You may know of the competition between certain fast food chicken restaurants, like Chick-fil-A and KFC, but you may not know quite as much about Zaxby’s. That’s because you won’t find it all over the country: the chain is mainly something you’ll see in the Southeast. For those who are lucky enough to live near a Zaxby’s, though, you’ll know that it serves up chicken that’s as good as the rest of them.
However, that doesn’t mean that everything on the Zaxby’s menu is amazing. In fact, there are some dishes that you’d be better off doing without. And if you don’t quite know what you’re ordering when you pull up to the drive-thru window, then you should read up on our ranking of some of the most popular menu items at Zaxby’s. That way, you’ll know just what you’re getting. If you want the best Zaxby’s experience possible (in our opinion), then you should probably stick with the menu items that fall further down the list.
With so many options to choose from when you visit your local Zaxby’s, this ranking will guide you in the right direction toward the very best of the bunch.
It shouldn’t come as a massive surprise to you that a fast food coleslaw just isn’t that delicious. However, it has to be said: We don’t like the coleslaw at Zaxby’s. The vegetables are a bit too chopped, which means this salad barely has any texture at all. Additionally, the sauce is super watery and has very little flavor. The result is a shockingly bland side that probably nobody really loves. In fact, this coleslaw seems more like an afterthought than a serious menu item. And we definitely wish they would have put more care into it considering that it’s one of the only fresh sides on the menu.
You may be tempted to order the coleslaw as a side if you’re getting a sandwich or chicken tenders, as this provides a bit of green and a bit of fiber in your diet. However, if you truly want to experience the best that the Zaxby’s menu has to offer, then this coleslaw is just not the way to go. Try it once, and there’s a good chance you’re never going to order it again.
19. Crinkle Fries
There are always arguments about which fast food joint serves the best French fries around. Plenty of people will say it’s McDonald’s, while other people hold less-popular views, like Burger King or Steak ‘n Shake. But we can pretty much guarantee that nobody is going to seriously say that Zaxby’s has the best fries of the bunch. First of all, they’re crinkle fries, and in our humble opinion, crinkle fries are the worst cut there is. They somehow avoid getting crispy on the outside, and they’re usually too big so you just get a ton of potato in every bite.
But the crinkle fries at Zaxby’s are especially bad. They’re either too salty or not salty enough, and the texture is awful. Most of them seem very soft instead of that nice crispy crunchiness you would probably expect.
Of course, it’s totally understandable if you order these as a side to your entree. After all, fries are pretty much the go-to side at any fast food joint. Just don’t assume these fries are going to be the best you’ve ever had, or you’re going to leave disappointed.
18. Chicken Fingerz
While overall, the chicken at Zaxby’s is pretty good, there are some entrees that are better than others. And when it comes to the chicken fingerz? We think you should skip them entirely. First of all, yes, that’s how they’re spelled: with a Z. Yes, it does feel like a linguistic relic from another age, and yes, it may be a hint that Zaxby’s marketing department is a bit out of loop when it comes to culture. But enough with the name. The actual chicken fingers themselves don’t taste that good.
The meat, as you can imagine, is pretty dry. While it might be okay for young children who don’t have too much of a discerning palate, their parents aren’t likely to find this dish that appealing. The breading is too thick, which further detracts from the juiciness of the chicken. And the seasoning itself is pretty boring. Of course, chicken fingers aren’t usually the most exciting dish in the world, so we can’t fault Zaxby’s too much for that.
Essentially, you can get chicken fingers anywhere, though, so if you want to try something new, take a look at some of the dishes Zaxby’s carries that you can’t find anywhere else.
17. Boneless Wings
If you love wings, you’re probably not ordering boneless wings. That’s just a fact. When you get real wings, it takes a little bit of finesse to get the meat off the bone. But when you order boneless wings, you’re not even getting real wing meat at all. Essentially, they’re just chicken nuggets that are marketed for adults. Therefore, we don’t think there’s a compelling reason to order boneless wings at just about any restaurant.
But when you take a trip to Zaxby’s, you’ll surely want to avoid them. These boneless wings are particularly unfortunate. First of all, they’re absolutely tiny, which means you’ll have to eat a lot of them just to get full. Secondly, they’re comprised largely of just breading with a surprisingly small amount of actual meat. Then, they are absolutely drenched in sauce. Sure, you may like sauce, but when there’s so much of it, it can be overwhelming. They’re also served with ranch, which just covers up the flavor even more.
There are some really good chicken dishes at Zaxby’s, so we wouldn’t recommend the boneless wings at all.
