Best Fast Food Spicy Chicken Sandwich: Top 5 Menu Option, According To Foodies

Fast food chicken sandwiches have taken the world by storm. The combination of crispy chicken, zesty sauces, and just the right amount of spice is one of the simple pleasures in life. With the fierce debate over which chain makes the best fast food spicy chicken sandwich, we have tried to pinpoint the most delicious ones to try.

What makes these fiery creations so awesome is the delectable blend of textures and flavors. The crunch of the crispy breading gives way to the succulent, juicy chicken inside, with hints of crisp lettuce and tangy sauce all mixed in. It’s a spicy, savory, and slightly sweet choreography of tastes that’ll have your taste buds doing a happy dance.

The debate over who has the best spicy chicken sandwich has ignited fierce and passionate discussions among food enthusiasts and fast food aficionados. Popular chains like Popeyes, Chick-fil-A, and Wendy’s have all vied for the title, each boasting unique flavors and textures in their offerings. The ongoing debate reflects the diverse tastes and preferences of consumers, adding a spicy twist to the fast food competition.

To celebrate our love for the spice, StudyFinds has created the ultimate list of the  best fast food spicy chicken sandwiches, according to experts. Did your favorite fiery delight make our list? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Chick-Fil-A drive-thru
Chick-Fil-A drive-thru (Photo by Jace Miller on Pixels)

The List: Best Fast Food Spicy Chicken Sandwich, Per Experts

1. Chick-fil-A’s Chicken Sandwich

Number one on the list of our expert recommendations is Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich. TheDailyMeal writes, “Chick-fil-A‘s chicken sandwich is the cornerstone of its entire existence. It keeps things simple, with a fried chicken breast, pickles, and a delicately sweet bun. Every element is flavorful, texturally sound, and well-prepared. The chicken and pickles play especially well together: Chick-fil-A opts for a slightly lighter breading, which allows more pure chicken flavor to come through; this meaty deliciousness is thrown into delectable contrast by the sharp, bright taste of the pickles.”

It’s saucy, and sets the mark for every other fast food spicy chicken sandwich. “While the lack of sauce gave us significant pause, we found that the simplicity of this sandwich is actually kind of beautiful. You don’t need a ton of condiments when the spicy kick and overall fried chicken flavor is there—and in this case, it totally is,” says Thrillist.

As you savor each mouthful, you’ll realize that this isn’t just fast food; it’s a spicy chicken sandwich revolution. “Anyone who has had a Chick-fil-A sandwich knows how great they are, and anyone who has had several know how consistently great they are. That perpetual mastery of the chicken sandwich is what truly earned the chicken chain the highest honor on our list. Sure, Chick-fil-A’s classic sandwich isn’t all too inventive, as it only features a fried patty and some pickles. But the chicken is perfectly fried, the bun is blissfully soft, and the pickles are superbly salty. The sandwich is as good as it gets,” shares Tasting Table.

2. McDonald’s Spicy McCrispy

Number two on the expert’s list for the best fast food spicy chicken sandwich is McDonald’s Spicy McCrispy. “This is a breaded, pressed patty, the very same seen on the brand’s standard McCrispy, on a potato roll. It leans on a ‘spicy pepper sauce’ to do the trick,” writes All Recipes.

Ronald McDonald
Ronald McDonald (Photo by VTT Studio on Shutterstock)

With its perfectly crispy chicken and just the right amount of heat, it’s a reliable go-to. “McDonald’s recently revamped its premium fried chicken sandwiches. Consensus among reviewers seems to be that the chicken is a big improvement, but that the sandwich still isn’t as good as most other restaurants. The only thing that makes the spicy version spicy is the creamy pepper sauce, with its lingering peppery aftertaste that begs for follow-up bites,” shares Cheapism.

The spicy chicken sandwich elite knows that the secret lies in the harmony of ingredients. “McDonald’s is generally known for its burgers and after a couple of bites of my spicy chicken sandwich I understood why. The spice is very subtle at best and not very impressive. The meat was a bit dry—as if it had sat under a heat lamp all afternoon (which it very well may have). The coating was a thin breading. The texture of the chicken was stringy and was probably pressed. I like my chicken sandwiches plain, meaning no pickle. However, there was a hint of dill aroma as I bit into the bun. I don’t know if they pulled the pickles off, or if that is a technique, they use to enhance the meat. I didn’t find any evidence of pickle slices being removed, so I suspect the latter. The patty itself was small and thin and did not stand out. It certainly did not look like the image in the add. Overall, not very good. But then again, if you are a follower of the Golden Arches, you might like it,” says Delishably.

3. Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Number three on the list of expert’s recommendation for the best spicy fast food chicken sandwich is Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. “While Chick-fil-A takes credit for inventing the first fried chicken sandwich, Wendy’s claims it’s behind the original fast food spicy fried chicken sandwich, according to its extensive company timeline. It first started serving the Spicy Chicken Sandwich all the way back in 1995 as a limited time offering, then landed back on the menu for good in 1996. Was it your first spicy chicken sandwich? It was definitely ours. And we’ve eaten hundreds of them since, so there’s a strong sense of nostalgia that we can’t shake every time we unwrap one,” says Thrillist.

As you sink your teeth into that first bite, the explosion of flavors will make your taste buds do a happy dance, even if you’re not getting exactly what you think you are. “When Wendy’s decided to reinvent its chicken sandwich, it made sure to clarify that it didn’t affect its spicy chicken sandwich. This is the OG spicy chicken, popular for well over a decade now with its heavy-on-the-black-pepper coating and lingering heat. Though it’s been surpassed by other heavy hitters in the chicken sandwich wars, it’s still rated as a favorite pretty consistently (and better than the revamped classic chicken sandwich),” Cheapism shares.

From fiery jalapeño-infused mayo to zesty pickles, these sandwiches are a symphony of spicy sensations. “Wendy’s breading was also on the thinner side and provided a somewhat crispy bite – though not as crispy as McDonald’s. But what made this one better was the seasoning of the fried fillet. Unlike McDonald’s sandwich, the flavor came from a peppery dredge rather than a gloopy sauce. It tasted like I was eating a spicy chicken tender on a bun — which is great. The bun Wendy’s used was lightweight and slightly sweet, which allowed the chicken to shine and be the main event,” says Insider.

4. Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich

Number four on the list of expert’s recommendation for the best spicy fast food chicken sandwich is Popeyes Spicy Chicken Sandwich. “Two spicy chicken tenders on a french baguette, with lettuce, pickles, and mayo. The half-open baguette works perfectly here, keeping the chicken tenders from falling out of the sandwich mid-bite, as tender-based sandwiches are known to do,” writes Uproxx.

From crispy crunch to fiery kick, Popeyes has to make this list. “It’s almost impossible to find a chicken sandwich ranking or article that doesn’t list Popeye’s as ‘flawless,’ as Thrillist does. This is the sandwich that started the chicken sandwich wars, and it wasn’t just a fluke of social media — it’s a darn good sandwich,” writes Cheapism.

But which one reigns supreme in the spicy chicken sandwich showdown? Not everyone is a fan of Popeyes’ take on it. “Sorry, friends. There’s no easy way to say this so we’ll just get right to the point. The Popeyes chicken sandwich lived nowhere near to the level of hype associated with it. The sheer pandemonium has left us baffled…We were gravely disappointed. While this one had a nice crunch, it severely lacked any flavor and tasted like a standard greasy subpar fried chicken sandwich,” shares Mashed.

5. Arby’s Buffalo Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Number five on the list is Arby’s Buffalo Crispy Chicken Sandwich. “As the only buffalo chicken sandwich we ate for this story, we were excited to find out where it would end up landing on the finished ranking. How can you go wrong with saucy, tangy buffalo chicken? Well, we’re bummed to tell you that Arby’s hand a lot of good going for it, but one fatal flaw: the piece of chicken was laughably tiny. Like it only filled about two thirds of the bun, and it wasn’t a big bun. The rest of the sandwich was very tasty, especially the interplay between the hot buffalo sauce and somewhat cooling parmesan peppercorn sauce. We want to put the latter on everything, including Arby’s industry-leading curly fries,” says Thrillist.

As the crunch of the golden exterior gives way to the tender and juicy chicken, seasoned with a blend of spices that dance on your tongue, you realize this isn’t just a meal—it’s an experience. “So, for all your spicy chicken sandwich purists out there, know that we included Arby’s buffalo chicken sandwich above others because it does have some true heat to it and is therefore worthy of the title of spicy chicken sandwich. In 2016, QSR magazine reports, Arby’s introduced the Buttermilk Buffalo Chicken Slider. This became so popular that Arby’s eventually rolled out a full sandwich version of the treat. Both remain on the menu today. For this particular spicy chicken sandwich, a chicken breast filet is marinated in buttermilk, then coated and fried in sweet buttermilk breading. This process made for a super juicy, tender, and crispy chicken filet. The buffalo sauce is delicious, too, and has just the right amount of mild heat,” writes Mashed.

