10 Chain Restaurant Chicken And Waffles Ranked, According To Reviewers

Sometimes the best food combos are those at seemingly opposite ends of the flavor scale. Theoretically, a sweet, fluffy waffle shouldn't complement salty, crispy, golden-fried chicken, and yet nothing screams comfort food quite like a plate stacked with both and drizzled with a hefty helping of warm maple syrup. To many, it's nothing short of perfection.

Legend has it that we've been eating some form of chicken and waffles since the 1600s, but the version we know today was first whipped up in the kitchens of the Deep South before it went mainstream at Wells Supper Club in 1930s New York City. The Harlem restaurant is credited with making it the norm to deep-fry the chicken before serving it atop breakfast-style waffles. In other words, it gave us the textural marriage of opposites that makes this dish so darn hard to resist.

Today, hundreds of soul food restaurants whip up chicken and waffles nationwide. Simple though the concept may be, however, the truth is that some places do it better than others. Dry chicken, bland waffles, and an overall lack of seasoning are just some of the ways the dish can disappoint in the wrong hands. To make your next meal as delicious as possible, we've compared reviews for chain restaurants across the U.S. (and used a dash of our own experience) to rank some common chain takes on chicken and waffles, from worst to best.

10. IHOP

Breakfast foods are IHOP's thing, so it should come as no surprise that the menu boasts its own version of chicken and waffles. Surprisingly (considering the sugar load of other IHOP menu items), this menu item leans more towards savory than sweet. Each waffle comes with four buttermilk crispy chicken tenders, a knob of butter, and your choice of ranch, honey mustard, or special IHOP sauce.

Not everyone is a fan of this salty twist. Food blogger The Impulsive Buy once declared it to be a pale imitation of chicken and waffles, believing the sweet and salty combo vital to the dish's success was out of balance. They're also of the belief that the chain's sauces exist to cover up one damning truth: the chicken isn't very good. Instead, they wrote that it was far too reminiscent of grocery store frozen chicken tenders and, while the outside had good texture, the inside of the chicken was dry.

Not all chicken and waffle fans are quite as anti-IHOP. The waffles typically garner more praise than the chicken, which makes sense considering they're essentially just an alternative version of the chain's specialty. In fact, some people have declared the waffles to be a menu highlight — perhaps even better than the chain's world-famous pancakes. "Only the waffles tasted good," claimed one customer. "Softer and moister than the pancakes." Now that's saying something.

9. The Cheesecake Factory

Despite the name, The Cheesecake Factory famously specializes in, well, just about everything. Its novel of a menu contains a diverse array, from Spicy Cashew Chicken to Italian Sausage & Fresh Mushroom Rigatoni, with Fried Chicken & Waffles nestled somewhere on that culinary spectrum.

Like all its dishes, The Cheesecake Factory's Fried Chicken & Waffles are freshly made and gargantuan. Diners can expect a giant, fluffy Belgian waffle dusted in sugar and topped with fried chicken tenders. You'll also get a generous serving of maple syrup on the side. These are only available on Saturdays and Sundays until 2 p.m. as a part of The Cheesecake Factory's brunch menu, so you'll need to be up and at 'em to give this particular menu item a try.

The Fried Chicken & Waffles is as satisfying as everything else at The Cheesecake Factory, so it doesn't really have any major downsides other than the fact that it's just a bit ... meh. While it definitely has its fans — some of whom have declared it to be the best chicken and waffles out there, with particular praise reserved for the crispiness of the meat — others have complained that the chicken lacks the flavor needed to make it a top-tier dish. 

An alternative version of the classic dish — Fried Chicken & Waffles Benedict — is more popular with diners, with one enthusiastic reviewer claiming they'd gladly make the 45-minute drive to have the same dish every weekend.

8. Broken Yolk Cafe

Broken Yolk Cafe has come a long way since opening its first restaurant in San Diego's Pacific Beach in the 1970s. Decades later, it attracts long lines and offers breakfast, brunch, and lunch at 38 locations nationwide — all of which will whip up a plate of chicken and waffles on demand.

While it serves the standard chicken, waffle, maple syrup, sugar, and butter combo, Broken Yolk Cafe is better known for its Chicken & Waffle Benedict. This ditches the sugar and syrup and instead piles fluffy waffle quarters with chicken tenders, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce, putting a savory spin on the classic dish. It's a beloved staple for Broken Yolk regulars, with the subtle seasoning of the egg and tender, juicy fried chicken drawing particular praise. Some have noted that the runny egg yolk makes the waffle a little soggy, but we'd argue that this is unavoidable considering the very nature of eggs Benedict.

