Judging the perfect chicken wing isn’t an exact science – some like it hot and crispy, others like it tender and juicy. But there is one thing we all want: great taste and tons of flavour.
We set out to find the best chicken wings on offer from South Africa’s biggest fast food chains, to see if there was a chicken wing that would satisfy everyone’s palate.
But even though everyone has their own preference, there are a few things that we all look for when it comes to a chicken wing – it has to be tender, flavourful, and should pack a bit of a punch.
In rating the chicken wings below, we only assessed the taste – but we’ve included the price and portion size as well, because those are factors one should always take into consideration.
Methodology: At any given time, between four and six people dined at eight major fast food chains around the Centurion region. Textures and tastes were assessed and scores were debated and recorded.
Here they are – ranked from worst to best.
Barcelos Dippa Wings – R34.90 for 6
The main gripe with Barcelos’ chicken wings is that, despite its peri-peri marinade and dipping sauce, it lacks flavour – it’s as bland as it appears in the picture above.
The wings are a soft wing (like Nando’s and Mochacos), so one would expect a moist, tender bite – but the chicken was dry and flavourless. The peri-peri mayo dip was tasty, though.
Spur Buffalo Wings – plain – R59.90 for starter portion (about 8)
Spur offers two types of chicken wings – plain, and spicy. Both come with the chain’s “durky” sauce, which is a tangy and spicy vinegar sauce which – in the case of the plain wings – is the only flavour you’re going to get. The plain wings are crispy with a nice crunch, but are ultimately dry and flavourless on their own.
Spur’s Spicy Buffalo Wing option provides the much-needed flavour that is so obviously absent from the chain’s ‘plain’ offering. It’s still a bit dry, but has crunch and flavour. Add 1.5 to the score if you go with these.
Rocomamas Wings – R25 for 4
Rocomama’s chicken wings were deceptive, because they looked great, but were decidedly average. The chain offers a variety of marinades for their winglets, from a traditional spicy buffalo wing, to BBQ and Italian Parmesan. We opted for traditional.
Ultimately, the marinade is little more than a sauce – you could suck it right off, and there goes all the flavour – with the wings themselves being fairly bland. A decent crunch, and a tender bite, but ultimately underwhelming in terms of flavour.
KFC Dunked Wings – R23.90 for 4
As you can tell from the picture above, KFC’s Dipper Wings are not the most appealing to look at. The dark basting on the Colonel’s fried breading doesn’t get the mouth watering.
In terms of flavour, the whole experience is completely overwhelmed by the sweetness of the dip. It’s really sweet, and can best be described as a “chicken dessert”. The crunch and tenderness are still there – but you may have heart palpitations afterward.
Burger King King Wings – R32.00 for 8
Surprising to find chicken wings at what is traditionally a burger joint, Burger King’s King Wings define “average” when it comes to their offering.
A rather oily affair, the wings pack a nice punch of flavour and heat, but miss the mark by not having anything to cut the grease. Despite being deep-fried, the chicken wasn’t dried out, but it was hardly tender. A fair choice.
Mochacos BBQ Wings – R32.90 for 4 full wings
Mochachos offers a BBQ flavoured soft wing option, which obviously lacks crunch, bit makes up for it in tenderness and flavour.
The only real issue with the meal is that the BBQ basting overpowers any flavour and heat you might want from the “hot” or “extra hot” options. We ordered hot, and didn’t even get a tingle.
Nando’s 3 Full Wings & Chips – R42.50 for 3 wings
Nando’s offers another “soft wing” option, and there is very little to complain about. The chain’s popular basting stays true here as it does in every other chicken meal it offers.
That said, the only real disappointment is that the wing meal doesn’t really differentiate itself from any other chicken meal on the menu – but then, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you want a soft wing, this is the one to get.
KFC Zinger Wings – R18.90 for 4
The quest for the best chicken wing at SA fast food chains came down to two contenders – and KFC lost out to one of its oldest rivals.
The KFC Zinger Wings are everything we want in a wing: it’s crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and hits you with flavour throughout. The Zinger wings are also surprisingly less greasy than some of the chain’s other chicken portions, and are simply some of the best wings on the go out there.
Chicken Licken Hotwings – R24.90 for 6
KFC was trumped by Chicken Licken in this quest, with a unanimous vote from all who ate it. Where KFC’s Zinger Wings were crispy, tender and flavourful – Chicken Licken’s Hotwings were even crispier, and packed even more flavour, while keeping the chicken juicy.
Chicken Licken’s wings are a touch greasier than KFC – but with the SoulFire sauce on top, there’s simply no question as to which wings came out as the best.
Which is your favourite chicken wing? Vote in our poll: