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I Tried Wingstop for the First Time Ever & Now I Get Why Chefs Rave About It

Come for the saucy wings and stay for the out-of-this-world chicken sandwich.

When a buffalo-style chicken wing restaurant opened in Garland, Texas, in 1994, nobody could have foreseen that it would one day be a restaurant chain with 1,500 restaurants globally. While it hardly seemed like a new concept—chicken wings have been a popular takeout and bar food for years, Wingstop seemed to have the secret sauce, literally.

The chain has grown exponentially during its first 30 years in business and 2023 has been particularly strong for the chain. Just recently, it reported store sales increases of over 20% for the first quarter of 2023. In fact, it's one of the only restaurants bucking the trend of reduced delivery. Lower chicken costs and supply chain stabilization have been great for the chain, but its reputation precedes it too.

Chefs rave about the chain when asked about wing favorites. Being an avid wing fan myself, who's even made the pilgrimage to the birthplace of Buffalo wings as well as to the Buffalo Wing Festival—I know a good wing and sauce when I taste one. It was time to find out if the chain really lived up to the hype. I brought along my favorite wing partner in crime, my mom, to taste the best of Wingstop.

The chain is of course known for its bone-in wings which are never frozen and can be completely customized. You can order traditional wings (plus choose among drumsticks, flat, or both), boneless wings, or a combo of the two. Then you choose from about a dozen different sauce and rub varieties, depending on the availability of some limited-time flavors. The chain also has fries, corn medallions, and a variety of smothered fries. As of last year, the chain is also making chicken sandwiches that can be coated in any of its sauces and served with one of its dips: blue cheese, ranch, or honey mustard.

We tasted the classic chicken wings, boneless chicken wings, sides, and the new chicken sandwich, to get an overall feel for the restaurant.

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Sides: Fries and Corn

Wingstop french fries
Meaghan Cameron/Eat This, Not That!

Wingstop takes its sides seriously, especially the fries. Fans of the unique fries say they are unlike any other fast-food fry. They are hand-cut, freshly made fries with a sprinkle of seasoning that gives them a sweet, salty, and savory flavor. One of the other unique sides is the Cajun Fried Corn, which consists of medallion rounds sliced straight off the cobb that are deep fried and sprinkled with seasoning. The chain also has Cheese Fries, Buffalo Ranch Fries, and Voodoo Fries that we did not try due to stomach space.

The look: The fries looked golden and delicious and had some of the skin left on for flavor. There was a sprinkling of white and black seasoning. The corn was also golden brown in places and it glistened with juice. I have to hand it to Wingstop for making corn on the cob takeout-friendly by slicing it into medallions.

The taste: The fries were crispy on the outside in spots and soft and potatoey on the inside. The subtle sweet spice blend was truly unique and made me dive back in for more. While they aren't my favorite fries—I like a fry with no seasoning—they were tasty and unique. As with all takeout fries, a quick spin in the air fryer is always the right choice. The corn was juicy and sweet, with a hint of spice. The little nibblers are a fun, unexpected treat, though a bit on the greasy side.

Boneless Wings

Wingstop boneless wings
Meaghan Cameron/Eat This, Not That!

Boneless wings aren't technically wings, but still tasty if done right. The ones at Wingstop are more like white meat chicken nuggets coated in their delicious sauces. We opted for the Original Hot.

The look: The boneless wings looked like chicken nuggets coated in screaming red sauce. Seriously, how is this sauce so red?

The taste: These tangy little chicken bites were delicious and amazingly crispy in spots even though they traveled for 15 minutes. Wingstop definitely knows how to do takeout. The black container the chain uses keeps everything hot and somewhat crispy, which is no easy feat. Overall, I prefer true chicken wings, but these are very good if you opt for boneless. Again, the sauce is phenomenal. We tried naked chicken fingers too and they were very pleasantly crispy. If you want to keep the crisp, get the sauce on the side.

Chicken Wings

Wingstop original wings
Meaghan Cameron / Eat This, Not That!

For the classic wings, we again went with the Original Hot sauce for consistency, though again, you have up to 13 choices depending on limited-time flavors. Not sure how many to order? Wingstop has a handy calculator to help you determine how many to get.

The look: These meaty wings looked amazingly plump. The sauce turned them bright red. It was sort of a genius move for Wingstop to use green as its signature color since it is the opposite of red on the color wheel and thus makes everything red pop.

The taste: These chicken wings are the real deal. They were perfectly cooked and maintained a wonderful texture while still pulling cleanly off the bone, which is so important for wings. You want to be able to eat the wing with one hand because you need the other one to remain clean for other life tasks.

Overall, Wingstop got high marks for consistency. The drumsticks were huge, there were none of those sad overcooked little guys in with the batch. The flats had a ton of meat, sometimes these will be overcooked too because large drumsticks need more cooking time.  The amount of sauce was good too, the wings were coated and there was a tiny bit available for a swipe at the bottom, but not so much that they'd get soggy.

The blue cheese dressing clung to the meat and had a few mini chunks and a nice clean, homemade flavor. I've had better blue cheese dressings, but this one is very good, especially for a chain restaurant. My favorite wing restaurant would win this round but it's a close call.

I completely understand why, of all the wing chains, this one gets top marks, especially with chefs. I would put these up against my favorite indie wing spot any day. The secret is the never-frozen wings that stay incredibly juicy and tender and the amazing sauce. The next step will be trying every sauce flavor!

Chicken Sandwich

Wingstop chicken sandwich
Meaghan Cameron/Eat This, Not That!

In a story that harkens back to the launch of Popeyes' game-changing chicken sandwich, Wingstop debuted chicken sandwiches and almost immediately ran out of them in August 2022. They were quickly replenished and are a mainstay on the menu. You can get any of the sauces on the crispy chicken breast patty, but we again went for the Original Hot.

The look: This is a beautiful sandwich. The chicken is a striking red color and peeks out on all sides from the glossy, soft bun. It looks like the Buffalo version of Popeyes' chicken sandwich with more pickles.

The taste: The sandwich tastes as good as it looks. The bun is so surprisingly delicate and soft, it's amazing that it can actually hold the substantial chicken. The chicken yielded with a soft crunch and then tangy and spicy flavors filled my mouth. The chicken patty is not as thick as the Popeyes one but it is jam-packed with flavor. The pickles surprisingly stand up to the Buffalo sauce spice, lending their own tanginess and a slight crunch.

After a few bites, I dipped the sandwich into the blue cheese dressing and proceeded to experience Buffalo chicken sandwich nirvana. That might be an exaggeration, but this sandwich is a winner and I completely understand why it sold out. It's a must-try.

Meaghan Cameron
Meaghan Cameron is Deputy Editor of Restaurants at Eat This, Not That! Read more about Meaghan