I tried chicken sandwiches from 8 major chains, and Popeyes’ was a major standout for several reasons

I tasted chicken sandwiches from eight major chains, and Popeyes' new classic chicken sandwich blew the rest out of the water.

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I tasted chicken sandwiches from eight major chains, and Popeyes’ new classic chicken sandwich blew the rest out of the water.
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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

  • I taste-tested fried chicken sandwiches from Chick-fil-A, KFC, McDonald’s, Arby’s, Shake Shack, Burger King, Popeyes, and Wendy’s to see how they compared.
  • At $4, Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich was the cheapest sandwich, and it was also the best-tasting sandwich by far.
  • The chicken sandwich isn’t technically on Popeyes’ menu yet. It’s launching nationwide on Monday, but I got lucky and stumbled into a New York Popeyes location that was testing the sandwiches.
  • Its thick, crispy, and juicy chicken was the freshest of the flock, while its crunchy pickles, creamy mayo, and buttery toasted bun all contributed to one extraordinary bite.
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It’s surprisingly easy to mess up fried chicken.

Good fried chicken should be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It should taste fresh and flavorful, and there should be balance between batter and chicken.

Soggy, chewy, greasy, uneven, too salty – these are just some of the things you don’t want your fried chicken to be. Yet, when I tasted eight fried-chicken sandwiches from fast-food chains, I found that most of the sandwiches were at least one of those things.

The one sandwich that wasn’t any of those things was Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich.

Popeyes’ chicken sandwich isn’t technically on the official menu yet – it’s launching nationwide on Monday, August 12. However, I got lucky and stumbled unknowingly into one of the restaurants that were testing the sandwich. I’d intended to get a chicken po’boy, but when I saw this sandwich being advertised, I knew I had to try it.

According to a Popeyes press release from Thursday, the chicken sandwich was conceived in 2017 when Kim Sánchez, owner of hip brunch restaurant Sweet Dixie Kitchen in Long Beach, California, was caught selling Popeyes chicken as her own. When Popeyes reached out to her, she freaked out.

“To be honest, I thought they were calling to sue me,” Sánchez said in the press release.

To her surprise, they wanted to collaborate. Two years later, the chicken sandwich is being rolled out at Sweet Dixie Kitchen on Thursday and Friday before going national.

It was definitely the biggest of the bunch.

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It was definitely the biggest of the bunch.
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Irene Jiang / Business Insider

Read more: I taste-tasted the signature breakfast sandwiches from 6 major fast-food chains, and the winner was clear

As for my test, I knew I had something special as soon as I took the sandwich out of the bag. It was thick and wide, and it practically begged to be eaten. The crinkly dappled waves of batter surfed over thick green pickles and a healthy smear of mayo. The buns were toasted, fluffy, and soft, but also strong.

The chicken was crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

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The chicken was crunchy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
source
Irene Jiang / Business Insider

The chicken was crunchy on the outside and unbelievably juicy on the inside. It tasted fresh, and it was seasoned in a way that let the chicken do the heavy lifting – not too salty, not too anything else. The pickles on the bottom added a lovely tart crunch, and the creamy mayo tied everything together.

Not only was this sandwich by far the best-tasting one in the lineup, it was also one of the biggest. At $3.99 it was the most affordable, too.

After I taste-test a certain kind of food, I typically want to avoid it for a while afterwards. But I found myself craving Popeyes’ chicken sandwich the moment I took my first bite and even as I was eating the other sandwiches. I might just have to go back for another soon.