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Grocery Store Fried Chicken Ranked

grocery store fried chicken
grocery store fried chicken - Krblokhin/Getty Images

There's a reason that chef Jaqcues Pépin calls chicken "the most democratic of all foods." The chef's point is that whether you're at an upscale restaurant or a humble diner, you're bound to find chicken on the menu, no matter what country you're in. With its mild flavor, succulent texture, and versatile potential, chicken has mass appeal that's won the world over. It can be seasoned and prepared in seemingly endless ways across all cuisines to delicious effect. But there's some inexplicable magic that happens when chicken is breaded and fried until it's golden brown. And perhaps no other place makes fried chicken more accessible than grocery stores.

For starters, grocery store fried chicken tends to be cheaper than fried chicken at restaurants. At the same time, the quality often varies between stores. The crispiness of the breading, the type of seasoning rub used, and the spectrum of flavors offered are just a few of the variables at play in our ranking of grocery store fried chicken. If you want to know which birds to steer clear of and which ones to pounce on, we've got the scoop.

Read more: The Ultimate Ranking Of The Best Fried Chicken Chains


Walmart fried chicken
Walmart fried chicken - Facebook

Affordable prices are appreciated, but sometimes you get what you pay for. The company's fried chicken has earned an abysmal two out of five stars on its own website after hundreds of negative reviews. The general consensus seems to be that Walmart's fried chicken is a waste of money. Perhaps the most egregious complaint comes from a customer who claims that the grocery store hides how overcooked the fried chicken is by placing the burnt sides down so that it's not fully visible through the packaging. Even if you haven't been duped like this before, the mere possibility of such a prank might be enough to keep your distance.

Another problem: The batter is so thick that it overshadows the chicken. Breading should be thick enough to stick to the meat and provide some seasoned crunch, but not so thick that it overpowers the taste of chicken. If we wanted to eat a bunch of batter, we'd get an elephant ear at the county fair. When we pay for fried chicken, we expect the chicken to be the star. At Walmart, the chicken is cheap but it's overcooked and overbattered, landing it dead last in our ranking.


fried chicken in container
fried chicken in container - Reddit

The problem with Target's fried chicken is that it's a bit hit or miss. Sometimes it is surprisingly well-prepared, but other times a fluffy feather is left clinging on to the battered skin, as seen on one user's Reddit post. We're not sure how a feather can survive the whole process of seasoning, frying, and packaging without a single employee noticing, but it defied all odds and happened anyway. One of the last things anyone wants to see before they take a big bite of fried chicken is a ruffled feather poking out. Granted, in the grand scheme of things, there are much worse offenses. But there's still no doubt that it's unappetizing, not to mention a little concerning that the managers overseeing the deli somehow didn't notice.

When you get fried chicken from a grocery store, you want to know that you're in good hands. You want to know that you don't have to flip over each piece to make sure there aren't any fuzzy epidermal appendages standing in the way of your meal. The bottom line is that sometimes Target's fried chicken is pretty good, but occasional mishaps make us reluctant to elevate it into top-tier territory. There are other grocery stores we'd much rather go to for consistently good fried chicken.


Safeway fried chicken and sides
Safeway fried chicken and sides - Safeway

Safeway's fried chicken has a few things going for it that nudge it ahead of some of its competitors. The deli sells it in packs as well as by the individual piece, making it possible to buy a single drumstick. A lot of other grocery stores only bundle chicken wings together in a bigger package, forcing customers to buy it in bulk. But Safeway doesn't do that and instead gives customers more flexibility when it comes to quantity. This approach also makes it a little easier for those on a tighter budget who don't want to commit to buying a larger amount.

Safeway also sells different styles of chicken, including classic breaded fried chicken on the bone and chicken wings glazed in a mango habanero sauce. According to some customers, the best bet here is to score Safeway's chicken when it's freshly made, as it loses some of its luster and the texture diminishes quickly. Of course, the same could be said for virtually all fried chicken: No fried chicken exists that's totally impervious to the test of time. That said, some grocery store fried chicken holds up a bit better than others.

Lucky Supermarkets

Lucky Supermarkets fried chicken
Lucky Supermarkets fried chicken - Facebook

Lucky Supermarkets is a chain of grocery stores with locations in California's Central Valley. This area is well-known for being extremely fertile and growing the majority of the country's produce. The grocery store chain began as a way to offer the bounty of California's acclaimed produce from local farms to customers for affordable prices. It now has over 120 stores.

Lucky Supermarkets offers a variety of fried chicken options, such as breaded fried chicken on the bone that's battered and crispy, as well as chicken wings. The deli's chicken is available hot, which makes it ready to eat right away — a plus for anyone looking for an easy lunch or dinner. One thing that we appreciate about Lucky's chicken is how well the breading sticks to the chicken.

When it comes to fried chicken, there's almost nothing more disappointing than watching all of the breading easily shatter and flake off. Fortunately, that's something you don't have to worry about at Lucky. This may seem like a trivial detail, but structural integrity makes all the difference.

The main issue here is that the seasoning is a little bland and mostly tastes like salt. A few more herbs and spices in the mix would go a long way. But at the end of the day, the chicken itself is fairly tender and juicy, and that's what's most important. You could do a lot worse than the fried chicken here — but you could also do a lot better.


