Fried chicken comes in many different forms. You may go with wings on game day, but there’s something about a plump piece of tender chicken with a crisp outer coating on a buttered bun that gets the people excited. We know you feel it too, and that’s why we rounded up the best chicken sandwiches in America.
To put together our list, we first consulted our editors, and then looked at restaurants, sandwich shops and food trucks that are highly rated by local publications, on user-generated review sites and in pre-existing regional and local rankings to see which sandwiches rose to the top.
Winking Lizard Tavern has 21 restaurants across northeast and central Ohio, but according to an editor who frequents the chain, the location in Peninsula is best. There are a handful of chicken sandwiches on the menu, but the “Bo-Man’s Buffalo” is the main event. It features a fried chicken breast tossed in hot sauce (go for the spicy garlic) and then topped with melty mozzarella, lettuce, tomato and a side of blue cheese.
Denver’s Royal Rooster is a fried chicken haven, offering a variety of sandwiches ranging from classic to creative. Popular items include the “French Rooster,” made with ham, Swiss and thyme; and the “Nashville Hot Rooster," which comes with coleslaw, bread and butter pickles and ghost pepper — the spiciest chili in the world.
Crisp is known for bowls and Korean fried chicken — which you can order by the wing, tender, drumstick and half or whole chicken — but there are two standout sandwiches on the menu too. First is the “Not So Common Crisp,” which comes with all the basics, and then there’s “The Foodie’s Choice Crisp” featuring deep-fried chicken breast glazed in the sauce of your choice, topped with baby spinach, tomato, crumbled blue cheese, bacon, mayo and Allison’s Atomic Sauce on a split-top roll.
Head to Lake Buena Vista, Florida, for an underrated Disney World restaurant experience at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, where there are two tiers of excellent fried chicken handhelds. For starters, grab the thigh high chicken biscuits with bread and butter pickles and hot honey. Then there’s the buttermilk-brined chicken sandwich dressed in hot sauce, aioli, iceberg lettuce, tomato, and bread and butter pickles. One might call it the most magical chicken sandwich on Earth.
Las Abuelas is an awesome food truck in Austin, Texas, with Mexican influences. The “De Lujo” chicken sandwich comes with crispy chicken, chipotle mayo, pickled cabbage slaw, avocado, cotija cheese, roasted serrano crema, cilantro and onion. If you’re feeling something brunch-y, the weekend special “El Martin” is stacked with a fried egg, Mexican Coke-glazed bacon, jack cheese and chipotle mayo. Don’t forget to order the Tater Tots.
Spicy Boys is another rockstar food truck in Austin, Texas. There are three sandwiches on the menu, and two live up to the eatery’s name. Beyond the mild “OG” with papaya relish, Thai basil, green onion and shallots, there’s the “Hot Gai” with Thai-spiced hot chicken, swiss cheese, pickles, massaman mayo and Thai basil; and the “V Spicy Gai” with very spicy chicken, spicy ranch and spicy marinated cucumber on a chili-toasted potato roll — for extreme spice lovers only.
Hattie B’s has locations in four states, but it’s original to Nashville, Tennessee. The legendary Southern staple offers all sorts of fried chicken at varying heat levels with “Shut the Cluck Up!!!” being the hottest, but the hot chicken sandwich is the best. This palate pleaser comes with a crispy breast, coleslaw, Nashville comeback sauce and a pickle with your choice of side.
As the best fried chicken joint in California, Howlin’ Ray’s does not disappoint. You might have to wait in line for Nashville-inspired flavors at this LA spot, but it’s worth it. Howlin’ Ray’s claim to fame is “The Sando,” which layers crispy chicken breast, coleslaw, comeback sauce and pickles on a buttery bun.
Dave’s Hot Chicken in Los Angeles serves a simple menu of sliders, tenders and sides. The sliders aren’t your average two-bite situation, though. Each is basically a full-sized sandwich. When you order two as part of a combo, your meal comes with fries too. Choose your preferred spice level, ranging from no heat to reaper, and don’t you dare leave without trying the mac and cheese.
