Photo | Dan Anderson
Lagniappe | In the battle of fast-food chicken biscuits, Chick-fil-A (right) and Bojangles (left) reign supreme over offerings from Hardee’s, McDonald’s, Burger King and Whataburger.
I’ve been wanting to do this for a few months. Talk about fast-food breakfast in my circles and the most arguments will be over which restaurant has the best chicken biscuit. It’s like any other argument where you feel you’re rooting for your team — your opinion is the most important, no other opinion matters, a “hop on my train or I’m taking my toys and going home” kind of argument. A staple of the South, we can celebrate two things at once: fluffy, buttery, scratch-made biscuits and fried chicken. It’s our signature breakfast sandwich.
Every fast-food chain serving breakfast sells their version, save a few. Sonic was the holdout, breakfast with no chicken biscuit. Surprisingly none of the Popeyes or Church’s Chicken franchises we visited sold breakfast, a crying shame since both specialize in biscuits and chicken. We didn’t include any nonfast-food establishments in our experiment, though I can say the worst chicken biscuit I ever had was not fast food, and the best was.
I won’t get into the worst, but I’ll tell you my favorite. A little place in Laurel, Mississippi, on Chantilly Street called Vic’s has the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had plenty from there. Once I nabbed one from their drive-thru and had the bright idea of asking them to dress it. That was the overall No. 1. Lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on a chicken biscuit is an unmatched breakfast pleasure.
With no Vic’s here, my panel of judges would have to settle for what’s available. The panel included: Martin Cunningham, senior vice president of biscuit tasting and foraging; Rob Holbert, executive in charge of chicken breast; and myself, head of MacDonald Kitchen Laboratory in association with Lagniappe Test Kitchen. All three of us were responsible for gathering two biscuits from various restaurants for testing purposes only.
The restaurants included Burger King at 6403 Cottage Hill Road, McDonald’s at 5019 Cottage Hill Road, Chick-fil-A at 3244 Dauphin St., Bojangles at 3213 Dauphin St., Hardee’s at 565 Government St. and Whataburger at 2461 Government Blvd. We based our judging on biscuit, chicken, size, price and restaurant efficiency. It was a taxing venture which took a toll on our bodies. I still have no desire to return to any of these places.
A lot of you will be surprised at the cost. The numbers here reflect a pair of biscuits at each place. Normally I would consider Chick-fil-A an expensive fast-food restaurant, but today they were the cheapest at $4.98. Hardee’s was a little more, at $5.50. McDonald’s and Whataburger both came in at $5.78 while Burger King was two dimes higher at $5.98. Bojangles was off the charts at a whopping $7.18, but don’t let that number fool you. The biscuit and the chicken were much larger than everyone else’s.
Taking that into account, being first place in size may be worth the cost. The second-largest was Hardee’s, without a doubt. Chick-fil-A was third, and I should mention one of theirs was sort of a mutant, losing a point or two for inconsistency. Roughly the same size was Whataburger, followed by the smaller McDonald’s and even smaller Burger King. Odd that the second-to-most expensive was the smallest by a long shot. I would say one of the Bojangles was equal to both of the Burger Kings, and if not, then it was close to it.
Did your grandmother make homemade biscuits? That wasn’t really a thing around my house, but biscuits were a large part of my upbringing. I’ve made some crappy biscuits myself so I shouldn’t throw stones, but remember, I’m not in the business.
Out of these six we found the Burger King biscuit to be the absolute worst. Not one of us took a second bite. It was the second-worst biscuit I’ve ever had. McD’s casually missed the bottom rung, at least. Another surprise that day was Hardee’s. I remembered them as good biscuits. These were edible, but paled in comparison to the other three.
Around the Whataburger mark, Martin mentioned that it tasted like a homemade biscuit, not meaning it was necessarily a good thing or bad thing, just a thing. While Whataburger was good or at least good enough, the showdown was between Chick-fil-A and Bojangles.
Chick-fil-A has its fans, and I’m one of them. But Bojangles is growing on me. Despite the Chick-fil-A deformity we still had to edge them out over Bojangles. The two are dissimilar styles of biscuits, both excellent, and though for some unknown reason I was secretly rooting for Bojangles, I had to agree with my other judges that Chick-fil-A won this round.
For chicken there was a race to the bottom. No surprise that Burger King had a tiny piece of heart-shaped processed chicken that the cat wouldn’t even eat. Thinner than a pinky finger, this piece of trash belonged in the can. McDonald’s was still trashy, but reminded me of their chicken McNuggets. I may regret publicizing this, but I can go for some boot-shaped trashy McNuggets now and then. I’m not proud.
Whataburger had an unfair advantage over Hardee’s in that the honey butter they put on the chicken biscuit is delicious. I would eat it again. But again, the top two were heavily contested.
I love the peanut oil flavor of the Chick-fil-A chicken. The dark breading of pressure-fried chicken has a tangy flavor that keeps you returning. Bojangles, though, has a great chicken with a spicy finish that brings them to the top of this list.
Overall the trends remained close to the same for every category. Chick-fil-A was the most expeditious and Burger King the slowest. Bojangles and Chick-fil-A are definitely the top competitors, with Chick-fil-A squeaking out the win. Whataburger gets the bronze, Hardee’s misses the podium and takes fourth place. McDonald’s hangs on. Burger King was the smallest, second-most expensive, with a tasteless biscuit and processed chicken bested by elementary school cafeterias on bad days.
Consider the score settled.