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5 Fried Chicken Brands We Love

As the chicken wars rage on, here are five of our favorite chicken joints.

By 1851 Staff1851 Staff Contributions
Updated 7:07AM 12/10/21

After Popeyes’ chicken sandwich went viral in late 2019, the chicken category has been on fire. According to a report by The NPD Group, orders for chicken entrees at U.S. restaurants were up 4% for the year ending in April 2021. The versatility of chicken, combined with the meat’s popularity and relatively low price, makes investing in a chicken restaurant a no-brainer. 

Here are five of our favorite fried-chicken franchises. 

Layne’s Chicken Fingers* 

Why we love it: Founded in 1994 in College Station, Texas, Layne’s Chicken Fingers quickly garnered a cult-like following due to its close proximity to Texas A&M’s campus. What began as a single-unit restaurant has turned into a Lone Star State icon over the years, known for its great chicken fingers and friendly service. Our go-to order is the Three Finger Meal with fries, and of course, their delicious homemade buttermilk ranch dipping sauce. 

Slim Chickens 

  • Start Up Costs: $841,900 – $1,739,000
  • Units: 130+ 

Why we love it: The leader in the “better chicken” category, Slim Chickens diverse menu options give diners the chance to sample their hand-breaded chicken tenders in a variety of ways including in wraps, salads and the beloved chicken and waffle combo. Our go-to order is the Buffalo Chicken Wrap. 

Pollo Campero* 

  • Start Up Costs: $887,250 $2,126,500
  • Units: 350+ 

Why we love it: Pollo Campero has paved its own way in the chicken market by combining Central American flavors with juicy grilled or fried chicken. What began as a family-owned and operated chicken joint in Guatemala has evolved into an internationally recognized and beloved restaurant, allowing those who grew up eating Pollo Campero to enjoy a taste of home wherever they are. Our go-to order is the two-piece meal with citrus grilled chicken, tortillas and fries. 


  • Start Up Costs: $347,600 – $759,100
  • Units: 1,500+ 

Why we love it: Since opening its first shop in Garland, Texas in 1994, Wingstop has become a staple in the quick-service chicken industry. Armed with proprietary recipes, fresh ingredients, and friendly service, Wing Stop is the fastest-growing franchise in the country. Our go-to order: a six-piece wing combo, half bone-in and half boneless, with buffalo and ranch.

Cowboy Chicken

  • $511,996 $844,907
  • Units: 26+ 

Why we love it: Cowboy Chicken tastes like drinking sweet tea, in a rocking chair, on the porch watching the sunset — and that’s exactly what Phil Sanders, Cowboy Chicken founder, set out to do when he opened his first location in 1981. Their signature, wood-fire-roasted chicken is covered in their proprietary spice blend that keeps customers craving their rotisserie chicken. Our go-to order: a quarter piece of white meat chicken with green beans and baked mac and cheese. 

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.