Over 29% Agree This Restaurant Has The Best Fried Chicken

When it comes to American comfort food, fried chicken ranks high up there as one of the most beloved choices. In fact, according to a YouGov survey, it's the sixth most popular American dish, just behind cheeseburgers and French fries. 

In its finest form, fried chicken is crispy and crunchy on the outside and moist and juicy on the inside. However, with so many restaurants offering takes on the iconic Southern dish, it seems that everyone has an opinion about what makes the very best piece of meat. 

There's Popeyes, which ignited a wildfire of excitement across social media with its coveted fried chicken sandwich. There's Bojangles, famous in the south for its fresh-never-frozen chicken served with biscuits. And then, of course, there's the OG, KFC, championed by the legendary Colonel Sanders. But of all the options, which fast-food joint has the best fried chicken? To find out which place folks would flock to, Mashed polled 553 people across the country. Here's which restaurant reigns supreme, according to 29% of respondents.

Nearly a third of people picked Popeyes

Of all the restaurants famous for their fried chicken, Popeyes is considered the best, according to Mashed's poll results. In the survey, the Louisiana-born fast-food chain was the top pick, with 29.11% of respondents deeming it their go-to. 

As for what makes Popeyes chicken stand out in consumers' mouths, it could be the fact that each piece — thighs, breasts, wings, and drumsticks — marinates for 12 hours before going into the fryer. Or it could be the blend of Cajun spices mixed into the batter that has just a little bit of a kick. A reviewer on Influenster might agree with the latter. "The BEST CHICKEN I HAVE EVER HAD!!!!!" the fan exclaimed, explaining, "It is seasoned perfectly and is as tender as can be."

How did the other popular fried chicken joints compare to Popeyes? KFC — a.k.a. Kentucky Fried Chicken — was a very close second, receiving 28.39% of the votes, while Raising Cane's came in third with 15.73%. Bojangles and Church's Chicken both earned 8.5% of the votes, followed by Zaxby's with 8.14%. Unfortunately for Filipino fried chicken chain Jollibee, it took last place, with only 1.63% of poll respondents dubbing it their favorite.

Popeyes' chicken is made with a secret recipe

If you think there's something a little different about the taste of Popeyes fried chicken (as opposed to, say, what you get at KFC), you're right. The restaurant chain is famous for its Cajun seasoning, which includes a secret blend of spices. "Popeyes' culinary heritage is built upon the rich Cajun and creole flavor profiles that are unmistakably Louisiana," the brand explains on its website

Reader's Digest adds that Popeyes didn't own its spice blend recipe until 2014, when the brand paid $43 million to purchase the recipe from a private manufacturing company.

For a while, Popeyes was passing out packets of Cajun Sparkle Spice Blend, which fans put on everything from fried chicken to French fries. The seasoning was made with salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and red and black pepper. You can still find copycat recipes online for Popeyes' Cajun seasoning, such as this one from Restless Chipotle, which includes smoked paprika, sage, and chipotle chili.

How to find better-for-you options at Popeyes

As delicious as fried chicken is (no matter where you order it from), it isn't the most nutritious meal. Popeyes is no different, serving up oversized portions of oil-coated fried goodness. Popeyes' meals are definitely tasty — but they're also pretty calorie-dense.

"The average meal has about 800 calories," registered dietitian Jennifer McDaniel, RDN, told Women's Health, adding, "A single fried chicken breast exceeds more than half the daily sodium allowance per day (2,300 milligrams) at 1,230 milligrams." And Healthline explains that fried chicken — or rather, all fried food in general — is often loaded with trans fat, which can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes.

So, what are the best options at Popeyes if you're looking for a better-for-you meal? According to Eat This, Not That! and Women's Health, your best bet might be the blackened chicken tenders, which are made with the fast-food chain's iconic Cajun seasoning but without the breading and saturated fat. A three-piece order of blackened chicken tenders contains 26 grams of protein and 170 calories. Another better-for-you choice at Popeyes, if you really want that breaded crunch, is the Bonafide chicken leg, which has 9 grams of fat and 160 calories per serving, according to Popeyes' official nutrition information.