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


4 things we learned in a wild week for restaurant tech

Tech Check: If you blinked, you may have missed three funding rounds, two acquisitions, a “never-before-seen” new product and a bold executive poaching. Let’s get caught up.


High restaurant menu prices mean high customer expectations

The Bottom Line: Diners are paying high prices to eat out at all kinds of restaurants these days. And they’re picking winners and losers.


Podcast transcript: Puttshack CEO Joe Vrankin

A Deeper Dive: The chief executive of the minigolf-centric restaurant chain discusses how the chain focuses on higher-quality games and food.


More from our partners