Traditional recipes

Calling All Fried Chicken Lovers in America

Calling All Fried Chicken Lovers in America

We’re compiling a list of America’s 75 Best Fried Chicken Spots, and we need your help

Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken in Tennessee was voted America's best fried chicken spot last year.

Fried chicken is more than just one of the South’s most iconic foods; it is a dish beloved all over America. Because it’s so treasured, we’re setting out once again to determine who serves the best fried chicken in America, and this year, we’re looking for your help!

We’re hoping to add 25 additional restaurants to The Daily Meal’s list of the 50 best fried chicken spots published last year — places that know how to make destination- and detour-worthy versions of crunchy, savory goodness nonpareil.

So what do we need from you? Recommendations! We’d love if you would send your favorite places from across the country to be considered by this year’s panel of fried chicken experts. Take a look at last year’s list, and if you don’t see your favorite spot, comment at the bottom of the article (or this one). We’ll consider all of your recommendations. You can let us know on Twitter and Facebook, too.

We’re also going one step further this year. Fancy yourself a fried chicken expert? Think you know the best fried chicken spots in your part of the country and beyond? Have you visited every famous spot in your city? Do you seek out fried chicken spots wherever you travel to? If you have buttermilk or frying oil running through your veins and have opinions about the places that should be recognized as the nation’s best, email us at [email protected] with your credentials and we may ask you to be part of our expert panel.

Let the search for America’s best fried chicken begin!

Where Did That Fried Chicken Stereotype Come From?

A rival of Tiger Woods made a joke that was construed by many as racist.

Sports-talk radio was abuzz Wednesday morning with some comments that Sergio Garcia, the professional golfer, made about his frequent foil, Tiger Woods.

"We'll have him 'round every night," Garcia said. "We will serve fried chicken."

The comment came after Garcia was asked if he would invite his rival, with whom he has a frosty relationship, to his house during next month's U.S. Open. Woods responded to Garcia's tweets on Twitter: "The comment that was made wasn't silly. It was wrong, hurtful and clearly inappropriate . I'm confident that there is real regret that the remark was made." (Garcia offered a textbook nonapology apology.)

This black-people-and-fried-chicken thing is really old — it's not even the first time a professional golfer made a joke about fried chicken and Tiger Woods.

What is it with this stereotype about black people loving fried chicken?

I asked Claire Schmidt for help. She's a professor at the University of Missouri who studies race and folklore. Schmidt said chickens had long been a part of Southern diets, but they had particular utility for slaves. They were cheap, easy to feed and a good source of meat.

But then, Schmidt says, came Birth of a Nation.

D.W. Griffith's seminal and supremely racist 1915 silent movie about the supposedly heroic founding of the Ku Klux Klan was a huge sensation when it debuted. One scene in the three-hor features a group of actors portraying shiftless black elected officials acting rowdy and crudely in a legislative hall. (The message to the audience: These are the dangers of letting blacks vote.) Some of the legislators are shown drinking. Others had their feet kicked up on their desks. And one of them was very ostentatiously eating fried chicken.

"That image really solidified the way white people thought of black people and fried chicken," Schmidt said.

Schmidt said that like watermelon, that other food that's been a mainstay in racist depictions of blacks, chicken was also a good vehicle for racism because of the way people eat it. (According to government stats, blacks are underrepresented among watermelon consumers.) "It's a food you eat with your hands, and therefore it's dirty," Schmidt said. "Table manners are a way of determining who is worthy of respect or not."

But why does this idea still hold traction, since fried chicken is clearly a staple of the American diet? Surely, KFC, Popeyes and Church's ain't national chains — and chicken and waffles aren't a brunch staple — because of the supposed culinary obsessions of black folks.

"It's still a way to express racial [contempt] without getting into serious trouble," Schmidt said. (Among the Code Switch team, we've started referring to these types of winking statements as "racist bank shots.")

"How it's possible to be both a taboo and a corporate mainstream thing just shows how complicated race in America is," Schmidt said.

It's also worth citing the great and very NSFW social theorist Dave Chappelle, who quipped that when it comes to race and food, people of color suffer from some real information asymmetry.

"The only reason these things are even an issue is because nobody knows what white people eat," Chappelle said.

The Best Fried Chicken In America

Is there any food more representative of American cuisine than fried chicken? It has deep and meaningful roots in the nation's history, distinct regional preparations across the country (from skillet-fried to cornmeal-crusted), and it has inspired food lovers emigrating here from other nations to create their own versions of it (Korean fried chicken is particularly popular right now, but there are plenty of other varieties to speak of).

