Popeyes Vs. Chick-Fil-A: Who Makes A Better Chicken Sandwich?

While we have no evidence to back this up, we're convinced the brilliant folks behind Popeyes' staggeringly popular fried chicken sandwich were inspired by Alexander Hamilton. After all, the fried chicken chain made sure it didn't throw away its shot when introducing the game-changing item in August 2019– just like the pro-duel Founding Father once sang (we presume he lived his life exactly as depicted in the Broadway musical).

Since that time, numerous fast food chains have searched for a chicken sandwich comparable to Popeyes' own offering (with most efforts entirely in vain). Of course, while Popeyes undoubtedly spearheaded the more recent craze, the "Louisiana fast" franchise wasn't the original purveyor of a fast food fried chicken sandwich. In fact, some may argue Popeyes' poultry product would've never seen the light of day without the path paved by Chick-fil-A and its own fried chicken sandwich — one it's been producing since 1964.

Frankly, though, this begs the question: Between these two juggernauts of the fast food chicken world, who makes a better chicken sandwich? Does the OG chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A stand up to (or potentially even best) the newer kid on the block from Popeyes? To determine this earth-shattering query, we sampled each sandwich and took a deep dive into the various components comprising each one. If you're wondering which of these two products stood tall in the end, read on, and discover who makes a better chicken sandwich: Popeyes or Chick-fil-A.

Who has the better-tasting chicken filet?

There's no doubt individual taste is one of the more highly subjective aspects of human life. How else can you explain two people with completely contradictory viewpoints of the same food — like a wife who absolutely adores onions alongside a husband who abhors the vegetable in any and all capacities. In that sense, no matter which side we regarded as the better-tasting chicken filet between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A sandwiches, you're apt to disagree with our assessment — and that's okay.

Still, we refuse to declare any category a draw. And in all honesty, between the two? The light, tender, moist filet inside Popeyes' chicken sandwich — and its zesty, sort of stunningly crunchy outer breading — was the better-tasting of the two in our experience.

Now, just because we found the centerpiece ingredient for Popeyes chicken sandwich more delectable than the parallel component in Chick-fil-A's offering doesn't mean you're obligated to accept that belief as gospel. In fact, if you prefer Chick-fil-A's classic chicken sandwich filet that it's been serving since 1964? Well, we can respect that opinion, too — we'd just opt for Popeyes.

Winner: Popeyes

Which chicken filet is bigger?

We suppose you could color us overly optimistic, but we were sort of surprised that neither Popeyes nor Chick-fil-A offered any easy-to-find information regarding the weight of their chicken sandwich filets. Still, while we couldn't compare the competing poultry based on any official, pre-cooked measurements, we do have our eyes to assist us. And while the difference was almost entirely negligible, when we compared the chicken filet from each chain's sandwich side by side? Chick-fil-A appeared to have a slight edge.

Now, we didn't bust out a ruler, nor did we have a scale on hand to measure either chicken filet's exact post-cook size and weight. But when Chick-fil-A's central component was placed next to its counterpart from the Popeyes chicken sandwich, or the two filets were stacked on top of each other, it was hard to deny Chick-fil-A provided the slightly more robust product.

Of course, since there's no uniform chicken filet used by either chain, and each sandwich appears to have a uniquely battered and prepared piece of chicken, it's entirely plausible that a different pair of chicken sandwiches from each restaurant would produce a different result. But as it was, Chick-fil-A eked out the victory in this area.

Winner: Chick-fil-A

Which filet has better breading?

While the bar for creating top-notch fried chicken breading is exceptionally high, it's actually exceedingly simple to understand what ideal fried chicken breading looks like. After all, a perfect piece of fried chicken contains a well-seasoned and crispy (yet delicate) breading that remains attached to the chicken itself and resists the natural tendency to become soggy over time. With that in mind, Popeyes rather easily bested Chick-fil-A in this category.

For starters, while the breading on Chick-fil-A's sandwich was flavorful and featured a nice balance of spices that complemented the chicken quite well, it almost instantly lost its crispiness. In fact, we ate our sandwich from Chick-fil-A within minutes of purchase, yet the breading was already soggy in patches, with a mushy texture that belied the genuinely pleasant overall product.

