I compared and ranked spicy fried-chicken sandwiches from Burger King, McDonald’s, and Wendy’s.
I thought McDonald’s didn’t do as good of a job when it came to incorporating the spicy flavor.
Though Wendy’s had a nice fillet, Burger King’s Spicy Ch’King came in first place when looking at the sandwich as a whole.
McDonald’s Spicy Crispy Chicken sandwich landed in the bottom slot because the chain failed to fully incorporate the spice into the chicken.
The coating on McDonald’s Spicy Crispy Chicken sandwich was dark brown and looked like it would provide a crisp bite with more chicken than breading. After biting into it, I found all this to be true. The fried outside wasn’t as attention-seeking as the one on Burger King’s Ch’King, but it still got the job of satisfying a craving for fried food done.
While the texture of the fillet was nice, that of the bun was not. It was dense and a little damp from the steam that gathered inside the package. The classic McDonald’s hamburger bun would have been a better choice, in my opinion.
The overall flavor profile was also disappointing. I first got a bit of the sweetness and acidity that came from the bun and pickles respectively, and a tiny bit of sweetness came from the sauce as well. But the heat from the red pepper sauce quickly took over and coated my whole mouth and throat.
The sauce was too overwhelming and there was nothing to balance it out.
A larger, thicker pickle slice could have helped to balance the profile here, but the ones McDonald’s chose to use were small, thin, and barely delivered any flavor.
The chain also chose to unevenly schmear sauce on the bottom and top buns rather than use it to coat the chicken fillet. This strategy left some pieces of chicken uncovered and therefore no different from McDonald’s non-spicy version of the sandwich.
Simply put, McDonald’s sandwich wasn’t well-rounded.
Wendy’s sandwich took second place because of its intentional spice.
Wendy’s breading was also on the thinner side and provided a somewhat crispy bite – though not as crispy as McDonald’s.
But what made this one better was the seasoning of the fried fillet. Unlike McDonald’s sandwich, the flavor came from a peppery dredge rather than a gloopy sauce. It tasted like I was eating a spicy chicken tender on a bun — which is great.
The bun Wendy’s used was lightweight and slightly sweet, which allowed the chicken to shine and be the main event.
The lettuce and tomato didn’t add much here by way of flavor, but they also didn’t detract from the sandwich at all.
While the fried-chicken fillet was tasty and satisfying, the toppings didn’t really make it better. The lettuce and tomato were both thin and added more texture than flavor.
There was also a mayo sauce between the tomato and the top bun. While I thought it was good for texture and functionality (it cooled down the spice of the chicken a bit), it didn’t impart additional flavor the way Burger King’s honey-mustard-like mayo did.
Overall, this was a solid sandwich.
Burger King’s winning take on the fast-food phenomenon was flavorful, thoughtful, and larger than expected.
Like Wendy’s, this sandwich came on a fluffy, chewy, and semi-sweet bun.
It had a rippled, fried dredge that both looked and tasted luxurious and super crunchy.
The tang that came from the sauce complemented the rest of the flavor profile, which included pickle chips and a second sauce that tasted like a cross between mayo and honey mustard.
Each component of the sandwich came together in a cohesive and delicious way.
The pickle chips Burger King used were large enough to cover most of the surface area of the bun, which meant I got some briny goodness in each bite.
Since the fillet was glazed in sauce rather than topped with it, I tasted even flavoring and heat throughout each bite.
The glaze had notes of chili pepper, but it didn’t overwhelm my taste buds and fill my whole mouth, but I did think it could have used a bit more salt to highlight the fruitiness of the chilis. I also appreciated the fact that I was able to still recognize the flavors that came from the meat itself.
Taking size, flavor profile, and purpose served by each component in the sandwich into consideration, I think Burger King had the winning spicy sandwich.
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