So in honor of National Fried Chicken Day, on Friday, July 6, here is a thoughtfully curated, comprehensive guide to the best fried chicken this country has to offer.

Fried chicken has its roots in country kitchens of the South, soaked in buttermilk, shaken in a brown paper bag with seasoned flour, and prepared in a cast-iron skillet filled with bubbling liquid lard. The oldest fried chicken recipe on record is published in The Virginia House-Wife, written by Mary Randolph in 1828. Since then the American classic has been prepared in countless ways -- from soaked in a spicy vinegar-based marinade and deep-fried, Peruvian-style to served upscale in four-star restaurants with maple-honey butter or other accoutrements.

For the purposes of creating this list, The Daily Meal called on its network of contributors and experts across the country, who know their local food scenes like the back of their hands, to weigh in on the issue. We also did intensive national research and looked at reference guides and literature written on the state of fried chicken in America. The result is a guide organized by city, listing the leading fried-chicken establishment in the area followed by honorable mentions in many cases. The cities range from New York City to Seattle to Birmingham, Ala., and many places in between.

So which establishments made the list? There's President Obama's favorite Chicago spot, Harold's Chicken Shack, known for serving up the star of the show with no frills, just white bread and hot sauce. The fried chicken at Willie Mae's Scotch House was a no-brainer, and the James Beard Foundation agrees -- they named it an "American Classic" in 2005. And the list wouldn't be complete without Gus's Fried Chicken in Mason, Ga., which has been delighting locals and visitors alike with crispy, juicy chicken for decades.

Considering how seriously many food lovers take their favorite fried chicken, there is bound to be some disagreements.

The Best Fried Chicken in All 50 States

Few foods are more comforting, more decadent, and more delicious than a plate of fried chicken, served fresh from the skillet alongside crisp waffles, fluffy biscuits, or creamy sides. Many poultry purists argue that the world’s best fried chicken is dished out down South—but with the sheer number of talented chefs across the nation, we’re calling fowl on this claim. Here are the best fried chicken joints in all 50 states, both near and far away from the Mason-Dixon line. And since everything's better when it’s coated in flour, battered, and browned in oil, consider using this list as a restaurant field guide the next time you’re taking a cross-country road trip.


Southern flavors mix with Mexican dishes at Little Donkey in the Homewood suburb of Birmingham. For their plate of Southern Fried Chicken (which you order by the quarter- or half-chicken), the meat has been soaked in a three-chili brine to pack an extra punch.


Of the 245 reviews that Lucky Wishbone has on Trip Advisor, 155 of them mention the fried chicken. The signature dish has been on the menu since the joint opened in 1955 and has been dipped in homemade buttermilk batter and pan-fried the same way for over 60 years.


Bringing southern flavors to the Southwest since 1964, Mrs. White’s Golden Rule Cafe has been described as an institution in Phoenix. Customers are expected to operate on the honor code when paying for their food because post-meal checks are not a thing here.


The "AQ" in AQ Chicken House stands for Arkansas Quality, which is what the restaurant has been serving its customers since 1947. At least two former Presidents have eaten chicken here: Bill Clinton on his 47th birthday, and George H.W. Bush, who reportedly made his order from Air Force One.


You can find the recipe for Chef Tanya Holland’s buttermilk fried chicken and cornmeal waffles on Oprah’s website or in the Brown Sugar Kitchen cookbook, or you can make the smarter choice and go to Oakland to try the real deal. The kitchen is open six days a week, and the chicken is available for breakfast, lunch, and on the weekends.


Lou’s Food Bar serves up hot and spicy Nashville-style fried chicken in the Mile-High City. You can order it as a half, whole, tenders, with waffles, or as a Mother Clucker, which means on a brioche bun with a pickle, ranch, lettuce, and fries.


With a name like Drumstik Bar-B-Q and a legacy five decades strong, it’s safe to say that this place has fried chicken in the bag. Sandwiches, wings, dinners with sides, they got it all.


The founder of Walt’s Flavor Crisp Chicken passed away in 2011 after decades of food service, but his wife has continued to give the people of Wilmington what they want—and most of them want fried chicken. "We have people who have been ordering for 10 years or more," owner Symanthia Lynch-Sheppard said last year. "They'll say, 'I'll have my usual.'"


is trendy and popular, and for good reason. As legend has it, the restaurant went through over 100 fried chicken recipes before deciding to go with one that co-owner John Kunkel’s grandmother created, which involves brining the meat for 27 hours.


