Top 12 Chicken Fast Food Chains in America 2023

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In the past several decades, chicken fast-food chains have played a significant part in consolidating the fast-food business in the United States.

Although they’ve had to contend with stiff competition from other fast-food companies and shifting consumer tastes, they’ve remained among the most popular and recognizable in the United States.

These eateries have become famous for specializing in chicken-based fares, such as fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, and other chicken-centered dishes.

chicken fast food
Credit: @ChickfilA

This guide examines the most popular American fast-food restaurants known for their chicken options. Famous for their sumptuous and succulent chicken meals, these establishments have endured the test of time to become household brands.

These chicken fast-food chains are sure to satisfy your cravings for either a traditional chicken sandwich or something a little more out of the ordinary.

With that out of the way, let’s review the 12 best chicken fast-food franchises in the United States that will tickle your fancy.

Top 12 Chicken Fast-Food Chains in the US

Our list of the best 12 chicken fast-food chains in the United States has something for everyone, from well-known chains to local gems. Let’s examine each one in detail.

1. Chick-fil-A

Credit: @chickfila
  • Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Number of US stores: 2,900+
  • History: Founded in 1946 by S. Truett Cathy.
  • Menu: Grilled chicken, salads, fried chicken, waffle fries, macaroni, etc.

Chick-fil-A is a fast-food chain famous for its chicken sandwiches, featuring a breaded and fried chicken breast, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise, all on a toasted bun.

This establishment was started in 1946 in Hapeville, Georgia, by S. Truett Cathy and is currently one of the largest and most well-known chicken fast-food franchises in the United States.

Apart from chicken sandwiches, the franchise also offers nuggets, wraps, salads, and a wide selection of sides, including waffle fries, macaroni, and cheese. More recently, Chick-fil-A has tried to diversify its menu by offering grilled chicken and salads in addition to its original fried chicken and waffle fries.

Chick-fil-A consistently receives excellent marks in customer satisfaction surveys and has a dedicated fan base. Moreover, the company is respected for its dedication to ethical business practices and emphasis on using only the finest ingredients.

2. KFC

Credit: @kfc
  • Headquarters: Louisville, Kentucky.
  • Number of US stores: 3,900+
  • History: Founded by Colonel Harland Sanders in 1952.
  • Menu: Fried and grilled chicken, sandwiches, wraps, mashed potatoes, and coleslaw.

The Yum! Brands, Inc.-owned fast-food restaurant KFC (formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken) is famous for its fried chicken. Established in 1952 by Colonel Harland Sanders, KFC has expanded to become a global fast-food behemoth with over 25,000 outlets in 145 countries and about 4,000 in the US alone.

KFC’s Original Recipe Fried Chicken is famous for being created with a unique blend of herbs and spices and pressure-fried to a crisp, juicy texture. The chicken fast-food chain’s extensive menu includes many options beyond its signature fried chicken, such as grilled chicken, sandwiches, wraps, and sides like mashed potatoes and coleslaw.

KFC has built a solid global brand because of its “finger-licking excellent” fried chicken. The franchise caters to local tastes by providing seasonal and regional menu options in addition to its standard fare. What’s more, KFC has worked to broaden its menu to include more nutritious choices like grilled chicken and salads.

3. Popeyes

Credit: @popeyes
  • Headquarters: Miami, Florida.
  • Number of US stores: 2,700+
  • History: Founded by Al Copeland in 1972.
  • Menu: Fried chicken, chicken tenders, chicken sandwich, shrimp, onion rings, etc.

Beginning as a little fast-food joint in 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana, Popeyes—founded by Al Copeland—has expanded to become one of the country’s largest and most well-known chains.

A fun fact about this chicken fast-food chain is that many of its signature dishes are advertised with “Flamin’ Hot” tags due to their signature spiciness.

Popeyes’ Fried Chicken is famous for being marinated in a unique blend of Louisiana spices and then fried to a golden crisp. Aside from their famous fried chicken, Popeyes also offers seafood delicacies like shrimp and oysters.

Moreover, the franchise has recently attempted to diversify its menu to include more nutritious items like salads and grilled chicken.

There are several Popeyes restaurants in the Southeastern and Southwestern United States. What’s more, a large percentage of the company’s clientele has shown continued devotion through repeated customer satisfaction polls.

This is no surprise considering Popeyes’ commitment to sustainability and using only the highest quality products — for example, it emphasizes buying chicken from ethical farms.

4. Church’s Texas Chicken

Church’s Texas Chicken
Credit: @churchschicken
  • Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Number of US stores: 800+
  • History: Founded by George W. Church Sr. in 1952
  • Menu: Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, macaroni, cheese, and biscuits.

