Best Chicken Restaurant Chains In The United States, Ranked

By Doug Norrie | Published

Best Chicken Restaurant Chains In The United States

When it comes to fast food and franchise options, a stop at a local chicken place can be just what the family is craving for a quick lunch or dinner. But unlike our looks at the best pizza chains or best burger places, chicken can mean a variety of different styles and options.

Marketforce put together their rankings of brand loyalty and we are putting together the best chicken restaurant franchises in the United States.

7. Church's Chicken

Church’s Chicken has been around for more than 80 years now and they’ve grown considerably during that time, ringing in at more than 1,700 locations at last count. This is Southern-style chicken with the traditional sides and the fan favorite is the standard Original Chicken offering. The place is affordable and quick, which is mostly what folks are looking for when they visit Church’s. 

That being said, of the brands ranked by Marketforce for all chains, only Domino’s Pizza was behind Church’s in terms of brand loyalty. 

6. Popeyes

Popeye’s serves Louisiana-style fried chicken and has become a go-to for fans all over the country in the 50-some-odd years it’s been in operation. The Fried Chicken Sandwich and the Spicy Chicken Sandwich are their most popular offering and frying their food in an iron skillet is one way they try to separate from competitors. 

If you like Cajun-style chicken, this is definitely your jam, but the flavoring isn’t for everyone. Overall, there are better chicken chain restaurant options, though Popeyes does have a somewhat loyal following.

5. KFC

Something of the gold standard when it comes to “name brand” franchising in the chicken chain department. KFC is likely the first name you think of when considering this section of the market. Their fried chicken comes from the “Original Recipe” concocted by old friend Colonel Sanders and it’s stood the test of time.

There are more than 24,000 KFC locations all over the world, and it’s one of the largest chains, chicken or otherwise, going. Even if the food isn’t all the way at the top of the pyramid here, it is at least consistent from location to location and that says a lot.

4. Boston Market

Unlike some of the other chain restaurant markets (burgers, pizza, etc), there can be wild differences when just sectioning things off in the chicken category. Boston Market is an example of that compared to some of the previous examples because it has a totally different offering with its rotisserie option. 

Boston Market focuses a little more on the full meal style when it comes to the menu and there is the feeling that this place stands maybe a rung above the others in terms of presentation and style. Tons of salt? Sure, but that’s no different than many others here and Boston Market does have an element of “home cooking” that the others don’t. 

3. Zaxby's

Zaxby’s hasn’t been around as long as some of the other places on this chicken list, but it has climbed the charts since first coming on the scene in 1990. The chicken fingers are where it’s at here and they have a sauce that has folks coming back for more. The serving sizes are pretty big and if you like chicken (and based on this list, you probably do) then you’ve likely gone out of your way to try this place.

2. Raising Cane's

If you like chicken fingers then you’ve come to the right place. Because that’s what Raising Cane’s does the best. They have been in business for less than 30 years, but the quality here is nearly unmatched compared to the competition. 

In terms of customer satisfaction, Raising Canes fell into the top ten in chains overall and it’s for a good reason: they really care. That’s a hard thing to come by with any franchise, but their 500 (ish) locations offer a consistently excellent product time and time again.

1. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A isn’t just number one in terms of chicken restaurant franchises, it’s number one overall in terms of customer loyalty. That’s really saying something,, especially considering they have more than 2,500 locations throughout the United States.

They keep it simple with their most popular offering, the Original Chicken Sandwich and you probably love their pickles by now as well. The service is very friendly, the locations are super clean, and Chick-fil-A sets the bar very high. Have they had some political stuff in the past? Sure, but there’s nothing to take away from the food here and their customers are fiercely loyal.