An Atlanta institution since 1947, the Busy Bee Cafe makes fried chicken the old fashioned way, marinating its chicken for 12 hours before frying it. The simple, no-frills fried chicken is, as the menu declares, "moist, juicy and Beelicious!" It’s served plain or smothered in gravy.


serves up tasty fried chicken with a Hawaiian twist. Their Mochiko chicken is coated in rice flour and served with a ginger ponzu dipping sauce. The tiny restaurant, hidden away under an apartment building in Kalihi, offers a wide range of American and Japanese dishes at shockingly low prices. The eponymous Ethel sold the business to culinary wizards Ryoko and Yoichi Ishii back in 1978, and they’ve been running it with their children ever since.


This hip farm-to-table restaurant serves up upscale versions of American comfort foods, including the state’s best buttermilk fried chicken and cheddar waffles. Made with local cheese and honey, Fork’s beloved fried chicken is sold every Tuesday—until it runs out.


Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket has been serving comfort food to travelers on Route 66 for more than six decades, and its building and iconic sign were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. But the Chicken Basket is more than a piece of Illinois history: To this day, it serves up 2000 pounds of its famous slow-cooked chicken each week.


Hollyhock Hill cooks its “Hoosier pan-fried chicken” in a cast-iron skillet until it’s a perfect golden brown, then serves it up with heaping bowls of mashed potatoes, buttery corn, and other rich, comforting sides. Founded in 1928, Hollyhock Hill doesn’t just serve up classic Indiana fried chicken—it helped invent it.


Iowa’s best fried chicken can be found at Mt. Hamill Tap, a squat nondescript pub located in the tiny town of Donnelson. As of 2010, Donnelson had a recorded population of 912 residents—which makes it all the more impressive that Mt. Hamill regularly brings in 200 customers to savor the thick, crispy fried chicken it serves up on weekly Chicken Night on Wednesdays.


The Brookville Hotel opened in the small Kansan town of Brookville way back in 1894. While it moved to Abilene in 2000, it’s still serving up the same family-style chicken dinner it first introduced in 1915. Nowadays, the skillet fried-chicken dinners (along with a handful of delectable sides) are the only thing on the menu. The James Beard Award-winning chicken is beautifully simple, prepared with canned milk, flour, salt, and pepper, and fried in lard.


There’s plenty of competition for best fried chicken in Kentucky—and the debate will never truly be settled—but Harvest in Louisville pulls ahead of the rest with its novel take on the fried chicken dinner. The farm-to-table restaurant serves its buttermilk fried chicken atop a hoecake or bread pudding, along with a homemade hot sauce made with beets and carrots for extra sweetness.


Willie Mae’s has been frying up juicy, tender fried chicken in New Orleans since at least the 1970s (the shop started as a combination bar, beauty salon, and barbershop in the 1950s before becoming a full-time bar and restaurant in the '70s). The restaurant’s eponymous chef, Ms. Willie Mae Seaton, received a James Beard Award for her classic comfort foods in 2005. Nowadays, the restaurant, which was dubbed "America’s Best Fried Chicken" by the Food Network and Travel Channel, is run by Ms. Willie Mae’s great granddaughter.


There’s more than one way to fry a chicken. At Figgy’s Takeout & Catering, they’re cooking up their birds in a cast iron pan. The comfort food joint opened just last summer in June, and they’re already known for selling some of the best chicken the state has to offer. In addition to homestyle classics like skillet fried chicken and fluffy biscuits, the menu also includes Korean-style wings.


There’s no need to travel too far south of the Mason-Dixon line to find authentic fried chicken. Diners at HipHop Fish & Chicken have their choice of deep fried seafood, chicken, or a combination basket of the two. For adventurous fried chicken connoisseurs, chicken livers and gizzards fried in their flavorful batter are also available.


The menu at Trina’s Starlite Lounge in Somerville, Massachusetts is jam-packed with comfort food classics, but the dish they’re most famous for is their fried chicken. At dinner, it comes served with dirty gravy, mashed potatoes, a biscuit, and hot pepper syrup. At brunch, their chicken is accompanied by a buttermilk waffle.


Zingerman’s Delicatessen is an Ann Arbor institution, but their roadhouse located a few miles away is also worth a pit stop for the fried chicken alone. They deep fry their chicken with a black pepper buttermilk batter and serve it alongside mashed potatoes, chicken gravy, and yellow mustard coleslaw. If you prefer your fried chicken with an extra kick, the restaurant hosts Nashville hot chicken nights every Tuesday.


