If you don’t have at least one spicy menu item, are you even a legit fast food establishment? Spice is such an interesting flavor profile — though technically just a pain signal by the nervous system — that people are willing to watch celebrities eat spicy chicken while being interviewed, even if the structure of the interview is the same every single time. Weird sadism aside, great spicy food hits you with a rush of heat that lingers and simmers on the palate, offering a slow burn of flavor so powerful that it tricks our brains into thinking we’re experiencing a change in temperature. It even causes us to break out into a sweat sometimes! That’s about as wild as a flavor can get.
With all the different options of spicy food in the fast food landscape, we thought it might be helpful to take out some of the guesswork you might experience and create a list of each establishment’s best spicy food item. Before we get to the list though, we have a rule: The food must come spicy, no add-ons. Yes, if you modify a menu item with some spicy sauce, it’s going to be spicy. That kind of goes without saying. We’re looking for menu items that are inherently spicy, or else we’d just put our favorite salsa on everything (after all, it is literally the greatest condiment anyone could ever hope to eat).
This rule has lead to some casualties, In-N-Out Animal Style fries with chopped chilis being a major one. But sorry, thems the breaks! Rules are rules, and without them, we’re just animals. Let’s get to the list and get you the best spicy menu item at every fast food restaurant!
Arby’s doesn’t really do spicy. They’re more about piling cuts of savory meats on top of each other, doused in bbq or tzatziki sauce. They have a Buffalo Chicken Slider, but if you eat one of these we are officially not on speaking terms anymore. They’re straight up gross! The Jalapeño Bites on the other hand — well, they’re better at the least.
We aren’t exactly starting the list off with a bang, but if you’re into jalapeño halves encrusted in a crispy batter and stuffed with cream cheese, you’ll be all over these. Personally, I feel the cheese mutes the spicy sensation considerably, leaving you with only a small burn in the after-taste. The heat from Arby’s Jalapeño Bites lingers, we just wish the initial kick was a little more powerful.