7 Chicken Wing Chains That Customers Say Are the Lowest Quality
Today, Americans eat a lot of wings. On Super Bowl Sunday alone they consume over 1.4 billion wings, according to the National Chicken Council. And it probably comes as no surprise that consumers are constantly looking for the best quality wings.
When talking about "quality," customers are looking to avoid chicken wing chains that serve up distasteful flavors, source low-grade chicken, and/or have very unfortunate nutrition facts. From foodie reviews to extensive Reddit threads, wing fans have made their opinions clear on which chicken wing chains get the job done and which don't.
For top-quality wings, don't waste your time on any of the wing offerings listed below. Here you'll find 7 well-known chicken wing chains that have been accused of selling the lowest-quality, worst-in-the-game, wings you can buy.
Buffalo Wild Wings
Yes, the word "wings" is right there in the name, but no, the wings you get at a BW3 (or B-Dubs) are not very good quality; at least, not all of them. Per taste testers from Business Insider, the wings with milder flavors from Buffalo Wild Wings tend to be dry and bland, meaning most of what you're tasting with most of their wings has less to do with quality meat and more to do with potent sauces.
Reddit reviews say that the quality used to be better and they accuse the chain of skimping on quality once it built a following. "They used to be great, then once they built a clientele they decided to coast and source from the cheapest supplier available," says one on this thread dissing the chain. "I wondered this. Loved them back in the early 2000's but went a couple of times in the past 5 years and they're almost inedible." says another.
Known for wings, ribs, apps, and more, this national chain is not known for top-quality food. And per Insider tastings, when it comes to wings the offerings are anything but. The reviewer excoriated the wings, saying: "Nothing could have prepared me for just how bad these wings were. They were tough and dry, and they tasted as if they'd spent eons in a freezer, then in a microwave. Their skin was soggy, and the chicken itself tasted fishy. Chicken should never taste fishy."
A panel of taste testers from MLive collectively had little positive to say about the wings from Chili's. One reviewer said they were "not meaty at all and it tasted like liquid smoke" while another simply used the word "gross."
The secret to WingZone's chicken wings is the amazing number of sauces that are available. But those extra sauces often translate to fat… and lots of it. Take the WingZone Boneless Wings with Cool Ranch: two 350-calorie wings can contain 25 grams of fat, not to mention 7 grams of saturated fat.
Also, some customers are doubting the safety of the wings if they are cooked improperly. One customer got a lot of comments on Reddit when they shared a very rare-looking wing. "I got a refund," said the original poster. "I'm done w take out for while. I have had concerns of food safety w all these staff shortages at restaurants. This confirms it."
WingStreet is just Pizza Hut wearing a different name and logo. It's the exact same company, so maybe it's not all that surprising that a chain that's been accused by customers of using low-quality pizza ingredients also offers wings of middling quality. Multiple Reddit users who sounded off on the wings derided them with terms like "soggy" and "drowning in sauce."
Applebee's boneless "wings" (oversized nuggets) are quite unhealthy, while their regular bone-in chicken wings are notoriously small. The boneless wings on their own (without any sauce) contain a total of 1760 milligrams of sodium, which is nearly half of the daily intake recommended by the FDA. Also, according to one Reddit thread, you're getting seriously over-priced, undervalued bone-in wings, as they're a "poor excuse for awful food."
Zaxby's offers a lot of chicken options beyond wings, and it's a good idea to go with those—their wings are noted by customers as being heavy on the breading and light on the meat. And when you order the popular meal at Zaxby's, called Wings & Things, you really don't get very many wings at all. Instead, you'll get lots of fries, two pieces of Texas toast, some tenders, and a few of those wings that are, again, mostly breading.
One Redditor compared a fry to a wing just to find that the fries at Zaxby's are bigger than the wings as a whole! The moral of the story is if you're looking for actual chicken, and lots of it, many customers might say it's best to look somewhere else.
A version of this story was originally published in August 2022. It has been updated to include new information.