16. The House Zalad
Zaxby’s is known for having relatively good salads. This isn’t super common when it comes to most fast food joints, so it’s a nice surprise at a place that seemingly is all about the fried chicken. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should try absolutely every salad on the menu; some options are better than others. If you’re looking for the one to avoid, it’s the House Zalad. While the restaurant’s website says that this dish is "traditional but never boring," we have to disagree. This is a salad that you could get anywhere. In fact, it’s a salad you could make quite easily for yourself at home. Cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, and cucumbers make up the bulk of veggies in this salad, if you don’t count the mixed greens. It also features fried onions, shredded cheese, and of course, chicken.
While this salad doesn’t taste bad, we definitely wouldn’t recommend buying it. This is something that’s incredibly easy to make at home. It wouldn’t take you longer than about 10 minutes to whip up. Therefore, we can’t justify paying the marked-up price for it at Zaxby’s.
If you want something sweet from Zaxby’s, you don’t have many options. To be more specific, you only have one option, and we’re afraid that it’s not going to be amazing. There are three different kinds of cookies on the menu, but they basically all taste very similar. There’s the traditional chocolate chip, which we definitely think is the best of the bunch. You can also pick up the white chocolate macadamia or the double chocolate chunk instead. No matter which one you order, though, you’re going to be getting a subpar cookie you could easily find at your local grocery store’s bakery.
Why pay a premium for a single cookie when you could get a whole package that tastes pretty much the same from the store down the street? We get it, sometimes you’re in a rush and just want to grab something quickly. But unless this average-tasting cookie is really calling your name, we think you shouldn’t bother ordering one. Save your hard-earned money for a more delicious dessert elsewhere.
14. Fried Pickles
How can you not love fried pickles? There’s something about them that always keeps you coming back for more. The crispy breading, the sour pickle itself … it’s truly something special. Unless, of course, you’re getting your fried pickles from Zaxby’s. While these pickles aren’t awful, we have to be honest: They’re pretty subpar compared to other fried pickles we’ve had. The breading soaks up all of the juice from the pickle, making it a big soggy. And the pickle inside the breading is limp as well — it doesn’t have any of the snap you might assume you’ll get from a good pickle. The flavor is okay, but there isn’t anything special going on here. More than anything, it’s just kind of plain … like a lot of the food you’ll find at Zaxby’s, unfortunately.
It’s hard to mess up anything fried, but if it were up to us, we’d avoid these fried pickles in favor of all the other delightful menu items available to you at Zaxby’s.
13. Fried White Cheddar Bites
When it comes to fast food restaurants, there aren’t usually any items that are really out of the ordinary. For the most part, you’re going to get more of the same no matter where you go. However, there are a few exceptions to that rule, and the fried white cheddar bites from Zaxby’s are one of them. These bite-sized bits of cheese are breaded and fried, then served alongside a marinara dipping sauce. Is your mouth watering yet? Because it should be. After all, how could you ever go wrong by ordering fried cheese?
While these do sound absolutely amazing, in reality, they weren’t quite as good as we expected. The cheese does not taste like it’s very high-quality, which we guess should be expected when it comes to a fast food dish. The breading is also a bit soggy, which doesn’t add that nice crispiness you look for when you order fried food. However, dipping the cheese in marinara sauce definitely takes it to the next level. And the fact that they use cheddar instead of mozzarella makes this a more interesting option than your average fried mozzarella stick.
12. Buffalo Chicken Fingerz
Again, here’s that "fingerz" with a z. We don’t love the name, and you already know that we’re not huge fans of the regular chicken fingerz. However, the buffalo sauce used in the buffalo chicken fingerz really takes these things up a notch and makes them tastier than you might expect. The buffalo sauce Zaxby’s uses here is out of this world, and it’ll have you craving these chicken fingers on a regular basis. There are also other sauces you can choose from, so feel free to get creative here.
Our only complaint is the fact that they really, really layer on the sauce here. Therefore, if you just want a little bit of extra flavor on your chicken fingers, you’re almost guaranteed to be disappointed. The tangy sauce is delicious, but when there’s too much of it added to the mix, it can taste downright overwhelming.
If you want to take a chance on these chicken fingers, there’s a good chance that you’re still going to like them. But if you already know you don’t like a ton of extra sauce, maybe you should opt for something else.
11. Traditional Wings
It’s not at every fast food restaurant that you can get plain old traditional wings, but that’s just what you’ll find when you make your way to Zaxby’s. Unlike the boneless wings, these chicken wings are bone-in, and you can taste the difference. They are so much juicier and more flavorful than boneless wings, which is why they rank so much higher on our list. These wings also pull away from the bone easily, so it won’t be too much of a struggle to clean every last piece of meat off the bone.
But, like the buffalo chicken fingerz, you may have a problem here if you don’t like too much sauce on your food: There’s a lot of sauce on these bad boys too. While you do get to choose the sauce, you’re still going to get a lot of it — maybe too much, depending on the intensity of flavor you prefer. Overall, these wings are really good, though, and if you love wings, they’re definitely worth your time.
