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A Ranking of the Top Fast Food Chicken Tenders

Which fast food chain has the most delicious chicken tenders.

Chicken tenders are one of the most popular foods in the United States, and it’s totally understandable why. These crispy, meaty, delicious strips of chicken are perfect for sharing or make for a great meal all on their own. Unlike chicken wings, they’re easy to eat, and you can customize them any way that you want.

fried chicken tenders in a basket

As with wings, you can up the spice level of your chicken tenders. One of my personal favorites is Buffalo-style chicken tenders, either served by themselves with a nice side of blue cheese or as part of a chicken finger sub.

Although you can get chicken tenders just about anywhere, some of the best chicken strips around come from your favorite fast-food restaurant. Yes, fast food joints all over the country are upping their game and serving restaurant-quality tenders for a fraction of the price.

These 17 best fast-food chicken tenders take taste, style, and preparation to the next level. 

Best Fast Food Chicken Tenders

  1. Chick-fil-A
  2. Carl’s Jr
  3. KFC
  4. Popeyes
  5. Jack in the Box
  6. Dairy Queen
  7. Arby’s
  8. Sonic
  9. Church’s Chicken
  10. Long John Silver’s
  11. McDonald’s
  12. Burger King
  13. Wendy’s
  14. Tully’s
  15. Raising Cane’s
  16. Culver’s
  17. Del Taco

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A has a cult following for its delicious chicken sandwiches and tenders, and it’s very easy to see why. Their boneless tenders are delicately fried in peanut oil and have the same flavorful crunch and juicy chicken that put them on the map for their chicken sandwiches.

One of the things that I really love about their tenders is the fact that they’re not overly salty. They have just the perfect blend of seasoning.

Their chicken tenders are also a decent size, so they’ll definitely fill you up. You can make a meal out of them or add on some of Chick-fil-A’s signature fries for a heartier portion. Whatever you do, though, don’t forget the sauce!


Carl’s Jr.

Carl’s Jr. is one of the most popular chains in the United States, and their chicken tenders are one of the star items on their menu. One of the best aspects of these tenders is the breading. It’s the ideal mixture of soft seasoning and crunch. Carl’s Jr.’s chicken is very high quality too. It’s totally natural and antibiotic-free.

As far as fast food tenders go, Carl’s Jr. is near the top of the list for me. They’re a great deal for the price, and they taste like something that you would get at a higher-end restaurant. So give the burgers a break and reach for the tenders.  


KFC

If you want great chicken, go to the original fast-food giant, KFC. One thing that KFC really does right is to put a crunchy twist on its tenders.

They do not skimp on the portion size, and all of their tenders are substantial and packed with high-quality chicken. They also coat every bite in KFC’s trademark combination of herbs and spices. 

They’re a little bit on the spicy side, with a healthy dose of black pepper to offset the chicken. If you want a familiar taste for a reasonable price, make sure that you check out KFC’s tenders.   


Popeyes

Popeyes rivals KFC as a great place to go for quality chicken at reasonable prices. I like this chain because you can get two different types of tenders; regular and spicy. In both versions, the chicken is juicy, delicious, and consistently good.

The mild tenders are lighter on the spice but still very flavorful. Grab a biscuit or side, and you have yourself a great meal.  

Their tenders are one of the most popular menu items, rivaling even their chicken sandwiches. It’s not hyperbole to say that you might just fall in love with the flavor. After all, chicken tenders are what southern fast-food restaurants do best.  


Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box is a good option if you’re looking for thin, crunchy chicken tenders full of delicious meat. I think that their breading is really on-point. It’s not overpowering but still crunchy enough to offset the chicken and give the tenders some seriously good textural interest. 

Since they’re so expertly prepared, I enjoy eating these tender plain, but you can also order one of their signature sauces to go along with them. You can also get spicy chicken tenders if you’re in the mood for a little extra heat. Ultimately, you really can’t go wrong! 


Dairy Queen

The ice cream giant also serves up some pretty good dinner fare. Their chicken strips are a great example of how versatile Dairy Queen can be.

They get the proportions right, with plenty of juicy chicken and an addictive, crunchy crust. The seasoning isn’t overpowering, and it makes the perfect canvas for their sauces. My personal favorite is ranch.

Round off your meal with some crispy fries. You can also go for one of Dairy Queen’s signature blizzards or an ice cream sundae to get your fix of both savory and sweet flavors. 


Arby’s

Although most people go to Arby’s for their roast beef sandwiches, their chicken tenders are particularly delicious. These tenders are relatively large and made of high-quality meat.

Although there’s a generous amount of breading, it certainly does not overpower the chicken. Instead, you will enjoy the perfect combination of breading and meat in every bite. 

Arby’s also gets their seasoning right. You’ll taste a lot of black pepper and garlic notes in every bite. If you were a fan of their popcorn chicken, their tenders will be right up your alley. Get some of their famous curly fries to round off your meal in style.  


Sonic

Sonic is famous for elevating fast food while still offering competitive prices, and their chicken tenders are a great example of this trend.

Sonic makes them out of high-quality white meat, and you can get either three or five strips with a few different sides. Like many of the best options on our list, Sonic’s chicken tenders strike the right notes between breading and chicken.

They also come with Texas Toast, onion rings, and tater tots. Their signature sauce pairs excellently with the chicken tenders and tater tots, and the whole thing is a hearty meal that will keep you full for hours. 


Church’s Chicken

If you haven’t tried Church’s Chicken, I’m not sure what you’re waiting for. This chain famously delivers on its signature product, and their chicken tenders are no exception.

