Fast Food Wings Roundup for Week of Wings 3

Week of Wings III – Day 7 – Fast Food Wings Roundup

Here’s our take on Popeye’s Spicy Wings, KFC’s Dry Hot Wings (both breaded and fried, no sauce), and Pizza Hut’s and Domino’s versions of hot wings (both of which are baked then tossed in sauce).

fast food wings roundup collage

This is our final post for our Week of Wings 3. If you haven’t made any wings, or want someone else to do the cooking for you, we’ve tried several of the fast food wings available in our area, and hopefully yours, to help you find the best choice to satisfy your hot wing craving without all the messy and time-consuming work…or the smell of grease and the messy cleanup that you’ll have to deal with. (Disregard if you’re a hardcore griller and don’t mind standing in the snow for 30-45 minutes tending to the grill, or you have a killer exhaust system in your kitchen, which we do NOT have, sadly).

Texture & Appearance:

popeyes dry wings

Popeye's wings are big and crispy

Popeye’s Spicy Wings are whole wings, tips and all, for $1 each when you buy 10. Breaded and fried, they have a unique flaky coating that is crunchy, tender, and golden brown with no visual evidence of heat. The meat is nice and moist inside. Served dry, these are a standard on their menu, and will not be going away. (You can ask for tubs of their Firecracker Sauce, but it gives little heat and is basically a sweet chili sauce thinned with honey. I’d pass on it.) These are good-sized wings – the biggest of all the wings reviewed here (and well worth the money IMHO). Rated 4.5 out of 5 Stars – 4.5 stars

kfc wings dry crispy

KFC dry hot wings are crispy

KFC Hot Wings, the No Sauce variety (may only be available for a limited time..we’ll see). Crispy as well, though not as crunchy as Popeye’s, and a little blonder. The meat looks moist as well, but I see a lot of red on the bone. Note: the wings are not whole, but flaps and drummies, so when you buy the 10 wing box, you’ll really get 5 whole wings, cut up, without the tips. No guarantee that you will get an even amount of both. At 50 cents each, they compare price-wise to the whole Popeye’s wings at $1 each but these are much smaller. Rated 3.5 out of 5 Stars – 3.5 stars

pizza hut wings wet and dry

Pizza Hut wings wet on left and dry on right

Pizza Hut WingStreet Wings – Baked, no breading, very red, and very dry unless you get the “wet” version, which is the same wing but with sauce poured on after baking. These are cut up drummies and flats, so no whole wings here. By the time we got them, all of the sauce was in the bottom of the pan, which made it look like they put the sauce in the foil pan first, then added the baked wings. Very red and powdery looking. Rated 1 out of 5 Stars – 1 star

dominos hot wings

Domino's hot wings

Domino’s Chicken Wings – Baked, and advertised as extra crispy, we ordered the Hot Wings and the Mango Habanero Wings. (Our local franchise did not have the Fire Wings, which we really wanted to try. If you have, please let us know how they are). These look like a naked fried wing, so they’re probably pre-cooked before getting to the store, but any “crispiness” is lost when the sauce is added. They’re very dark and pretty though, and thankfully don’t possess the over-the-top coloring of the Pizza Hut wings. The Hot version has the typical orange cayenne wing sauce look, and the Mango Habanero has a dark orange fruity glaze with bits of red habanero pepper. Rated 3 out of 5 Stars – 3 stars


popeyes hot chicken wing closeup

Popeye's brings the crispy and flavor in a big wing

Popeye’s – Great fried chicken flavor with a kick. Eating to the bone showed a clean white bone, demonstrating that these were thoroughly cooked, and not dry – very moist in fact! There is heat in the meat and in the breading. If you’re a fan of non-greasy fried chicken with good down-home flavor and crunch, but you like a little burn, this is the fast-food wing for you. Big, meaty, tender spicy whole wings that won’t disappoint. Rated 5 out of 5 Stars – 5 stars