Whether you’re craving ribs, pulled pork, or barbecue chicken, Rooster’s in St. Paul, Minnesota is home to all the classics, but their fried chicken is the real star of the show. Their signature pressure-cooker method of frying earned the dish the title of Best Fried Chicken in the Twin Cities by Mpls. St. Paul Magazine in 2011.


in Lorman, Mississippi is an essential destination on any fried chicken road trip. Owner Arthur Davis, a.k.a. Mr. D, serves his Heavenly Fried Chicken which is as classic as it gets (it’s also reportedly the only fried chicken Alton Brown will eat other than what he makes at home). Here’s the best part: it’s available as part of an all-you-can-eat southern food buffet.


Porter’s Fried Chicken has been following the same fried chicken recipe since the day they opened over 30 years ago. Their traditional chicken is double-coated in a flour-based breading to achieve an extra-crispy crust. If the original batter doesn’t pack enough punch for you, they can make any meal spicy upon request.


Roost Fried Chicken offers diners a taste of the south in big sky country. At this restaurant diners can order their fried chicken in a basket, on a sandwich, on a waffle, or on a stick. Classic southern sides like biscuits, fried okra, cheese grits, and collard greens all appear on the menu.


Some of the best fried chicken in the midwest can be found in a surprising location: the old cafeteria of what was once the Nebraska School for the Deaf. Today the space is home to Big Mama’s, an Omaha establishment known for its oven-fried chicken, which is first soaked in spice-laden buttermilk for 24 hours. Cooking chicken to perfection isn’t the only skill in Patricia "Big Mama" Barron’s repertoire: The entrepreneur is also available for events as a motivational speaker.


Las Vegas is famous as a gambling destination, but it’s really a culinary mecca. For your chicken fix, head to the Red Rock Casino, where Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar fries up big helpings of moist, spicy-sweet chicken drizzled in honey.


The Puritan Backroom, a local staple since 1917, claims to be the inventor of chicken tenders. A USA Today examination of the matter declared that while others might have been frying up the same strips in 1974, the Puritan—which was founded by Greek immigrants and also serves kababs and spanakopita—probably popularized the name. Regardless of their origins, visitors seem to agree that they’re amazing, especially with the house sauce.


The family-owned Chicken Galore has been frying up juicy, moist chicken along with ribs, shrimp, and fries since 1963. As one reviewer lauds, “You have not lived until you have had a bucket of fried chicken from here!” Did we mention they deliver?


Albuquerque’s four Golden Pride outposts serve the area’s best chicken, as the local culture mag has testified. And it’s one of the few great fried chicken shacks that can also cook up a mean breakfast burrito.


There’s stiff competition to be the best at any culinary category in New York, but Brooklyn dive bar The Commodore consistently shoots to the top of New York City lists of best chicken purveyors with its perfectly crispy fried goodness. Plus, they're open until 4 a.m.


Chapel Hill, North Carolina

has been churning out piping-hot chicken for going on 40 years, and while you can try your hand at founder Mildred Council’s recipes with her cookbooks, but you should probably just leave it to the expert. It’s been heralded as the best in not just the state, but the whole South.


This friendly diner on the north side of Fargo has been operating for more than two decades, serving delectable comfort foods from chicken fried steak to gooey cinnamon rolls. Their "down home cooking," as they describe it, is designed to taste just like grandma’s—or maybe better. Check out their two-piece fried chicken dinner the next time you’re in town.


Barberton, a northeastern Ohio town near Akron, is famous for its lard-fried, Serbian-style chicken, served in just a handful of local "chicken houses." The best of these—according to years of local polls and an episode of Food Network’s Food Feud—is White House Chicken, which just opened up a second outpost in the Cleveland suburb of Medina.


The legendary Eischen’s Bar, located in the 1200-person town of Okarche, traces its roots back to Prohibition. But its brews aren’t as notable as its birds, which are fried whole and delivered straight to your table.


True to its Portland roots, Screen Door has found a way to hipster-fy fried chicken. The ridiculously popular restaurant—which can be spotted on the weekends by the line of would-be brunchers wrapping around the building—describes its menu as a "survey of the South," featuring locally sourced versions of everything from Cajun to barbecue, and, of course, fried chicken.


This beloved barbecue joint took home Philadelphia Magazine’s 2015 "Best of Philly" award for Best Fried Chicken for a single menu item: its crispy, buttery chicken biscuit. The biscuit, which is only served during happy hour, is stacked with fried chicken, cheddar cheese, hot sauce, jalapeños, and buttermilk ranch.


Eschewing haute cuisine’s pea-sized portions for enormous, hearty meals, a little neighborhood restaurant called North has found a following among gourmets and gourmands alike. The eatery’s entire menu includes modern takes on salty, savory bar food and American standards from seafood to fried chicken.