The true weak link is the waffle itself, which appears in both the chicken and waffles with and without eggs Benedict. Diners generally agree that while it's fluffy (if a little bit doughy), it lacks the crisped edges and textural contrast you look for in the best version of this dish. "The chicken was good in the chicken and waffles benedict, but the waffle was not very crispy," complained one Yelp reviewer.

7. Cracker Barrel

Cracker Barrel knows comfort food. In fact, the Tennessee-based chain knows comfort food so well that it reportedly knows how to make it taste even better — hence the launch of the chain's Homestyle Chicken N' French Toast.

This menu item swaps out the usual bed of waffles for thick, sticky slices of syrupy sourdough bread, complete with Cracker Barrel's signature Homestyle Chicken. It also comes with the iconic Cracker Barrel natural pancake syrup — a syrup so beloved that the restaurant actually sells it by the bottle (although Cracker Barrel has attracted criticism in the past for the fact that its syrup only contains 55% maple, while the other 45% is padded out with sugarcane). Syrup controversy aside, this is more indulgent — and considerably sweeter — than your standard chicken and waffles, which can be either a pro or con, depending on your tastebuds.

There's no knocking the chicken, though. This is juicy, well-seasoned meat, tasty enough to generate entire Reddit threads that seek to hunt down the recipe so patrons can recreate the chicken for themselves at home. One customer declared it the "best thing ever," while another added that "the honey drizzled on it knocked it out of the park." Yet some people have noted a serious concern with the size of the chicken portion, which is pretty small compared to the pictures Cracker Barrel uses for the menu.

6. Roscoe's House of Chicken 'N Waffles

For many, Roscoe's is the be-all, end-all of chicken and waffles. So sturdy is the SoCal chain's reputation that President Barack Obama famously dropped in for a bite during his 2011 campaign (Roscoe's House of Chicken 'N Waffles was so proud of this visit that it had a three-wing Obama Special for years, though this has since been removed from the menu).

A restaurant doesn't get this kind of rep without the food to back it up. Its founder, Herb Hudson, is a Harlem native, making Roscoe's a direct product of the borough's historic chicken and waffle expertise. The chain keeps it simple, pairing classic fried chicken with a hot, buttery waffle topped with oozing butter and all the maple syrup you can pour onto your plate. "There is a reason they're famous for their chicken and waffles!" said one Tripadvisor user. "The fried chicken is cooked to perfection and the waffles are delicious and fresh and just sweet enough."

While there's no denying the position Roscoe's holds in fast food fried chicken history, some argue that its reputation is more impressive than the actual chicken. It gets the job done — and is far from the worst fried chicken out there — but a common complaint is that it's overcooked and overrated, and the waffles are its saving grace. As one Reddit user put it: "Definitely average chicken, I'd go as far as to compare it to KFC. But man those waffles."

5.Chick-in Waffle

This small but mighty Kansas City chain is a hit with locals and visitors alike. It made its name with "waffly good chicken" which is hand-battered and served with either a traditional or bubble waffle. Whether it's sweet or salty is up to you; chicken can be soaked with either classic maple syrup, sriracha-infused maple syrup, Monterey Jack queso jalapeños, or Asian chili kettle-cooked BBQ, Buffalo, or tikka masala sauce.

If you can pin down which flavor (or two) you want to order, you're in for a treat. Chick-in Waffle has earned glowing feedback from diners across Missouri (as well as its recently opened outlet in Arizona). The traditional waffles are thin, with a funnel cake-esque texture, while the bubble waffles are light and fluffy and make for a perfect contrast with the chicken.

Speaking of the chicken, diners seem mostly impressed, regardless of flavor. "Chicken was crispy and juicy," one Yelp commenter said. "By itself [it's] good, and then adding the maple syrup on top *chefs kiss*." The Asian chili is a standout, offering a subtle kick without drowning out the sweetness of the waffle with spice. "I took one bite of the Asian chili chicken and knew immediately it was going to smack," said one happy customer. However, some customers have complained that the chicken doesn't have enough seasoning to match its ambitious flavors and have even accused the chain of using spice to make this less obvious.

4. Black Bear Diner

For years, the rustic, lodge-inspired Black Bear Diner — complete with more bear details than you thought possible from a single restaurant — was a West Coast exclusive. However, it's been creeping further east for years, and in January 2024, the chain revealed that it hopes to go coast-to-coast soon. This means that more people can tuck into its handmade burgers, sandwiches, all-day breakfasts, and, of course, chicken and waffles.