In the fast-food industry, fried chicken is Church’s Texas Chicken’s forte. First opening its doors in 1952 in San Antonio, Texas, the chain founded by George W. Church Sr. is now a global phenomenon, with outlets in more than 30 countries. Outside the US—in countries like Iraq, Egypt, Belarus, etc.—this franchise is simply known as Texas Kitchen.

Church’s Texas Chicken is a go-to for many people who need quick, cheap lunches, despite the competition. While the chicken fast-food franchise is known for its fried chicken, it also offers a wide selection of sides like mashed potatoes, coleslaw, macaroni and cheese, and biscuits.

Boasting hand-crafted meals made without cutting any corners, Church’s Texas Chicken is an excellent fast-food chain to create pleasant memories with family and friends.

5. Zaxby’s

Credit: @realzaxbys
  • Headquarters: Athens, Georgia.
  • Number of US stores: 900+
  • History: Founded by Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley in 1990.
  • Menu: Chicken wings, salads, onion rings, potato chips, and desserts.

The chicken wings, chicken fingers, and chicken sandwiches at Zaxby’s are some of the most popular dishes at this fast-food restaurant. Founded in 1990 by Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley in Statesboro, Georgia, the brand has since expanded to become a household name across the South.

Zaxby’s has built a dedicated client base thanks to its consistent quality and use of fresh ingredients. The chicken fast-food chain’s welcoming staff and the casual setting chain have also contributed to its enormous online following.

Chicken isn’t the only thing you may get at Zaxby’s; there are salads, onion rings, potato chips, and desserts.

Zaxby’s also sponsors activities and sports teams in the areas where it operates, which helps to develop brand awareness and loyalty.

6. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers

Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
Credit: @sorrynosalad
  • Headquarters: Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
  • Number of US stores: 650+
  • History: Founded by Todd Graves in 1996.
  • Menu: Chicken fingers, crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw, and Texas toast.

Known for its chicken finger menu, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers is a popular chicken fast-food restaurant. Cane’s Sauce, a proprietary blend of spices and seasonings, is just one of many sauces available at the restaurant.

Todd Graves started the company in 1996 in his hometown of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Since then, it has expanded into a national network with a particularly robust presence in the Southern and Western regions. For reference, the franchise currently has more than 650 stores in the US alone.

Renowned for its use of high-quality, fresh ingredients, the chicken fingers, crinkle-cut fries, coleslaw, and Texas toast at Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers are among the restaurant’s most popular dishes.

Although Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers is known for its chicken finger sandwiches, it also offers a variety of drinks, such as iced tea and lemonade.

7. Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings
Credit: @scan30084
  • Headquarters: Atlanta, Georgia.
  • Number of US stores: 1,250+
  • History: Founded by Jim Disbrow and Scott in Columbus, Ohio.
  • Menu: Chicken wings, French fries, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks.

Chicken fast-food restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings, or B-Dubs as its regulars call it, is famed for its chicken wings and sports memorabilia. The franchise was established in 1982 by Jim Disbrow and Scott in Columbus, Ohio, and has since expanded to become a favorite destination for sports fans and wing connoisseurs alike.

As a matter of fact, the brand uses local community sponsorship of events and sports teams to spread its name and attract new customers.

In addition to its famous chicken wings, Buffalo Wild Wings is well-liked for its lively ambiance, which is sometimes boosted by live sports broadcasts. The establishment serves more than just wings, though; burgers, sandwiches, salads, etc., are other food items up for grabs.

While the chain’s barbeque, teriyaki, and hot sauces are among the most popular items on the menu, they also offer many milder spices. Side dishes, like French fries, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks, are also available at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Related: Best Buffalo Wild Wings Sauces

8. Bojangles

Credit: @bojangles
  • Headquarters: Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Number of US stores: 750+
  • History: Founded by Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas.
  • Menu: Fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, coleslaw, biscuits, dirty rice, green beans, etc.

The fast-food restaurant franchise Bojangles is known for its fried chicken and biscuits that are prepared in the Southern way. Jack Fulk and Richard Thomas started the brand in 1977 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Over time, the franchise has rapidly expanded to become a regional favorite in the Southeast, with close to 800 sites in 11 states.

Both the food and the service at Bojangles’ are well-received thanks to their deliciousness and excellent quality. The restaurant chain serves a wide variety of food, including chicken sandwiches, tenders, biscuits, sides such as dirty rice and green beans, and even some breakfast options.