The Bird in San Francisco is known for its signature fried chicken sandwich featuring free-range poultry seasoned with classic or spicy berbere, an Ethiopian spice blend. It’s topped with celery, mayo, pickles and apple slaw. If it’s brunch you’re looking for, get it on a brown butter-brushed buttermilk biscuit with a sunny-side-up egg and cheese on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Do-Rite Donuts & Chicken/Yelp
Fried chicken and doughnuts. Does it get any better than that? At Do-Rite Donuts and Chicken, which has six locations across Chicago, you can make any sandwich on a delicious doughnut for $1 extra. Or you could stick with the original: a flavorful, juicy, never-frozen piece of crispy chicken with pickle, mayo, lettuce, and bread and butter pickles on a bun.
You can find Fuku in New York City, Boston and Los Angeles, and at various sports venues around the country. Get yourself the spicy fried chicken sandwich featuring habanero-brined chicken thigh, pickle and butter on a squishy potato roll. You can get it with a side of your choice, such as waffle fries, broccoli salad, macaroni salad or slaw. If you have a sweet tooth, go for the cheesecake.
At Royals Hot Chicken in Louisville, Kentucky, the fried chicken sandwich is boss. You can get it at whatever heat level suits you, and it comes with all the essentials — iceberg lettuce and dill pickles on a potato bun — with your choice of creamy coleslaw, spicy potato wedges, shells and beer cheese, waffle fries, or broccoli and bacon salad. All that’s missing is a backyard barbecue.
The Company Burger has two locations, one in uptown New Orleans and the other downtown. As you may have guessed by the name, this place makes rockin’ burgers, but the fried chicken sandwich also deserves praise. The chicken is huge, and simple, mostly house-made toppings including cabbage, mayo and bread and butter pickles prove that sometimes, less is more.
This iconic and unassuming diner in Biddeford, Maine, is inside an old train car. Palace Diner serves all-day breakfast and lunch including classics like French toast, buttermilk flapjacks, cheeseburger and fries, and a whole-breast fried chicken sandwich with cabbage slaw and jalapeno served with an iceberg wedge.
Everything is fine and dandy at Fine & Dandy, a cocktail bar in Jackson, Mississippi, where you can get a smashing chicken sandwich dubbed the “Grandma Chick.” It layers a pickle-brined fried chicken cutlet with Duke’s mayo and pickles. Pair it with a side of fries or “Dad Bod Tots” slathered in pimento cheese, barbecue sauce, bacon and green onion.
Considering Bobwhite Counter is one of the top fried chicken restaurants in America, its place on this list should come as no surprise. The New York City spot has three chicken sandwiches: traditional with bread and butter pickles and Bobwhite sauce; BBQ; and Buffalo with ranch and lettuce. Each comes with your choice of mac and cheese, hand-cut fries, coleslaw or collard greens.
Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken has two restaurants, one in New York City and one in Las Vegas, and both serve insanely good fried chicken made with egg whites, matzo meal and a special blend of seasonings. If you’re a fan of Buffalo chicken, that variation is special to Sin City. The hot commodity in the Big Apple? The “Firebird” with lettuce, tomato, pickles, pickled peppers and spicy chipotle mayo.
Yeah, there’s a standard fried chicken sandwich on the menu at Mama Bird in Las Vegas, but what you’re really looking for is the monstrous mac and cheese chicken tender waffle sandwich. It comes folded taco-style, so you can attempt to eat it with minimal mess, but let’s face it: you’re going to need a napkin on your lap. No regrets.
Buxton Hall in Asheville, North Carolina, is known for incredible barbecue, but the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich is one for the books. It’s built with bread and butter pickles, white barbecue sauce, and pimento and American cheeses on a bun with your choice of Southern-inspired sides like baked beans, collard greens, coleslaw and more.
This food truck is a Portland, Oregon, gem. The menu at Jojo boasts five fried chicken sandwiches with creative flavors like chicken bacon ranch — a popular pizza flavor — and spicy Thai. The main attraction is the “Southern fried chicken” featuring crispy boneless thigh, coleslaw, house pickles and Jojo sauce on a butter roll.
