The eternal debate of where you’ll find the best fried chicken in America is fierce. From the classic brine of the southern states and Nashville-style to Korean crispy wings, there’s just something about fried chicken that’s universally delicious.
We asked our panel of food experts and Big 7 Travel readers to vote on the best fried chicken spots in every US State. Traditional plates of crunchy thighs, trendy versions of chicken and waffles and gourmet bites… These places all have one thing in common: the best damn fried chicken in America.
Consider this the only finger lickin’ good guide you need for 2019…
Best Fried Chicken Restaurants in America
This a family-owned restaurant serving-up Nashville hot chicken and Southern hospitality. They now have outlets in Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta and Las Vegas, as word spreads about their amazing chicken.
Order it plain or, even better, in a bun with their delicious slaw and pickles.
Lucky Wishbone opened in 1955 and still going strong, serving up classic fries chicken and hamburgers. Any business that survives that long and still has so many loyal customers is a winner in our books.
The perfect match for their chicken is their milkshakes, of which they have 40 different flavours.
They are well known across the state for their chicken and the bbq sauce, which they insist on making from scratch. Once you taste it for the first time you will see why this place is so loved.
They also have a dog-friendly patio and a newly-expanded Saloon. Live entertainment and music is offered seasonally for those who want to kick their heels up.
They’ve been serving their chicken for just shy of 50 years and they keep things classic, which is just how their customers like it. Why fix it if it isn’t broken?
The chicken is super crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and comes served with their traditional sides, which are simply delicious.
Chef Thomas Keller’s family-style restaurant in Yountville known for buttermilk fried chicken and BBQ. If a chef of his stature is going to take on fried chicken then you know it will be special.
Their garden and picnic area are the perfect place to sit outside; both spaces are open from spring to harvest.
This is a fourth generation family-owned restaurant known for their legendary skillet fried chicken. People drive from all over the state just to get their hands on it.
FYI, look out for their Nashville-style hot fried chicken which they serve on Sunday nights.
They only serve their chicken to go with no indoor seating, but that doesn’t put people off. Grab it to go or in the warmer months sit outside with your fellow diners licking your fingers clean.
Seriously crispy on the outside and about as delicious as fried chicken can get.
Their fried chicken is the stuff of local legend and constantly winning awards. They serve it family-style in a super relaxed setting, or you can take it to go which many people do too.
They have lots of other delicious classics on the menu but you would be foolish to ignore the chicken.
Some might be surprised to find fried chicken this good in such a high-end hotel. Bird & Bone is in the The Confidante Miami Beach hotel and is the perfect antidote to the bland and boring food that most hotels serve.
Huge portions and even bigger flavour makes this the perfect way to start off your stay in Miami.
They first opened their doors in 1965 and now have five locations. Anybody who is been making fried chicken this long and with this much success knows what they are doing.
Simple stripped back setting, huge flavour, perfectly crisp chicken and seriously affordable pricing. It ticks every single box.
This popular Korean fried chicken restaurant mini-chain has addictively good crispy fried Shoyu chicken. It’s supposedly healthier than a typical buttermilk fried chicken, too.
Grab it to go and get ready to be licking spices off your hands all night.
This late-night spot is a great place for a midnight chicken feast after a few beers. Actually it’s a great place for a chicken feast at any time.
The Chicken and Waffles dish here is a local favourite. A half chicken, fried and served atop a fresh Belgian waffle, with whipped butter and warm maple syrup. Yum.
The Plain Jane fried chicken at this counter-service Korean joint has cult status in Chicago. Despite the name, there’s nothing plain about this chicken. For the purist who likes their fried chicken sans any sauces, this version is for you.
It’s simply fried to golden perfection.
Founded in 1928, Hollyhock Hill doesn’t just serve classic Indiana fried chicken, they helped invent it. This family style restaurant serves full plates of fried chicken with all the trimmings… Mash potato, corn, green beans and fresh butter rolls.
Their chicken is available for breakfast, lunch, dinner – the dream.
Specialising in Southern favourites and classic cocktails, Bubba is hands down the best spot in Iowa for fried chicken.
Order the Chicken and Waffles for a loaded plate of Buttermilk fried chicken and Anson Mills rice waffle with whipped honey butter and house bread-and-butter pickles.
Beer Kitchen has great beers (duh) and other dishes, but it’s their fried chicken that stands out.
This ‘breakfast at anytime’ dish is on a new level: cornflake-crusted fried chicken breast, with a maple and mustard marinade, cheddar-bacon-chive waffle, chicken pan gravy and maple syrup.