Bojangles is well-known for its dedication to sustainability and the many measures it has taken to lessen its negative effect on the environment. Notably, the chicken fast-food chain has earned a reputation for its delicious food and high-quality ingredients, particularly its fresh, never-frozen chicken.

9. El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco
Credit: @elpolloloco
  • Headquarters: Costa Mesa, California.
  • Number of US stores: 450+
  • History: Founded by Juan Francisco Ochoa in 1980.
  • Menu: Chicken sandwiches, salads, burritos, beans, rice, and guacamole.

Fast-food restaurant El Pollo Loco is famous for its grilled chicken with a Mexican twist. The chain’s first location was established in 1980 by Juan Francisco Ochoa in Guasave, Sinaloa, Mexico.

Fast-forward to today, it’s become a well-known business with numerous sites around the USA, especially in the Western regions.

The chicken fast-food chain El Pollo Loco is well-known for its commitment to using only natural, hormone-free chicken and other fresh, high-quality products.

Chicken sandwiches, salads, and burritos are just a few of the main dishes on the chain’s extensive menu; others include foods like beans, rice, and guacamole as sides.

10. Wingstop

Credit: @wingstop
  • Headquarters: Addison, Texas.
  • Number of US stores: 1,500+
  • History: Founded by Antonio Swad in 1994.
  • Menu: Chicken wings, sandwiches, salad, fried okra, onion rings, and fries.

Chicken wings are Wingstop’s specialty. Antonio Swad started the restaurant in 1994 in Garland, Texas, which has become a popular spot for lovers of chicken wings.

Wingstop’s reputation is rooted in the quality of its fresh ingredients and the variety of its sauces and seasonings, which run the gamut from mild to spicy. Some of its spiciest condiments include barbeque, teriyaki, and hot sauces.

Chicken wings aren’t the only thing on the menu at Wingstop, though; there are also sandwiches, wraps, and salads. Other side dishes that may tickle your fancy at this chicken fast-food chain include fried okra, onion rings, and fries.

One special remark about this restaurant that has contributed to its solid reputation is that it serves only the highest quality food by sticking to tried-and-true practices like using only fresh, never-frozen chicken in all its dishes.

11. Roscoe’s House of Chicken ’N Waffles

Roscoe’s House of Chicken’N Waffles
Credit: @sorrynosalad
  • Headquarters: Los Angeles, California.
  • Number of US stores: 8
  • History: Founded by Herb Hudson in 1975.
  • Menu: Chicken sandwiches, tenders, waffles, collard greens, and mac & cheese.

The fast-food restaurant Roscoe’s House of Chicken ’N Waffles serves authentic Southern fare with an emphasis on chicken and waffles. Started by Herb Hudson in 1975 with a single restaurant in Los Angeles, California, the brand has extensively grown to become a nationwide favorite.

Roscoe’s is well-liked by locals and visitors alike due to its delicious food and warm, welcoming atmosphere. The menu includes chicken sandwiches, tenders, waffles, and sides like collard greens and mac & cheese.

With an upbeat vibe and vibrant decor inspired by soul food culture, Roscoe’s features a variety of daily specials and desserts in addition to its regular menu items.

Over the years, this chicken fast-food chain has earned numerous awards and media coverage, making it a popular destination for locals and visitors.

12. Chicken Express

Chicken Express
Credit: @miranda.jane.aka.pepperloo
  • Headquarters: Mineral Wells, Texas.
  • Number of US stores: 200+
  • History: Founded by James E. Williams in 1988.
  • Menu: Fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, chicken wings, and chicken nuggets.

Southern fried chicken and other comfort meals are the focus at Chicken Express, a chicken fast-food restaurant business well-liked for its quick service and affordable prices.

James E. Williams started the company in 1988 in Benbrook, Texas, and it now has over 200 locations in the Southern and Southwestern United States.

The Express Tenders are this fast-food brand’s most well-known food item. These are chicken tenders that have been hand-battered and fried.

Aside from fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, chicken wings, and chicken nuggets, Chicken Express also offers a variety of chicken dishes and sides, such as mashed potatoes, coleslaw, and baked beans.

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Whether fried, grilled, smoked, or baked, chicken is the pinnacle of culinary achievement. While it’s one of the simplest foods to cook, perfecting a crispy, juicy fried chicken dish remains an art. The beauty of it is that no two fast-food chains’ chicken can ever taste exactly the same.

The chicken fast-food chains discussed in this article are well-known for providing a wide variety of tasty options and exceptional customer service.

Although each of these chicken fast-food franchises has its unique menu and aesthetic, they share a reputation for tasty fried chicken and other menu items that have helped them rise to prominence as go-to fast-food options for Americans around the country.

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