The best thing about these tenders is the texture. They are perfectly moist, plump, and seasoned to absolute perfection. As a chicken tender snob, I give Church’s Chicken ten stars out of ten. 

The secret to Church’s Chicken tender might just be in the preparation. These delectable chicken strips are marinated in buttermilk before they’re fried. I like to enjoy them with their BBQ sauce. It’s smoky, just a little bit spicy, and pairs ideally with the tenders.


Long John Silver’s

Long John Silver’s might be famous for its fish, but their chicken is pretty good too. So next time you visit, think outside the seafood box and get their $5 Reel Deal Box with crispy chicken tenders.

You will not be disappointed. Like their fish, their chicken tenders are expertly prepared and battered with Long John Silver’s signature seasoning combination.

Also, at a mere $5 per box, you really can’t go wrong. You’ll get three plump, delicious tenders, a generous helping of french fries, hush puppies, a cookie, and a drink. If you have a bigger appetite, why not upgrade to a meal, and get two sides and five tenders. 


McDonald’s

McDonald’s is internationally known and loved as one of the leaders in the fast-food industry. Although their burgers are undeniably excellent, their chicken tenders give the Big Mac a run for its money.

These tenders are exceptionally juicy, coated in crunchy breading, and will satisfy even the biggest appetites.

Two flavors distinctly shine through in the breading; buttermilk and black pepper. The buttermilk keeps the chicken moist and delectable, and the black pepper adds just the right amount of spice. Every bite is flavorful, consistently good, and coated in that excellent crunchy breading.  


Burger King

Like McDonald’s, Burger King is upping its game with chicken tenders that have great homestyle flavor and juice all-white meat chicken breast. Pair the tenders with their vast selection of dipping sauces, and you have a serious winner on your hands.

If you are craving a lot of crunch, head to Burger King. This chain does not skimp on the breading, and each bite is full of texture and flavor.

Burger King’s chicken tenders are a hearty meal all on their own, but you can combine them with fries or a different side for a substantial dining experience.


Wendy’s

Wendy’s is jumping on the chicken tender train like Burger King and McDonald’s, and I’m excited about it. Wendy’s is very generous with their chicken to breading ratio, meaning that every single bite of their tenders is full of meat and crispy coating.

Although Wendy’s chicken tenders don’t have KFC or Burger King’s crunch factor, they’re great for people who want a chicken meal with a light dose of crunch. 

The chicken itself is very well flavored and has excellent consistency. One thing that I really like about Wendy’s is that they flavor the chicken properly and don’t just rely on adding spices to the breading. It takes their tenders to the next level.  


Tully’s

Tully’s is an excellent, family-friendly restaurant that sits on the higher end of the fast-food spectrum.

This restaurant is perennially popular with kids, thanks to its varied menu and fun atmosphere. Even if you don’t have any little ones, you should make a point to visit Tully’s for their chicken tenders. 

Get a plate of their tenders served with crispy fries. It’s a hearty-sized meal, so if you’re not exceptionally hungry, you can always share it with a few people. Otherwise, dig into their five juicy, perfectly seasoned tenders with an outstanding balance of meat and breading. You’ll definitely want to come back for more! 


Raising Cane’s

Raising Cane’s makes an exceptional chicken tender. All aspects of their tenders are really expertly crafted, from the seasoning to the breading and the quality of the chicken itself. Their dipping sauces are also excellent, and you can really customize your meal to fit your particular tastes. 

The secret of Raising Cane’s success is its products. Their chicken is entirely fresh, prepared by hand, and expertly seasoned with garlic powder, egg, and buttermilk. The flavor is never overpowering, and the nuanced balance is really what makes it stand out. In fact, their chicken tenders are so good that they’re the most popular menu item.


Culver’s

Culver’s is a cut above the rest because they prepare all of their food to order. This means that your chicken tenders are never sitting around and always piping hot and perfectly crispy.

You’ll totally taste the difference; trust me. The other thing that they do absolutely right is giving you good portions of chicken and breading. Every bite has the same consistency and quality.

Although their tenders are great all on their own, you can pair them with honey mustard, BBQ, or ranch sauce. I prefer honey mustard. It’s tangy, sweet, and goes exceptionally well with the chicken. 


Del Taco

Don’t let the name fool you; Del Taco serves some excellent chicken tenders. At $4 for their tenders and fries deal, the price is definitely right.

They’re a little lighter on the breading than some of the other options on our list, but if you’re looking for a meaty snack, they will definitely satisfy you.

Their fried chicken box has three tenders and a generous serving of french fries. I like to dip both my tenders and fries in their chipotle sauce. You can also try their habanero, caesar, or ranch dressings. If you’re feeling adventurous, why not get two?  


Final Thoughts

With all of these great options out there, it doesn’t seem that chicken fingers’ popularity is going to be waning anytime soon. So if you want to get your fix of the ideal finger food, check out one of these fantastic fast-food chicken tender offerings. 

You can always opt for a tried-and-true classic, like KFC, with their signature blend of spices. Or, you can forgo the traditional burger and find a new favorite at Burger King, Wendy’s, or McDonald’s 

Did we miss your favorite place to get fast food chicken tenders? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by Rocco Smith

Rocco is from Sanibel Island, Florida, and a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor’s in Editing, Writing, and Media. With seven years’ experience in the restaurant industry as a cook, server, bartender, and more, he is deeply passionate about intertwining his fondness for food with his love of language.