• Chicken tenders are back in a big way.
  • We tried chicken tenders from several major fast-food chains to find out whose are the best.
  • McDonald’s new tenders are a massive improvement and make it into the top three, but Chick-fil-A still comes out on top.

The humble chicken tender — or chicken fingers, in some circles — is making a comeback.

Chicken tenders are the most glorious incarnation of handheld fried chicken. They’re heftier than nuggets, simpler than wings, ideologically purer than boneless wings. The adoration for chicken tenders is universal, bridging the spans of age and class alike — the great equalizers, so they say, are death, taxes, and tenders. With McDonald’s resurrecting them on their menu and Wendy’s introducing theirs, the time for tenders has come.

A handful of major fast-food chains offer tenders, and we decided to put them all to the test to see which con-tender (sorry) reaches the top of the tourney.

We have seven chains duking it out: Chick-fil-A, Dairy Queen, KFC, McDonald's, Popeyes, Carl's Jr., and Wendy's.
Hollis Johnson
7. Dairy Queen
Hollis Johnson

We all knew someone had to come last, and to be honest, most knew it was going to be Dairy Queen.

Are they terribly awful? No. But Dairy Queen’s roots lie in, well, dairy, and it’s what it does best. We all love a Blizzard — but DQ’s food is often lacking, both in quality and direction. Its tenders have some crunch from their thick breading, but it overpowers the chicken.

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Hollis Johnson

It’s strangely doughy in taste, and the entire tender is meek — and it’s definitely not inheriting the earth. At best they’re slightly better than expectations, but blandly mediocre nonetheless.

6. KFC
Hollis Johnson