Royals Hot Chicken are masters at Nashville-style hot chicken, in which the exterior of the fried chicken is seasoned with a spicy chile oil and a blend of chile spices.
Feeling brave? Choose the spice level of your chicken from Classic Fried, Medium, Hot, X-Hot, or Gonzo.
This is a local and international favourite, known for its simple menu and famous fried chicken. Willie Mae Seaton started serving her delicious chicken over 30 years ago, and even made her way back to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to keep her secret recipe alive.
Choose between white or dark fried chicken – that’s the entire menu.
Figgy’s Takeout and Catering does all your favourite comfort food, including their skillet fried chicken, done the proper way in a cast iron pan.
Order one of the buttermilk sandwiches stuffed with their crunchy and seasoned chicken and you’ll be a lifetime fan. The amazingly good sandwiches come with creamy mash and gravy.
Jumbo Jumbo Café has been serving authentic Chinese and Taiwanese cuisine to the lucky folk of Rockville since 2003. Their crispy Asian-style chicken is perfectly flavoured, with a crunch unlike any in the state.
This elegant wine bar and restaurant might not be the first place that springs to mind when thinking of the best fried chicken in America, but it should.
BISq’s classy take on the comfort food dish comes with either Thai Bird Chili Salt, Buttermilk Ranch or Chipotle BBQ. It’s out-of-this-world tasty.
If you want properly delicious soul food, then Michigan’s Motor City Soul Food is the only place you need to go. Everything is carryout here, so choose your food from the huge menu and get feasting on their salty fried chicken.
Sides include candied yams, spaghetti, cabbage, sweetcorn, mash and so, so much more.
Revival is famous in the Twin Cities for its Southern fried chicken that never fails to pack a serious flavour punch. It’s a chef-driven project so they use farm-raised chickens and add a bit of pizazz.
Good news for coeliacs – they even have a gluten-free fried chicken version.
Old Country Store might be remote, but it’s worth seeking out for its chicken alone. Their mouthwatering fried chicken is cooked up singing cook, Mr. D.
Even better is that’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, so you can fill yourself up to the brim with these tasty bites. The best $12.95 you’ll spend.
Byrd & Barrel’s goal is to change the fast food game by serving locally sourced hand made food in a fast food environment, aka gourmet fried chicken, but fast.
Chow down on their buttermilk fried nugs, fried chicken sandwiches or a classic chicken and waffles. All incredible – just don’t forget the Kool Aid pickles.
Roost serves up traditional Southern recipes with a twist here and there. Order their succulent chicken in a family-size bucket, fried on a stick or in a sweet and savoury waffle dish.
The only hard part is choosing between Nashville Hot or Sweet Heat.
Time Out Foods is one of the oldest black-owned businesses in North Omaha and still prepares the same menu as it did when first open over 40 years ago.
It’s a local household name at this stage, and with good reason. Chicken this good deserves to be shouted about.
Mochicko Chicken is a Hawaiian-style fried chicken joint where you can load those tasty and sticky bites onto rice bowls.
There’s lots of tempting sauces you can choose: honey teriyaki, mango and garlic or katsu, to name but a few. You’ll be back for more of this chicken again and again.
Famous for their chicken tenders, homemade ice cream and Frozen Mudslides, the Backroom has been serving crispy chicken since 1917.
You can’t go wrong with an order of the fried chicken tenders with onion rings – it’s up to you to get them spicy or coated in coconut flakes.
This year-round spot serves cooked to order “Hoagitos”, or mini-subs, sliders and sides, stuffed with freshly fried chicken that’s almost impossibly good.
Their fried chicken sandwiches include the Forbidden Chicken: crispy chicken thigh with a sweet ‘n’ spicy glaze, carrot-daikon slaw and garlic mayo.
These crispy chicken wings are some of the best fried chicken in America you’ll ever taste. The vibe of this homey restaurant is just as good as the food.
Don’t leave without trying the Famous Jr.: three crunchy wings and a fluffy waffle, with a dollop of whipped cinnamon butter.
This Williamsburg icon has been feeding NYC its salty, crispy fried chicken since 2006, and people are still as obsessed as ever.
The crispy chicken cutlet on a buttermilk biscuit slathered in hot sauce and honey butter is an absolute classic. Finish it off with sweet tea and a glazed doughnut.
Just like Raleigh itself, Mandolin is Southern at its roots, but draws influences from around the world.
The result? Fried chicken breast on buckwheat waffles with braised greens, sautéed mushrooms, bacon-mushroom cream and truffle honey.
