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Chicken fingers taste test

Perkins' fried fingers get the thumbs-up

Consumer Reports magazine: October 2012

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Call them strips, nuggets, fingers, or tenders, those boneless pieces of fried chicken are an American staple. To see whose chicken would make you cross the road, we sent two trained tasters to three different locations of five big restaurant chains: Country Kitchen, Cracker Barrel, Denny’s, IHOP, and Perkins. Chicken-­finger meals usually include two side dishes: Tasters ordered mashed potatoes and broccoli (carrots at Cracker Barrel).

Bottom line. Perkins (shown) wins. Its fingers were the only ones whose chicken flavor stood up to the crust. Its broccoli tasted freshly steamed, and its potatoes were full flavored. Cracker Barrel’s sides were also tasty, but those from Country Kitchen, IHOP, and Denny’s were less successful: The broccoli was flavorful but waterlogged; the potatoes had that fake-butter flavor found in some microwaved popcorn.

Restaurant (Ratings are in taste order.)

Comments

EXCELLENT

 

Perkins

Golden-brown, very crispy, crunchy, flour-type crust; juicy, flavorful chicken; mild seasonings.

VERY GOOD

 

Cracker Barrel

Crunchy, flour-type crust; juicy, tender meat, but tasted more of batter than chicken.

Country Kitchen

Crust has cornmeal texture. Seasoned with pepper, salt, and garlic, but you could barely taste chicken.

IHOP

Crunchy, flour-type coating sometimes so thick it turned mushy. Pepper, garlic, and seasonings, with slight heat.

GOOD

 

Denny’s

Crunchy, thick, flour-type coating; some pieces dry. Taste of fried crust, spicy heat.

Editor's Note: A version of this article appeared in the October 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine with the headline "Thumbs-Up for Chicken Fingers."
   

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