As a 20-year-old, I can look back at my childhood and distinctly remember my favorite meal: chicken nuggets. Whether I was entering McDonald's, Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse, the only food I ever wanted was some nuggets. Of course, my tastes have developed greatly over time, and I am proud to say I actually order other entrées now. However, nuggets still remain a favorite of mine.

Golden, crispy, and full of tender meat, chicken nuggets are a timeless staple, especially in the fast food world. But who has the best fast food chicken nuggets of them all? Well, I went and tasted five of America’s favorite chains to find the best of the best in the nugget world.

tea, chips, cake
Tabatha Marks

5. Burger King

Tabatha Marks

The first stop on my list of fast food places was Burger King. Although known for its burgers (hence the name), the chain often has specials on its chicken. I ordered a 10-piece and chowed down.

My first impression was the color: dark and pale. It lacked the goldenness that a chicken nugget needs, but nonetheless, I went ahead with my first bite anyway. The breading was soft and the meat was spongy, yet dry. The nuggets were lightly seasoned, but tasted much more of grease than anything.

These nuggets by any means are not bad, but they certainly needed a sauce paired with it, as it was just kind of bland.  

4. Wendy’s

chicken, sweet
Tabatha Marks

Next on my list was Wendy’s, the chain famous for its red-headed mascot, the signature Frosty, and juicy Baconators. Like at my previous stop, I ordered another 10 nuggets.

These nuggets were darker than Burger King’s, but they were fried much lighter. With my first bite, I could taste the difference in the fry, as it actually had some crisp to it. The meat was mostly filler, but it still was very juicy and packed some flavor.

I was actually pretty impressed with these, but I knew there had to be more out there in the nugget world. 

3. Zaxby’s

chicken, chicken wings
Tabatha Marks

Although this chicken chain only has chicken strips, I had to include them in this list because they are Chick-fil-A’s biggest competitors here in the South. I ordered a five-piece and began my Zaxby's journey.

The chicken had a wonderful crisp to it, as its edges were crunchy and the fry was light and very golden. The meat was soft and tender, so it would fall right apart in my mouth. I am also happy to say it was my first nugget that was not full of filler meat, and it really showed in the taste.

These were great, and I would definitely recommend them to any chicken fan. 

2. McDonald's

chicken, cheese
Tabatha Marks

It was really hard deciding whether to put Zaxby’s or McDonald’s as my second favorite nugget, but McDonald’s actually edged out its competition. The classic nuggets, a staple for Happy Meal lovers and fast food eaters worldwide, are still so great after 20 years of eating them.

They are light and airy, but have an amazing crunch to them, as the skin is very crispy and golden. The meat is filler, but it surprisingly has some juice to them. There is a slight grease flavor, but it is masked by the flavor of the nugget, so it is still very tasty.

These nuggets have always ranked high on my list, so I am happy that they did not let me down this time. 

1. Chick-fil-A

Tabatha Marks

Chick-fil-A holds the title of best chicken nuggets in the fast food world. Very lightly fried and perfectly golden, the Chick-fil-A nuggets have the perfect crunch, especially when you get to the corners and get the crispy edges, which is my personal favorite part. Like Zaxby’s, the meat is not filler, so each bite is tender and juicy.

But what really makes these nuggets special is the flavor. Marinated in pickle juice, each of these nuggets have slight but delicious tang to them. It is a flavor that I crave every time I am away from Chick-fil-A for too long. With such great textures and tastes, Chick-fil-A wins the nugget battle.  

#SpoonTip: When you crave Chick-fil-A on a Sunday, try making these copycat nuggets at home.

While there is a clear winner to my search for the best fast food chicken nugget, they are all great and you cannot go wrong with any of the above choices. Chicken nuggets are love. Chicken nuggets are life. Eat chicken nuggets.