The Best Fast-Food Chicken Nuggets, Ranked
Chicken nuggets are a menu staple at fast-food restaurants. We sampled eight options to find out who makes the best nuggets money can buy.
Chicken nuggets, anyone?
An order of chicken nuggets certainly brings back the nostalgia of childhood. Yet that crispy outside and tender, juicy inside still makes them a fast-food favorite for adults.
Like fast-food French fries, good chicken nuggets are hard to resist. We tried eight of the most popular fast-food nugs and analyzed each order based on the tastiness of the chicken as well as the signature crisp outer coating. To really judge the value of the meal, we also took into account the price and serving size of the nuggets.
Let’s see how your favorite fast-food chicken nuggets measure up!
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An order of the classic McDonald’s chicken nuggets is small, but that makes it perfect for little hands. Of course, adults still enjoy the fun shapes too. However, these chicken nuggets didn’t rank high because they tasted the most processed out of the ones tested. Also, with a four-piece serving coming in at $2.19, a rival fast-food joint offered more value.
7. Burger King
Burger King is next on our list. Here, you can purchase eight pieces for $1.99. That’s double the nuggets offered from McDonald’s for about the same price. These nuggets are also quite small, so eight pieces can be gobbled up quickly. The Burger King nuggets arrived hot and fresh from the fryer. However, the thin breading and processed chicken was reminiscent of frozen chicken nuggets from the grocery store.
At Wendy’s, a four-piece chicken nugget order is $1.84. Again, these are smaller nuggets, so while they could be a meal for younger kids, adults might find this to be more of a snack size—you might want to order a baked potato to make it more of a meal. Wendy’s chicken nuggets have a pleasant crispness to the coating, which makes these rank higher than Burger King and McDonald’s, but there is still a processed taste to the meat.
The chicken nuggets at Chick-fil-A are clearly made with fresh chicken, and they have a nice breading on the outside. The nuggets in the eight-piece box are quite small, though. In fact, we’d be more likely to call them popcorn chicken rather than chicken nuggets. That being said, these tender and juicy pieces of fresh chicken are the perfect size for little hands. We would have liked a bit more seasoning, but since Chick-fil-A offers a wide variety of dipping sauces, there are still a lot of options for flavor.
An order of chicken nuggets from KFC comes in around $7 for three pieces. Don’t be deterred by the price, though—these pieces are very sizable and are more like chicken fingers than nuggets. They are heavily breaded with their signature seasoning, so the outside is very crisp and flavorful. Also, these are made from pieces of fresh chicken breast (yum!), rather than a processed and formed meat. We did find that the chicken was slightly overcooked, making it less tender and more rubbery than fellow nuggets.
At Popeyes, a four-piece order of chicken nuggets comes in at $3.28. This is the middle of the road price-wise for average-size nuggets. If you like a really hearty breading with incredible crunch, you’ll love this. But while it was definitely delicious, we found it almost overwhelmed the chicken. The chicken itself was very pleasantly juicy and enjoyable; we just wanted it to be the star of the show. Another Popeyes winner: its chicken sandwich.
Here’s a fun food fact: Wingstop offers four large pieces of chicken for $7.89. If you’re hungry, this is more food than Culver’s or KFC offers for around the same price. This order is decidedly a meal, not a snack, and it feels like something crafted for adults rather than something from the kids menu.
We enjoyed the substantial breading, fresh chicken and plethora of sauces at Wingstop. Bonus: The interesting sauce and dip combinations will introduce even the pickiest of palates to exciting global flavors. Again, these chicken pieces were more like fingers than nuggets. And with such fantastic chicken flavor, they felt more like a dish that could be ordered from a sit-down restaurant instead of a fast-food joint.
After everything was said and done, Culver’s ranked the highest on our list for fast-food chicken nuggets. Here, the chicken pieces taste fresh and are amazingly tender and juicy. The well-seasoned breading is perfectly peppery, and the ratio of breading to chicken is spot-on. The crisp coating is thin enough that it doesn’t overwhelm the chicken, but it’s flavorful enough to still be a real standout. Plus, the pieces are substantial in size, so a four-piece order still feels like a satisfying meal. We will definitely be back!
Next, check out our picks for the best burgers in every state.