In parts of the country, you can’t mention a chicken sandwich without invoking praise for Chick-fil-A.
Their chicken sandwich has reigned supreme for quite a while, and McDonald’s is taking notice.
The iconic fast food burger chain recently overhauled its chicken sandwich with a new buttermilk recipe that is receiving some positive feedback.
I grew up in New Hampshire, and went to college in Boston — which has famously banned Chick-fil-A — so I’ve never truly tried a Chick-fil-A sandwich.
Luckily, the much — anticipated new location in New York City sent us a sample ahead of the opening October 3, so I decided to put the two chicken sandwich rivals to the ultimate test.
McDonald's clearly pushes the descriptions of food a bit more, while Chick-fil-A relies simply on its name to get the idea of tender crispy chicken across.
McDonald's offering has cooled a bit in its cardboard box, while Chick-fil-A's insulated baggie keeps the sandwich steaming hot, even after being delivered to our offices.
Out of the package, McDonald's has an early advantage: the sandwich is much prettier. Bright green lettuce and a substantial tomato slice peek out under a fancy bun, while Chick-fil-A's chicken sits humbly on a bed of tiny pickle slices between an average bun.
Buns off for a closer inspection: Chick-fil-A's sandwich, on the left, is slightly smaller than McDonald's -- and the chicken sure looks different.
Way different. Chick-fil-A's breading looks more natural; McDonald's almost looks as though it's trying too hard to be fried chicken.
Chick-fil-A isn't breaded all that much. It's really just enough to get the idea of fried chicken across, nothing super crispy.
McDonald's, on the other hand, is ultra crispy looking. It is in the name, after all: Buttermilk Crispy Chicken. The breading is darker, more noticeably textured. Also, that piece of lettuce is huge, right?
Bun quality is key here. McDonald's bun looks amazing, but it's easily smushed and tastes slightly sweet. There's definitely a lot of sugar in that. Chick-fil-A's bun is a modest, sturdy, plain-jane bun, nothing more and nothing less.
I've done all the pre-taste inspection that I can; they seem to be equals up to this point, although McDonald's looks much more appetizing.
I take a bite of McDonald's, and I know what to expect. The chicken is adequately good, with decent seasoning and lots of crunch. They managed to do a good job with the chicken recipe revamp...
... but almost always too much mayo. Why, why, why must these sandwiches drown in gallons of mayo? The sweetish bun and the slightly tart buttermilk seasoning are a nice combo, but the overload of mayonnaise is a little gross. But we're not talking gourmet here, we're talking McDonald's, right?
A bite into Chick-fil-A, and suddenly I see the light. This sandwich is completely deserving of the fervent praise it gets. The chicken is thick and juicy -- compare this to the thickness of McDonald's -- and the pickles add a perfectly piquant hint of vinegar. Nothing but bun, chicken, and pickles here, and it's glorious.
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