We compared the most popular menu items at Chick-fil-A and Popeyes — and the winner is clear

Katie Canales/Business InsiderThe menus at Popeyes and Chick-fil-A have similar items, but whose takes on fried-chicken staples are the best?
  • Chick-fil-A and Popeyes are two of the most popular options when a craving for fast-food fried chicken hits.
  • We visited both chains in the San Francisco Bay Area and collected some of the most popular menu items at each.
  • Chick-fil-A is clearly the winner for mastering its iconic chicken staple items.
  • But Popeyes came in at a close second for its high-quality crispy chicken.
  • Take a look:


The Louisiana-based Popeyes and Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A are two of the biggest names in fast-food fried chicken.

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You’ll find similar items on the menus at both restaurants.

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The chicken tenders, the nuggets, the chicken sandwich — these are staples at any go-to chicken spot.

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But how these restaurants distinguish themselves from each other is by offering a unique and distinct take on these classic dishes.

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So we set out to see for ourselves how Chick-fil-A and Popeyes attempt to set themselves apart.

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We sampled the most popular or best-selling menu items from each, referencing rankings posted by the companies and other publications and public forums.

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That meant ordering different dishes at each restaurant.

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For Chick-fil-A, that was the chain’s chicken nuggets, which was the second most ordered main dish on the chain’s menu in 2018.

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Source: Business Insider


For Popeyes, we went with its spicy chicken tenders, a crowd favourite.

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Source: Business Insider


Chick-fil-A’s chicken nuggets are always a delight, with their soft, warm texture and taste …

Katie Canales/Business InsiderDisclaimer: Those are two Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets stuck together in the middle. A Popeyes’ spicy chicken tender is on the right.

… but the sheer quality of Popeyes’ crispy chicken earns it the trophy for this round. The chain gets it right every time.

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But that’s just the chicken on its own — how does it fare when it comes to each chain’s take on the chicken sandwich?

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We went with the Chicken Po’ Boy from Popeyes and Chick-fil-A’s iconic chicken sandwich …

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… which is iconic for a reason. The perfect combination of the buttery bun, crispy chicken fillet, and pickles is unbeatable.

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But we need to acknowledge Popeyes’ Chicken Po’ Boy.

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It comes with two breaded chicken tenders, lettuce, pickles, and mayo on a French baguette.

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The sandwich shines purely thanks to the sublimely crispy fried chicken.

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Chick-fil-A’s sandwich is a more cohesive dish, with its chicken and bun making for an entree that is more put together.

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With the Po’ Boy, you are reminded that it’s indeed two pieces of Popeyes chicken sandwiched between bread …

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… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing because the chicken is so darn good.

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We gobbled up every bite.

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For the side orders, we went with french fries at both restaurants. The menu item has been ranked as some of the best that the chains have to offer.

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Chick-fil-A’s waffle fries took the No. 1 spot as the chain’s most ordered menu item in 2018.

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Source: Business Insider


And for good reason — the fries’ unique shape, perfectly salty taste, and texture alone would warrant a trip to Chick-fil-A.

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And while they, too, claim victory in the battle of the side orders, Popeyes’ french fries are delectable in their own way.

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They’re a deeper auburn in colour than their Chick-fil-A counterparts.

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The restaurant, which originated in New Orleans, also seriously knows how to season food.

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Each fry comes dressed in an even layer of Cajun spice.

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They’re difficult to ignore.

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The same could be said about the flaky, buttery triumph that is the Popeyes biscuit. It was a nice addition to our meal.

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The contents of our meal, the fries, the chicken, and the biscuit, came packaged in a box with a wide opening.

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It made sharing amongst ourselves an easy feat.

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There’s a lot to be said about a sharing-friendly take-out container.

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The same could not be said about Chick-fil-A’s food packaging — we had to fight over each other to grab the chicken nuggets from their small box.

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We weren’t too thrilled about that.

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But on-point packaging design aside, Popeyes is not the winner of this taste test.

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That title belongs to Chick-fil-A.

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But that in no way diminishes Popeye’s downright superb fried-chicken quality.

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The crisp, the breading, the texture, and the taste — Popeyes nails it every time.

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But what Chick-fil-A does to single itself out is take each of its menu items and make it entirely its own.

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From its chicken sandwich to its chicken nuggets and chicken strips, Chick-fil-A isn’t the only fast-food restaurant with these items on the menu, but it crafts them in such a way that its competitors don’t stand a chance against.

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Its colourful variety of dipping sauces plays a big role in that.

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We got one of each available sauce for this taste test: the original Chick-fil-A, the Polynesian, the honey mustard, the garden herb ranch, the zesty Buffalo, the barbecue, and the Sriracha.

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The sauces were so much fun to mix and match with our food that we abandoned our goal of dipping only Chick-fil-A’s nuggets into them and started using them with Popeyes’ dishes.

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We tried the spicy Cajun fries from Popeyes with the Polynesian sauce …

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… and slathered the zesty Buffalo sauce onto the Chicken Po’ Boy at one point.

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Part of the fun of going to Chick-fil-A is experimenting with all of its different sauces, and double, triple, or even quadruple dipping to see what flavours can arise out of the various combinations.

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That’s not to say Popeyes doesn’t have good sauces, but, again, Chick-fil-A just dominates in that department like it does in almost every other one.

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So it’s easy to see why the chain has gone from a regional favourite to a nationally ranked chain with a cult following in recent years.

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Source: Business Insider

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