When it comes to bar food in the United States, few items are more beloved than chicken wings. This gameday staple is big in pizza places, family restaurants and diners. The snack equivalent to fried chicken, the best part about these crispy, juicy wings is pairing them with a plethora of sauce choices. From spicy buffalo to tangy lemon pepper, these sauces and the chicken they come with have weaved themselves into the fabric of American food culture.
Today, many chain restaurants offer their own take on wings. The ten you will see below are some of the best you can find from major establishments that have solidified themselves as the place to get your wing fixe.
To come up with our list of the best chain restaurant wings, we only looked a look at those with ten or more locations nationwide and offered up at least two flavor options. From there, we took a look at consumer favorites, as well as our own experiences, to determine whose wings were worthy enough to fly at the top of this list.
Domino’s has a trio of flavors to offer for their wings: traditional buffalo, BBQ and Mango Habanero. They’re a decent accompaniment to the pizza, but Domino’s doesn’t give these pieces of chicken the love they deserve. I’d honestly love to have more wing offerings (and bigger pieces, too) than the baked fried chicken sides Domino’s pushes.
9. Buffalo Wild Wings
Given B-dub’s recognition, chances are you’re puzzled why it’s near the bottom of this list. For us, it’s because we weren’t usually there because we thought they were the best wings, we stopped by to get great deals on them. When Buffalo took away 60-cent wings and half-off Tuesdays, the incentive to pick this place over somewhere else was lost. The quality just can’t match the remaining establishments on this list.
Applebee’s is more in the news these days for their discounted drinks, but these wings are a decent accompaniment to those dollar margaritas. They’re just a notch above Buffalo in terms of quality, especially with the extra crunch on their twice-battered bone-in wings factored in. I’d rather have wings that go straight in the fryer, but when it comes to a batter, these wings have a decent one coating them.
7. Wingstreet/Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut puts so much effort into their wings that they’ve even got a separate brand specifically for them. It takes a special level of dedication to separate the wings and pizza business under one restaurant, and for that, the Hut deserves some major kudos. I’d love to see more standalone Wingstreet locations, though, so that my experience of trying these for myself isn’t limited to eating after a 20-30 minute car ride.
You won’t find a location of this national fried chicken chain west of Utah, but Zaxby’s has established itself as a powerhouse in the world of tenders and wings. They’re comparable to Raising Cane’s in terms of cult popularity, size and quality. Their wings could do with a bit less crunch though, and I’d love to see sauce variety outside of hot, teriyaki, BBQ and honey mustard.
When at a fried chicken joint, ordering the leg, thigh or breast usually takes precedence over the wings. However, like the rest of their cuts, Popeye’s makes a pretty great wing. While their sauce lineup is pretty basic, the breading they put on their chicken is magical. You’re not typically going to go to Popeye’s for just wings, though, which is why it takes a back seat to the top 4 on this list.
4. Anchor Bar
Anchor Bar claims to be the inventor of the buffalo wing, saying that Teressa Bellissimo first cooked them in the original Buffalo restaurant back in 1964. Today, they’ve got locations throughout the US and Canada, but also ship their wings and sauces nationwide. They’re definitely the tiniest chain on this list, but deserve such a lofty position for their history, flavor and distribution. Here’s hoping that more locations, especially on the West Coast, are coming soon.
Hooters doesn’t get a ton of publicity for their food, but they still know how to crank out an amazing wing. They also put more unique twists on them than any other chain on this list, with bacon-wrapped wings being the craziest of them all. Those who haven’t had the Daytona Beach-style wings have been missing out as well. That sauce could contend for one of the best across all chain restaurants.
What sets Wingstop above all of the others so far on this list is its consistency. Regardless of what flavor wings you’re ordering here, they’re going to perfectly crispy and juicy every single time. Wingstop is also the most dedicated wing joint on here, outside of Buffalo Wild Wings, but far exceeds it in terms of flavor, variety and satisfaction. The slightly sweet fries served on the side give that extra bit of balance to the heat of the wings, meaning you can keep going back for more. Wingstop is definitely the best US-based chain we’ve got, but there’s one international superstar whose wings have spread out here and taken the top position.
1. Bonchon Chicken
That global wing powerhouse is Bonchon Chicken, the Korean fried chicken and wings specialist from abroad. They only serve up two flavors: sticky and sweet soy garlic, and spicy hot garlic, but that’s all they need, to be honest. The chicken has as much juiciness as a Wingstop wing, but with an extra bit of crunch and explosion of flavor. Bonchon could definitely offer more in sauce variety, but when the two flavors they offer are easily some of the best in the country, so why branch out when your staple sauces are that amazing?