with the sauce, it’s to die for. —Ginger R.


Buxton Hall Barbecue, Asheville, North Carolina. Start with a hunk of buttermilk fried chicken about as big as your head, then top it with American and pimento cheese. White BBQ sauce serves as the unsung hero, with bread-and-butter pickles nestled underneath the chicken to bring it all home. Respect to the assorted fast-food efforts, but there’s no comparison. —Trey G.


Sure, Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s, Bojangles’, and Popeyes all make a formidable chicken sammie, but if you live anywhere near the midlands of South Carolina, you know that Rush’s serves up the Rosetta Stone of chicken sandwiches. —Dan H.


Hattie B’s in Birmingham. I get the medium hot sauce. Not so hot that you forget how good the chicken is, but won’t put you to sleep while you’re eating it, like the others. —Mike M.


Blue Oak BBQ Tuesday only in New Orleans. Hands down. Burns so good. Line out the door every Tuesday. Tip: If you go to the bar and order you’ll get served faster. Must try. —Gabe A.


I don’t need to remind you that Baltimore has the best chicken sandwich in all the land. You’ve been here. You already know. BRD at the R. House food ballroom holds the trophy in the chicken sandwich wars. The Bmore BRD with Old Bay is my favorite, although the Hanoi Hen is a close second. —Nelle S.


Publix. Fried chicken tenders made into a po’ boy at the deli counter, with whatever you want on it. —Robert C.


Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken. The sandwich consists of fried chicken breast pulled off the bone on a bun. That makes it sound pretty obvious. —Jim S.


I think Chester’s Chicken makes the best chicken sandwich. I love the brioche bun and the breading is always crispy and delicious. —Mandi G.


The first WifeSaver Restaurant came about in 1965 when we were still spoiled on our mother’s fried chicken. But occasionally, to give her a break, the WifeSaver’s fried chicken would save the day. It was the closest thing to having hers. The chickens are fresh and not “parts,” but a real breast or thigh. Fried just to perfection. And their vegetables and cornbread are superb. —Patsy P.


The Smoky Mountain Deli in Knoxville has brought back the Rooster, which was made famous by the Smoky Mountain Market on the Cumberland Avenue “strip” by the University of Tennessee campus. Any UT alum from the ’70s and ’80s can attest to the culinary goodness of a Rooster, if not the entertainment value of hearing the guy taking the order shout, “Bird on a bun, hot pepper cheese, drag it through the garden!” —Keith S.


— Compiled by Jessica Giles


> Recipe: Classic fried chicken

> The best fried chicken in every Southern state