Jollibee’s Chickenjoy has been proclaimed the “Best Fast-Food Chain Fried Chicken in America” by American media outlet Eater, edging out 15 American and international brands in four rounds of competition.
The homegrown international Filipino restaurant chain’s most popular product outshone all-American chicken brands such as KFC, Popeyes, and McDonald’s, and then slammed fellow finalist Bonchon of South Korea, on its way to being declared champion in the “United States of Fried Chicken” feature published by the Vox Media international food website.
To answer “Which Chain Makes the Best Fried Chicken?”, Eater editors and writers pitted fast food fried chicken items against one another in winner-takes-all research following the only directive: to follow their hearts – and taste buds.
ROUND 1 OF 16. The Filipino pride in fried chicken first won over KFC, the largest fried chicken chain in the world. Senior writer Jaya Saxena noted how Jollibee’s offering stayed crispy and crunchy despite being delivered complete with a voice recording of biting into the crunch.
Saxena continued praising Chickenjoy as “the chicken itself tasted fresher, more flavorful, more purely chicken-y than the insides of KFC’s offerings. Jollibee’s gravy also had a more subtle spice than KFC’s seasoning, but it highlighted the chicken’s sweetness.”
Saxena then emphatically declares: “… we’re here to compare the basics of what these chains have to offer. And once I bit into Jollibee, there was no comparison.”
ROUND 2 QUARTERS. As the 16 brands were trimmed down to 8, Jollibee Chickenjoy faced off Popeyes, the chain that has more recently taken the Manila trendy crowd’s fancy. Senior reporter Bettina Makalintal weighed skin versus meat and decided in favor of the Filipino food brand.
“… when I’m eating fried chicken, I’m mostly in it for the skin. I love plucking off the best battered chunks and sheets of crisp coating and saving them as my final bites. It’s here that I think Chickenjoy shines: restrained in its amount of crunchy craggies compared with Popeyes’s shaggy exterior, but barely greasy and shatteringly crisp like a golden chicken skin wafer.”
ROUND 3 SEMIS. With the competition quartered to just 4 brands, Jollibee faced its local nemesis – McDonald’s. Deputy editor Monica Burton admitted to growing up on McDonald’s fare and preferring chicken products that do not remind her of the actual animal and thus expected herself to give the American brand an edge. But was surprised by the taste test.
In the one-product-per-brand face-off, Jollibee Chickenjoy was pitted against McDonald’s popular Chicken McNugget – and Burton buckled in favor of the product that “tasted like fried chicken should”.
“… after refreshing my memory with a four-piece, my belief in boneless wavered… My first-ever Jollibee experience was under less-than-ideal circumstances — coming off a bout of COVID-19, my palate still overly sensitive to salt — but Jollibee had more to offer in the way of texture and flavor. Even after a half-hour-plus in transport, the skin was still crispy, the meat juicy, not dry. In short, it tasted like fried chicken should. And when it comes down to it, this is a bracket about fried chicken, the animal not the idea.”
ROUND 4 FINALS. As the leading candidate from Group A chicken brands, Jollibee met Group B’s own bet, fellow international brand Bonchon of South Korea. The final round pitted Bones vs. Sauced, Jollibee Chickenjoy vs. Bonchon half-and-half.
Eater deputy editor and Eater’s Special Projects Editor, Lesley Suter, took it upon herself to judge what she refers to as “the battle of two international greats right here on American soil to determine this country’s greatest offering in the realm of oil-dunked poultry.”
Suter starts off the round by saying that both brands are great but fundamentally different. The editor admitted she and her family’s love for things spicy and that she had never eaten Chickenjoy despite her family living nearby one of the United States 70 Jollibee branches.
But the Eater leader gracefully also admitted losing out from not having tasted Jollibee Chickenjoy all these years. She confirmed the previous writers’ claim of the Jollibee crunch as well as the winning chicken taste and texture.
“The subtly seasoned skin is as tectonically crunchy as advertised, if loosely attached in such a way as to be able to slide off an entire hunk with one bite. (This actually proved to be a plus, when, two hours later, I dug in with my fingers for a skin-only snack.) But the real surprise here was the chicken itself: satisfyingly light, flavorful in a “tastes like chicken” sort of way, and supremely moist. That was the aspect my kids enjoyed most, too — my 5 year old won’t eat any meat with too dry or stringy a texture, and he plowed through two drumsticks of this stuff.
Suter also hailed the perfect complement of the gravy which elevated the initial taste to another level.
“Jollibee’s signature gravy is more than just an optional dunk; it completes the dish, gelatinous in a way I can only describe as naughty, while proudly showing its Filipino colors with a hefty dose of sugar. On its own, the gravy is unremarkable bordering on weird, but slathered on a bite of Chickenjoy, the sweetish gravy brings out a whole other realm of flavor — bright, tangy, rich. It’s the chicken’s perfect complement.
And Lesley Suter’s final judgment? “In the end, there can be only one winner. And while I plan to order from both Jollibee and Bonchon with more regularity than ever after this, the ultimate victor will be a new family staple due to its being two minutes from my house.
That’s right, the winner of the best chain fried chicken in America is…..
JOLLIBEE CHICKEN JOY!”
“We are honored that our beloved Chickenjoy has been named as among the best fried chicken in the US,” shared Maribeth dela Cruz, Jollibee Group’s President for Philippine Brands (Jollibee, Chowking, and Red Ribbon) in North America about the Eater list released on June 29, 2022.
“At our core, Jollibee is all about serving great-tasting food and bringing the joy of eating to everyone, and we are glad that more and more people around the world are discovering the joy of our crispylicious, juicylicious Chickenjoy,” adds Dela Cruz.
Now with 83 locations across North America, and over 1,500 restaurants worldwide, Jollibee continues to grow its presence in the U.S. and Canada, with plans of growing to 500 stores in the next five to seven years. The Jollibee Group is now aspiring to become among the top five restaurant companies in the world.
The Philippines’ Jollibee Chickenjoy was previously been ranked 3rd in the Top 10 fast food in the United States best-of-list released by FoodBeast, and 4th in the Best Fast-Food Fried Chicken list released by American Magazine Redbook.
TELL US in the comments below about your own taste test of Jollibee Chickenjoy, proclaimed by Eater as America’s best fast-food chain fried chicken!
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