It’s hard to forget the Great Chicken Sandwich War of 2019. Thanks in large part to Popeye’s then-new menu item, fast food chains across the country duked it out, seeking fried chicken sandwich glory. While these large chains were busy fighting on Twitter and crafting snarky billboards, small mom-and-pop chicken joints across the country were keeping their heads down and doing what they do best: making out-of-this-world food — and some of the best chicken sandwiches in the U.S.
So, the next time you’re craving a delicious chicken sandwich, give one of these 30 best chicken sandwiches a try. Arranged by region to make your quest for the best even easier, our roundup is sure to help you find at least one new go-to spot.
Best Chicken Sandwich in the Northeast
Federal Donuts | Philadelphia, PA
With multiple locations in Philadelphia, Federal Donuts has been serving up delicious, reasonably priced eats since 2011. As the name suggests, they’re well known for their doughnuts, but everyone in Philly knows that their chicken sandwich is the shining star of this restaurant. Their classic chicken sandwich consists of a twice-fried boneless chicken breast, dusted in ranch seasoning and topped with American cheese, dill pickles, and “Spicy Rooster Sauce” on a potato roll.
Cutty’s | Boston, MA
If scarcity increases value, then a chicken sandwich from Cutty’s is the most valuable chicken sandwich in the U.S. Customers must wait for a special Sunday, Super Cluckin Sunday, to get their Cutty’s chicken sandwich fix. On one or two Sundays a month, Cutty’s serves up one variety of their chicken sandwich — either their OG Honey Mustard or their BBQ Ranch — to their anxiously-awaiting fans. This one takes some effort, but it’s so worth it.
Steve and Benny’s | Pittsburgh, PA
Owned and operated by two chefs with a love of fast and delicious cuisine, this low-key chicken shack has two restaurants and two food trucks in the Pittsburgh area. While at Steve and Benny’s Chicken Shack, try “The Duster,” a sweet and savory rub on fried chicken, topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato and hot honey.
Palace Diner | Biddeford, ME
Slide up to the counter of the oldest diner in Maine and prepare to be wowed by this exciting take on a chicken sandwich. At Palace Diner you can enjoy a fried chicken sandwich topped with cabbage slaw, jalapenos, mayo and an iceberg wedge, all served on a sesame-seed bun. This perfectly spicy, tangy chicken sandwich is different — but in all the best ways.
Bucktown | Providence, RI
Opened as a chicken and fish joint in 2016, Bucktown has tons of “sandos” on their menu, but their chicken biscuit sando is a can’t-miss. This delicious twist on a classic starts with a breaded and fried chicken thigh. Cheddar cheese, honey butter and a delicious, flaky biscuit take this sandwich over the top.
Ekiben | Baltimore, MD
Picture a classic chicken joint that serves run-of-the-mill chicken sandwiches. Now think of the exact opposite of that and you have Ekiben. Aside from the chicken, this restaurant is as far from a classic chicken sandwich shop as you can get. A steamed bun, or bao, replaces the traditional sandwich bun, and Thai-inspired flavors put a welcome twist on this classic dish.
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken | Washington, D.C.
Experience the magic of transforming a humble donut into a delicious bun at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken. At Astro’s two locations, you can enjoy fried chicken and doughnuts served up in tons of creative ways, but their must-try sandwich is the Old Bay All Day, which is a fried chicken breast topped with bacon, pickles, lettuce, tomato and sriracha mayo on an Old Bay doughnut.
Dirty Bird | Morgantown, WV
If you’ve ever experienced college life at West Virginia University (WVU), you know that things can get wild. Dirty Bird, a hot spot for chicken and more near the WVU campus, is no exception. Since you’re at a place called Dirty Bird, you may as well get messy and order their signature sandwich, which is appropriately called the Dirty Bird. This over-the-top concoction starts with a fried chicken breast and is smothered with cheddar jack cheese and country gravy. Then, it’s topped with bacon and a fried egg, all held together on a buttermilk biscuit.
Best Chicken Sandwich in the Midwest
Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub | Minneapolis, MN
You’ve surely heard of southern fried chicken, but at Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub, you can experience how the north does it. Their Northern Fried Chicken Sandwich features fried chicken, lettuce, tomato, pickles and honey mustard on an egg bun.
