If your fast food menu go-to is the fried chicken sandwich, you’re living in heaven. Seriously, this is your era. Two years ago, Popeyes dropped a chicken sandwich, it caused absolute pandemonium, and now every fast food restaurant on earth has some offering that hopes to compete with the king (spoiler: in straight-up fast food, no one can; in fast-casual, Popeyes gets washed).
We’ve now arrived at the point where the new sandwiches don’t taste like they’re trying to compete with Popeyes anymore. That’s a good thing and Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr’s new Hot Honey Chicken line follows that trend. It takes the chain’s already delicious chicken sandwiches and douses them in a spicy-sweet honey sauce — something Popeyes doesn’t offer. That’s how you score competitive advantage.
Ww set out to try the whole Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr’s line to see if it’s any good. Check our thoughts below!
Carl’s Jr. Hot Honey Chicken
Predictably, none of the sandwiches look quite as glorious as Carl’s Jr’s marketing material, but we’ll give them a pass for delivering on flavor. The new Hot Honey Chicken line consists of three different sandwiches all featuring Carl’s Jr’s hand-breaded fried chicken: The Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit, the Hot Honey Chicken Waffle Sandwich, and the Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich. They all pretty much sound (and taste) like the same thing, so we’re lumping them all together in a single review rather than tackling each sandwich one at a time.
Let’s get the weakest of the line out of the way first: The Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit. The HHCB features a hand-breaded chicken breast filet doused in sweet honey sauce sitting atop one of Carl’s Jr’s in-house-baked biscuits. Each individual part of the sandwich is good — the biscuit is buttery and crumbly, the sauce strikes a nice balance between sweetness and heat, and the hand-breaded chicken is a juicy crispy winner — but altogether it makes for a long and laborious chew.
The problem is that there isn’t enough going on with this sandwich, and it ends up very dry in your mouth as you work through the crumbly texture. If Carl’s Jr added more honey to combat the dryness, it would be so sickly sweet it would taste overwhelming. So it’s not that this sandwich tastes bad, it’s just that it’s executed poorly. Maybe a truly spicy mayo and two pickles could help. Maybe a douse of honey mustard.
The Hot Honey Chicken Waffle sandwich remedies the biscuit’s chewiness issues. Again it’s a simple combination, hand-breaded honey-doused fried chicken on top of a Belgian style waffle bun. The bun is sweetened with some extra maple flavor, and its thinner, less-crumbly form factor serves the chicken better.
It’s not hard to eat this thing. If anything, we could’ve used a thicker waffle. I think the maple and honey compound together to be a little bit too sweet, but if you’re a fan of the combination of sweet and salty this is a winner. I also like the option of being able to eat this one with a knife and fork. It takes the fast food aspect out of it, but it keeps your hands dry and they don’t get sticky. Eating it the normal way will result in sticky hands, so keep that in mind.
Now let’s move on to the star of the show — The Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich. I love this thing. Hand-breaded chicken, honey sauce on both ends of a potato bun, two strips of bacon and cheese. Despite this being the only sandwich in the line not intended for the breakfast menu, the Hot Honey Chicken sandwich manages to taste the most like a breakfast sandwich.
The sweet and spicy honey sauce pairs perfectly with the bacon, creating a mixed aroma of maple and smoked qualities that literally smells like breakfast in sandwich form. This sandwich provides more crunch than the other two, too — thanks to the inclusion of bacon. The melted Swiss cheese adds a bit of sweet and nutty flavor to the whole thing, elevating the honey sauce by adding complexity to its one-two punch of sweet and spicy.
The Bottom Line:
Carl’s Jr just delivered us the best breakfast chicken sandwich in all of fast food with the Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich. Was it intended for breakfast? No, it’s unfortunately only available during lunch and dinner hours. So just pretend you’re having breakfast for dinner!
The other two sandwiches in the line are tasty curiosities, but they’ll leave you feeling like they’re missing something. That something it turns out is a potato bun, bacon, and melted Swiss. This is a winner.