With football season arriving in the coming months, I decided to seek out the best chain restaurant chicken wings. Making chicken wings for the big game was a tradition back home,

and I intend to keep it alive this season. I prepared my taste buds and sought out the best chicken wings. I kept this ranking simple with the grading criteria consisting of crispiness, flavor, and amount of sauce offerings available. Due to certain chains having specialty flavors, I wanted to keep the door open for sauces besides the classic buffalo (a staple for football watch parties). I asked the staff at each establishment what the most popular sauce was and ordered wings bone-in (boneless chicken wings are glorified chicken nuggets and will not take part in this survey). Nevertheless, here are the best fast food locations to order chicken wings, all perfect for the big game.

5. Hooters

Photo from Hooters

I had never been to Hooters before and had no idea what to expect. However, I must say, I was surprised in both good and bad respects. I ordered buffalo chicken wings, which lacked any

sort of robust breading (this is a huge necessity in a wing). Without the proper texture, you are left with a soggy, messy piece of chicken. While this was slightly off-putting, I did enjoy the smoky flavors. Did you know that Hooters smokes its chicken wings over hickory wood? It’s a unique and surprising cooking method that I now need to try. Hooters’ chicken wings were well-sized, and I think proper breading would take this to the next level. A solid start, but I was looking for more.

4. Chili’s Grill & Bar

Photo from Chili's Grill & Bar

Chili’s is one of America’s most notable chain restaurants, so of course, these wings did not disappoint. The chain has 10 different sauce options, ranging from mild (Sweet Chili Zing, Lemon Pepper Dry Rub, and Garlic Parm) to hot (Mango Habanero, Nashville Hot, and Santa Fe). After some questioning and research, I ordered the Nashville Hot. These wings come with a side of house-made ranch, which, I might add, is the inferior sauce option, however delicious it might be. Chili’s delivered a solid chicken wing. Despite the sauce having ‘hot’ in the title, it leaned on the milder side. There were subtle notes of vinegar that accompanied the kick, but there was not enough heat to my liking. The chicken wings needed to be a bit crispier. The flavor was good, but it missed the necessary kick that a hot wing should have.

3. Applebee’s Grill & Bar

Photo from Applebee's Grill & Bar

While Applebee’s boneless chicken wings have apparently been “Voted America’s Favorite,” I was curious how the bone-in “double crunch” wings would compare. Although there are fewer sauce options, I found the chain’s buffalo sauce to be the most popular. After trying, I confirmed this sauce had more flavor than Chili’s, a deeper spice profile, and definitely more kick. These were the most expensive wings I tried ($22.49), so I wished they lived up to the name. While the flavors were there, the alleged “double crunch” was not. A similar problem to Chili’s, I struggled to find the crunch that every chicken wing fan longs for. The flavor profile was above Chili’s, putting them higher in the ranking, but the crunch was definitely missing.

2. Buffalo Wild Wings

Photo from Buffalo Wild Wings

Finally, that crunch I have been waiting for! Of all the chains I tried, B-dubs takes the cake on the crunch factor. While they did deliver on all metrics, the texture is what makes this chicken

wing so good. The robust texture on the outside counteracts perfectly with the juicy inside, which is exactly what you’re looking for in a wing. The sauce brought some heat, resembling

Franks Redhot with more oomph. If you’re like me, keep the blue cheese close by, it’ll be your best friend here. While saying that, I do not think the aggressiveness of the sauce took away from the chicken wing. The spicy kick is what makes the buffalo chicken wing so iconic, and I enjoyed having to rest my palate between bites. I will definitely make my return during football season.

1. Wingstop

Photo from Wingstop

Pound for pound, I found that Wingstop has the best chicken wings. Since most of the sauces I tried were on the spicier side, I wanted to continue the trend at Wingstop, opting for the Original Hot; The sauce is described as “the first sauce we tossed,” and it was my personal favorite. The Original Hot chicken wings have a bold, more robust flavor profile. The outside was crispy with layers of texture, which paired beautifully with the juicy interior. Wingstop’s sauce was distributed well, the chicken wings were slightly bigger in size compared to BWW and went wonderfully with the iconic ranch. Need I say more?