Charleston, South Carolina

You can’t miss Martha Lou’s Kitchen. Literally—it would be very hard to overlook the bubblegum-pink shack housing one of Charleston’s best restaurants. Lauded by Martha Stewart, the Travel Channel, and The New York Times, owner and chef Martha “Lou” Gadsen and her daughter have been serving up their famous fried chicken for more than 30 years.


If you want fancy, organic, or high-falutin’ food, go somewhere else. Pizza Ranch’s 180 locations are staples in 13 U.S. states for their big buffets, their standardized pizza, and their Crispy Ranch Chicken.


The Gus’s empire is a testament to the power of community—and good fried chicken. From humble beginnings, with contributions from local chicken lovers, Napoleon "Na" Vanderbilt and his wife, Ms. Maggie, built one small but hugely popular restaurant in the little town of Mason. After their deaths in the early '80s, their son Gus started a new fried chicken spot using his dad’s recipe, which by then had become a local legend. Thirty years later, Gus’s has locations in nine states, all using that special and secret recipe. "This is a dead man’s recipe," Gus once said, "[and] I ain’t telling."


Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, Texas

"Fried Chicken and Champagne? …Why the Hell Not?!" That’s the tagline at Max’s Wine Dive, a self-proclaimed dive bar with locations all over Texas. But for all their claims of sleaze, the owners and chefs at Max’s are working awfully hard. Keep an eye out for seasonal favorites, but you can’t go wrong with Max’s famous Southern fried chicken with mashed potatoes and collard greens.


For nearly 70 years, the proprietors of C&B Maddox have been serving up a (slightly) healthier alternative to fried chicken that doesn’t sacrifice a lick of taste. Their birds have the skin peeled off before a light coating is applied, shaving some calories and fat away in the process. It hasn’t hurt business one bit: C&B goes through up to 5000 pounds of chicken every week to meet the demand.


What started as a mobile business operating out of a Winnebago has become a permanent installation among foodies: Misery Loves Co. serves up fried chicken with a gourmet twist, using fresh buttermilk and emulsified honey-butter dipping sauces.


Southern Living declared Wayside’s some of the best chicken in the South, which is pretty heavy praise. Juicy and peppered to perfection, the only downside is that you can’t hang around for seconds: The restaurant only serves takeout and catering.


Don’t let its franchise status raise an eyebrow: Ezell’s has been serving up Seattle-area chicken for over 30 years, even being summoned by Oprah Winfrey to cater her Chicago birthday party in 1990. The flaky, juicy pieces have even found their way to the United Arab Emirates, where Ezell’s opened a Sharjah location in 2015.


Since opening in 2012, residents within driving distance of this unassuming diner have flocked to it for what’s reputed to be the best fried chicken in the state. College students line up out the door for their signature sandwiches, which pairs a breast with gravy, bacon, cheddar jack cheese, shaved ham, or blue cheese. The cage-free chicken ships fresh five days a week from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania.


Since 1991, TomKen’s Friendly Fried Chicken has been racking up awards for their deep-fried birds. Grab a box and expect it to be stuffed with fries, coleslaw, and pieces thinly-battered to maximize the meat over the crunch.


Come early and sample Café Genevieve’s chicken and waffles come back later for their generous portions of fried chicken during the revamped log cabin’s dinner hours. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places—not technically for the chicken, although it probably should be.

This story was updated in August 2016.

By Michele Debczak, Kirstin Fawcett, Shaunacy Ferro, Anna Green, Kate Horowitz, Andrew LaSane, and Jake Rossen.

Fried Chicken 101

You don’t have to be a Southern grandmother to know how to fry a chicken. Start with our core techniques for making fried chicken, and you can make a wide range of fried chicken recipes.

Three Common Fried Chicken Pitfalls

Making good fried chicken is easy, as long as you avoid these pitfalls.


Blame it on cold oil. Don’t forget to monitor the oil temperature, and adjust the burner accordingly as you fry. When you add cold chicken to hot oil, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what happens: The oil temperature drops. Also, no crowding: Lots of cold chicken just exacerbates the problem.


Blame it on scorching hot oil and/or unevenly sized pieces. If you fry chicken parts straight from the package, the big ones, say the breasts, don’t have time to cook through by the time the legs are done: Cut pieces down to size. Also, don’t overheat the oil. Scorching oil causes the same problem.


Blame it on lack of patience. If you fry the chicken immediately after dredging, the coating tends to peel off. While the oil heats, let the dredged chicken rest on a wire cooling rack for at least 10 minutes. The resting time helps the coating stick. You can’t call it fried chicken without the crispy skin.

