Zaxby's Vs. Raising Cane's: Which Is Better?

There are a ton of ways to serve up chicken, and that's what makes the meat so popular. A quick Google search instantly presents you with heaps of recipes on how to perfect your pollo, and one of the tastiest and easiest ways to do it is with a deep fryer. Sure, we all know deep frying food is far from healthy, but sometimes you need to put the urge to watch your waistline high on a shelf and just enjoy the moment. Sit back, drop that chicken into a jacuzzi of golden oil, and watch it sizzle away to a crunchy-coated perfection.

If you're a huge fan of fried chicken, you really don't have to look too hard to snag some; most fast food spots offer crispy chicken in one way or another. If you live in any of the southernmost states of America, you likely know about two popular chains that are known specifically for their fried chicken: Zaxby's and Raising Cane's. Both these joints have a strong fried chicken game, but if given the option, which one is more deserving of your money? Well, we're here to help you make the right decision so you don't end up with deep-fried disappointment.

There are more Zaxby's locations

One of the biggest contributors as to whether or not you'll make a trip to certain restaurants is their prevalence in the area you live. If you're seeking out a certain type of cuisine, you're likely always going to head to the place that's within a short distance as opposed to another option that's a road trip and a half away. If you're on the hunt for some crispy chicken to satisfy your raging belly grumbles, chances are you'll run into a Zaxby's over Raising Cane's.

Since its emergence onto the fast food market in 1990, Zaxby's has grown to over 900 locations throughout 17 different states. That's a lot of legwork that the owners put in to create such a prevalent chicken chain. Plus, in 2021, Zaxby's was chosen by Forbes to land on a list of America's Best Large Employers, which is quite a feat. Raising Cane's, on the other hand, operates 658 locations throughout 36 states; Texas is the state with the most locations.

Zaxby's has a much larger selection of sandwiches

Fried chicken can come in several different ways. Sometimes you want a basket of straight up chicken strips without all the fixings of a sandwich to get in the way of your mouth and that golden crunch. But there are also times you prefer those breaded strips to nestle in between some bread for a handheld vessel of delight. If you are looking to eat your fried chicken sandwich-style, you'll definitely want to head to Zaxby's over Raising Cane's.

Raising Cane's only has one measly sandwich option, which is a huge bummer for anyone who ends up there with a sandwich on their mind. The one option they have is on the "Extras” section of the menu, so it's not even a main item. Zaxby's however, comes in strong with seven sandwich choices. They offer customers a Kickin' Chicken Sandwich on Texas Toast with hot sauce, a Grilled Chicken option, and a trio of tiny Nibblerz (basically fried chicken sliders), just to name a few. If fried chicken sandwiches are your thing, then Zaxby's has you covered.

Zaxby's has a larger selection of appetizers

Few people arrive at a fast food destination with the intention of only ordering a sandwich and totally ignoring the selection of sides. Whatever entrée you choose always has at least a couple sides that pair perfectly with it so you get a nice rounded, flavorful dining experience. Sides can really crank a meal from good to great, and Zaxby's offers a larger selection of sides to pair with that golden fried chicken you're stuffing your face with.

The sides at Raising Cane's are pretty standard. You can get a slice or two of Texas Toast, coleslaw, crinkle-cut fries, and additional chicken fingers. Zaxby's also has those options, but they also add items like fried white cheddar bites, fried pickles, and chicken-bacon-ranch loaded fries, so you have some nice options to work alongside the main course you choose. A food reporter from Insider who visited a Zaxby's location while in North Carolina had pleasant things to say about the sides she purchased. The Texas toast "was perfectly buttery and paired well with the other menu items," and the coleslaw "tasted mostly of vinegar and had a tart, refreshing taste."

Zaxby's offers salads

Let's be honest: No one is heading out to a spot known for serving up fried chicken because they're super concerned with their caloric intake. That's just the simple truth. However, treating yourself now and then is totally okay. One tactic you can implement when you know you'll be taking down a lot of unhealthy ingredients is to kick the meal off with something green and leafy, like a salad. But know that between Raising Cane's and Zaxby's, Zaxby's is the only spot that offers any salad options.