Honey Butter Fried Chicken | Chicago, IL
If you’re in the Chicago area, it won’t take long to hear about Honey Butter Fried Chicken. People go wild for their interesting take on a classic dish. You can’t go wrong with their namesake sandwich, the Honey Butter Fried Chicken Sandwich. Simple yet delicious, this sandwich has chicken strips and honey butter on a bun. Best yet, a dollar from every Honey Butter sandwich goes toward organizations that center and support BIPOC communities.
The Eagle | Indianapolis, IN
At their six restaurants across five states, The Eagle specializes in quality comfort food with something for every palette. Try their fried chicken BLT, which has a fried chicken breast generously topped with bacon, mixed greens, tomato, avocado relish and jalapeno honey mayo on rustic Italian bread.
Bird Brew | Fargo, ND
If you’re a sandwich lover with dietary restrictions, Bird Brew will quickly become your new favorite chicken joint. With gluten-free, vegetarian and dairy-free options on most of their menu items, everyone can gather and enjoy a meal at this trendy spot in a cool neighborhood. From their classic chicken sandwich to their hot as cluck, complete with habanero sauce, there are plenty of options for all.
Bread & Circus | Sioux Falls, SD
What you see is what you get at Bread & Circus Sandwich Kitchen. On their menu, which is decidedly less confusing than their name, they offer sandwiches and not sandwiches. If it’s a sandwich you’re after, try their exciting take on fried chicken — the Vietnamese fried chicken sandwich. This powerhouse sandwich has a marinated chicken thigh with nuoc cham, banh mi pickles and cilantro aioli all on a brioche bun.
Gobble STOP Smokehouse | Creve Coeur, MO
If you’re looking to gobble up a delicious chicken sandwich, head over to Gobble STOP Smokehouse. While there, try the MCB sandwich, which starts with a Marinated Chicken Breast — all smothered in red peppers and melted provolone cheese with special sauce — and served on a pretzel bun.
Best Chicken Sandwich in the South
Big Orange | Little Rock, AR
With three locations around Little Rock, Big Orange has a huge menu with lots of American classics. Hidden in plain sight at the bottom of their menu, you’ll find a chicken masterpiece known as the Hot ‘n’ Hot. Spicy southern fried chicken, pepper jack cheese, mayo, butter leaf lettuce and dill pickles combine to create a sandwich that you won’t be able to stop thinking about.
Saw’s Soul Kitchen | Birmingham, AL
Since 2009, Saw’s BBQ has been serving up southern classics and loyal customers can’t get enough. With six restaurants and a street kitchen, you won’t have any trouble finding a Saw’s while in the Birmingham area. While you’re there, don’t miss the sweet tea fried chicken sandwich, which has sweet tea brined fried chicken, white BBQ sauce and pickles.
Beasley’s Chicken + Honey | Raleigh, NC
Located in downtown Raleigh, Beasley’s Chicken + Honey takes southern fried chicken to a new level. They have many sandwiches to choose from, but for adventurous eaters who love spice, their Hot Chicken Sandwich can’t be beaten. A fried chicken breast is topped with Carolina Reaper hot chili oil, pickles, iceberg lettuce and a buttermilk-herb dressing on buttermilk bread. If you don’t like your food to bite back, you’ll love their fried chicken biscuit with pickled green tomato, dijon and honey.
Sylvain | New Orleans, LA
If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you know there’s no shortage of terrific food, but the next time you’re in the French Quarter, try Sylvain. Sylvain’s gorgeous aesthetic and fun atmosphere make it a foodie’s dream. While there, try their classic chicken sandwich, made with fried chicken, house hot sauce, dill pickle and fries.
Root and Bone | Miami, FL
Serving up honest southern food, Root and Bone restaurants have separate menus for brunch, lunch, and supper, as well as separate Miami spice multi-course meal menus. The stand-out star of their menu is a fried chicken sandwich with pickled green tomatoes, melted cheddar and house-made buttermilk dressing on a toasted bun.
