If you’re going to release a chicken sandwich three whole years after the hype machine kicks into high gear, your sandwich needs to have an abundantly clear value-add, a reason to exist beyond “everyone else was doing sandwiches and seemed to be making money off it so we shoved one more into the marketplace.” And Wingstop, steadfast national poultry purveyor, has found a way to make its entrance into the Chicken Sandwich Wars feel not only novel, but crucial: the chain has technically added twelve new sandwiches to its menu, because you can get the chicken filet tossed in any one of the chain’s signature wing sauces.
The sandwich is available starting today, August 30, and will become part of the permanent menu going forward. It retails for $5.49 a la carte (with your choice of ranch, bleu cheese, honey mustard, or cheese sauce on the side), or can be ordered as a combo meal with fries and a drink for $7.99.
“The Wingstop Chicken Sandwich is cooked-to-order, hand sauced-and-tossed and specially crafted to guests’ liking,” reads press materials sent to The Takeout. “The sandwich is the full package, with a buttery, toasted bun and crunchy pickles, complementing whichever iconic flavor fans choose.”
Here’s a rundown of those flavor options:
- Lemon Pepper
- Hickory Smoked BBQ
- Louisiana Rub
- Garlic Parmesan
- Spicy Korean Q
- Original Hot
- Mango Habanero
Now let’s see how they taste when you slap them on a bun.
We were sent three options to taste, opting for the most popular options on the existing wings menu: Hickory Smoked BBQ, Lemon Pepper, and Mango Habanero.
The visual difference between all three sandwiches as we opened the boxes was immediately exciting, like we were unwrapping packs of Pokemon cards. Each sandwich comes with four pickle slices on top but is otherwise unadorned, allowing the sauce to speak for itself; it’s a simplicity in keeping with the best chicken sandwiches out there.
The buns were not buttery, nor were they all that toasted—they bore a close resemblance to a Sysco wholesale cafeteria sandwich roll—but served as a totally neutral delivery system for the chicken. I’d never want to eat one of these if it weren’t doused in sauce, which it fortunately was.
In the past, we’ve described Wingstop’s BBQ sauce as “corn syrup sludge,” and that continues to be true—but as Burger King’s Ch’King proves, a sweet chicken sandwich with a low-and-slow heat at the end can be a very pleasant experience. The Wingstop Lemon Pepper seasoning, always our favorite, continues to dominate in the sandwich space, too, and the Mango Habanero offers “the perfect level of heat,” per taste tester Brianna Wellen.
Perhaps because these sizable filets are so sauced up, there’s not a bit of crunch to be found on their craggy-looking exterior. They’re not soggy, per se, but each yielding bite is rather gummy all the way through. The poultry is undeniably moist, that’s for sure; you will never find a dry bit of poultry at Wingstop, which is the chain’s blessing and its curse.
The pickles, arguably the most exciting part of any chicken sandwich, could stand to be improved here. So thin as to be translucent (see photo above), they absorbed fully into the gummy mass of the sandwich and did not provide the crunch that a thicker slice would. The flavor of the pickles is great; we just wish it was allowed to shine.
Taken together, all these elements—lack of crunch, lackluster bun, paltry pickles—might land this sandwich a middling grade at best, especially among a roster of stellar standouts at places like Popeyes, McDonald’s, and Jollibee. But you know what? The Wingstop Chicken Sandwich gets a pass. Its gimmick is just too good, too exciting, to be dismissed out of hand on some technical flaws. The fact that you and all your friends could roll up to a Wingstop, order 12 different sandwiches, and compare all the flavors to find the best combo (which one pairs best with pickles, anyway?) is a fun possibility in a fast food landscape that is occasionally too trend-chasing to remember to have fun. I’m going for the Garlic Parmesan next.