Arby’s Diablo Sandwich Is The Spiciest Chicken Sandwich In The Fast Food Universe, But Is It Any Good?

It’s no secret which fast food chain dishes out the best chicken sandwich, but who makes the spiciest? There are a lot of contenders fighting over that top spot. Popeyes’ sandwich, while delicious, is more sweet than spicy, even in its “spicy” variant. McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr’s chicken sandwiches are trash. Burger King, Shake Shack, and Raising Cane’s all make decent sandwiches, but a majority of them aren’t even trying to be spicy. If you like your chicken sandwiches so hot that they make your brow sweat as you salivate between bites and leave your mouth feeling like you’re breathing fire, all you’ve got is Chick-fil-A’s Spicy Deluxe and Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich.

Both bring some heat, but for fans of hot chicken with a high tolerance for spice, they both kind of miss the mark. It baffles me that we’re living in a time where the fast food space is obsessed with chicken sandwiches to an almost ridiculous degree, and yet we don’t have a single sandwich that is spicy enough to satiate true lovers of hot food. Until now.

Today, master of meats, Arby’s, is launching the Diablo Sandwich line which consists of your choice of a smoked brisket or fried chicken topped sandwich that provides what Arby’s promises will be the “ultimate spicy experience.” I sampled the fried chicken topped version of the sandwich ahead of launch to see if Arby’s can truly deliver what they’ve promised.

Is the Diablo Chicken the spicy sandwich we pepper heads have been waiting for? Let’s find out.

Arby’s Diablo Chicken Sandwich

Diablo Sandwich Review
Dane Rivera

Retail Price: $5.99

The Sandwich:

Beginning today until February 6th, Arby’s nationwide will be selling the Diablo sandwich, which is so spicy that Arby’s felt fit to provide each customer with a free vanilla shake with every order. This sandwich is a monument to spice! It’s built with multiple layers of peppers; ghost pepper jack cheese, a few shakes of what Arby’s is calling “Fiery Hot Seasoning,” which to me tastes like mostly paprika with a bit of cayenne pepper, diced jalapeños embedded into the cheese, a swirl of spicy barbecue sauce (I’m getting a hint of citrusy habanero here) on the top bun, mayonnaise on the bottom, lettuce and pickles and your choice of a fried chicken filet or 13-hour smoked brisket served on a toasted chipotle bun.

As decadent and delicious as the smoked brisket version looks, Arby’s brisket is a bit on the sweet side, and if I wanted the ultimate spicy experience I knew I needed the more neutral flavor of fried chicken to accompany all of those sources of heat. The result? Well, for starters, this is a sandwich so spicy that you can smell the heat before you bite into it.

The layers of heat hit you in waves, the spicy barbecue sauce eases you into things with the slightest hint of sweetness and spice before that ghost pepper jack cheese meets your palate and provides the fire. The liberal use of cayenne seasoning ensures each bite is as spicy as the next and builds as you go. As you chew through the sandwich the diced and roasted jalapeños offer the occasional burst of extra heat that pleasantly lingers as an aftertaste between bites, counterbalanced by some tangy pickles, which keep your breath from turning to literal flames.

Throughout the meal my mouth felt like it was on fire in the most delicious way. But rather than luxuriating in the heat, I found myself eating this sandwich quicker than I’d usually eat. The heat has this way of pulling you through the experience. I couldn’t take a break, lest I be engulfed.

Diablo Sandwich Review
Dane Rivera

The sandwich is a legit sweat-inducer but it suffers from a few minor problems that can be easily remedied on Arby’s part. First up is that toasted chipotle bun. Arby’s tried to shoehorn in another layer of spice but this bread comes off as more of a gimmick than an enjoyable part of the sandwich. It’s very dry and I find the orange color of the bread straight up unappetizing. The pickles, while a welcome inclusion, are just a little too thin to really impact the flavor as much as I’d like them to. I’m not sure why this sandwich has mayo (couldn’t taste it, which is great if you hate mayo), and the lettuce is little more than a texture that kind of makes the sandwich taste wet.

And then we have the chicken.

It’s not the best chicken filet in fast food, it’s thin and dry to the point of being stringy. Even though I haven’t had it, I’m willing to bet the better move is to grab the brisket instead. Still, I went looking for the spiciest chicken sandwich in the fast food universe and the Diablo Chicken Sandwich is definitely the spiciest sandwich I’ve had in all of fast food. Ever.

My favorite feature of this sandwich is the vanilla shake pairing. It’s not that the sandwich is so hot that you need the shake to offer relief (some will, my tolerance for spicy food is very high), but the flavors really play off one another in an interesting way, creating a harmonious eating experience that bounces between two extremes.

The sweetness acts as a sort of palate cleanser that washes away the lingering heat so that you can experience it all over again during your next bite. Once your palate is inundated with heat to the point of numbness, a swig of vanilla will put you right back to where you were on your first bite.

The Bottom Line:

Arby’s really has something here. It’s not the best chicken sandwich you’ll ever eat. Hell, I wouldn’t even say it’s top five, but when it comes to delivering on a spicy experience no sandwich in the fast food universe can even compete with this. It is hands down the spiciest fast food sandwich currently on the market. If you can’t handle spicy food, don’t even attempt to eat this sandwich, you’ll need more than a vanilla shake to help you through it.

Find your nearest Arby’s here.