Conversely, Popeyes' breading had a more delightful crunch from the start than Chick-fil-A's filet. An airy crispiness surrounded just about every inch of the sandwich — even those portions covered in mayonnaise inside the bun. And somewhat surprisingly, the filet's textural thrill didn't diminish over time as we consumed the sandwich. In other words, Popeyes took this category in a walk.

Winner: Popeyes

How do the toppings compare?

Does more always mean better? Not necessarily. Quite frankly, we would argue that less is often more and believe a little culinary restraint generally goes a long way. In that sense, depending on your personal preference for condiments, the fact that Chick-fil-A's chicken sandwich contains only pickles — compared with Popeyes' product, which comes with pickles as well as mayonnaise — may be a point in the proudly religious (and controversial) establishment's favor. After sampling both chicken sandwiches, though, we'd say the mayo is a welcome addition and puts Popeyes over the top when it comes to toppings.

Now, even though we often hold the mayo, there are times when the condiment's inclusion elevates a culinary item to another level — which it does in this instance. Additionally, while each chicken sandwich's pickles provided a nice, briny complement to the chicken itself, the slices from Popeyes seemed a bit thicker and held up over time better than the thinner, almost-flimsy pickles we found on our Chick-fil-A sandwich.

Between the flavor-enhancing addition of mayonnaise — which somehow kept the Popeyes sandwich succulent without making the breading soft or overly heavy — and our minute preference for Popeyes' pickles, we have to give this category to the chain that originated in Louisiana.

Winner: Popeyes

Which bun is best?

Deciphering whether Chick-fil-A or Popeyes produces a better bun may have been the most difficult to determine — which speaks to the superior overall quality of both fast food chains compared to the shabbier end of the spectrum. Frankly, we nearly declared a toss-up when it came to the buns and called it a day. But we tend to find competitions that end in a tie a cop-out. And since we're forced (by ourselves) to pick a winner in each category, we'd have to give the bun nod ever-so-slightly to Chick-fil-A.

To be sure, both sandwiches provide a good balance between bread and chicken, with the ratio never straying too far in either direction — meaning both chains use a Goldilocks-sized bun that's just right (size-wise) for the chicken filet and toppings. Still, it's our job to nitpick as needed. So while we can't say there's much to dislike about the Popeyes bun, it may have been just a smidge too doughy compared with the thinner, let-the-chicken-shine bun from Chick-fil-A.

Additionally, the fact that Chick-fil-A's bun is buttered before serving puts it a hair ahead of the competition. Was the flavor of Chick-fil-A's bun simply able to shine through given the absence of any sauce or condiments? Perhaps. No matter the reason, though. Chick-fil-A's bun just beat out Popeyes' bun.

Winner: Chick-fil-A

What are the different chicken sandwich varieties or options available?

Frankly, it was rather easy determining which king of the fast food chicken mountain surpassed the other when it comes to chicken sandwich varieties. After all, since we weren't able to taste test every single type of chicken sandwich sold by each restaurant (and can't say which one offers a tastier assortment of chicken sandwiches beyond the standard classic), we had to rely on a simple assessment of how many chicken sandwich types each chain offers.

In that sense, while both fried chicken restaurant chains offer at least one option beyond the classic original, it's easy to count. A quick glance at Chick-fil-A's menu reveals two additional fried chicken sandwich options aside from the classic: a deluxe version with cheese, lettuce, and tomato as well as a spicy chicken sandwich variety. Not only that, but Chick-fil-A offers a pair of grilled chicken sandwiches, too, for any customers uninterested in a deep-fried item.

Conversely, a look at the Popeyes menu shows only one additional chicken sandwich: a spicy version. In other words, Chick-fil-A's three total fried chicken sandwiches (and two grilled chicken sandwiches) bests Popeyes' two total offerings.

Winner: Chick-fil-A

Which chicken sandwich is less nutritionally detrimental?

Let's be perfectly clear: There's no real way to consider a fast food fried chicken sandwich as anything close to healthy, and we'd never try to claim Popeyes or Chick-fil-A defies the laws of nutritional nature with its chicken sandwich. But if you're wondering which of these two fast food chains offers a less nutritionally detrimental fried chicken sandwich? Chick-fil-A has the better option (relatively speaking, of course).