KFC hot wings closeup

KFC hot wings bring the crispy too in separate pieces

KFC Dry Hot Wings, no sauce – these wings are far superior to either the “traditional” KFC pressure-fried chicken, which always seemed to be tacky and sticky to me, or their crispy chicken, which was still always very greasy. I think this is the best product KFC has put out in a long time. There is a different seasoning present, as I detect a hint of garlic and/or onion powder. I was a little put off by the color of the bone, which was slightly red and shows me (as a former farm girl) that these wings came from a very young, immature bird. Tasted side by side with Popeye’s wings, the taste is a little off-putting, but overall a good flavor. Rated 3.5 out of 5 Stars – 3.5 stars

pizza hut wet and dry wings

Pizza Hut wet and dry wings

Pizza Hut Hot Wings – not much to say but… SALTY! I could only eat 2 pieces, one drummie and one flat. First impression is a cayenne wing, but the salt overpowered anything I could say about the flavor. Very dry, even with the extra sauce, which in itself is incredibly salty. Rated 1 out of 5 Stars – Minus (-1) star!

dominos hot chicken wings in foil in box

Domino's hot wings in foil and box

Domino’s Hot Wings have the traditional cayenne pepper wing sauce flavor. The sauce, tasted by itself from the bottom of the box, has a slightly bitter taste, but not offensive. Slightly rubbery but cooked through. Rated 2 out of 5 Stars – 2 stars

dominos mango wings

Domino's mango habanero wings

Domino’s Mango Habanero Wings are very good if you make sure to get an extra tub of the sauce, as more sauce makes these better and brings out not just the orange juice and mango, but the heat of the Habanero and jalapeno peppers. Definitely very sweet though, and the heat builds as you eat them (yea!). Rated 2 out of 5 Stars – 2 stars

Heat Level:

Popeye’s scores a solid Heat Level 3. Not hot enough for a lot of Chileheads, but the heat stays in the mouth and back of the throat for a good long time. I detect heat in the meat and in the breading, so you’re not just getting it on the outside. A great choice for the entire crowd without hurting anyone. These are definitely best eaten warm so the heat gets to work a little faster. Rated 3 out of 5 Stars – 3 strong stars

KFC Dry Hot Wings are evidently marinated, as the heat is present in the meat and breading, but nothing that will hurt anyone. When eaten cold, the heat is barely there. Rated 2.5 out of 5 Stars – 2.5 stars

Pizza Hut Hot Wings. It’s hard to judge the heat on these, as the incredible amount of salt burned more than the heat of either the powder on the wings or the added hot wing sauce. If you tossed the wings in salt, added Texas Pete or Frank’s Hot Wing Sauce, salted butter, and more salt,and then dried them too long, that’s what you’d get from these wings. It may be that the local store had cooked down the sauce too long, or that they got an incredibly salty batch, but the salt level of these wings would not give you the opportunity to truly judge the heat level before the salt totally destroyed your taste buds. The overall effect gives these a burn level of 3.0, but it’s not a good heat. Salty = Bad! Rated 3 out of 5 Stars – 3 stars

Domino’s. Probably the most “classic” of both taste and mild heat levels of the bunch, the sauced hot wings from Domino’s are the second favorite of the bunch. The cayenne pepper sauce gives a heat level of Rated 2 out of 5 Stars – 2 stars


Just for fun, let’s look at the packaging. Sometimes it matters.

Popeyes Chicken plain box

Popeye’s box is plain and pretty much orange and white - 2 stars

kfc plain box

KFC’s box has lots of cool quotes and statements - 3 stars

pizza hut wings in foil tub

Pizza Hut’s wings come in a foil tub inside a Pizza Hut box - ½ star

dominos wings in foil in breadstick box

Domino’s wings are laid in foil in their sandwich/breadstick box - 1 star

Overall Rating and Final Impressions:

Popeye’s, in the world of fast food wings, gets a solid 5.0 from me. The biggest wings of the bunch, I could eat these wings every day (and ate them 3 days in a row), so they get a solid score from this comfort food / spicy wing lover. Rated 5 out of 5 Stars – 5 stars

KFC’s wings are good, so if they’re the only choice in your neighborhood, you really can’t go wrong with them for your tailgate party, though I thought the flavor was not as clean as Popeye’s and I wasn’t comfortable with the fact that the bones had a very red color to them. I would give them a pretty respectable Rated 3 out of 5 Stars – 3 stars

Pizza Hut dry and wet Hot Wings were very disappointing. If salt is a concern in your diet (and if it isn’t now, it will be) then these are not the wings for you. Love the pizza, but NOT the wings… Minus 2 stars.