Courtesy of Pampered Chef.

If you’re looking for a new dish for date nights at home or something that gives your weeknight menu an Italian flare, this air fryer chicken parmesan recipe is definitely a great option. With crispy fried chicken and fresh ingredients like tomatoes and basil, you can’t go wrong.

Southern Fried Chicken Thighs

Fried chicken is a delicious dinnertime treat that's always a hit. But the crispy main dish is usually reserved for special occasions since it's not exactly diet food. This recipe for Southern fried chicken thighs cuts out some of the fat by using boneless, skinless meat and low-fat buttermilk. Most fried chicken recipes call for skin-on chicken, which adds flavor and moisture but also adds fat. Chicken thighs tend to remain moist and flavorful without their skin on, making them perfect for frying. While they're not exactly health food, Southern-fried chicken thighs are lower in fat than traditional fried chicken recipes without sacrificing texture or flavor.

Plan ahead so you can marinate the meat for a couple of hours in buttermilk and spices. When it comes time to eat, the chicken only takes a few minutes to fry up. The secret to great fried chicken is three-fold: a soak in a flavorful marinade, oil at the proper temperature, and the correct frying time. Serve the chicken thighs fresh out of the pan with traditional sides like mashed potatoes or potato salad, or use to make a fried chicken sandwich.

Coq au Vin

Mitch Mandel and Thomas MacDonald

As we noted before, stews don't have to be made with beef. Chicken has long been an important ingredient in the stews of some cultures, including the French, whose tradition is to stew their chicken in red wine ("coq" means chicken and "au vin" means with wine). So, how do the French stay so slim while eating such wonderfully rich foods? It could be that they tend to make this a habit.

Get our recipe for Chicken in Red Wine.

The Best Fast-Food Fried Chicken, Ranked

To celebrate National Fried Chicken Day, we&rsquore here to help you find the crispiest, juiciest, most delectable piece of poultry in fast food. Americans are passionate about fried chicken and loyal to their favorites, but there&rsquos no denying that some chains do it better than others. Let&rsquos get down to the details, so that you&rsquore ending the day with a mouthful that is finger-licking good.

McDonald&rsquos is the fast food entry-point for fried chicken. While their offerings have significantly improved over the past few years, they still aren't anywhere near the caliber of the fried chicken specialists out there. Two of McDonald&rsquos revamped chicken items, the Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich and the Chicken Selects (tenders), are inconsistent in size and freshness, and really lacking a flavor punch. Let&rsquos just say that McDonald&rsquos is not where you should celebrate National Fried Chicken Day. Now, onto the real competition&hellip

KFC is the universal fried chicken chain, but don't be so quick to stick with what you know. While the Colonel&rsquos chicken is a classic, competition is heating up and it might just be getting too hot in the kitchen. KFC&rsquos bone-in chicken is consistently dry, and the breading is bland compared to the immediately distinguishable flavors of competitors. The sides outshine the main course &mdash their signature mashed potatoes with gravy are famous for good reason, and their potato wedges often have a crispier crust than the wings. Sadly, their chicken is a case of quantity over quality.

Bojangles' is one of the least remarkable contenders in the fast food fried chicken race. The chicken is moist, but it isn&rsquot flavorful. It has a nice crunch, but it&rsquos always too thin. They have a wide variety of sides, but only a few of them are good enough to go back for (like the Bo-tato rounds). And while Bojangles' may be full of contradictions, their biscuits and breakfast menu are a sure thing. The fan-favorite Bo-berry Biscuit, baked with blueberries and slathered in confectioners icing, is the one thing that you&rsquore certain to talk about when you&rsquove long forgotten the mediocre chicken.

Church&rsquos Chicken sticks to what they know &mdash bone-in, hand-battered and deep fried. Their traditional, Texan-style chicken packs a bold flavor and is served in huge portions (everything&rsquos bigger in Texas!). Church&rsquos thick batter retains a lot of the frying oil though, which can turn the breading from crunchy to soggy in just a few short minutes. This chicken needs to be eaten fresh, right out of the frier. Otherwise the skin turns heavy and greasy, an obstacle to the meat underneath.

We are entering finger-lickin&rsquo good territory. Wingstop is one of the few fast food restaurants committed to the art of the wing &mdash and they are onto something. The chain is experiencing rapid growth, with over 1,250 stores open around the world. Their flavor selection matches full-service competitors like Buffalo Wild Wings, but at a lower price point, with speedier service and comparable quality. They have all the classics like Buffalo, Hickory BBQ and Louisiana dry rub, and are experimenting with new, bolder flavors like Ancho Honey Glaze and Harissa Lemon Pepper. If you haven't heard of Wingstop yet, you will soon.

