It’s time for McDonald’s to take the chicken sandwich challenge

Can the burger giant make a sandwich as good as the chicken chain specialists?

McDonald’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich went national on Feb. 24, and Restaurant Business’ esteemed tasting panel wasted no time giving it a try.

Along with our colleagues at Technomic and FoodService Director, we were eager to see if the burger giant’s entry in the chicken sandwich wars could stand up to those from chicken specialists like Chick-fil-A and Popeyes.

The short answer is “yes,” although the devil is in the details.

We all opted for the simple Crispy Chicken Sandwich, although McDonald’s also debuted a spicy version and a deluxe sandwich with lettuce and tomato. And all of us picked up the sandwich to go, not opting for delivery.

Everyone was impressed with the bun, which has the look of an artisan potato roll, complete with a split baked into the top. The chicken fillet itself was generous in size, juicy and covered in a golden-brown coating.

But some of us found the coating a bit soggy compared to the crispness in others. All the sandwiches made the same off-premise journey, but McDonald’s didn’t stay as crispy as the others—even though it came in a fancy foil-lined bag. And a couple of tasters commented that the breaded chicken in combination with the bun was “gummy” with an off texture.

The pickles were a little thinly sliced and sparse compared to the crunchy, thicker slices on some of the competition. And the sandwich comes without any sauce; McDonald’s patrons have to ask for mayo or another condiment on the side, the same as at Chick-fil-A.

But all in all, our tasters agreed that the McDonald’s chicken sandwich is a good value for its price, size and quality. The basic Crispy Chicken Sandwich goes for around $5 when not offered in a meal deal.

McDonald’s franchisees reportedly pushed for an upgraded fried chicken sandwich for years, and the new Crispy Chicken Sandwich delivers on their demands. Listen to what our tasting panel has to say.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content


Restaurants have a hot opportunity to improve their reputation as employers

Reality Check: New mandates for protecting workers from dangerous on-the-job heat are about to be dropped on restaurants and other employers. The industry could greatly help its labor plight by acting first.


Some McDonald's customers are doubling up on the discounts

The Bottom Line: In some markets, customers can get the fast-food chain's $5 value meal for $4. The situation illustrates a key rule in the restaurant business: Customers are savvy and will find loopholes.


Ignore the Red Lobster problem. Sale-leasebacks are not all that bad

The decade-old sale-leaseback at the seafood chain has raised questions about the practice. But experts say it remains a legitimate financing option for operators when done correctly.


More from our partners