Domino’s Hot Wings are far superior to Pizza Hut’s. If you’re getting pizza and want to add an order of 8 wings (pieces) for $5.99, it would round out your party for the wing fans who want to add some heat to your fare. Overall the Hot Wings get a 2.0, and the Mango Habanero gets a Rated 2 out of 5 Stars – 2 stars

We know there are other many other sources for hot wings that you can find at fast food places that we didn’t try, mainly because they aren’t local to us: Checkers, Chick-fil-A, and others, not including the myriad of wing restaurant chains around the country, like Buffalo Wild Wings and Wing Tyme.

Feel free to chime in with YOUR local favorites, and add to the conversation for the benefit of our readers. We look forward to your comments and input! And thanks for joining us for Week of Wings 3!

Here’s the complete Week of Wings III series:

Week of Wings III – Day 1 – Kramer’s Wing Rubs
Week of Wings III – Day 2 – Tabasco Game Day Wing recipes from Top Chef Floyd Cardoz
Week of Wings III – Day 3 – Grilled Mustard BBQ Wings – Country Chef Grilling Sauce
Week of Wings III – Day 4 – Wing Sauces from your Grocery Store
Week of Wings III – Day 5 – Jerk Lokia Ghost Chile Jamaican Jerk Sauce Wings
Week of Wings III – Day 6 – AlbuKirky Southwest BBQ Rub and Sauce on Wings
Week of Wings III – Day 7 – Fast Food Hot Wings Roundup

The “other related posts” below are from our first Week of Wings I


  1. Corinne says

    Thanks for doing this!
    We call them “beaters” & “flappers” in this house. 🙂 The beaters are the drummies & the flappers are the “flats”.

    • I’ve never heard those terms! Which part of the wing are you? I’m the “flapper”, Marilyn is the “beater”.

  2. Great stuff. I’ve really enjoyed reading this series. Thanks!

  3. Thanks Eyal. Which Fat Cat Foods hot sauce makes the best wing?

  4. I love reading these reviews. I’m halfway out the door to Popeyes and I remember I’m still in my jammie’s and it’s cold out…and it’s only 9:30 in the morning. Great job guys!

    • It’s looking like Popeye’s is the overall favorite among our readers as well!

      I shop in my PJ pants all the time. Yea. I’m one of those guys.

  5. Very nice comparison of fast food wings, guys! Popeye’s is my long time favorite fried chicken so I wasn’t surprised to see their wings win.

  6. I like to call the wingtip the “fingernail or the hang nail”. Is it just me?

    • Corinne says

      Yes, Jeremy, I think it’s just you! 😉

    • Well Jeremy, I normally cut them off and freeze em for stock later, but in Popeye’s case, yes, you get a little more crunch to nibble on. And LOL on your comment of heading out the door in the early am to get some in your jammies! I’m a good old Maryland Fried Chicken girl, and once I find a great fried wing like Popeye’s, I’m hooked for life! (Don’t tell Brian, but I got some last week too… and didn’t bring the leftovers home)

    • @Jeremy, what do you call the other two edible parts?

  7. Great roundup and report!

  8. Great detailed review! Made my mouth water.

  9. I used to order wings from the Pizza Hut Wingstreet near me a lot in Colorado and they were actually pretty good. Didn’t look anything like what is described here. These were fried and while the sauce could be a bit gelatinous it had a good taste.

    The best fast food wings IMO are Checkers. They taste pretty close to real wing joint wings. Again, like Pizza Hut their sauce is a little gelatinous as I think is a result of mass-produced wing sauce filled with preservatives but the taste is pretty decent.

    Fast food wings will never compare to real wing joints.

  10. Pizza Hut wings are very tasty, but the problem I have with them are; every time I purchase them, there’s always at least 2-5 pieces with broken bones. Whatever there process is breaks the bones. They also have allot of fat on them.

    Best Regards

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