Louisiana-based fried chicken chain. They have a solid trinity of chicken fingers, crinkle fries and Texas toast, but what really sets Cane&rsquos apart is the chicken&rsquos best friend &mdash Cane Sauce. The blend of mayo, ketchup, worcestershire, black pepper and garlic is a perfect melange of tangy and rich, with a touch of sweetness. It is the ultimate flavor companion to the seasonings in their fingers and crinkle fries. Wash it all down with a swig of their homemade lemonade and you&rsquore experiencing Raising Cane's at its finest.

If you are surprised that Shake Shack made this list, you haven&rsquot tried their Chick'n Shack sandwich. It was the first chicken item on their menu, and in true Danny Meyer fashion, he took the time to craft it to perfection. The Chick'n Shack is a thick hunk of all-natural chicken breast served atop a potato bun with lettuce, pickles and a slathering of delicious buttermilk-herb mayo. The piece of chicken is always too big for the bun (a good problem to have) and has one of the crispiest crusts of all the chicken sandwiches in fast food. At $6.69 it is the most expensive too, but the stellar sandwich is easily superior to many you&rsquod find at a full-service restaurant for double the price.

You may not have heard of Zaxby&rsquos if you aren&rsquot from the Southeastern U.S., but if you are, then you probably went there once or twice last month when you had too much Chick-fil-A. Zaxby&rsquos advantage is their full range of menu offerings including bone-in wings, tenders and sandwiches. They even serve some great &ldquoZalads&rdquo which are hearty, crisp and fresh, much unlike the standard fast food salad. The menu item that won Zaxby&rsquos this top 5 spot is their adorable Nibblerz &mdash a chicken tender tucked into a mini potato bun and oozing with their house Zax Sauce (similar to mayochup, but with a ton more flavor). Getting picky, because that is what it comes down to between these top spots, their breading lacks the satisfying crunch that many others do so well. Also, it is a little salty. But those chicken sliders are the most underrated item in fast food &mdash there, I said it.

Jollibee is the Filipino fried chicken chain that&rsquos about to take over the United States. If you&rsquore skeptical, check out this recent New York Times story heralding the chain&rsquos first Manhattan location earlier this year. &ldquoThe pleasures of Chickenjoy, as it&rsquos called, are immediate: The sheath of skin is as craggy as a thunderhead, crannies and crunch multiplying.&rdquo Uhm, I&rsquoll have some of that, please! Chickenjoy is served in bone-in pieces buckets, or you can opt for Chicken Dippers, which are the boneless tenders. Every order of chicken is accompanied by a side of their signature gravy for dipping. They also boast a selection of Filipino side dishes unrivaled by any competitor on this list. Chickenjoy with a side of the famed Jolly Spaghetti? Or, how about Fiesta Noodles (Jollibee&rsquos take on pancit palabok, a classic Filipino shrimp and noodle dish). Still hungry? Grab a Peach Mango Pie or Halo-Halo for dessert. Yes, all of this is available, and actually good, at a fast food chain.

Hattie B&rsquos is by far the smallest chain on this list, but their chicken packs the mightiest punch. Legend has it that Nashville Hot Chicken was first created as punishment for a womanizing husband. The accidental inventor is said to have thrown a heap of cayenne pepper into her husband&rsquos batch of fried chicken after he came home late from a night of&hellip well, use your imagination. Much to her surprise, he loved it! Prince's Hot Chicken Shack is credited as the first to serve it at a restaurant, but Hattie B&rsquos is responsible for letting the secret out. Thanks to them, you can now find the real thing outside of Nashville, in Atlanta, Memphis, Birmingham and Las Vegas. The fiery spirit of the woman who invented hot chicken is in every scorching bite of Hattie B&rsquos rendition, served with dill chips and white bread to cool down your taste buds. Like the nationwide obsession has, let&rsquos hope the Hattie B&rsquos chain spreads like wildfire.