Granted, Chick-fil-A's chicken sandwich still contains a less-than-stellar 440 calories, 17 grams of fat, and a whopping 1,400 milligrams of sodium (more than half the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's recommended daily total intake for sodium). But  when considering that the Popeyes chicken sandwich contains 700 calories, 42 grams of fat, 1,765 milligrams of sodium and only 28 grams of protein — a full gram less than provided by the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich? It's pretty clear which of the two is a cherry bomb for your health, and which is a nuclear bomb.

Now, we're not entirely privy to the precise reason why the Popeyes chicken sandwich is so much more nutritionally damaging — but it seems fair to blame the mayo. Either way, Chick-fil-A's better nutritional standing compared to Popeyes' is impossible to deny.

Winner: Chick-fil-A

Who has the better combo meal choices?

Unlike fast food burger chains, Popeyes and Chick-fil-A have a number of side options available (beyond fries) to pair with their fried chicken sandwiches. Sure, both fried chicken restaurants do have the option of fries — in dramatically different forms — but each offers side dish selections that stand out from the typical pack. Each chain allows any side substitution with combo meals as well, meaning neither Popeyes nor Chick-fil-A has much advantage from that perspective.

Since we can't directly compare all the different sides from Popeyes and Chick-fil-A, we decided to simply compare fries to determine the winner of this category. And while we love waffle fries, the exorbitantly well-balanced spices found in the Popeyes Cajun fries easily bested the unevenly salted waffle fries we sampled from Chick-fil-A.

Is it entirely fair to use fries as the tiebreaker between Popeyes and Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich combo meal choices? Well, since the chances are good that most folks will default to the classic fries as a side, we think it is. Therefore, Popeyes takes this category.

Winner: Popeyes

Which chicken sandwich is more affordable?

Like any other commodity, the precise cost of a chicken sandwich (from anywhere) is likely to fluctuate depending on where you're purchasing said sandwich. Along those lines, which of these two fast food chicken chains sells a more affordable sandwich may change depending on one's location. Still, a little menu comparison using the same ZIP code on Popeyes' and Chick-fil-A's websites revealed a lot — as did our real world experience, which showed Popeyes sells a cheaper chicken sandwich.

When we compare the prices of the two chicken sandwiches we purchased, the facts don't lie. Popeyes' chicken sandwich cost a relatively reasonable $4.99 from a Chelmsford, Massachusetts, location. By comparison, a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich cost nearly 50 cents more at $5.45 each from a nearby Nashua, New Hampshire, location.

Now, do we need a long-winded final paragraph tidying up this category or waxing poetic about why, economically speaking, the cheaper Popeyes chicken sandwich wins this category over the more expensive Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich? Probably not ... so we'll leave it at that.

Winner: Popeyes

Final Verdict: Popeyes reigns supreme

If we based our winner solely on the final score, the tally (5 to 4) indicates the Popeyes chicken sandwich beats its Chick-fil-A counterpart. But we have to be honest. Even if we decided to disregard the list of category winners when comparing these two fried chicken sandwiches? Popeyes would still be the runaway winner.

The presence of mayonnaise on the Popeyes chicken sandwich makes all the difference in the world, frankly, as Chick-fil-A's chicken sandwich lacked a unifying component between the pickles and chicken. The fact that Popeyes was fairly restrained in how much mayo it used — the chicken filet remained perfectly crispy over time somehow, even with the condiment — worked tremendously in its favor as well. Conversely, the breading (and bread itself) became soggy within a few minutes on the Chick-fil-A sandwich, even without any sauce or condiments — two cardinal flaws we couldn't overlook when compared to the near-perfect Popeyes product.

Additionally, Popeyes chicken sandwich was juicier and more tender, with a crispier, more texturally satisfying crunchy breading to boot. Frankly, Chick-fil-A's chicken sandwich was a tasty treat. But the Popeyes chicken sandwich was a genuine revelation, even in 2023. Trust us: Do believe the hype. Because when it comes to which chain makes the better chicken sandwich? You've simply got to love that chicken (sandwich) from Popeyes.

Final tally: Popeyes (5) vs. Chick-fil-A (4)

Overall winner: Popeyes