Secret Sandwich Society | Richmond, VA
With a super cool name and an extensive menu of delicious sandwiches, Secret Sandwich Society is the place to be when you’re craving a quality fried chicken sandwich. They have lots of options, but “The Lafayette” is a real winner. This piled-high sandwich features a fried chicken breast, ham, swiss cheese, blue cheese spread and honey mustard on a potato roll.
Las Abuelas | Austin, TX
If you want something cooked right, it’s best to ask your grandma — so long as you ask nicely. Well, that’s the concept behind Las Abuelas food truck. Using recipes and techniques inspired by their grandmothers, this food truck offers lots of delicious options. They have a handful of chicken sandwich options, but you can’t go wrong with their H-Town, which has crispy chicken, queso, avocado and roasted serrano crema.
Boxcar Betty’s | Charleston, SC
With six locations and counting spread across the U.S., Boxcar Betty’s has a loyal following. Try their signature sandwich, the Boxcar, which features pimento cheese, peach slaw, house pickles and spicy mayo. For the chicken, choose from fried or grilled. If you’re more interested in a vegetarian twist, you can also sub in a pimento-stuffed portobello mushroom.
The Best Chicken Sandwich in the Western U.S.
Pretty Bird Chicken | Salt Lake City, UT
If you’re a Food Network fan, you’ve probably heard of Chef Viet Pham. This talented chef is the one behind the delicious recipes at Pretty Bird Chicken. While you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, the fried chicken sando — made with a boneless thigh, slaw and pretty bird sauce on a buttered bun — will satisfy your chicken sandwich craving every time.
Proposition Chicken | San Francisco, CA
The simple menu and philanthropic efforts of Proposition Chicken have made it a popular spot for chicken-lovers in California. At any of their California locations, you can create a chicken sandwich in three styles: fried, flipped (rotisserie) or fake (BBQ Tofu). Whichever you choose, they’ll serve it up on a hearth-baked roll with spicy slaw, mayo and potato chips.
Ma’ono | Seattle, WA
Polynesian flavors collide with classic dishes at MA’ONO. At any of their three locations, you can order their delicious signature chicken sandwich, which features a crispy fried chicken breast, daikon pickles, kewpie mayo and iceberg lettuce. This is all served on a buttered, toasted King’s Hawai’ian bun.
Denver Biscuit Company | Denver, CO
At their four locations across Denver, Denver Biscuit Company takes flaky, homestyle biscuits and turns them into mouth-watering sandwiches. The Cordon Bleu, which features buttermilk fried chicken, ham, swiss cheese and house-made honey butter, will be at the top of your list of comfort foods after just one bite.
Mama Bird | Las Vegas, NV
At Mama Bird, chefs approach classic southern food in new ways to create savory dishes. Their Mac ‘n’ Cheese Chicken Tender Waffle Sandwich, for example, is as intense (and tasty) as it sounds. A juicy piece of fried chicken is topped with the cheesy mac, a pickle, lettuce, tomato and comeback sauce. All of this is sandwiched between two cornmeal waffles. Guaranteed messy, but guaranteed delicious.
Jojo | Portland, OR
A popular food truck located on Powell, Jojo serves a variety of chicken sandwich creations that are so loaded you’ll wonder why you’ve settled for plain chicken sandwiches for so long. For an unmatched sandwich experience, try their fried chicken melt which has fried chicken, Tillamook cheddar, American cheese, crystal hot sauce, ranch, coleslaw and chives, all on toasted shokupan bread.
Republic Kitchen + Taphouse | Post Falls, ID
With an atmosphere as impressive as its menu options, Republic Kitchen + Taphouse has chicken sandwich options for every taste. Start with their twice-fried chicken sandwich on a brioche bun, then get it southern style with beer mustard, creamy garlic, a housemade pickle and slaw.
Hotbird | Oakland, CA
After relocating back to Oakland from its former San Francisco location, Hotbird is a must-visit restaurant on any trip to the West Coast. Try their classic chicken sandwich with apple vinegar slaw, comeback sauce and dill pickles, all served up on a buttered bun. As for the fried chicken, you can choose your spice level — no heat, mild, medium, hot, ‘xtra’ hot and, for the most daring among us, burnin’.