When you first think of Orange County, you might think of endless strip malls, but what you may not expect is that the OC is home to some of the best food in California. Over the last couple of years, Orange County has become home to some seriously fantastic restaurants. Many of these spots serve up some mean comfort food, including our favorite, the chicken sandwich.
The chicken sandwich is almost as American as a burger. Whether it’s fried to crispy perfection or grilled, the chicken sandwich is a classic American cuisine staple. The chicken sammie was invented in 1946 in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally created as an alternative to the burger, the original chicken sandwich is a grilled, boneless chicken breast between a golden, toasted bun.
Flash forward 75 years and 2,600 restaurants later, the chicken sandwich has created the empire we all know as Chick-Fil-A. But there is a lot more to the chicken sandwich than a drive-thru can supply. Nowadays, chicken sandwiches are given the gourmet treatment. They have entire food trucks dedicated to them and are served as the star dish of many restaurants.
No matter how you like your chicken sandwich, there are endless good options in OC. That’s why we have created a master list of the best chicken sandwiches in Orange County–both fried and grilled. Warning: you will be ordering a chicken sandwich after reading this!
Fried Chicken Sandwich
First up is the fried chicken sandwich. No matter where you are in Orange County, you are most likely never more than ten minutes away from a fried chicken sandwich. With the growing popularity of Nashville-style hot chicken, fried chicken joints have been popping up all over the place. Here are some of our favorites.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Buttermilk Fried Chicken is located in Old Towne Orange and is serving up some perfectly crispy fried chicken sandwiches. They cook all their chicken in small batches to ensure that each piece comes out perfectly crisp. They have a sign inside that reads, Cluckin’ Delicious, and their food couldn’t be described any better.
If you are looking for a classically good, Nashville-style sandwich, then this is your place. Buttermilk Fried Chicken’s classic sandwich comes in a toasted bun stuffed with slaw, spicy pickles, spicy aioli, and Fresno chili. They are also serving up classic comfort food sides that are a perfect addition to the perfect sandwich.
Holdaak is an OC spot that serves up fried chicken sammies with a Korean twist. Holdaak is Korean for “madly in love,” and that is just how we feel about their crispy fried chicken sandwich. They only make two different sandwiches, which is a testament to how good they know it is. With Korean inspired ingredients, Holdaak is opening up a whole new world of flavor possibilities for the classic fried chicken sandwich.
Their classic sandwich comes on a toasted, Amish wheat bun with a chicken breast fried to perfection, caramelized onion, ketchup, and daikon slaw. The daikon slaw is delicious, fresh, and compliments the fried chicken perfectly. Their sandwich also comes in a spicier variety, which is pretty much the same setup, but the chicken is first dunked in their COMEBACK sauce. Both sammies are delicious and addictive.
Are you a fan of chicken and waffles? Then this is the fried chicken sandwich for you. BRUXIE is serving up a massive chicken breast that is seasoned and fried to crispy perfection, topped with fresh slaw, drizzled with a chili honey sauce, and then placed between two half pieces of hot, buttery waffle. If you plan to eat this chicken sammie all alone, then you better come hungry. This sandwich is delicious and humongous.
If you’re more of an eggs and bacon type of person, they also have a waffle chicken sandwich that skips the slaw and instead dresses the chicken with bacon, sriracha mayo, a maple glaze, and a sunny side up egg. Can you say breakfast of champions?
The Crack Shack
The Crack Shack is a sandwich haven. They serve up all different kinds of delicious sandwiches, but our favorite is their Firebird sandwich. This fried chicken sandwich is great for spice lovers. It is made up of a spicy, fried Jidori thigh, cool ranch, crispy onions, pickles, and an onion flecked potato roll. The spice level is perfectly balanced. It has a kick, but the ranch cools it down in a really tasty way.
If you are hungry for any type of sandwich, The Crack Shack is loaded up with tons of great options for chicken lovers. They also have tons of great french fry piles if you’re looking to really go for it.
Wild Wild Wings
We know what you’re thinking: “Why are wings on this list?” But, trust us when we say that Wild Wild Wings is so good, they deserve a spot on any fried chicken list, bread or no bread. If you’re cool with skipping the bun, then try out these wings. They come in 15 different bone-in or boneless flavors that will seriously knock the chicken-loving-socks right off your feet.
After all, the best thing about a hot chicken sandwich is the juicy, crispy, saucy chicken, and Wild Wild Wings is serving up just that. Their wings are tender, juicy, and dripping with sauces that will have you licking your fingers because you won’t want to waste a drop.
And whether you’re in the mood for sweet and spicy, tangy, peppery, or any other flavor you could possibly want from chicken, Wild Wild Wings will certainly deliver. And we mean that literally. Wild Wild Wings is a delivery-only spot.
Did we mention how bomb their sides are? They have all the classic comfort food side dishes, including fries, onion rings, tots, gooey mac and cheese, and even mac and cheese bites. Need we say more?
Grilled Chicken Sandwiches
Whether you are trying to be more health-conscious or you just prefer the tenderness of a grilled chicken breast, the grilled chicken sammie is a classic. After all, when chicken sandwiches were first invented, it was a grilled chicken breast, not a fried one. Check out these great OC spots for grilled chicken sandwiches.
The Habit may be a chain, but their grilled chicken sandwich is delicious and affordable. The chicken breast is marinated and branded with tasty grill marks that make for outstanding flavor.
The sandwich also has grilled onions, melted cheese, crisp lettuce, tomato, and your choice of BBQ or teriyaki sauce. At just seven bucks, this sandwich is a great grilled chicken option.
The Crack Shack
As mentioned earlier in the list, The Crack Shack serves all different types of sandwiches, including their fresh, Caesar’s Chick sammie. This option is a bit lighter than their spicy fried chicken Firebird sandwich.
This Caesar chicken sandwich has a tender grilled chicken breast, with tangy caper mayo, green pepperoncini, diced tomato, pickled red onion, and Caesar dressing on a whole wheat brioche bun. This sandwich is fresh and loaded with flavor.
If you’re not dead set on chicken but still looking for a great grilled flavor delivered straight to your home, check out CraveBurger. Crave Burger is a hot new OC delivery spot, and while they may not be serving up grilled chicken sammies, they are packing a ton of great grilled flavor into each one of their mouth-watering burgers. Their kids chicken tenders also really hit the spot if you want a crispy chicken side dish.
Speaking of side dishes, their mac and cheese is ooey-gooey and ready to rival any comfort food side dish around. They also have mac and cheese bites, fries, and onion rings that are fried to perfection–need we say more?
When in Orange County, delicious food options will never be in short supply. Whether you are craving a hot fried chicken sandwich, a healthy grilled chicken sandwich, or even just a gooey mac and cheese side dish, we’ve got you covered with top-notch recommendations. Just remember that no matter where you are in Orange County, a chicken sandwich is never out of reach. All you have to do is reach out and take a bite.