Rustica Eatery and Tavern has a menu made up of traditional American fare with European influences, with a key dish being their fried chicken.
The heavenly buttermilk fried chicken comes with green chile ranch and tomato preserves. Dee-lish.
Don’t judge this unassuming bowling alley and music venue on your first thoughts – this is where you’ll soon be running to bite into perfectly fried chicken. Take a break from your night out for a greasy chicken feast.
Dip into Mahall’s hot honey sauce for extra irresistible flavour.
This legendary restaurant goes through 24,000 pieces of chicken per week.
Just ask for a the ‘Fried Chicken’ order. It consists of eight pieces: two breasts, two thighs, two wings and two legs. It’s served with sliced white bread, sweet pickles, dill pickles and onion slices, and is incredible.
The Lighthouse is a mecca for scratch-made, comforting American classics, so it goes without saying that fried chicken is a menu highlight.
Get the boneless buttermilk-brined fried chicken with braised greens, sour cream mashed potatoes, and gravy or in a ciabatta sandwich.
Poi Dog serves Hawaii-style plate lunches with fried Spam, Kalua pork, small-batch tofu poke and mochiko- and furikake-battered chicken. It’s that chicken that really makes out mouths water.
Their tender chicken comes with yuzu mayo, pickled red cabbage and fluffy rice.
Bucktown focuses on classic Southern comfort food and does it oh-so well. Their chicken is perfectly moist yet crispy and comes in all the best forms.
Think: chicken ‘n’ waffles, with homemade biscuits, a chicken thigh sandwich, chicken tenders and fries or a full bucket of all the best chicken pieces.
Jestine’s Kitchen is superb traditional Southern home cooking, with a long legacy of making large and perfectly crispy fried chicken. Order the Chuck ‘n’ Cluck which has both meatloaf and fried chicken drumsticks for a real treat.
The lines outside tell you all you need to know (you can even get a t-shirt that says “I survived the line at Jestine’s Kitchen.”)
This old school restaurant had some tough times over the years with closures, but reopened in 2015 and is back serving their droolworthy fried chicken yet again.
Each chicken dinner (get the mixed dark and white meat!) comes with a choice of two sides. The secret to the crispy batter? They only ever fry one piece of chicken at a time.
Arnold’s is a ‘mom and pop’ family business that’s been a local landmark since the 1980s. . Grab a red tray and head for the cafeteria-style line to load up on the famous “meat-and-three”.
The buffet menu changes daily so check out the website before you arrive to be sure your favourite dish is on it.
With the motto “Fried Chicken and Champagne — Why The Hell Not?”, you can just tell that Max’s Wine Dive does things differently. Order a portion of the jalapeño-buttermilk marinated fried chicken, home fries, collard greens, Texas toast and chipotle honey.
And yes, grab a glass of champers to rinse it down.
This funky bar has non-traditional pub food that puts all other pub grub to shame. While basically everything on the menu is incredible, it’s the fried chicken that steals the show.
It comes on a thick slab of toast with crema, chives, pickles and a side of buffalo sauce. Add a fried extra for the ultimate finishing touch.
Al’s is a Burlington-area institution, known for its fabulous French fries and addictively crispy, golden fried chicken. The four-piece fried chicken set is bone-in and super moist on the inside, yet crunchy on the outside.
A side order of the namesake ‘frys’ finish off this great fried chicken feast.
They’ve been cooking up the best fried chicken since way back in 1966. Any restaurant thriving and with such loyal customers after half a century is doing something right.
Wonderfully crispy on the outside yet juicy in the middle, this is everything that you could want from a fried chicken feast.
Sunday is the night to come here for their special fried chicken night. The whole restaurant is an homage to Southern cooking and they leave no stone unturned in terms of authenticity.
So many wonderful Southern classics to choose from but save yourself for the fried chicken. As good as it gets for fried chicken in America.
Bluegrass Kitchen cooks up fresh farm-to-table comfort food with a modern edge, with specialties including brunch, cocktails and vegetarian dishes.
You are here for one reason though, and that is to taste their delectable and drool-inducing fried chicken. Golden and crunchy.
They cook their Korean BBQ meats on sizzling lava stones and serve them up with the most seasonal green vegetables. This is a simple concept, executed brilliantly.
The chicken is sticky, crispy and juicy all at once and explodes into your mouth with a huge burst of flavour.
This is one of the cutest and cosiest restaurants you will ever set foot in, while the word comfort food could have been invented for them.
Big portions, a great wine list and craft beers, best of all is the fried chicken which people come from miles around to feast on.