Visitors to Oklahoma City might wonder about our fanatical devotion to the Thunder or how our downtown is seemingly designed to make sure no one gets in or out, but they will not leave the Sooner State wondering whether Oklahomans like chicken strips.
Wander down NW 23rd Street near Penn and you’ll note a glut of restaurants serving boneless pieces of fried chicken. Open up that range a little and you’ll find no less than 10 fried chicken-focused restaurant chains in the metro.
I am a gluttonous man with an appetite for both quantity and quality, but even I don’t have the stomach to tackle all these chicken places at once without some help.
Wait, no, it’s just a bunch of baristas from official iateoklahoma.com caffeine supplier Leaf + Bean and their spouses. I made a map of the nine closest chicken joints and split up routes for four different cars to retrieve orders of chicken strips from each of them.
Sorry not sorry, PDQ. There’s only a couple in the metro and they’re way up in Edmond. Plus, I tried it and just wasn’t impressed. If you disagree, let me know in the comments. Regardless, they didn’t make it into the Great OKC Chicken Strip Tease of 2018.
For this highly scientific study, we got whatever the “regular” version of the chicken strips were with the restaurants’ signature sauces. I weighed them to see who gives the most chicken and then we tasted each restaurant’s offerings and gave comments.
This competition was limited to restaurants that deal in chicken strips or fried chicken. Burger joints and fast casual restaurants were not included.
Greg - That guy who is me
Paul - Leaf + Bean owner and optimism enthusiast
Liz - Please, call her Garry
Alex - Tiny, but fierce
Grant - Not tiny, but a big cuddly snuggle bear
Tom - Owner of very cool hair/music opinions
Raising Cane's - raisingcanes.com
What they’re called: Chicken Fingers
Weight: 1.69 oz
What they say: We use ALWAYS FRESH, NEVER EVER FROZEN® premium chicken breast tenderloins to make the most tender chicken fingers possible. Our special marinade tenderizes the chicken, locks in moisture and adds flavor. Cane’s certified “Bird Specialists” hand-dip and bread chicken fresh for every order. The tenders are fried in a premium quality Canola Oil blend to enhance the flavor. We don’t use heat lamps (we don't even OWN any), because we only cook to order.
What we say: The consensus opinion was that, sans the famed Cane’s Sauce, Raising Cane’s chicken fingers are kind of...ehn. But, as Paul put it, “You cannot divorce the chicken from the sauce.”
Zaxby’s - zaxbys.com
What they’re called: Chicken Fingerz
Weight: 1.62 oz
What they say: Hand-breaded on the outside, tender on the inside, they're like the bad boy who is secretly the big ol' softie of our menu. Served with Zax Sauce®.
What we say: A bit on the dry side, but I thought they tasted the most like real fried chicken. Tom was a fervent fan, but also seemed to be doing so mostly to needle Paul. For a much wetter option, you can get them positively drenched in buffalo sauce.
Chick-fil-A - chick-fil-a.com
What they’re called: Chick-n-Strips
Weight: 1.48 oz
What they say: Made from the most tender part of the chicken breast, Chick-n-Strips™ are marinated in special seasonings, hand-breaded and pressure cooked to perfection in 100% refined peanut oil. They are mouth watering and generously portioned. Available in 3-count or 4-count entrées with choice of dipping sauce.
What we say: The sweetest of the chicken strips. A good level of moistness. Grant said they are “best when fresh” and that they don’t age well. Liz said she generally things of Chick-Fil-A as a nugget place, not for strips. Paul called it “Solid, grade A chicken.” Probably the most expensive chicken per piece.
Chicken Express - chickene.com
What they’re called: Express tenders
Weight: 1.9 oz
What they say: All the “fresh” (not frozen) chicken products are precisely marinated; dipped in a secret batter mix and cooked to perfection. Giving the customer that hot and juicy flavoring, so unique to Chicken Express!
What we say: Dry, with a lack of seasoning that made them pretty bland. Grant liked the amount of breading, which was good for holding onto the salty gravy dipping sauce.
Slim Chickens - slimchickens.com
What they’re called: Tenders
Weight: 1.27 oz
What they say: The best cut you can get. Always fresh. It started with a tender and a sauce. 100% all-natural chicken tenders are the building block for our business and our entire menu. Our mission is simple, to make the best hand-breaded chicken tenders using only the freshest ingredients. We’re dedicated to staying true to those roots, serving an honest meal to every guest of Slim Chickens with every meal we serve.
What we say: I thought they were almost completely flavorless, while Tom said the Slim’s Sauce tastes like tomato soup. Alex commended their juiciness and like the “nutty” flavor of the breading.
KFC - kfc.com
What they’re called: Extra-crispy tenders
Weight: 1.76 oz
What they say: Tender, marinated strips of all breast meat, hand breaded twice with the Colonel’s special seasoning for an extra crispy outside and an extra juicy inside.
What we say: Paul loved these, as much as his unwavering devotion to Cane’s would allow him. I thought they were pretty bland and most of us thought the texture was tougher than the other strips.
Church’s Chicken - churchs.com
What they’re called: Tender Strips
Weight: 2.29 oz
What they say: Our Tender Strips® are huge strips of all-white meat chicken that are hand-battered just like our bone-in chicken. They’re juicy, crunchy and big enough for the biggest appetite. Order them in spicy or original.
What we say: Alex said they were juicy, while her paramour thought they were “plain.” The creamy jalapeno dipping sauce livened them up a bit, but Liz wasn’t impressed with a general dearth of breading.
Popeyes - popeyes.com
What they’re called: Handcrafted tenders
Weight: 2.54 oz
What they say: Our 100% whole breast meat tenders are slow marinated in our unique blend of Louisiana seasonings, then hand-battered and breaded right in our kitchens and cooked up fresh.
What we say: Liz said it was one of her favorites and thought it was the first to have a flavor other than just salt. Grant, who admitted he’s incredibly biased toward Popeye’s, said it was best with the blackened ranch dipping sauce.
And your Great Chicken Strip Tease of 2018 Champeeeeeeen:
Golden Chick - goldenchick.com
What they’re called: Golden Tenders
Weight: 1.73 oz
What they say: It happened over 30 years ago - The Original Golden Tender™ was born. We started using the whole chicken tenderloin (the filet mignon of chicken) to make our Original Golden Tenders™. To guarantee great, fresh taste, we marinate our tenderloins, hand-batter and cook them to a delicious golden perfection. Since 1985 the Big Guys have tried to copy us...and they're still trying to get it right.
What we say: “I knew they were the best. But why would you trust me. I’m just a guy who writes about food for a living.”
Hahaha, yeah, I’m a jerk. But I did know that Golden Chick had some wonderful strips. Paul thought they were “too wet,” but they garnered votes from Liz, Grant and Alex. For an added boost, get them with spicy seasoning and a side of dirty rice.