Salutations, my fellow Halftimers.
Welcome to my ranking of The Best Fast Food Chicken Tenders!
I had a lot of fun making this, so I hope you have fun reading.
You would expect KFC to have some dang good chicken tenders, with their name being Kentucky Fried Chicken. The chicken tenders at KFC have the potential to be the best in the game. They’re juicy and have a great batter shell. But there’s one thing that holds them back: seasoning. In my experience, KFC chicken has always been over seasoned. I believe it’s just with salt and pepper, but it’s far too much. I can only get through a couple strips without needing immediate hydration. It would be detrimental to the integrity of the tender if not for its other strong components.
Another issue is how greasy the strips are. Similar to the seasoning, it's difficult to eat multiple tenders with how heavy they feel to the gut. The strips are a little flimsy too; not as much crisp as competing tenders.
KFC has a solid chicken tender, but they need to figure out their identity in regards to seasoning and palatability.
I’m not entirely aware of the quality of A&W in the States, but here in the Land of the Free they have some of the highest quality fast food. They take great pride in organic ingredients, so you know their food isn’t rat meat posing as chicken (I’m looking at you McDonald’s).
Chubby Chicken, which is ironically slim, is one of the best chicken tenders in the game. Its outer shell is simple, but still offers crispness on par with the top tenders in fast food. The chicken lacks juiciness, but makes up for it in sheer flavour. The seasoning on A&W chicken is simple but delicious. Nothing crazy like KFC.
When you add in the frosted mug, A&W becomes the most enjoyable fast food experience. It’s personally my favourite place to sit down for a nice fast food meal.
#4. Dairy Queen
I just found out from a homie that DQ in America is absolutely disgusting, but I had no idea living in Canada and all. So while most of y’all won’t understand where I’m coming from, just bear with me.
Dairy Queen has an extremely well-rounded tender. It doesn’t have the same highs as KFC’s crispy/juicy tender, but its components are consistent throughout. It has a firm shell that's not super crispy, but gets the job done. A strip that’s more tender than juicy. And a quite neutral seasoning that doesn’t add to or take away from the strip. Once you add in some DQ BBQ sauce (or even some gravy), it’s a top tier strip.
DQ has a well-rounded tender with no deficiencies, but also nothing that stands out too much.
Culver’s chicken tenders are simple, but delicious. They have more of a Chubby Chicken (A&W) vibe; a much less intruding shell (but still crispy) to draw attention to the mouth-watering juiciness of the tender. It’s a minimalist take on chicken tenders, and it’s extremely successful in that effort. Culver’s tenders are hot, juicy, and have a great mouth feel. The seasoning is on point, giving the consumer a great flavour without overloading them (à la KFC).
Culver’s has great sauces too, but they’re not needed. The chicken carries its own weight.
A simple yet delicious tender, served hot and crispy.
I’m not sure about Wendy’s in America, but in Canada it’s scrumptious. A few months ago Wendy’s came out with new and improved fries AND tenders. I’m not gonna lie, when the new tenders dropped, I went there a couple times a week. They have a similar profile to Dairy Queen; but the shell is crispier, the tenders juicier, and the seasoning more delicious.
They’re the kind of tenders that you can eat multiple times a week. There’s nothing about the tenders that takes away from its overall impact. If Wendy’s had a better sauce for the chicken, it would be fighting for the #1 spot.
For a high profile fast food franchise, Wendy’s chicken tenders are the bomb.
#1. Raising Cane's
Anyone who has eaten Cane’s knows how amazing their chicken tenders are. They’re a borderline drug. It’s by far the juiciest and most flavourful tender in fast food. Every single bite takes you into another stratosphere of food enjoyment. If not for my health, I would munch on these bad boys every day.
What really seals the deal on these tenders is the sides. The Texas toast is unbelievably good, especially when you butter both sides. And then the Cane’s sauce… wow. The best sauce/condiment in fast food, no competition. Add a cold lemonade and you have got a MEAL.
Everything at Cane’s is on another level. As of right now, it has no competition in the chicken tender world.
1. Raising Cane's: Dominant in every way.
2. Wendy's: Extremely delicious, extremely crispy.
3. Culver's: Simple, yet scrumptious.
4. Dairy Queen: An all-around great tender.
5. A&W: Crispy and flavourful tenders.
HM. KFC: Great potential, but struggles in some areas.
Thanks for reading, everyone! I hope y'all enjoyed it.
Let me know your favourite tenders in the comments below.