McDonald’s recently re-released a pair of limited-time-only special items: the Jalapeño McChicken and Jalapeño Double. Both sandwiches feature their typical bases (a fried chicken patty and hamburger patties, respectively) and are each topped with American cheese, pickled jalapeños, fried jalapeño chips, and ranch sauce. The chain originally introduced the Jalapeño Double in 2014, which had all the same toppings, except back then, instead of American cheese, it had white cheddar on it. Eventually a McChicken version was added to the fold with the same toppings, and both have been re-released in a similar form every few years. But our collective memory for fast food promotions can be short, so it’s time to give this thing a taste and see how it holds up in 2022.
First, we should mention that this is a regional LTO (that’s “limited-time offering,” not “lettuce/tomato/onion”). So you’ll have to check ahead of time before showing up at your local McDonald’s demanding a jalapeño sandwich. And which sandwich should you order between the two? The answer is clear.
The McChicken is easily the superior menu item (it’s also the cheaper one, with a price of $2.09 at a McDonald’s location by me). The pickled jalapeños are a sturdy contrast to the salty and crispy chicken patty, and the ranch is a pretty acceptable sandwich lube, considering pretty much all mayo-based sauces pair well with chicken. While the fried jalapeño chips don’t have a ton of flavor, their crunchiness makes each bite of the Jalapeño McChicken a little more interesting.
A (messy) look under the hood revealed that I apparently hit the pickled jalapeño jackpot. For a pretty small sandwich, I received a metric buttload of pepper slices. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I like the acid of pickled jalapeños on nachos and pizza, and on something so rich like fried chicken, they serve a great purpose. They’re just extremely strong and have a habit of becoming the dominant flavor of every bite, so you really have to be in the mood for them.
That same massive pickled jalapeño flavor is why the Double (at $2.79) doesn’t fare so well. You and I both know that McDonald’s standard hamburger patties don’t exactly pack a bunch of beefy flavor. Which is fine—it’s fast food. But that’s precisely why the pickled jalapeño takes control of the whole show, and that’s all you experience when you take a bite. You don’t taste beef, cheese, ranch, or anything, just a bunch of vinegar and a little bit of spice. With this many jalapeños piled on, you could be eating a sock and you’d have no idea.
If you’re curious about these sandwiches, go for the McChicken and skip the burger, but just know that neither version will wow you. (At least neither one will break the bank, either.) The McDouble is better enjoyed in its original iteration with ketchup, mustard, pickles, and minced onions, assuming you want to taste any of that beef you just bought. While the Jalapeño McChicken isn’t particularly adventurous, it’s a significant enough departure that gives the original sandwich a little bit of pep. That’s always worth stepping out of your routine for.