Winco deli case fried chicken
Winco deli case fried chicken - Facebook

Winco is a grocery store chain with locations mostly concentrated around the Western side of the county. The company is famous for its bulk bin section, where some locations sell hundreds of items like grains, cereals, and seasonings by the pound. The store also has an extensive deli department that carries popular prepared foods like croissant sandwiches, wraps, and platters filled with fresh fruit and cheese. Winco's prepared foods hot bar also sells fried chicken by the piece.

What makes Winco's fried chicken exceptional is the variety of flavors that it offers. Most grocery stores keep it pretty basic, but Winco goes the extra mile. Of course, the selection can vary, but it's not unusual for the store to sell a mix of flavors such as buffalo, barbecue, salt and vinegar, lemon pepper, and sweet chili. The fried chicken also comes both battered and unbreaded, which gives customers a wider range to pick from. No matter which style you choose, the chicken is juicy and crispy. Better yet, it's also pretty easy on the wallet. The bottom is that Winco's fried chicken is a good call, but there's still some better options.


Kroger fried chicken
Kroger fried chicken - Facebook

Some say that Kroger's fried chicken is the best they've ever had. Sure, that's a lofty claim for a grocery store. But the truth is that sometimes the best food can come from some of the most unexpected places.

Kroger sells a variety of fried chicken, including boneless chicken tenders and bone-in chicken wings. The fried chicken tenders are hand-breaded in stores on a daily basis, which makes them extra fresh and crispy. The deli offers its fried chicken hot in various quantities, but it's only available after 11 a.m.

The grocery store's fried chicken has hints of pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne powder. With a solid recipe and affordable prices, Kroger keeps customers coming back for more. One post on Reddit noted, "It's one of my favorite fried chickens anywhere for the price." Another happy customer said, "You absolutely can't beat it for the price."


Albertsons fried chicken
Albertsons fried chicken - Facebook

Believe it or not, there was a time when customers could rent movies at Albertsons. Of course, this was before the age of widespread internet and streaming services. These days, you may not be able to borrow a well-worn copy of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" on VHS from Albertsons, but you can still score some delicious fried chicken. Thankfully, some things never change.

When asked what grocery store has the best fried chicken, the answer is often resounding: Albertsons. Some fans of the store wisely advise customers to call ahead and request a fresh batch to ensure maximum crispage. The batter on the fried chicken at Albertsons is well-seasoned and has a tasty texture that's crunchy yet delicate. The only downside here is that sometimes the chicken can be a little too oily. Granted, some level of grease should be expected with all fried chicken — that's just the nature of the dish, so a little oil is inescapable. That said, if the chicken isn't placed on a wire rack to rest immediately after frying, the oil is more likely to soak into the skin. At the end of the day, Albertsons still makes some incredibly flavorful fried chicken that we find ourselves craving from time to time.


fried chicken on fork
fried chicken on fork - Winn-Dixie

Winn-Dixie is a grocery store chain with over 400 locations in the southern US, including Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. The grocery store is known for some great prepared food meals near its deli, like its Lip Lickin' Chicken deal. This meal comes with eight pieces of double-breaded fried chicken. There are also sides available at the hot bar so customers can build their own meals. Some of these sides include creamy mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and corn.

The fried chicken at Winn-Dixie is fresh and never frozen and the Lip Lickin' Chicken deal offers a mix of thighs, legs, wings, and breasts. We think this meal is ideal since it offers so many different cuts of chicken and customers can enjoy both white and dark meat. The breading is also bold, seasoned, and crunchy, while the meat itself is still juicy. Let's put it this way: The smell of Winn-Dixie's fried chicken is so enticing that we have to exercise some serious willpower to resist stocking up on it every time we pass by the deli with a shopping cart. We just wish the store offered more variety with rubs and sauces.


Wegmans chicken wings
Wegmans chicken wings - Wegmans

Between the grocery store chain's products and overall atmosphere, Wegmans clearly has a lot of fans. The quality of the grocery chain's fried chicken could be another factor contributing to its popularity. So, how does Wegmans make such a tasty bird? One Redditor guesses that the chain brines its chicken, which might explain its remarkable succulence. "I can tell they brine their chicken before frying [...] They are so moist, I loooove salty juiciness!"

You can grab a pack of chicken either cold or hot, depending on your needs. Wegmans also packs up full meals of its fried chicken that include side dishes. One of these meals comes with a breaded and fried chicken breast, seasoned green beans, and a creamy scoop of macaroni and cheese. Everything is fully cooked and ready to heat, making it a perfectly convenient and well-rounded meal to warm up at home or at work.


Publix fried chicken
Publix fried chicken - Publix

Ask anyone who loves Publix what makes the grocery store so special, and there's a good chance that fried chicken is involved. In fact, there are numerous favorable reviews for it online, with one on ReviewStream noting, "If you would like to save money on fried chicken, without sacrificing the great taste that you crave, I suggest you give Publix fried chicken a try." Another customer said, "I think you will find that you are visiting fried chicken restaurants less often to get your fried chicken fix."

Publix fried chicken comes in many forms: breaded (and unbreaded) wings, fried chicken tenders, and whole pieces of bone-in chicken. In other words, no matter what type of fried chicken you're looking for, there's a good chance that Publix has something that fits the bill. The meat underneath is always spectacularly tender and flavorful. The breading is crispy and perfectly seasoned. The smell is heavenly and the color is consistently golden brown. When we think about the grocery store with the best fried chicken, there's no doubt that Publix is the first place that comes to mind.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.