10. The Nibbler
You know those times when you’re hungry but you don’t think you have enough room to eat a whole meal? That may happen when you’re on the go more often than you may prefer. But all too often, it’s so easy to pass a fast food joint that only has full meals and feel like you have to get a massive sandwich if you actually want to eat. That could leave you feeling sluggish all day. But when you go to Zaxby’s, that won’t be a problem because you can always just order The Nibbler.
It’s a painfully simple sandwich, and that’s what we like about it. It’s just a small toasted bun, a chicken tender, and some Zax sauce to finish it off. That might sound too simple, but it may just be perfect when you’re in the mood for a quick bite to eat. It’s inoffensive, and pretty much anyone is going to enjoy it.
It doesn’t rank higher on our list because there’s just not much that’s going on, but sometimes, that’s exactly what you need to hold yourself over to your next meal. When in doubt, The Nibbler is pretty much always going to fill you up and keep you going.
9. Spicy Fried Mushrooms
If you want a side dish that’s a little out of the ordinary, then you can’t go wrong with these spicy fried mushrooms from Zaxby’s. Just think: When was the last time you ate mushrooms as a side dish at a fast food joint … let alone spicy mushrooms? While it may not be your typical fast food fare, that doesn’t mean that it’s not absolutely delicious. In fact, it may just be one of our favorite side dishes on the Zaxby’s menu. Unlike the fried pickles, the spicy fried mushrooms actually have some crispiness to them. That plays really well with the soft, velvet-y texture of the mushrooms. The spiciness definitely doesn’t stand out (these mushrooms are actually relatively mild), but you may prefer that if you’re not the kind of person who loves spicy food.
Our only complaint about these spicy fried mushrooms is the fact that they’re served with ranch dipping sauce. The ranch completely covers up everything we love about these mushrooms, like the crispness and the slight spiciness. We wish that Zaxby’s would’ve been a little more creative here than just deciding to serve these mushrooms with the same dipping sauce as pretty much every other side, but you can always feel free to go off the rails and ask for a different sauce entirely.
8. Tongue Torch Sauce
If you’re looking for a Zaxby’s sauce that’s a bit tastier than the standard ranch that you’ll get with the mushrooms, then you may want to go with the Tongue Torch sauce. It may not go perfectly with every single item on the menu, but it will improve some menu items significantly. While the Tongue Torch sauce may sound like the hottest one on the menu, it’s actually not too hot. Sure, it has a little kick, which we love, but it’s certainly not overwhelming. It’s perfect for those who can stand some heat but aren’t looking for heartburn later in the day.
It’s not our favorite sauce that Zaxby’s offers, but it comes close, and the writers at Naples News just happen to agree with us. "Tongue Torch won our informal office taste test among those who prefer their food with a tropical heat that doesn’t come from the oven," they wrote. "Distinct vinegary notes expand inside the mouth, but don’t overwhelm. Translation: It will clear your sinuses, but won’t make you cry."
Of course, if you’re the kind of person who likes a lot of spice, you may be a bit disappointed by this sauce, especially when you take the name into consideration. However, most people who like spicy food will probably find it enjoyable.
7. Signature Sandwich
If you know anything about the world of fast food, then you’ll know all about the chicken sandwich wars. Fast food restaurants fought over who could make the best chicken sandwich, and nobody agrees who really won that award. However, Zaxby’s made a concerted effort to offer a delicious chicken sandwich with their signature sandwich.
We like this sandwich because it’s painfully simple. There’s no fuss when it comes to this sandwich, so you know it’s not hiding behind a huge list of ingredients other than the chicken. This chicken sandwich is served with Zax sauce and layered with sliced pickles. It’s all placed on a potato bun that has an incredibly buttery flavor to it … and that’s it.
The flavor of this sandwich is really great. The fried chicken pairs perfectly with the juicy pickles, and the Zax sauce brings it all together — and that’s why it ranks so well on our list. However, after you eat about half the sandwich, it may start to taste a little boring; because there’s nothing going on besides the chicken, pickles, and sauce, you may find yourself wishing there were more to this meal.
6. Zax Sauce
The original Zax sauce is the stuff of legends. In fact, you can find copycat Zax sauce recipes all over the internet designed for people who love the flavor of this sauce but don’t want to go all the way to Zaxby’s whenever they get a craving for it. And really, we get it. Zax sauce is out of this world good, even though it doesn’t taste like any other sauce we’ve had before. It’s super creamy, but it still has an unexpected tang to it that you won’t be able to get enough of. While Zaxby’s website says that this sauce was made specifically for the chicken fingers, you can pair it with pretty much everything on the menu.