Chick-fil-A is arguably America&rsquos favorite fried chicken. The original Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich could be called a masterpiece. Their nuggets are easily the best you can get, made from fresh, hand-breaded morsels every morning. Their signature sauces, Chick-fil-A Sauce and Polynesian Sauce, are practically drinkable. Thin shoestring fries are no competition to Chick-fil-A&rsquos Waffle Fries, cut from cross-sections of whole potatoes. The instantly recognizable taste (and scent) of Chick-fil-A is all in the breading. When deep fried in peanut oil, the sweet and peppery batter takes on distinct flavor qualities that make it nearly impossible to duplicate. Coupled with the fact that it is straight-up addictive, it&rsquos no wonder raving fans around the country are known to frequent Chick-fil-A multiple times a week. It&rsquos just too bad Chick-fil-A doesn't offer a bone-in, traditional preparation. Good thing we have #1 for that&hellip

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is home to America&rsquos best fast food fried chicken. Popeyes has mastered the traditional T.L.C. method of hand-battered, deep-fried chicken at scale, without sacrificing quality. Their Bonafide Chicken and boneless tenders alike are consistently the crunchiest and most flavorful in the fast food circuit. Peeling off the skin and eating it on its own is otherworldly. The dark meat is as juicy as any other homemade, hand-breaded drumstick you'll find. We could go on about their chicken as a class of its own, but it doesn&rsquot stop there. Popeyes serves the classic Southern sides, like red beans and rice, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and (best of all) biscuits at the same high caliber. Thank goodness for meat and sides that compliment each other rather than compete.

Food aside, Popeyes maintains the cultural magic that makes fried chicken so great &mdash eating at a Popeyes is like eating at a mom-and-pop joint. For striking that rare and finicky balance between authenticity and the masses, Popeyes is most deserving of this top spot. It&rsquos exactly where you should celebrate National Fried Chicken Day!

Chicken Fried Steak History and Recipe

In Texas, the reigning queen of comfort food or down-home cooking is Chicken-Fried Steak, or as Texans affectionately call it CFS. Every city, town, and village in Texas takes prides in their CFS. Some, admittedly, are better than others.

Texans have a unique way of rating restaurants that serve CFS. The restaurants are rated by the number of pickup trucks that is parked out in front. Never stop at a one pickup place, as the steak will have been frozen and factory breaded. A two and three pickup restaurant is not much better. A four and five pickup place is a must stop restaurants, as the CFS will be fresh and tender with good sopping gravy.

You might be surprised to learn that there is no chicken in Chicken-Fried Steak. It is tenderized round steak (a cheap and tough piece of beef) made like fried chicken with a milk gravy made from the drippings left in the pan. The steak, when fried, should look just like the coating on a piece of Southern fried chicken. The traditional way to cook CFS is in a large cast-iron skillet with very little oil. Served with “the works” means accompanied by mashed potatoes, gravy, greens, black-eye peas, and cornbread.

It has been said there are three food groups in Texas: Tex-Mex, barbecue, and chicken-fried steak. Chicken-Fried Steak is known by Texans as the unofficial state dish of Texas. According to the Texas Restaurant Associate, it is estimated that 800,000 orders of Chicken-Fried Steak are served in Texas every day, not counting any prepared at home.

History of Chicken Fried Steak:

– The origin of the Chicken-Fried Steak probably comes from the German people who settled in Texas from 1844 to 1850. As Wiener Schnitzel is a popular German dish that is made from veal, and because veal was never popular in Texas and beef was, the German immigrants probably adapted their popular dish to use the tougher cuts of beef available to them.

1930s – As to where and when the term Chicken-Fried Steak began remains a mystery. Most authorities agree that it probably developed in the 1930s, and by the time of World War II, it had become the generally accepted term.

April 19, 1988 – Oklahoma designated an Official State Meal consisting of fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken-fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas.

October 26, 2011 – The Texas House of Representatives has declared that October 26 shall heretofore be known as Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day.

RESOLUION – By: Sheffield H.R. No. 1419:

WHEREAS, Texans are renowned for their love of chicken fried steak, that exceptional dish that elevates the hearty flavor of beef to new heights by coating it in batter and breading and frying it until the ingredients are melded in a blissful union and

WHEREAS, A food that reflects the history and diversity of our state, chicken fried steak has been linked to the German specialty Wiener schnitzel, which arrived in Texas with European immigrants other food historians note that chicken fried steak is similar to pan-fried steak, a favorite of Texas cowboys and

WHEREAS, Generations of Lone Star State residents have partaken of this beloved entree, and happy memories of putting knife and fork to a chicken fried steak in the company of family and friends are shared by countless people all across Texas and

WHEREAS, While chicken fried steak can be enjoyed at any time, the dish’s popularity justifies the celebration of an observance in its honor on October 26, 2011, restaurants throughout the state are marking the second annual Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day with special deals and related activities and

WHEREAS, This signature dish occupies a special place in the culinary culture of the Lone Star State, and Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day provides a welcome opportunity to pay homage to that shared legacy now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives of the 82nd Texas Legislature hereby recognize October 26, 2011, as Texas Chicken Fried Steak Day and extend sincere best wishes to all who are taking part in this unique occasion.

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