In this article, we will take a look at the 12 highest quality fried chicken chains in the US. If you want to skip our detailed analysis, you can go directly to the 5 Highest Quality Fried Chicken Chains In The US.
Fried Chicken Industry: An Analysis
One of the prime reasons for the popularity of fried chicken is the ease it provides through its take-out options. According to a report by Market Research Future, the global take-out fried chicken market was valued at $6.85 billion in 2023. The market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.5% from 2023 to 2032 and reach a valuation of $10.5 billion by 2032.
Automation in the fried chicken preparation process is expected to boost output as it cuts the demand for employees as well. One of the most notable tech solutions in fried chicken prep was developed by a company named Robo Arete. Their flagship project is a frying robot capable of preparing various menu items. The introduction of the robot arm also led to the launch of their brand, “Robert Chicken,” in 2020. The robot has been adopted by multiple brands and is expanding globally. Robo Arete is also developing automation solutions for cooking beyond frying, including hamburger patties and noodles, as well as a robotic bartender for soju cocktails. The company is set to launch various food tech solutions in 2024.
The Asia Pacific region dominated the fried chicken market in 2022. The growing disposable income in the region especially in countries including Korea, China, and Japan contributed to the large revenue share. Fried chicken is also a household staple for Christmas celebrations in many countries in the region including Japan. In 2022, North America had the second-largest share in revenue of the global fried chicken market. The rising number of fried chicken food chains across the country combined with the convenience they offer has played a significant role in its popularity. The region is anticipated to grow steadily during the forecasted period as well.
Noteworthy Fried Chicken Companies In The US
Some of the prominent names in the fried chicken industry include Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM), Restaurant Brands International Inc. (NYSE:QSR), and McDonald’s Corp (NYSE:MCD). You can also check out 25 Most Popular Fast Food Restaurants in America.
Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM) is the parent company of KFC, which is constantly expanding and entering new territories. On December 6, 2023, Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE:YUM) announced the acquisition of over 200 KFC restaurants from EG Group. The EG Group is the largest KFC franchisee in the UK and Ireland. This move is part of KFC’s strategy to accelerate growth in the UK and Ireland’s chicken market, which has shown promising growth potential. The acquisition will bring all of EG’s KFC restaurants and approximately 7,800 team members under KFC’s management. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the first half of 2024.
Restaurant Brands International Inc (NYSE:QSR) is one of the most prominent names in the fried chicken industry with brands including Burger King and Popeyes under its belt. Popeyes has a unique New Orleans-style menu featuring spicy chicken. The brand is also expanding into new territories. On February 1, Restaurant Brands International Inc (NYSE:QSR) announced that Popeyes is expanding its presence into Italy through a master franchise and development agreement. The expansion is being done in collaboration with Restaurant Brands Iberia (RB Iberia). The brand is currently present in more than 35 countries and Italy is the latest addition to its European portfolio.
McDonald’s Corp (NYSE:MCD) is one of the biggest fast-food chain restaurants in the world. On February 5, McDonald’s Corp (NYSE:MCD) reported earnings for the fiscal fourth quarter of 2023. The company reported an EPS of $2.95, beating estimates by $0.12. The company’s revenue for the quarter grew by 8.09% and amounted to $6.41 billion. Here are some comments from the company’s earnings call:
“Our Accelerating the Arches strategy is working, fueling over 30% comparable sales growth since 2019 and our MCD growth pillars enable us to remain agile in response to changing customer needs. For example, we’ve expanded loyalty to 50 markets around the world and reached over 20 billion in annual loyalty system-wide sales in 2023. Our user base continues to grow with over 150 million users that have been active in the last 90 days, making us one of the largest loyalty programs in the world. Over the last three years, we’ve also delivered tremendous growth in chicken by developing the McCrispy, a globally consistent high quality chicken sandwich.With the goal of solving this unmet customer need across the system, it was developed and tested in a few markets first and has quickly scaled to $1 billion brand across more than 30 markets worldwide. Our chicken category now represents $25 billion in annual system-wide sales, on par with beef. And about a year ago, we formed a new business ventures team designed to operate as an entrepreneurial startup within McDonald’s. The team quickly identified an opportunity in a $100 billion category across our top six markets that comprised of beverage-led occasions where our core McDonald’s business underindexes”
Fried Chicken is one of the most popular food options in the US. A variety of fast food chains specializing in fried chicken have appeared across the country. The wide variety of options available has made the industry super competitive with the quality of the product being a distinguishing factor. We have made a list of the highest quality fried chicken chains in the US. You can also read the 15 Highest Quality Fast Food Burgers in the US.
12 Highest Quality Fried Chicken Chains In The US
To make our list of the highest quality fried chicken chains in the US, we initially sifted through various sources listing fried chicken chains. The sources included Eater, Tasting Table, Taste of Home, and Food & Wine. We made a list of the 20 fried chicken chains mentioned in at least two of the four sources. We then tabulated the number of reviews and ratings on Google for each of the chains. The rationale behind this methodology is that customer ratings are an apt representation of the quality of the restaurant. We have arranged the list in ascending order of Google ratings. The number of reviews has been considered as a tie-breaker for fried chicken chains with similar ratings.
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12 Highest Quality Fried Chicken Chains In The US
Google Rating: 3.4
Number of Reviews: 1,070
Wingstop is one of the highest quality fried chicken chains in the US. The restaurant primarily sells chicken wings. The restaurant chain was founded in 1994 in Garland, Texas. The chain also offers a wide assortment of fried chicken sandwiches and sauces.
11. KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken)
Google Rating: 3.5
Number of Reviews: 2,100
KFC is one of the most popular fried chicken restaurants both in the US and globally. The chain has grown drastically since its inception in the 1930s by Harland Sanders. The brand is famous for its Original Recipe chicken, which is made using a secret blend of 11 herbs and spices. KFC’s menu offers a variety of chicken products, including their signature fried chicken, chicken sandwiches, and sides.
Google Rating: 3.7
Number of Reviews: 1,911
Zaxby’s is one of the highest quality fried chicken restaurants in the US. The food chain specializes in prepared-at-order chicken fingers, chicken wings, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers. The company was founded in August 1990 in Statesboro, Georgia. The Zax Sauce is one of the most popular products by the chain along with its fried chicken.
Google Rating: 3.8
Number of Reviews: 2,215
McDonald’s is one of the biggest fast-food chains in the world. The chain sells a variety of products including burgers, fries, fried chicken, and nuggets. McDonald’s also has a rewards program that allows customers to earn points on every purchase. The points can be later redeemed in the form of a menu item to be enjoyed by the customer.
8. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
Google Rating: 3.8
Number of Reviews: 2,574
Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, often simply referred to as Popeyes, is a fast-food restaurant chain that specializes in fried chicken. The fast food chain was founded in New Orleans in 1972. The restaurant offers a wide range of fried chicken products including wings and sandwiches. Fried and side items including sauces, mashed potatoes, and gravies are also a popular choice at Popeyes.
7. White Castle
Google Rating: 4.0
Number of Reviews: 1,997
White Castle was founded in March 1921 in Wichita, Kansas. White Castle offers a variety of chicken options on its menu including chicken rings. The chicken rings have earned white castle its position on our list of the highest quality fried chicken chains in the US.
Google Rating: 4.0
Number of Reviews: 3,045
Wendy’s is a major international fast-food restaurant chain that offers a variety of fried chicken options. The restaurant was founded in 1969 by Dave Thomas in Columbus, Ohio. Crispy Chicken Sandwich is one of the most popular menu items at Wendy’s.
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