Chicken has been the hottest item on fast food menus this year.
Ever since Popeyes took a giant bite out of the chicken sandwich market, other chains have been scrambling to get a piece of the pie. Now, chains are hoping that the chicken biscuit will be the next chicken sandwich.
Wendy's is releasing a maple chicken biscuit as part of its upcoming breakfast menu, and McDonald's is adding chicken to its breakfast menu, both in 2020. McDonald's is testing a McChicken biscuit in select markets but hasn't announced which chicken items it's planning to add next year.
Chick-fil-A's chicken biscuit has been a menu mainstay since 1985 and has singlehandedly carved Chick-fil-A a hefty piece of the fast-food breakfast sector. So can these brand-new buttery bites compete with the champion of breakfast chicken biscuits?
In order to find out, I ate all three. Here's how they compared:
I went to my local McDonald's, Wendy's, and Chick-fil-A restaurants and ordered their respective chicken biscuits.
From left to right: McDonald's McChicken biscuit, Chick-fil-A's chicken biscuit, and Wendy's maple butter chicken biscuit.
McDonald's biscuit costs $3.19 before tax, Chick-fil-A's costs $3.79 before tax, and Wendy's costs $2.59 before tax.
From the top, the biscuits looked largely the same. Wendy's was the only biscuit that didn't feel crispy.
Opened up, it was obvious McDonald's had the flattest, most processed patty. Chick-fil-A's chicken was tall and natural, and Wendy's wasn't bad-looking either.
McDonald's has previously had other chicken biscuits on its menu, but the McChicken biscuit is the first to grace its breakfast in a while.
One of the best parts of McDonald's breakfast is its buttery, crumbly biscuit.
And in this sandwich, the biscuit does most of the heavy lifting. It's got a satisfying crunch and buttery texture.
But the McChicken inside the biscuit tastes like it's just been slapped on with no thought or effort.
Together, they make a salty, dry, and ultimately disappointing sandwich.
While the biscuit is satisfying, the McChicken on a biscuit feels cheap, lazy, and confusing. McDonald's chicken lovers deserve better.
But if McDonald's makes a "B"-plus biscuit, Chick-fil-A's baked breakfast bread is valedictorian.
While chicken is something of a side hustle for McDonald's, it's Chick-fil-A's main thing.
So it's no surprise that I let out an audible "mmmmm" as soon as I bit into the buttery crust of this biscuit.
The softness of the chicken is enmeshed beautifully with the crunchiness of the chicken thanks to a generous pat of melted butter.
The tart pickle-brined flavor of the chicken really shines through, while the light sprinkle of black pepper in its coating adds a little something extra.
Sure, Popeyes may have a better chicken sandwich. But Chick-fil-A has the chicken biscuit.
There's a lot at stake for Wendy's when it comes to the chicken biscuit.
Every time Wendy's has tried to launch breakfast, McDonald's has combated those efforts. So when Wendy's announced it'd launch a new breakfast menu complete with chicken, McDonald's naturally decided to add chicken breakfast items soon after.
Wendy's biscuit has a great flavor concept. Maple butter is unique and tastes wonderful on fried chicken and a biscuit.
However, Wendy's biscuit itself is by far the weakest of the three — so much so I'm not even sure it qualifies as a biscuit.
It's mushy, not at all crispy, and even kind of chewy, which a biscuit shouldn't be.
Wendy's sandwich has strong potential, but it's being held back by its below-average biscuit.
So how do fast-food's chicken biscuits stack up? Well, Chick-fil-A's is clearly on top.
Wendy's has decent chicken and McDonald's has a decent biscuit, but their sandwiches are overall much, much worse than Chick-fil-A's.
Maybe if they made love, not war, they could build a better chicken sandwich.