Love & Honey in Philly has two fried chicken sandwiches on the menu: the from-scratch “OG” with buttermilk fried breast, spicy slaw, sweet pickles and buttermilk ranch; and the Nashville hot, which gets hot chili oil, ranch slaw, sweet pickles and buttermilk ranch. Both are served on a toasted brioche bun. The sandwich is pretty sizable, but if you’ve saved room for dessert, there’s pie.
Winner Winner, chicken dinner. This Newport, Rhode Island, restaurant is BYOB, and there are three chicken sandwiches to choose from: the original with sweet pickles and winner sauce, the “Viet Now” with Sriracha and fish sauce slaw, and the “Basic” with greens, tomato and mayo. Thirsty? There’s hibiscus sweet tea and Kool-Aid.
If you want a taste of Pretty Bird, you better get in line because this Salt Lake City eatery sometimes sells out. The menu is short and sweet. You can either get a quarter bird a la carte or with a side and soda. The sandwich comes with a crispy thigh on a buttery bun in the company of slaw, pickles and pretty bird sauce. Get it mild, medium, hot or hot “behind.”
Butcher & Baker Provisions in Port Gamble, Washington, is a lot of things including a restaurant, butcher shop and bakery, but the fried chicken sandwich is the star of the show. It comes with applewood bacon, spicy or mild pimento cheese and dill pickles on a kaiser bun. Get it with a side salad or potato chips, or pay a small upcharge for seasonal pasta or potato salad instead.
If you find yourself in Washington, D.C., maybe after a day of ogling famous landmarks, you’re going to want to head to the Roaming Rooster and let one of its fried chicken sandwiches roam into your mouth. There’s a food truck and a brick-and-mortar location, and you can get great handhelds at both. For something extra special, order the honey butter fried chicken sandwich with crispy buttermilk breast smothered in honey butter and topped with cheddar cheese. Choose your heat: mild, medium or hot.
The kitchen is open until 1 a.m. daily at The Commodore in Brooklyn, New York, so if you’re hungry for a late-night chicken sammy, this divey Williamsburg spot has just what you’re looking for. Choose from mild, medium or hot fried breasts with the usual fixings smack-dab between a bun.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken is best known for its … honey butter fried chicken. You can get it by the strip, served atop salad or in a sandwich. There are four — “The O.G.” with candied jalapeno mayo; honey buffalo with blue cheese; kimchi with spicy honey mayo; and regular honey butter — and if you’re vegetarian, you can substitute the chicken for local, fried tofu.
Cutty’s is a sandwich shop in Brookline, Massachusetts, and on one Sunday every month, it serves two kinds of fried chicken sandwiches. The first is honey mustard with sharp cheddar, mayo, shredded iceberg and shaved sweet onion on a buttered sesame brioche bun. The second is BBQ ranch with the same toppings, minus the cheese.
New Orleans’ Blue Oak BBQ doesn’t always offer its fried chicken sandwich. You can only get it on Tuesdays, and it’s spicy. But one Yelper said they could eat it every day for the rest of their life. It’s that good.
Boxcar Betty’s has three locations in South Carolina and one in Chicago. On the menu, you’ll find three creative chicken sandwiches, plus an option to build your own. The specialty options include the “Boxcar,” which comes with pimento cheese, peach slaw, house pickles and spicy mayo; the “Chicken ‘Not So Waffle,’” with bacon jam, maple syrup, pimento cheese and tomato; and the “Buffalo,” with blue cheese sauce, tomato and bibb lettuce.
The name of this hole-in-the-wall says it all. Wooboi Hot Chicken in Herndon, Virginia, serves incredible chicken sandwiches, the most popular being "The Sando.” This one comes with fried chicken breast and coleslaw. Choose your level of spiciness ranging from no heat to “code blue,” aka “super extra hot.” If you’re itching for a side, there are plenty, and the servings are hefty.
Worth Takeaway is a wonderful sandwich shop in Mesa, Arizona. There are multiple chicken sandwiches on the menu here, but the star is the crispy chicken with house-made pickles, gem lettuce, honey sriracha and mayo; followed closely by Buffalo chicken, which comes with carrot celery slaw, house ranch and blue cheese crumbles. Both are served on ciabatta bread. If fried chicken isn’t in the stars and you’d prefer spectacular roast beef, turkey or the like, here’s where to find the best sandwich in your state.
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