- McDonald’s just released a new lineup of crispy chicken sandwiches in original, spicy, and deluxe.
- The chain’s new offerings immediately drew comparisons to Chick-fil-A’s iconic chicken sandwich.
- I tried McDonald’s new crispy chicken sandwich and thought it was very similar to Chick-fil-A’s.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
The chicken sandwich wars are in full swing, and McDonald’s is coming out with its own heavy hitters.
On February 24, McDonald’s launched its newest lineup of chicken sandwiches: the Crispy Chicken Sandwich, the Deluxe Crispy Chicken Sandwich, and the Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich.
Immediately, fans and industry experts began to notice that the new offerings seemed very similar to Chick-fil-A’s and Popeyes’ iconic chicken sandwiches. Insider’s Kate Taylor previously reported on a leaked menu that revealed McDonald’s plans to release a new chicken sandwich, saying that the chain was planning to “take a page out of Chick-fil-A’s playbook.”
Former McDonald’s chef Mike Haracz told Insider “it’s very apparent” that McDonald’s is following Chick-fil-A’s lead with its sandwich. “It comes in a foil bag just like Chick-fil-A, from what I understand it has a very similar flavor profile,” he said.
The description for the McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich describes it as a “southern style fried chicken sandwich” with crinkle-cut pickles and a toasted, buttered potato roll. Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich also comes on a toasted, buttered bun with dill pickle chips.
However, I wasn’t going to assume that the sandwiches were identical – I had to try them for myself.
Here’s what I thought of each chicken sandwich, from how similar they were to which one might even win the chicken sandwich wars.
Both sandwiches came in a foil and paper bag. They also both stayed warm, despite half an hour passing between the time I picked them up and when I finally got them home.
The sandwiches were similar in size, though Chick-fil-A’s bun and chicken fillet looked ever-so-slightly bigger.
I noticed that each sandwich had a very different bun. McDonald’s bun was harder and slightly denser, while Chick-fil-A’s was softer and slightly bigger than the fillet inside.
I’ve had the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich countless times, but I tried to go into this taste test with a fresh perspective.
The chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-A cost me $6.85, making it slightly more expensive than the McDonald’s sandwich.
Chick-fil-A has been consistently voted as one of America’s most beloved fast-food chains, and customer loyalty is high.
“Chick-fil-A has very strong brand loyalists,” former McDonald’s chef Mike Haracz told Insider. “I’ve sat in panels when I was doing chicken work. They will try the food, but when you tell them it’s not from Chick-fil-A they’ll say, ‘Well, I think it’s great but I’m not going to buy it because I am a Chick-fil-A consumer.” However, there are some people who might go to Chick-fil-A strictly for the flavor, and if McDonald’s can match that, they may be swayed.”
Chick-fil-A’s chicken sandwich, which comes served on a toasted, buttered bun with dill pickle chips, is a favorite among customers.
According to a report by Edison Trends, Chick-fil-A received more online chicken sandwich delivery orders than any other brand in most of 2020, cornering around 45% of the total online order market share.
The bun was light and fluffy and the chicken breast was the perfect thickness.
Chick-fil-A’s chicken breast was flakier as opposed to juicy. Looking at both of the sandwiches, the fillet itself also looked slightly bigger. The breading was thinner and clung to the chicken breast well, which gave it a great texture.
However, I was slightly disappointed by Chick-fil-A’s pickles — they didn’t have the strong briny flavor or crunchiness I usually look for.
Next up was the newcomer: the McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich.
The McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich cost $5.99 at my local chain in Brooklyn, New York.
The chicken fillet was thick – right off the bat, it looked really similar to sandwiches I’ve had from other chains.
I’ve been a fan of McDonald’s McChicken sandwiches for years, but I could already tell that I was going to like this sandwich a lot more.
The sandwich came with a few whole pickle chips on top of the chicken fillet.
The bun held the contents of the sandwich together perfectly, and in terms of size, I thought McDonald’s did a great job at nailing the bun-to-chicken ratio.
Biting in, I was immediately impressed.
The breading of the sandwich had a slight sweetness to it. However, it was perfectly balanced out by the tart, crunchy pickles, which had a strong briny flavor. The chicken was thick, juicy, and flavorful.
The only aspect of the sandwich I wasn’t totally in love with was the bun — though it was a good size, I thought it was slightly too thick. I’m of the opinion that a sandwich bun’s sole purpose is to hold everything together, without overpowering the other ingredients. I think this thicker potato bun slightly missed the mark on that.
It was really hard to say which one I liked more. However, I have to give props where props are due – McDonald’s has come out with an undeniably good chicken sandwich.
So, how similar were the two sandwiches? Pretty similar, in my opinion. If I was to do a blind taste test, I might not even know which was which, unless one was slathered in Chick-fil-A sauce. However, this is not to say that McDonald’s is in any way actively trying to copy or imitate Chick-fil-A’s most iconic offering.
The fact is that there is a trend in what consumers across the board are looking for in a chicken sandwich, whether they’re ordering from Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s, Popeyes, or any other chain.
Judging by the success of the chicken-war competitors, consumers want a Southern-inspired flavor with juicy, flavorful chicken and tart and crunchy pickles. McDonald’s definitely delivered on all counts.
As far as this food reporter is concerned, the new McDonald’s chicken sandwich stacks up well against fan favorites — and might even be a new go-to menu item.