Although the salad selection isn't huge, customers do get to choose between three options. They can order either the Asian Zensation, the Cobb, or the House, and each one comes with their choice of fried or grilled chicken chunks. Feeling skeptical about a Zaxby's salad? One satisfied Zaxby's customer who was a "long time salad eater" and "had eaten salads at fancy and traditional restaurants" raved about their experience with the grilled chicken salad on TripAdvisor. They wrote, "It tasted as good as it looked, and I would highly recommend it to any salad lover."

Zaxby's has a selection of food for kids

Taking the little ones out to eat can sometimes be a super enjoyable experience, but any parent also knows the flip side. It can quickly descend into a headache-inducing public meltdown. This is why a menu designed for kids is so important. Children aren't looking for unique menu items or seeking out ingredients they've never had before. They want simple foods. Luckily, if you find yourself at Zaxby's, there are a couple of items designed specifically for those tiny appetites.

Even though the kids' menu only consists of two items, both of them are likely going to get any children pretty stoked. They can choose between a chicken finger meal with crinkle-cut fries or a grilled cheese. When kids love what they're eating they won't throw a temper tantrum, and that's the recipe for a successful afternoon out. Head to Zaxby's and bring the kids, because not only will you get to indulge in some tasty chicken but you'll feel like a superhero to your family.

Zaxby's offers a larger selection of dipping sauces

Anyone who likes to find themselves around a basket of chicken fingers now and again knows the importance of having a great sauce to dunk them in. Sure, some people opt to eat them dry and enjoy the flavor of the chicken alone, but when you give a fresh piece of fried chicken a nice bath in a delicious sauce it takes the taste to a whole new level. Now, if you're a sauce enthusiast, then it's Zaxby's you absolutely want to head to instead of Raising Cane's.

The only sauce Raising Cane's offers is their signature Cane's sauce. However, when compared to the signature Zax sauce, one food reporter felt it tasted "similar to Raising Cane's sauce, but I found it to be just ever-so-slightly less flavorful." However, she said it was still "undeniably delicious when paired with the fries and chicken tenders." At Zaxby's, the chicken-dunking game is turned up full blast with 11 different sauces: Zax Sauce, Spicy Zax Sauce, Ranch, Honey Mustard, Wimpy, Tongue Torch, Nuclear, Hot Honey Mustard, Sweet & Spicy, Teriyaki, and Barbecue. Whew! It's pretty much sauce heaven.

Zaxby's offers dessert

Few things hit the spot after a meal consisting of greasy deep-fried chicken quite like something sweet to push the flavor pendulum in the opposite direction and balance out your palate. Stuffing your gullet full of fried chicken can definitely lead to a greasy feeling throughout your mouth, and no one wants that to linger for long. But, if you find yourself wrapping up a meal full of golden fried goodness at Zaxby's, you'll be able to snag a little something sweet afterward to combat that overly rich loitering flavor.

Now, the dessert menu only consists of one item, but that's still more than the zero options you have at Raising Cane's. That option is a chocolate chip cookie, and those chocolate morsels nestled inside the sweet dough are certainly enough to stave off any uncomfortably rich sensations on your palate. If your sweet tooth starts calling out really hard, you can get the three-cookie combo or an entire platter of them so you have plenty to bring home. The cookie fun doesn't have to come to a screeching halt inside Zaxby's.

They both sell gallon jugs of iced tea

You can't just stroll into an establishment and order a bunch of food without a refreshing drink to wash it all down. That's ludicrous! There's nothing quite like a great beverage to coat your mouth and help all that delicious food travel its way safely into your belly. Now, it's pretty obvious that both Zaxby's and Raising Cane's have a selection of drinks to pick from to accompany your food, but what's unique about both spots is you can leave with a hefty gallon jug of iced tea for your drinking pleasure.

