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Our Review Of The Three New, Game-Changing Wendy’s Chicken Sandwiches

We will never get tired of new chicken sandwiches. Back before Popeyes dropped their internet-breaking sandwich (which started an aftermarket for fast food, for Christ’s sake), the menu item sat comfortably on the sidelines. Don’t get me wrong, the chicken sandwich has always had its fans — look at the success of Chick-fil-A — but it’s never been in the culinary spotlight the way it is now.

Things are different in 2022. With the entire country infected with chicken sandwich fever, big brands can’t stop giving us new chicken sandwiches. And, frankly, we won’t stop eating them, desperately chasing that first Popeyes high. Arby’s, Panda Express, McDonald’s, Burger King… they’ve all made valiant attempts to change the game.

Sadly, most of the new chicken sandwiches aren’t terrific. They’re interesting and some even manage to be a breath of fresh air, but nothing really competes with the current GOAT. Not much can even manage to match the former GOAT, Chick-fil-A.

Until now.

Wendy’s freshly launched line of sandwiches — a trio that includes a Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit, Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich, and something called the Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken Sandwich — is the first drop that Popeyes might actually be worried about. These new sandwiches won’t be the cultural phenomenon that was the Popeyes sandwich rollout, I can guarantee you that. I’m not sure fast food will ever have a moment like that again. But what Wendy’s has done has vastly expanded its chicken sandwich options (six different varieties, not including spicy, classic, and grilled variations), something Popeyes seems too scared to do.

This means in 2022, the best chicken sandwich might still be found at Popeyes. But the best place to buy a variety of chicken sandwiches is Wendy’s. No cap. Here is what makes the new sandwiches great, starting with the least exciting of the three.

Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit

Wendy's Sandwich Review
Dane Rivera

I love the idea of the chicken biscuit. It helps the chicken sandwich fit in with the world of fast food breakfast, and more chicken sandwiches is always a good thing. My issue with Wendy’s line of breakfast chicken sandwiches is the chicken itself. It’s garbage. Wendy’s chicken breast filet is good, it’s the only reason why Wendy’s is in the top five of fast food chicken sandwiches, but the smaller version they use for their breakfast sandwiches tastes like a different bird entirely. It’s chunky and full of hard-to-chew bits that just taste really low quality.

I know we’re talking about fast food here, but trust me on this one — Wendy’s breakfast chicken filet is no good. And that alone is enough to break the Hot Honey Chicken Biscuit. The flavors are great, I’ll get to that when we talk about the lunch version, and the way the semi-sweet biscuit complements those flavors proves that the people behind the Wendy’s kitchen are actually attempting to make good food, not just jumping on trends, but none of it matters when the chicken is this bad.

Do better Wendy’s, we know you can. In fact, that’s what makes this so frustrating.

The Bottom Line:

If you like Wendy’s breakfast sandwiches, you’re going to like this sweet and spicy version. But if you actually have tastebuds, wait a few hours and hit Wendy’s for lunch.

Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken

Wendy's Sandwich Review
Wendy

We’re going to take a quick detour to talk about Wendy’s other new sandwich, the Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Chicken before we talk about the much more exciting Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich. This is essentially a chicken sandwich version of the Wendy’s Classic Big Bacon Cheddar Burger that is currently on the permanent menu. In a sense, it was already a menu hack, and now Wendy’s is making it easier to order.

Personally, this sandwich isn’t really for me. But if you love big cheesy salty chicken sandwiches, this is your jam.

The sandwich features a chicken filet topped with bacon, onions rings, American Cheese, and a cheddar cheese-based bacon jam on a toasted cheddar bun. It’s probably the saltiest sandwich I’ve ever eaten. The sauce is salty and smokey, the bacon is salty and smokey, the cheese is salty, the onion rings, saltY — every goddamn thing about this sandwich is so salty that it’s hard to taste anything else. I can’t say it doesn’t taste good, but I can say that eating it made me feel terrible.

Not morally, I mean physically terrible. It’s the sort of sandwich you eat when you don’t give a single fuck.

I think if any ingredient feels excessive in this sandwich, it’s the onion rings. I love the crunch they provide, but the flavor kind of clashes with the fried chicken filet. It makes sense in the burger version of this sandwich — where its aromatic qualities and sharp flavor play off the deeper savory qualities of beef — but with the chicken, the onion flavor dominates too heavily.

The Bottom Line:

Eat it after you smoke a fat bowl. Otherwise, it’s a slightly worst version of Wendy’s Big Bacon Cheddar Burger.

Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich

Wendy's Sandwich Review
Dane Rivera

All that stuff I said about the onion rings in the big bacon cheddar burgers? Wendy’s fixed it in the Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich. This sandwich features a spicy, classic, or grilled chicken filet topped with pepper jack cheese, bacon, a habanero-based hot honey sauce, and what is perhaps Wendy’s best culinary creation since the spicy nugget — crunchy dill pickle chips. These pickle chips deliver all of the crispy crunchy mouthfeel of fried onions, but with a flavor that actually works with and elevates fried chicken.

The pickles also add a lot of depth and complexity to this sandwich, supplying a hint of sour tang that plays well with the citrus-y habanero honey sauce. I’m telling you, they’re really good.

Wendy's Sandwich Review
Dane Rivera

The sauce hits you first, it’s sweet, but unlike all the other fast food hot honey chickens out there, it’s not sweet to the point of tasting like candy. Instead, that sweetness acts as a pleasant introductory note. It presents itself gently before ratcheting up to simmering heat, which is reigned in between bites by the brine-y/ earthy flavor of the pickles. It’s a well-thought-out combination of flavors, and it’s really one of the best chicken sandwiches I’ve had since Popeyes first dropped their iteration.

Having said that, Wendy’s needs to up its quality control. The sandwich lacks the consistency it needs to truly be a standout. I guarantee that after pubbing this review, someone is going to tweet a very ugly sandwich at me and that’s on you, Wendy’s, not me. The honey sauce is drizzled onto the sandwich, it’s fine, but tossing the filet in the sauce would probably work better and result in a more consistent sandwich and a less messy bun. The pickle chips, while great enough to be a menu item on their own, are also terribly inconsistent. Few of the pickle chips have that perfect ratio of pickle to batter — most of them are more chip than they are pickle, and you’ll find that those particular chips are completely lacking in flavor.

Wendy’s really has something here, but they need to figure out how to put it together better so that it’s good all of the time, not just some of the time.

The Bottom Line:

This is absolutely worth jumping in your car and picking up for lunch or dinner tonight. Wendy’s may have been late to the undeniable hot honey chicken trend that is fast food’s current obsession, but they’re the best to do it so far.

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