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America's Best Fried Chicken Sandwiches

From coast to coast, these are 30 of the best fried chicken sandwiches in America. They're a big step up from the fast-food variety, and worth every indulgent calorie.

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National: Shake Shack

The Sandwich: Chick’n Shack

Years after developing a global cultlike following for its modern yet casual burgers, in 2016 Shake Shack decided to get into the fried chicken sandwich game. As one would expect, the Chick’n Shack is also done extremely well. Starting with a cage-free bird treated with no hormones or antibiotics ever, the chicken breast is slow-cooked in a creamy buttermilk marinade before being hand-dipped in a special batter, dredged through seasoned flour and tossed into the fryer. The crisp, crackly and flavorful breast is so plump it bulges out the sides of its spongy potato bun, which is stuffed to the gills with pickles, shredded lettuce and a wonderful Shack-made buttermilk herb mayo with chives, parsley and thyme.

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Philadelphia: Federal Donuts

The Sandwich: Fried Chicken Sandwich

First introduced to the City of Brotherly Love in the summer of 2015, Federal Donuts’ fried chicken sandwich has become a runaway hit — and one of doughnut shop’s signature dishes. Boneless chicken breast is seasoned with buttermilk ranch, fried to a golden hue, covered with American cheese, accented with dill pickles and spicy Rooster Sauce, and served on a fluffy Martin’s Potato Roll. It’s available every day starting at 11 a.m. at six Philadelphia shops and two sports arenas. And don’t worry: No one’s going to judge if you follow it with a doughnut chaser.

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Photo: Courtesy of Prince's Hot Chicken Shack

Nashville, Tennessee: Prince’s Hot Chicken

The Sandwich: Half Chicken

What used to be a local specialty has become a national obsession: Nashville hot chicken is on fire. The peppery dish can be found in various forms in places spanning from Brooklyn and Philadelphia to Los Angeles and Sonoma, California. But you can’t talk about hot chicken without mentioning its birthplace, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack. The family-owned place still serves the same dish that Thornton Prince put on the menu back in 1945. It’s worth booking a trip to Nashville for this dish alone — it’s one of the hottest, most-complex versions still in existence. The spicy, crunchy bone-in bird is coated in a fiery dark-red brew of cayenne and set atop slices of white bread with a couple of pickles on top.

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Photo: Jakob Layman Photography

Los Angeles: Howlin' Ray's

The Sandwich: JoJo Style Waffle Sando

The hormone- and antibiotic-free Nashville-style hot chicken at Howlin' Ray's is so popular the counter-serve place regularly has three-hour lines. After the wait, most guests are just happy to get a taste of the super-crisp fried chicken sandwich — it’s like LA royalty right now. But here’s an inside tip: There’s a secret menu. And on weekends that includes the JoJo Style Waffle Sando, which consists of Ray's regular boneless breast fried in 100% peanut oil, topped with melted cheddar cheese and sandwiched between two airy waffles. It's available in whatever heat level you like — don’t order it "hotter hot" unless you’re a glutton for punishment.

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