This is great news for anyone who takes a sip of either restaurant's tea and thinks, "I wish I had a whole lot more of this." Customers have the option of either sweet or unsweetened, so if anyone's concerned about sugar content they need not worry. One customer even had enthusiastic things to say about the tea at Raising Cane's specifically. They wrote, "They have a little bit of both worlds when it comes to their iced tea – they have sweetened and unsweetened. Both are so good! The sweetened iced tea isn't too sweet either – just like back home!"

Zaxby's offers Boxed Lunch options

Everyone likes convenience, especially when it comes to their food. Sometimes it can be a pain trying to mix and match different food items to create one meal, and it's just nicer to have a spread already set for you to enjoy. Zaxby's is all too aware of this annoyance, so it offers customers the option to purchase one of its Boxed Lunches, and there are enough options to ensure most people can find one they like.

Customers get to choose between seven different Boxed Lunch entrée options: Zaxby's Signature Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Chicken Fingers, Nibblers, Boneless Wings, House Salad, and Cobb Salad. Once someone chooses which entree they want for lunch, the box comes with the addition of two sides and a dessert as well. This makes for an organized meal full of the flavors you want, and it feels good to construct your lunch the way you want it. Lunchtime is crunch time, and these boxed lunches offer variety and convenience to your midday dining experience.

Zaxby's offers more catering options

Have you ever shown up to a party and there simply wasn't enough food? Or not enough variety of food? It's a huge bummer because aside from mingling with friends or family, the food is the highlight of the hoopla. And no one wants to be the host who ends up letting everyone down with their less-than-impressive culinary spread. Now, both Zaxby's and Raising Cane's offer large platters to cater to parties, but if given the option, you'll definitely want to travel down the Zaxby's avenue and leave Raising Cane's far behind.

The reason for this is simple: The only food item Raising Cane's offers in large quantities is chicken tenders. So unless you're inviting over a group of elementary school kids for the party, you're going to want a bit more variety, and that's where Zaxby's comes in strong. Customers can get platters of not only chicken fingers but buffalo fingers, boneless and traditional wings, nibblerz sandwiches, Texas toast, potato chips and dip, and the cobb, house, and garden salad. Now that's a spread that would put huge smiles on whoever walked through your front door.

Both restaurants offers customers exclusive deals with memberships

If you're the kind of person who has a favorite food spot and you make it your mission to dine there frequently, it's nice to know that you can join some kind of a membership program and earn back some rewards for that hard-earned cash you fork over week after week. Well, if you're an enthusiast of either Raising Cane's or Zaxby's (or both), you'll be pleased to find out both of them have rewards programs for the customers who just can't get enough of their grub.

At Zaxby's, the reward system is called Zax Rewardz, and for every dollar you spend you get 10 reward points. Those 10 points accumulate in what Zaxby's calls your Flavor Bank, and as you earn more points you can eventually trade them in for Zaxby's items. For example, zero to 499 points earns you treats like the chocolate chip cookie trio, but if you manage to gather more than 750 points, you can eventually snag stuff like the Big Zax Snack Meal. And the whole program can be done through a phone app, which is convenient. Raising Cane's offers its customers membership to the Caniac Club. Members receive a Caniac Club card that, once it is registered through the Raising Cane's website, will get them special perks like a free combo meal, free drinks on their birthday, and member-only drawings and giveaways.

Which chain is better overall?

So, which of these two restaurants should you head to when your stomach really wants some crispy fried chicken? Making the correct decision is vital. Of course, you're always going to find people who swear by one or the other, and it's impossible to change their minds, and that's totally okay. When it comes to food, subjectivity looms tall. However, if you're new to both these spots, then your best choice is absolutely Zaxby's.

One thing you have to keep in mind if you're venturing out to Raising Cane's is that, aside from a small handful of side dishes, the only thing you can get is chicken fingers. So if you're in the mood for anything other than that, you're out of luck. Zaxby's, on the other hand, has sandwiches, salads, wings, a bigger selection of sides, a kids' menu, more sauces, cookies for dessert, and far more catering options. Again, if you're absolutely obsessed with chicken fingers and only chicken fingers, then Raising Cane's is worth your attention. If not, then Zaxby's is the way to roll.