I ordered the same meal from Popeyes and Chick-fil-A, and I preferred the crispier chicken tenders

I ordered the same meal from Popeyes and Chick-fil-A, and I preferred the crispier chicken tenders
·6 min read
chick fil a chicken tenders popeyes box fries
An Insider reporter compared the same meal of chicken tenders and fries from Chick-fil-A and Popeyes to determine which chain's meal was better. Erin McDowell/Insider

My meal from Chick-fil-A came in a white sealed paper bag. I got it delivered, and it was warm when it arrived.

chick fil a bag on blue background
Chick-fil-A bag. Erin McDowell/Insider

My Chick-fil-A meal cost $13.90, not including taxes and delivery fees. I ordered it through the Seamless app from my local restaurant in Brooklyn, New York.

I ordered a three-piece chicken tender, medium waffle fries, a medium lemonade, and garden-herb ranch sauce. The items came in a meal deal.

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My meal from Chick-fil-A. Erin McDowell/Insider

Since I ended up trying two full meals, I shared the leftovers with my roommate.

As soon as I got my order, I started off with the lemonade. It was quite pulpy but tasted homemade.

A three-piece chicken tender costs $7.65 at my location when it's not included in a meal deal.

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Chick-fil-A chicken tenders. Erin McDowell/Insider

When I popped open the box containing the chicken tenders, I could immediately smell the fried chicken.

They were all evenly fried, but some looked slightly darker and more fried than others.

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Chick-fil-A chicken tenders. Erin McDowell/Insider

There were small bits of fried breading scattered on the outside, which I always love with a chicken tender.

I tried the chicken tenders on their own and with the garden-herb ranch dipping sauce.

chick fil a chicken tender dipped in ranch sauce on blue background
Chick-fil-A chicken tender dipped in ranch sauce. Erin McDowell/Insider

The sauce clung to the tender.

The chicken tenders were nicely fried but still juicy on the inside.

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Chick-fil-A chicken tender. Erin McDowell/Insider

But they weren't as crispy as I expected. I wanted a distinct crunch when I bit into the tenders, but they didn't deliver that. In the end, it's largely up to personal preference.

I'm usually a big fan of Chick-fil-A's waffle fries but was slightly let down this time around.

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Chick-fil-A waffle fries. Erin McDowell/Insider

The fries I received were slightly undersalted, which I've never experienced at Chick-fil-A before. This was clearly because of the specific batch of fries I received and is not to say all Chick-fil-A waffle fries are underseasoned. Still, I was a tad disappointed.

But the fries were a perfect vehicle for the ranch sauce.

chick fil a waffle fries dipped in ranch sauce on blue background
Chick-fil-A waffle fries dipped in ranch sauce. Erin McDowell/Insider

The waffle shape allowed me to scoop the sauce, rather than simply dipping the fries in. As far as fry shapes go, Chick-fil-A has mastered its.

The ranch sauce was creamy and slightly tart.

chick fil a waffle fries dipped in ranch sauce on blue background
Chick-fil-A waffle fries dipped in ranch sauce. Erin McDowell/Insider

But I wanted a bigger serving size. By the time I reached the fries, I had practically run out of sauce.

My meal from Popeyes arrived in a large sealed brown bag. Inside was my box of food.

popeyes box on blue background
Popeyes box. Erin McDowell/Insider

I ordered a handcrafted three-piece-tender combo. It came to $12.40 before taxes and fees.

The box was heaving with Cajun fries, the three chicken tenders, and a biscuit.

popeyes box of cajun fries chicken tenders biscuit on blue background
Popeyes box with Cajun fries, chicken tenders, and a biscuit. Erin McDowell/Insider

I thought the serving size was very generous, especially for being slightly cheaper than the meal from Chick-fil-A.

I dug around the fries and plucked out a crispy chicken tender.

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Popeyes chicken tender. Erin McDowell/Insider

Right away, I saw how different the tender's texture was from the Chick-fil-A tenders. It was crispy, flaky, and crunchy.

The tub of ranch sauce from Popeyes was deeper, making it perfect for tender dipping.

popeyes chicken tender dipped in ranch sauce on blue background
Popeyes chicken tender dipped in ranch sauce. Erin McDowell/Insider

The sauce clung tightly to the crispy tenders.

I really liked the crunchy outside of the chicken tenders from Popeyes.

popeyes chicken tender on blue background
Popeyes chicken tender. Erin McDowell/Insider

But I was surprised by the lack of distinct flavor. I thought the chicken tenders from Chick-fil-A packed more of a buttery, savory flavor than the Popeyes ones.

Next, I tried the Cajun fries.

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Popeyes Cajun fries. Erin McDowell/Insider

When they're not included in the combo, a regular-size order of Popeyes' Cajun fries cost $3.20 at my local restaurant.

The fries were crispy on the outside, with tons of slightly spicy flavor.

popeyes cajun fry dipped in ranch sauce on blue background
Popeyes Cajun fries dipped in ranch sauce. Erin McDowell/Insider

In terms of seasoning, these fries easily beat out the Chick-fil-A waffle fries, at least in my opinion.

The sauce added to the fries' flavor.

popeyes cajun fry dipped in ranch sauce on blue background
Popeyes Cajun fries dipped in ranch sauce. Erin McDowell/Insider

But I still preferred the waffle-fry shape for dipping.

I was conflicted over which chicken tenders I preferred but thought the texture of Popeyes' tenders put them in the lead.

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Chick-fil-A, left, and Popeyes chicken tenders. Erin McDowell/Insider

The tenders were super crispy, crunchy, and paired perfectly with the dipping sauce. The inside was also juicy and plump. But I did think the meat of Chick-fil-A's tenders was more flavorful.

I liked the shape of the Chick-fil-A fries better, but Popeyes won for seasoning and serving size.

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Chick-fil-A, left, and Popeyes fries. Erin McDowell/Insider

The fries were literally spilling out of the box when I opened it. In terms of value and flavor, I had to give it to Popeyes.

The ranch sauces tasted almost the same, but I preferred the shape of Popeyes' sauce container.

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Chick-fil-A, left, and Popeyes ranch dipping sauce. Erin McDowell/Insider

It made for easier dipping.

I also preferred the lemonade from Popeyes.

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Chick-fil-A, left, and Popeyes lemonade. Erin McDowell/Insider

I found Chick-fil-A's version to be slightly too pulpy and not sweet enough, even though it did taste like it could have been homemade. But on a hot summer day, Popeyes' lemonade would have hit the spot just a tad more.

Popeyes was the winner for me.

popeyes box of cajun fries chicken tenders biscuit ranch sauce lemonade on blue background
Popeyes box of food, buttermilk-ranch sauce, and lemonade. Erin McDowell/Insider

While I ordered the same menu items from both chains, the meals were quite different in terms of flavor and value.

I really enjoyed Popeyes' crispy chicken tenders, the serving size of well-seasoned fries was undeniably huge, and the lemonade was very refreshing. Plus, it also cost less than the meal from Chick-fil-A.

While Chick-fil-A is undeniably a favorite for many people — after all, it is America's favorite brand, according to an MBLM study — Popeyes came out on top for me.

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