We compared the most popular menu items at KFC and Popeyes - and the winner is crystal clear
Katie Canales/Business Insider
- 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:
Popeyes and KFC are two of the biggest names in the fried chicken fast-food scene.
And you'll find similar items on the menu at both restaurants.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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?Advertisement
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.Advertisement
Each bite delivered a powerful, all-enveloping kick.
There wasn't much of a crisp to the chicken, though, which was disappointing.Advertisement
But at least the sandwich was a good size.
The chain's Chicken Littles were more on the smaller side, as the name suggests.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
Each bite was bursting with flavor thanks to the flawlessly crispy chicken.
It was more than memorable.Advertisement
We gobbled up every bite.
For the side orders, we went with french fries at Popeyes.Advertisement
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.
But Popeye's french fries was a much more delectable side order.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
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.Advertisement
Popeyes may have been bred as a regional chain from the South, but it's garnered national attention for a reason.
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