Black Bear doesn't overcomplicate things. This is a straightforward sweet cream waffle (which comes with a bear paw print impressed into one side) paired with breaded chicken tenders, syrup, and fresh fruit. The toppings are all exactly what you'd expect, but it's the batter base that deserves the most attention. The recipe for this sweet cream delight is secret, and for good reason; diners have heaped praise upon Black Bear's warm, golden-brown waffles and even put their heads together to figure out the perfect ratios to recreate it for themselves (rumor has it that it's some kind of combo of heavy cream, sugar, and malted milk). However, its dense, cake-like texture may not be to everyone's taste.

3. Big Bad Breakfast

The self-proclaimed brainchild of James Beard award-winning chef John Currence, Big Bad Breakfast serves up Southern breakfast fare in eight states. Its restaurants skip the frills to focus on the basics that make these dishes lifelong favorites — which, when it comes to the chicken and waffles, means a made-to-order Belgian waffle with freshly fried chicken and locally sourced honey.

Past diners have pretty much nothing but good words to say about this dish, with many recommending it as a must-order. The portion sizes of both the fried chicken and waffle are impressive, and it manages to tread the fine line between sweet and salty with extremely rare precision. The chicken also has just enough kick to be flavorful without being too spicy. Customers have positively compared it to rival chains serving up something similar (Big Bad Breakfast even claims to have perfected the chicken and waffles served by the likes of Roscoe's in its menu), with one Tripadvisor user writing: "The chicken and waffles were perfect, and the chicken was better than some of the neighboring spots...just saying..." 

If you plan on trying them out for yourself, be sure to drop by as early in the morning as possible — or at least be prepared to wait – as customers have complained about long lines at multiple locations, which knocks this restaurant down a bit in the ranking.

2. Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles

Founder Larry "Lo-Lo" White grew up serving and making his own Southern soul food and spent 10 years perfecting his chicken and waffles recipe alone. It was worth the effort. A blend of secret spices (known only to White and his father) batter fresh chicken, which is fried and served with light, fluffy waffles (also a secret recipe) and maple syrup (which is, you guessed it, also a secret recipe).

The only thing that isn't a secret at Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles is the taste. The waffles are soft, while the bone-in meat is juicy without being greasy. Multiple diners have described it as having a nostalgic feel, kind of like the chicken served up on a Friday night by mom — only better. It is, as one happy diner phrased it on Tripadvisor, "fried chicken just the way it's supposed to be. You won't be disappointed if you want good [old-fashioned] chicken like mom used to make, but even more perfection."

It's even managed to win over the chicken and waffle skeptics, which is an accolade in and of itself. "Lolo's has the best friend chicken I've ever had and the waffles were a perfect buttery piece of heaven!" said one convert. Some are less impressed, though, as the chain has occasionally been accused of overcooking and oversalting its chicken.

1. Yardbird Table & Bar

Like all the best comfort food, Yardbird heralds from the south and is influenced by founder Jeff McInnis' own childhood meals. Over a decade since the first restaurant opened in Miami, it has locations in six cities across the U.S. (plus one in Singapore) and is renowned for its fried chicken, about which we could wax poetic for several paragraphs. The chicken is made using a recipe from the co-owner's grandmother, brined for 27 hours, and seasoned with a secret mix of herbs and spices.

The only thing that could make the chicken better is waffles — which, we're pleased to say, are just as good. Cheddar cheese gives the sweetness a salty edge, earning them a shoutout in numerous reviews. Together, the combo has been dubbed the best chicken and waffles ever by countless customers. Unlike a lot of restaurants on this list, Yardbird also offers a gluten-free version of its chicken and waffles, which is equally beloved and doesn't taste inferior to the original like so many "free-from" menu items often do.

We can't talk about Yardbird's chicken and waffles without also mentioning the watermelon. Each portion — which is big enough to feed two — comes with herb and spice-infused cubes of watermelon, making for a refreshing side that complements the heaviness of the chicken and waffle. "The fried chicken, waffles, and watermelon are everything and more," said one happy Tripadvisor user. The perfect combo.


To rank the best chain restaurants serving up chicken and waffles, we used our personal experience as a starting point and then pored over hundreds of reviews and firsthand accounts from diners on the likes of Tripadvisor, Yelp, and Reddit. 

We looked for consistently good experiences ordering the chicken and waffles at locations nationwide, with praise for fluffy waffles, crispy chicken, and the perfect combo of seasoning at the top of our checklist. At the same time, we kept an eye out for the chains where customers faced the same issues over and over again with the chicken and waffles — namely, a lack of flavor, dry meat, or small portion sizes.