Although the summer of the chicken sandwich is receding, McDonald's is hoping to get a bite of the buzz with its brand-new Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich. It's not a standard fried chicken sandwich with a plain chicken patty and pickles (like Popeyes' coveted sandwich), but its spiciness makes it an exciting addition to the fast food giant's menu.
The new sandwich starts with buttermilk battered chicken drizzled with a spicy BBQ sauce that get its heat from jalapeños. It's topped with raw onions and pickles and served on McDonald's sesame seed bun. According to McDonald's website, the sandwich is allegedly "full of flavor that makes you go 'woo!'" That's not exactly the reaction I had, but here's what I thought:
The Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich does have good flavor
I'm interested in why McDonald's went with a BBQ chicken sandwich, rather than capitalizing on the hype that still surrounds Nashville hot chicken or doubling down on a traditional, spicy chicken sandwich with pickles that's not submerged in sauce. Whatever the case, I was pleasantly surprised by McDonald's iteration of a spicy BBQ chicken sandwich. It miraculously hit all the right notes and genuinely tasted agreeable, though was admittedly messy to get into.
BBQ is not my sauce of choice for chicken. I'm typically a honey mustard or ranch type of girl, and would never go out of my way to order BBQ sauce for anything (except, you know, barbecue). But this BBQ sauce was admirable; it offered deep smokiness and plenty of heat -- the type that creates a warming sensation on your tongue, but doesn't make you sweat and curse. The sauce was plentiful on the sandwich, oozing out between the sesame seed buns and sticky on my fingers, yet the chicken patty retained a crispy, satisfying exterior. I appreciated that. Too often, glazed fried chicken is reduced to soggy, unappealing afterthoughts.
The pickles provided a nice tang to cut through the sweetness of the sauce and gave some extra crunch, alongside the onions. I do love raw onions to counterbalance an overwhelming sauce, but I have to admit the slivers were not my favorite addition. For starters, as slivers instead of diced squares, I found the onion pieces to be too slippery, awkwardly splayed out over the chicken patty before sliding out and dropping to the bottom of McDonald's cardboard boxed carriers. Additionally, the onions didn't have enough of that quintessential raw bite. McDonald's didn't share what type of onions it uses for this sandwich on its website. Its flavor, however, was akin to a yellow onion; gentle and sweet and almost apple-like. I would have preferred the intensity of a white onion.
McDonald's also launched Spicy BBQ Glazed Tenders
In addition to the new Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich, McDonald's also debuted glazed tenders. Instead of a drizzle of the smoky BBQ sauce, the tenders are tossed to order and completely covered in sticky sweet glaze. Since I was already at McDonald's, I figured I'd try the tenders too and give you the lowdown.
The tenders are skippable. There's nothing else to help combat the overwhelming flavor of BBQ sauce; no pickles, no onions, no soft buns to absorb and dial back some of the flavor. Instead, you're left with tenders that have become a tad soggy thanks to their submersion in sauce and offer no reprieve from sweet and smoky flavors.
McDonald's is offering the Spicy BBQ Glazed Tenders and Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich only for a limited time, so if you're a BBQ sauce fiend and ready to continue gorging on all types of chicken sandwich iterations, make sure you fit this newest menu item in your rotation.
MORE: Does Popeyes really make the best fried chicken sandwich in all of fast food?