We Ranked Chicken Nuggets From Popular Fast Food Chains & Here's The Crispy Winner

In our previous edition of Ranked & Rated we journeyed through fast food French fry land in order to discover the golden winner. So now, what's next? Maybe you've already gleaned it from the title of this article, but we're taking on nuggets. Because nothing says nostalgia like a good drive-thu, kid's menu, six-piece order of crispy chicken nuggs.
Before I ever dared to take one bite of a plain hamburger with ketchup (I was a truly tepid taster in my youth), my fast food go-to was always nuggets. After all, there was some sort of chicken component to those fried little clumps of soft but slightly chewy grease; They were like little spongy pockets of fried protein. And I loved them.
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As with fries, my fondest remembrance of the delectable little nuggs rested classically at Mickey D's — but since my last ingestion of a six-piece order had been over a literal decade ago, I wasn't entirely sure if my memory was serving me right. I'd more recently graduated to the likes of Chick-fil-A chicken, and needed to figure out what the other fast food players were up to on the nugget front. Could McDonald's still reign supreme? Does Burger King just need to stop trying at this point? And should Wendy's be given a solid seat at the table? Read on to find out this and more as we munch and dunk our way through six chains.
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McDonald's, $3.99 6-piece

Exterior
Artificial-looking (yellowish) and a very lightly crisp fried shell (fairly greasy)

Consistency
Light and airy (spongey) quality; not like an actual piece of chicken, more like a chicken patty

Flavor
Pure nostalgia; not like chicken, but like McDonald's (the fast food brand truly has its own flavor profile.)
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Wendy's, $1.79 6-piece

Exterior
A darker more natural looking exterior with a black-peppery seasoning and a good amount of crisp (crispier than McDonald's, but still fairly greasy)

Consistency
Not as spongey as McDonalds, felt like you were eating more of an actual chicken piece instead of a pureed chicken patty

Flavor
Like chicken with a slight seasoned zest, tasty
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Burger King, $4.99 6-piece

Exterior
Similar appearance to Wendy's with a darker and crispier, seasoned exterior

Consistency
Extremely dense in a very unpleasant way, like a very heavy pureed chicken sponge

Flavor
A strange artificial flavor that tasted a lot like their French fries (maybe BK has a brand flavor too?!)
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Popeye's, $3.39 4-piece

Exterior
A very crisp and lightly fried-shell (not greasy at all) — appeared to be more in the shape of a smaller tender than a classic nugget

Consistency
Super crispy and light — again felt more like you were biting into a chopped up chicken tender than a true nugget

Flavor
A little bit of spice in the coating made for a flavorful, very chicken-y, bite — delicious!
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KFC, $3.99 for a large

Exterior
Soft, nearly mushy breaded-coated (like someone rolled chicken bits in wet bread)

Consistency
Lots of tiny little soft pieces (more fried breading than actual chicken), not quite sponge-like but still mushy

Flavor
Didn't taste super chicken-y, tasted more like KFC spices than anything
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Chick-Fil-A, $3.05 8-piece

Exterior
Natural coloring with bits of real chicken showing through and a soft breaded-coating along with crispier areas/pieces

Consistency
Soft and chewy, not sponge-like at all

Flavor
A tiny bit of spice with also some sweet notes, and overall very chicken-y
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Final Results
We had split ties for least favorite, middle, and winner.

6/5 Burger King & KFC (Losers)

4/3 Wendy's & McDonald's

1/2 Popeye's & Chic-Fil-A (Winners)

At the end of the day, it all comes down to one question: what do you look for in a chicken nugget? Do you look for a true McDonald's-style nugget: blob-shaped, spongey, with that nostalgic artificial-taste? Or do you look for a crispier tender-nugget type? Like a Popeye's or Chick-Fil-A. As kids we would've selected Mickey D's and Wendy's 100 times over. But now, we feel more drawn to consuming what appears to be and tastes like actual chicken — as opposed to the pureed-sponge patty situations. (That being said, a fair amount of Team Food members still asserted their allegiance to the OG artificial Mickey-D nugg. So to each, their own.)
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