Naples News sums it up pretty well. "It tastes like the perfect blend of honey mustard and ketchup, although the label reveals three separate instances of corn syrup, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce," they wrote. "Neither too spicy nor too sweet, it tastes of baseball games, barbecues and picnics."
This pretty much sums up what Zax sauce is all about. Somehow, it’s a sauce that pretty much everyone likes, whether they’re more of a fan of savory or sweet sauces. While we think there are better sauces on the menu (we’ll get to that later), the Zax sauce is an undeniably solid option. If you haven’t tried some yet, you should make sure you order Zax sauce the next time you go to Zaxby’s.
5. Texas Toast
You might not expect something as basic as Texas toast to make its way this far in the rankings. If you feel that way, though, you probably haven’t tasted the Texas toast at Zaxby’s because it seriously is that good. It’s not just regular toast, of course. First of all, the bread is cut super thick, so you get really healthy slices — no sad, soggy slices of toast to be found here. The best part, though, is the fact that the toast is then spread with a lovely garlic spread. The result is an endlessly savory side dish that you’ll want to eat with everything else on the menu.
We also love the Texas toast at Zaxby’s because it’s not something you can get everywhere. Just think about it: When was the last time you ordered toast at any fast food joint? But sometimes, you just need some extra carbs with your meal, and that’s certainly what this Texas toast delivers. Truth be told, though, you could also eat this stuff all on its own, and you’d probably still fall in love with it: That’s just how good it is.
4. Cajun Club Sandwich
Most of the chicken options on Zaxby’s menu are fried, but what about if you’re looking for something that at least feels healthier than that? Enter the Cajun club sandwich. The blackened chicken in this sandwich is something that’s a bit out of the ordinary, and there’s a good chance you’re going to love it. It’s super flavorful because it’s covered in Cajun spices, and the toppings just make it that much better. You’ll find bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, American cheese, and ranch sauce on the potato bun. This is Zaxby’s take on a grilled chicken sandwich, and we think they knocked it out of the park.
This sandwich is fresher than most other options on the Zaxby’s menu, which is why we love it so much. It offers a nice change of pace for when you’re feeling like something lighter. At the same time, this sandwich is definitely going to fill you up, especially if you order it with a serving of crinkle fries.
3. Spicy Zax Sauce
You already know how we feel about the original Zax sauce, but if you’re truly looking for the best of the best, you can’t beat the spicy Zax sauce. This stuff is like liquid gold. Once you try it one time, you’ll be going back for this sauce time and time again. It’s got much of the same flavor as the original, though we think it might be a bit tangier. We love that, especially when it’s paired with fried food as it often will be at Zaxby’s. Apart from the extra tang, the main thing that sets this sauce apart is the spiciness. Considering that this is a creamy sauce, it isn’t over-the-top spicy. Instead, it offers just a bit of kick along with loads of flavor.
This sauce is really versatile, too. Of course, you can pair it with the chicken fingers, but it’s also amazing for sandwiches and dipping your French fries into. You can even smear some on your Texas toast. Give it a try and thank us later.
2. The Blue Zalad
We love a good fast food salad. Sure, they may still be packed with salt and calories most of the time, but it’s still nice to be able to order something fresh from your favorite fast food joint. That’s just what you’re going to get when you order the Blue Zalad. It features mixed greens, carrots, Roma tomatoes, and red cabbage, which all offer you a healthy serving of veggies. You’ll also love the fried onions that give everything a nice crunch. But perhaps the best part is the bleu cheese, which adds a creamy texture and tangy flavor to the salad. Of course, you get to add chicken on top of your salad too. Choose from buffalo, blackened, or garden chicken, all of which are covered in delicious spices.
This is definitely one of the healthier items on the menu — it only comes out to 680 calories. If you’re looking for a delicious meal that won’t ruin your diet plans, then this salad should definitely be at the top of your list.
1. Spicy Signature Sandwich
In this case, the last is definitely not the last. In fact, the spicy signature sandwich from Zaxby’s nabs the very top spot on our list for a reason: It may just be the best option at this fast food joint. This menu item takes the original signature sandwich and gives it a much-needed boost with our favorite sauce on the menu: the spicy Zax sauce. The combination of these flavors earns this sandwich the number one rank on our list.
While the original signature sandwich could be considered too plain for some people, you won’t experience that problem with the spicy version. While the only difference is the addition of spicy Zax sauce instead of the original, we think that extra bit of tang and spice makes this basic sandwich into something incredible. It’s not too spicy, so it’s something that just about everyone can enjoy. But if you seriously enjoy some spiciness when it comes to your chicken, then you’re going to fall in love with this sandwich just as much as we have.