We compared the most popular menu items at KFC and Popeyes - and the winner is crystal clear

chick fil a kfc popeyes fast food chicken restaurant chain review 36

Katie Canales/Business Insider

The menus at KFC and Popeyes sport similar items, but whose takes on fried-chicken staples are the best?

  • When a craving for fast-food fried chicken hits, KFC and Popeyes offer two viable options for satisfying your deep-fried desires.
  • To see how the two fried chicken chains compare, we visited both chains in the San Francisco Bay Area and collected some of the most popular menu items at each.
  • While KFC didn't bring much to the table, Popeyes shone brightly for its high-quality, mouthwatering, and crispy chicken.
  • Take a look at how the two chicken chains stack up:

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Popeyes and KFC are two of the biggest names in the fried chicken fast-food scene.

Popeyes and KFC are two of the biggest names in the fried chicken fast-food scene.

Source: Business Insider and The Huffington Post

And you'll find similar items on the menu at both restaurants.

And you'll find similar items on the menu at both restaurants.
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The chicken tenders, the nuggets, the chicken sandwich — these are staples at any go-to chicken spot.

The chicken tenders, the nuggets, the chicken sandwich — these are staples at any go-to chicken spot.

But what helps brands distinguish themselves from each other is offering a unique and distinct take on these classic items.

But what helps brands distinguish themselves from each other is offering a unique and distinct take on these classic items.
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So we set out to see for ourselves how the two chains set themselves a part from the crowd.

So we set out to see for ourselves how the two chains set themselves a part from the crowd.

We sampled the most popular or best-selling menu items from each chain, referencing rankings posted by the companies and other publications and public forums.

We sampled the most popular or best-selling menu items from each chain, referencing rankings posted by the companies and other publications and public forums.

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider, Quora, Business Insider

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That meant different dishes for each chain.

That meant different dishes for each chain.

We picked up original fried chicken tenders from KFC and Popeye's spicy chicken tenders, a crowd favorite.

We picked up original fried chicken tenders from KFC and Popeye's spicy chicken tenders, a crowd favorite.

Source: Business Insider and Quora

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The KFC chicken pieces were large in size, but the breading on it was more uneven than on the Popeyes pieces.

The KFC chicken pieces were large in size, but the breading on it was more uneven than on the Popeyes pieces.

The KFC chicken was also less crispy and lacked the flavor that was packed in the Popeyes tenders.

The KFC chicken was also less crispy and lacked the flavor that was packed in the Popeyes tenders.
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Each one of Popeye's fried chicken pieces were warm, juicy, and perfectly tender, with an even layer of breading all around.

Each one of Popeye's fried chicken pieces were warm, juicy, and perfectly tender, with an even layer of breading all around.

But that's just the chicken by itself — how does it perform when constructed into a sandwich?

But that's just the chicken by itself — how does it perform when constructed into a sandwich?
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We went with KFC's Smoky Mountain BBQ-flavored Crispy Colonel Sandwich, with its BBQ-sauce-soaked fried chicken nestled alongside pickles between two buns.

 We went with KFC's Smoky Mountain BBQ-flavored Crispy Colonel Sandwich, with its BBQ-sauce-soaked fried chicken nestled alongside pickles between two buns.

It certainly packs a mean punch.

It certainly packs a mean punch.
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Each bite delivered a powerful, all-enveloping kick.

Each bite delivered a powerful, all-enveloping kick.

There wasn't much of a crisp to the chicken, though, which was disappointing.

There wasn't much of a crisp to the chicken, though, which was disappointing.
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But at least the sandwich was a good size.

But at least the sandwich was a good size.

The chain's Chicken Littles were more on the smaller side, as the name suggests.

The chain's Chicken Littles were more on the smaller side, as the name suggests.
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The mini-sandwiches, dressed with pickles, are one of KFC's specialty items.

The mini-sandwiches, dressed with pickles, are one of KFC's specialty items.

The look of them was more reminiscent of hot dogs than anything else.

The look of them was more reminiscent of hot dogs than anything else.
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As small as they were, they were still tasty, with their breaded and mayo-dressed tenderness.

As small as they were, they were still tasty, with their breaded and mayo-dressed tenderness.

But any sandwich variation KFC offered paled in comparison to Popeyes' Chicken Po' Boy.

But any sandwich variation KFC offered paled in comparison to Popeyes' Chicken Po' Boy.
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The sandwich comes dressed in lettuce, pickles, and mayo with two chicken tenders tucked in a French baguette.

The sandwich comes dressed in lettuce, pickles, and mayo with two chicken tenders tucked in a French baguette.

The sandwich is full-sized and delicious.

The sandwich is full-sized and delicious.
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Each bite was bursting with flavor thanks to the flawlessly crispy chicken.

Each bite was bursting with flavor thanks to the flawlessly crispy chicken.

It was more than memorable.

It was more than memorable.
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We gobbled up every bite.

We gobbled up every bite.

For the side orders, we went with french fries at Popeyes.

For the side orders, we went with french fries at Popeyes.
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KFC tries to pass its seasoned potato wedges off as french fries, but we don't think that counts. So we opted for KFC's classic creamy gravy-topped mashed potatoes, which were pretty tasty.

KFC tries to pass its seasoned potato wedges off as french fries, but we don't think that counts. So we opted for KFC's classic creamy gravy-topped mashed potatoes, which were pretty tasty.

Source: KFC and Business Insider

But Popeye's french fries was a much more delectable side order.

But Popeye's french fries was a much more delectable side order.
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The restaurant, which originated in New Orleans, knows how to season food.

The restaurant, which originated in New Orleans, knows how to season food.

Each fry comes dressed in an even layer of Cajun spice. They're difficult to ignore.

Each fry comes dressed in an even layer of Cajun spice. They're difficult to ignore.
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The same could be said about the flaky, buttery triumph that is the Popeyes biscuit.

The same could be said about the flaky, buttery triumph that is the Popeyes biscuit.

KFC's was nothing noteworthy — it lacked any fluff or taste.

KFC's was nothing noteworthy — it lacked any fluff or taste.
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Popeyes' buttermilk biscuit easily knocked KFC's biscuits out of the park.

Popeyes' buttermilk biscuit easily knocked KFC's biscuits out of the park.

It's easy to say with certainty that in our taste test, KFC was completely overshadowed by Popeyes.

It's easy to say with certainty that in our taste test, KFC was completely overshadowed by Popeyes.
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One of the more minor, but equally annoying, grievances against KFC is its poorly designed take-out boxes that are awkwardly narrow for reaching into.

One of the more minor, but equally annoying, grievances against KFC is its poorly designed take-out boxes that are awkwardly narrow for reaching into.

We didn't have that problem with Popeyes — the restaurant delivered all of its food in a wide box, allowing for all of our hands to pull from it at once.

We didn't have that problem with Popeyes — the restaurant delivered all of its food in a wide box, allowing for all of our hands to pull from it at once.
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There's a lot to be said about a sharing-friendly take-out container.

There's a lot to be said about a sharing-friendly take-out container.

But even if its packaging design wasn't on-point, Popeyes wins this taste test without question.

But even if its packaging design wasn't on-point, Popeyes wins this taste test without question.
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The sheer quality of its fried chicken can't be matched.

The sheer quality of its fried chicken can't be matched.

The crisp, the breading, the texture, and the taste — Popeyes nails it every time.

The crisp, the breading, the texture, and the taste — Popeyes nails it every time.
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Popeyes may have been bred as a regional chain from the South, but it's garnered national attention for a reason.

Popeyes may have been bred as a regional chain from the South, but it's garnered national attention for a reason.

Source: Business Insider