Fried chicken sandwiches are a hot (sometimes literally) item these days. The crispy bird has flown to the top of sandwich menus across the United States with the best chefs in the country luring hungry eaters with their finest renditions — not to mention numerous fast food joints, including Popeye’s and Chick-fil-A, flocking in an attempt to rule the roost. We scoured reviews and rankings by expert food writers and countless hungry customers to find the best fried chicken sandwiches in America for your eating pleasure. So forget that diet, grab some napkins, and prepare to chow down on the best birds in the country.
Jason Notte contributed to this story.
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This bustling brick-walled eatery boasts some of the best whole-hog barbecue in the country, but you definitely don’t want to miss the legendary fried chicken sandwich. At Buxton Hall Barbecue, the chicken is first smoked, dipped in buttermilk, and fried to a golden crisp. Then it’s topped with pimento and American cheese, bread-and-butter pickles, and white barbecue sauce, and served on a plush buttery bun, delivering a powerhouse of smoky-tangy-cheesy flavor. The restaurant should be reopening soon after taking a few weeks off in June, but you can always get the chicken sandwich at their sister restaurant, Buxton Chicken Palace.
The talented husband-wife duo behind Howlin’ Ray’s brought the heat of on-trend Nashville hot chicken to L.A. and have kept the bar high (and lines long) with a phenomenal sandwich. It features a huge boneless breast with a flavorful crust, topped with sliced pickles, cole slaw, and Southern-style comeback sauce on a buttered and toasted bun. Pick a heat level on a scale from cool Country to the searing Howlin’ — just be ready for the delicious burn. They are currently delivery only so check their website before stopping by.
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Austin offers plenty of great fried chicken options, including quality fast-casual options such as Flyrite and now Shake Shack. But if you’re looking for an exceptional option any time of day, look no further than 24 Diner. This comfort-fare favorite features a breakfast-inspired version with choice of crispy dark or white meat on a brioche bun with apricot slaw and chipotle remoulade.
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You know you have a quality sandwich when there’s an entire day devoted to it. This small gourmet sandwich shop outside Boston, run by a well-seasoned husband-and-wife duo, celebrates Super Cluckin’ Sunday only once a month. On that day, Cutty’s ceases making other sandwiches and instead fries up delicious buttermilk-brined chicken coated in 12 herbs and spices. You can opt for the New-School with tangy barbecue sauce and house ranch dressing or the OG with honey mustard and sharp cheddar, both with shaved sweet onions, shredded iceberg lettuce, and a buttered, griddled sesame bread. Cutty’s is currently taking online orders only.
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This cozy shack brings the flavors of the South to Rocky Mountain country, and its fried chicken sandwich is not to be missed. At Roost, you can opt for the classic Southern fried version with a crunchy, bronzed exterior or, for a bit of heat, go for the fiery Nashville Hot, both served on a fluffy bun with crunchy lettuce, pickles, and the addictive housemade comeback sauce — a mayonnaise-based mix with a garlicky spice.
A relative newcomer, Boxcar Betty’s has a signature Boxcar sandwich featuring crunchy, fried-to-order chicken made tender and juicy thanks to a long brine, and served on top of oozing pimento cheese with peach slaw, house pickles, and spicy mayo on a freshly baked bun. You’re going to need a few napkins.
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A sustainably minded favorite in the city’s Avondale neighborhood, Honey Butter Fried Chicken is committed to using top-notch, local ingredients, and that devotion comes through in its superlative fried-chicken sandwiches. It begins with antibiotic-free, humanely raised chickens that are butchered in-house and brined for up to 18 hours with chili and citrus. The chicken is dredged in buttermilk and seasoned flour before receiving a wonderfully light, crisp fry. Go for the OG with its excellent candied jalapeño mayo and crunchy purple slaw, or try the sweeter namesake with honey butter.
This ode to Southern hospitality in South Beach features a fried chicken sandwich that comes as a pair in case you want to share – but you probably won’t. Using a recipe from one of the owner’s grandmothers, Yardbird brines the chicken for more than a day, then dredges it in cayenne-spiced flour before frying. It’s served on flaky and buttery biscuits with the sweet heat of pepper jelly. Yardbird is also in Las Vegas, Singapore, Los Angeles, Dallas and Washington D.C.
In a town famous for its hot chicken, relative newcomer Hattie B’s has become a contender. The tender chicken breast with a fiery red crust is served with coleslaw, comeback sauce, and a kosher pickle on a squishy, buttery bun. Choose a heat level and be ready for some serious spice.
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As a major foodie destination, Portland offers plenty of excellent fried chicken options, but Basilisk has grabbed the crown with a monstrously towering sandwich. A huge, juicy thigh with a flaky crust is served with house pickles and cabbage slaw on a buttered bun. You might want to use a napkin as a bib.
There are plenty of exceptional fried chicken sandwiches in New York, but chef-extraordinaire David Chang has devised a deceptively simple version that leads the pack. At Fuku, the chicken is first brined in a habanero puree for an underlying heat, then coated in buttermilk and spices and fried to a golden crisp. It’s served on a squishy potato roll with housemade butter and pickles. Fuku also has locations in Boston and Los Angeles.
The Bird has expanded its menu gradually from fried chicken sandwiches, curly fries, and beer, but that’s still what to order first. Just $8 gets a crispy free-range bird with a gluten-free crust that’s seasoned with a North African berbere spice blend and topped with house-made celery-onion-apple slaw, mayo, and pickles on a freshly baked bun.
Ogie’s Trailer Park has taken a midcentury atomic lounge, Tiki bar, and vintage trailers and turned them all into one restaurant and bar. To soak up the cocktails and cheap beer, the Dorito-fried chicken breast in the Southern Rhody Fried Chicken Sandwich has slab bacon, sharp cheddar, house mayo, marinated tomato, and sweet red onion gastrique.
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This restaurant is known for massive pancakes and towering stacks of bacon, but the fried chicken is a stand-out. The Nashville Hot Chicken sandwich is served open-faced on griddled milk bread with pickles. While most of their locations are in Las Vegas, you can also visit a Hash House A Go-Go in Florida, Utah, New Jersey or Connecticut.
Yes, a certain famous fried chicken fast-food haunt is closed on Sundays, but this Decatur restaurant has come to the rescue (but just on Sundays). The Almost Famous “Closed on Sunday” Chicken Sandwich, which only appears on the Sunday brunch menu, is made with chicken brined in pickle juice and ranch dressing seasoning. The restaurant keeps it simple with pickles and spicy mayo, but that’s likely just fine with Chick-fil-A fans.
The menu at Mrs. White’s is purposefully scant: fried chicken, chicken-fried steak, pork chops, oxtail, catfish, or the same in sandwich form. Sure, there are cobblers, pies, cakes, and sides, but this institution has been making straightforward soul food since 1964 and isn’t about to get fancy now.
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Ron’s Roost has been voted best fried chicken in Cincinnati, and with 10,000 pieces sold each week, it’s obviously popular, too. The fried chicken sandwich is served on a toasted bun with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Fans rave that the chicken is “perfectly crispy on the outside” with a “small kick of spiciness.”