Chicken has grown in versatility lately—it’s flocking to the breakfast menu, getting “better,” going ethnic and more. Click through to uncover the 10 chains that recent customers say offer the most craveable chicken out of the leading brands surveyed for Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics. The chains are ranked from 10th to first, in order of the percentage of recent diners who say that brand's chicken is craveworthy and one of a kind.
Just over a quarter of recent customers say they can’t get their Zaxby’s chicken fix anywhere else. Consumers specifically call out the fast-casual chain’s Chicken Fingerz and Buffalo wings as craveable items. Wings come in boneless or traditional options that are tossed in any of Zaxby’s nine sauces, which respondents also say they crave, especially the signature Zax dipping sauce (a blend of spices and zest). Each meal is made to order, with one consumer stating that “the fresh chicken is so tender and tasty.”
9. Boston Market
Chicken at Boston Market is a craveable item that almost three in 10 recent customers say they can only get at the chain. The fast casual focuses on homestyle meals and promotes its never-frozen, farm-raised chicken. Consumers point to the freshness of the all-natural chicken as craveable, with one specifically noting that it is “moist and succulent.” Respondents also note the chain’s slow-roasting method of cooking chicken—which is carved to order—as a craveworthy feature.
8. Bojangles’ Famous Chicken ’N Biscuits
More than three-tenths of consumers say that chicken at Bojangles’ is a craveable item they can only get at that brand. Consumers of the quick-service chicken chain specifically point to the brand’s signature Cajun Filet biscuit as craveable. The chicken fillet sits between two housemade biscuits drizzled with honey and butter. Healthier options include grilled chicken, which one consumer even went as far as calling “to die for.”
7. Pollo Campero
More than a third of recent customers say they can’t get their Pollo Campero chicken fix anywhere else. The fast-casual chicken chain traces its roots to Guatemala, which the chain says influenced its specific seasonings and prep styles. Consumers point to the authenticity and variety of its chicken, with one respondent commenting that the “Hispanic style” of the chicken makes it craveworthy. They also mentioned the chicken empanadas (which come in Buffalo, verde or chipotle varieties) and Chicken Bites, which are paired with housemade sauces.
6. Church’s Chicken
Almost two-fifths of recent customers find the chicken at Church’s craveworthy. Although its Original Chicken is the quick-service chain’s classic, many respondents call out the spicy chicken as a craveable option. They also point to its Tender Strips as craveable items, with one respondent mentioning the crispiness of the hand-battered outside and the juiciness of the meat.
5. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
More than two in five recent customers crave the chicken at Popeyes. The quick-service chicken chain specializes in its proprietary Bonafide Chicken, which is marinated in Louisiana seasonings, hand-battered and fried. It’s available in both mild and spicy versions, the latter of which many consumers specifically note as being craveworthy. Popeyes recently added a new spicy chicken product: its Hot Honey Crunch Tenders are the chain’s fried chicken tenders drizzled with new Red Hot Honey Sauce.
4. Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers
More than four in 10 recent customers crave Raising Cane’s chicken and say they can’t get it anywhere else. The fast-casual chain’s namesake chicken tenders are the star of the menu, with the brand promoting its use of fresh, never-frozen chicken breast tenderloins that are hand-dipped, breaded to order and fried in canola oil. One respondent says this solution is a winner: “Tenders are to die for.”
Many mentioned Cane’s sauce as a good pairing with the chicken. Although the sauce is a “top-secret recipe,” per the chain, it’s said to be “tangy with a little bit of spice.”
3. Panda Express
Four in nine recent customers say that Panda Express—the sole non-chicken chain on this list—serves up mouthwatering chicken they can’t get anywhere else. The chain currently has eight chicken entrees on its menu and only five non-chicken entrees (three beef, one shrimp and one tofu), making poultry the greatest protein focus at the Asian noodle chain. Chicken mains range from String Bean Chicken Breast to Mushroom Chicken. However, consumers rank the Orange Chicken as the most craveable chicken product at Panda Express by far.
2. El Pollo Loco
Slightly more consumers hanker for the chicken at El Pollo Loco than at Panda Express. The former chain slowly grills citrus-marinated whole chickens over an open flame, a feature that many consumers enjoy.
Its chicken is available in individual meals with multiple parts of the bird, as well as in bowls, burritos, salads and tacos. The chain also specializes in and heavily markets family meals, of which it offers 8-, 10-, 12- and 16-piece options. El Pollo Loco recently debuted a Grande Value Meal of 10 or 14 pieces of chicken, two 24-ounce extra-large sides and a choice of flour or corn tortillas or tortilla chips.
Almost half of consumers rate KFC’s chicken as craveworthy, elevating the chain to the most craveable chicken spot. The quick-service chain is known for its buckets of Original Recipe fried chicken made with a secret blend of 11 herbs and spices, but other chicken products include Extra Crispy, Kentucky Grilled Chicken, Popcorn Chicken and Extra Crispy Tenders, all of which consumers call out as craveable. More recently, the chain unveiled Nashville Hot Chicken and Georgia Gold Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken. Despite debuting less than a year ago, Georgia Gold received several nods from customers.