5 Simple Rules for a Perfect Chicken Sandwich

A blind taste test reveals that not all fast-food fried chicken sandwiches are created equal.

Food Network Kitchen's Fried Chicken Sandwiches, as seen on Food Network.

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2016, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Full disclosure: I adore chicken sandwiches. I daydream of their shimmering, crispy fried ripples, tender and juicy meat, and warm soft buns.

So I was not mad about this week's Snapchat Taste Test – a blind tasting of chicken sandwiches from five popular fast-food chains. The five chains were McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, Shake Shack, and Carl’s Jr., and we were asked to match the sandwich to the restaurant.

I assumed my loyalty to Shake Shack burgers would help me bargain against all the others, but I was wrong. I could not tell the Shack’s sandwich apart from any of the other chains. Remember kids, I was blindfolded and trapped in a room full of heavy fried-chicken aromas (not complaining).

After tasting my fair share of chicken sandwiches for this experiment, my expectations for them increased. IMO, the magic of the perfect chicken sandwich lies in five simple rules that must never be broken:

1. The Toasted Bun

Most of the fast food chains toasted their buns. A toasted bun ensures the bread will hold up to the chicken and all its jazz. No soggy buns!

2. The Crispy Chicken

It’s not a legit chicken sandwich unless the chicken is crispy, crispy, crispy. Sometimes, depending on how soon I plan to eat my chicken sandwich, I’ll order the toppings on the side, or ask for no tomato so that I can enjoy the crispiest chicken sandwich. This requires some thinking ahead but the result is well worth it.

3. Sauce Is Key

Though the chicken itself should be moist, some extra saucy goodness helps to create a medley of important flavors. The ratio, however, must be right and the flavors not too overwhelming. There should be an even distribution of sauce lathered wall-to-wall on the bread. Shake Shack’s buttermilk herb mayo is the perfect example of sauce to sandwich balance. Chick-Fil-A is always my vibe; toasted buttered bun, fried chicken cutlet, and pickles (see #4) – but where's the sauce tho?

4. Balance of Acidity

I love a chicken sandwich with pickles! Gimme pickles, gimme pickled jalapeños, or gimme slaw. Acidity in a chicken sandwich helps to cut through some of the richness. Acidity also awakens the flavors in foods, and brings a nice balance between the rich and the broke flavors (i.e., the not-so-rich flavors!).

5. Bring on the Heat

This one is debatable, but a spicy chicken sandwich with a dash of hot sauce makes my chest hairs want to stand up. The heat should be tamed just enough to enjoy all the flavors without overwhelming you with too much spice. A spicy chicken cutlet justifies adding the other toppings (sauce, pickles, lettuce, etc.).

As for the judgement: I was a little disappointed, in general, by some of the chicken sandwiches. While the chicken was crispy on the outside, the meat was sometimes very dry. To be fair, I was at a slight disadvantage since the sandwiches had been sitting out for a while before I took first bites. Having had positive experiences before with many of these fast-food chains, my sandwich criticisms probably had more to do with temperature than quality.

So the next time you order a chicken sandwich at a fast-food joint, be sure to eat it ASAP Rocky!

Head over to Snapchat Discover to watch the Taste Test!

Keep Reading