McDonald’s is testing made-to-order chicken

The company is serving an Ultimate Chicken Sandwich and Ultimate Chicken Tenders in western Washington.
Photograph courtesy of McDonald's Corp.

McDonald’s might be making more items to order than just some of its burgers.

The Chicago-based fast-food giant said Monday that it is testing in western Washington a couple of additions to its growing chicken lineup: an Ultimate Chicken Sandwich and Ultimate Chicken Tenders.

Both items are “lightly breaded and seasoned and made with all-white-meat chicken.” And they also are made to order.

The test is being done in 160 locations in western Washington state, including Seattle.

The products “reflect McDonald’s commitment to respond to customers’ desires for more chicken offerings, higher quality and distinct, delicious flavors,” Linda VanGosen, McDonald’s vice president of menu innovation, said in a statement.

McDonald’s has been working to bolster its chicken innovation amid growing popularity for boneless chicken products, thanks to the success of chains such as Chick-fil-A, Raising Cane’s and Zaxby’s.

The company made a note early this year that it would become a bigger player in the chicken market. The company upgraded its Chicken McNuggets, introduced Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders last year and in August added an LTO, Sweet N’ Spicy Honey BBQ Glazed chicken tenders.

In this case, the Ultimate Chicken Sandwich is made with a Sweet Dijon Sauce and pickles. The tenders are available in four-, six- or 10-piece servings.

“We’re excited for our Seattle and Western Washington customers to be some of the first in the country to try the Ultimate Chicken Sandwich and Ultimate Chicken Tenders,” Shari Nixon, president of McDonald’s Western Washington Co-op and a franchise owner in Chehalis, Wash.

Still, the addition of another made-to-order product could put further pressure on the company’s speed and complexity.

Steve Easterbrook, McDonald’s CEO, acknowledged on an earnings call last week that the company’s speed has slowed since its addition of made-to-order burgers in May.

“Our service times slowed down,” he said, promising an improved focus on speed in the drive-thru.

The test comes amid a wave of new product introductions and product tests at McDonald’s. Just last week, the company announced a new line of breakfast sandwiches, Triple Breakfast Stacks, and a $6 Classic Meal Deal. Most of the chain’s 14,000 U.S. locations, meanwhile, will start selling McRib sandwiches for a limited time.

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