Beyond just the heat factor, it’s the right dash of herbs, the zing of fresh peppers, the sweetness of the bun—that sets apart a good spicy chicken sandwich from a truly exceptional one. “Very few people go through Arby’s drive-thru in search of a chicken sandwich. They pull in for a roast beef sandwich, or maybe curly fries, but a chicken sandwich? It’s highly unlikely. As it turns out, however, Arby’s Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich should be one more people’s radars, because it’s a surprisingly decent sandwich. Featuring a fairly crispy chicken patty, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise, and a sesame seed bun, Arby’s certainly isn’t reinventing the wheel. But it lives up to its ‘classic’ title well — it’s an all-around good chicken sandwich,” writes Tasting Table.

6. Burger King Spicy BK Royal Crispy Chicken

Number six in the list of expert’s recommendation is Burger King’s Spicy BK Royal Crispy Chicken. “The King’s chicken is breaded, not so much ‘crispy’, but resembles an actual chicken breast, rather than a manipulated patty. This sandwich uses a ‘triple pepper spicy glaze’ in addition to a ‘savory sauce‘ and for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what either of those things are. It’s a better sauce than McDonald’s, though that’s not saying much, with defined black pepper and cayenne notes. It’s an odd heat that comes across pretty lackadaisical, complimented with lettuce and tomato under a potato bun,” shares All Recipes.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself caught in a whirlwind of flavor with every bite. “Burger King is one of those classic fast-food places, up there with McDonald’s, that is somehow much blander than its counterparts. Sure, the Whopper is an iconic sandwich, but everything else on the menu is forgettable at best. And, unfortunately, that means that BK’s Original Chicken Sandwich ranks pretty low on this list. The fast-food chain does get some points, as they have more than one chicken option on the menu. Between the BK Royal Crispy Chicken and the decked-out bacon and Swiss version, there are definitely options for the chicken lovers out there,” says Tasting Table.

Once you’ve felt that spicy kick, there’s just no going back to a regular sandwich. “This is an amazing sandwich and probably the best thing you can get at Burger King. I’d take this over a Whopper any day. Good solid flavoring, condiments, and a little bit of heat,” adds ESPNWFL.

7. Culver’s Spicy Crispy Chicken

Finally, number seven is Culver’s Spicy Crispy Chicken. “We go to Culver’s for its signature Wisconsin fried cheese curds and its best-in-class cheeseburgers. In fact, we named its Double ButterBurger with Cheese the best cheeseburger you can get right now as part of Thrillist’s annual fast food awards, The Fasties. So, we had understandably high expectations going into our samples of the Spicy Crispy Chicken. Maybe they were too high… The heat and flavor you’re looking for in a spicy chicken sandwich is all there. We recommend a juicier chicken breast and an upgraded bun (while buttered, it’s a tad plain and not as fluffy as others) for Culver’s next iteration of this menu item. Oh, and maybe a spicy sauce for additional heat and overall moisture,” says Thrillist.

Are you “team extra sauce” or “team just-a-drizzle” when diving into that spicy goodness? “Founded in 1984, Culver’s has pretty much dominated the Southeast and Midwest since then. They now operate over 700 restaurants in 25 states, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the chain has a menu that sets them apart. In addition to Butterburgers, their Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich is both marinated and breaded with a unique four-pepper combination of spices and topped with lettuce, tomato, and pickles. It’s all served on a grilled bun. This began as a limited offering in 2018 that proved to be so popular it eventually found its way as a permanent menu addition. This reminded us of a McChicken sandwich, but way bigger, fresher, and just all-around better,” shares Mashed

It’s not just the sizzle; it’s the experience. “I added Culver’s to the list last minute and I had zero expectations for the custard capital. The chicken, breaded with a blend of four peppers, was the crispiest of the bunch, earning the moniker on the menu along with my respect for its tastiness. The sandwich comes with lettuce, tomato, and pickles within its buttered bun, and (like Chick-Fil-A) believes itself to be tasty enough without sauce. And it WAS. Now, in future, I will order a side of ranch to dip or spread on this guy, but with the punch of heat, pop of acid from the pickles, and flavorful spice blend in the breading, this was wonderful: Everything a textbook definition of a simple spicy chicken sandwich should be,” says All Recipes.

Pickles or no pickles on your spicy chicken sandwhich? Sound off in the comments!

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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.

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About the Author

Te-Erika Patterson

Te-Erika is the Publisher of The Feisty News for Women, the only full-service news source for women. Te-Erika is also the author of How To Love a Powerful Woman, Leave Your Baby Daddy and Loving Female Led Relationships: Relationships that Empower Women. A graduate of The University of Florida, Te-Erika enjoys a thriving career as a digital content creator that has spanned more than a decade. She enjoys chocolate, wine and solitude, and she is currently living a quiet life in Montgomery, Alabama. Follow her @Te-Erika

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