We Tried Jollibee's New Chicken Sandwiches So You Don't Have To

Much like new episodes of "The Simpsons" and Bob Dylan's tour, the influx of fast food fried chicken sandwiches seems to have no end in sight. That's not much of a surprise considering an astonishing 2.5 billion fried chicken sammies were ordered from restaurants in 2020 alone. Now, Jollibee is the latest chain to join the flock with not one, but two new bird meets bun menu options — the Original Chickenwich and a Spicy alternative.

The Filipino phenomenon turned Stateside sensation has over 1400 locations across the globe with 66 outlets currently in North America, with plans for a major expansion across the continent during the next few years. While its menu features multiple burger options and an unusual spaghetti dish topped with a sweet-style meat mash-up sauce, the chain's claim to fame is its bone-in fried Chickenjoy. The crispy, juicy pieces of poultry rival Popeye's signature offering, so we were curious how Jollibee would compare on the sandwich stage with the much loved New Orleans-based fast food institution, not to mention Wendy's, McDonald's, or even Taco Bell. And head-to-head, does Jollibee's Original Chicken Sandwich reign supreme, or should you seek out the heat of its Spicy counterpart? Check out our verdict.

Is the Jollibee Chickenwich a good value?

Back in 2019, Popeye's kicked off the fast food fried chicken sandwich frenzy. Among the reasons for that breakout success are, first and foremost, it was (and remains) a delicious, high-quality product. The ample size and relatively budget-friendly pricing didn't hurt either (nor did the initial scarcity of the sandwich which no doubt helped to drive up demand). This appears to be the model for Jollibee, though thankfully, as of now, the Chickenwich is readily available.

When it comes to quality, the meaty chicken breast fillet is "slow-marinated" and "hand breaded" according to Jollibee, plus the toasted bun is of the glossy brioche variety. Like Popyes, the sandwich comes standard and spicy and the difference between the two comes down to the mayo ("umami" versus sriracha) and the addition of sliced fresh jalapenos for the hotter version. That's all she wrote for the standard version (sorry pickle fans). Both retail for $3.99 (on par with Popeye's pricing) which is a solid deal, at least as far as size is concerned — the sandwich weighs in at slightly over half a pound.

For an extra 50 cents, you can go "Deluxe" which from the sound of it seems to indicate a bacon or cheese enhancement, but it's simply a rather basic lettuce and tomato upgrade. Still, we recommend the addition (more on that later). You can also toss in another three bucks for fries and a soda.

Will you feel guilty after eating a Chickenwich?

It should come as no surprise that the combination of fried chicken, bread, and mayonnaise is not exactly part of a balanced diet. We took a look at the numbers, and, well, they're not great, Bob. The Spicy happens to be the ever so slightly "healthier" option of the two, which we can assume has something to do with the difference in mayo. The Spicy Deluxe is 580 calories with 28 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, and 140 milligrams of cholesterol, while the Original Deluxe is 630 calories with 34 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 145 milligrams of cholesterol.

If you're keeping an eye on your sodium intake, watch out for Chickenwich. Both sandwiches pack in over 1000 milligrams per serving, which is nearly half of the Food and Drug Administration's recommended daily value.

If there is a silver lining, it's the protein content which is 31 grams across the board.

How does the Chickenwich taste?

Popeye's certainly set the bar high for the chicken sandwich, and unfortunately Jolliebee's Chickenwich doesn't quite rise to that level, particularly when it comes to two important factors: crispiness and juiciness. The chicken is tender, but a little too dry for our taste (it should be noted that Jollibee exclusively uses drumsticks and thighs for its bone-in Chickenjoy so perhaps its inexperience with breast meat played a factor) and the coating could have used a bit more crunch — and a lot less salt. That high sodium content we mentioned earlier is certainly apparent on the palate, especially when it comes to the Original. Despite the umami promise, the mayo is bland, bland, bland, and is dominated by the aggressive saltiness of the chicken.

The sriracha mayo on the Spicy version is far more successful in bringing balance to the sandwich, offering pleasing notes of sweetness and heat. (If you're a fan of the creamy topping on spicy tuna rolls and rock shrimp tempura, this has a similar flavor profile.) The main fiery component was the jalapeno addition. We enjoyed the added crunch and spice, and would have actually preferred more than the four tiny slivers of pepper that ended up on the sandwich.

The soft and squishy brioche bun definitely gets high marks. Its flavor reminded us of challah, with just a touch of sweetness that was needed in the battle against the salt blitz. Lettuce and tomato also assist in the cause, and are definitely worth the double quarter splurge.

Spicy or Original: Which is the better Chickenwich?

Jolliebee may be late to the fried chicken sandwich party, but, hey, better late than never. While they don't exactly fall into the craveworthy category, both the Original and Spicy Chickenwich are worth the price of admission. Compared to all those other competitors, it's ranks among best of the bunch, lower than Popeye's but higher than McDonald's and Wendy's.  

When pitting both Chickenwiches against each other, there is a clear victor with Spicy unequivocally ruling the roost. Ironically, while the Original promises umami flavor, the Spicy is the one that actually comes closest to delivering on the front. With the sriracha mayo and jalapeno additions, it offers a more satisfying and better balanced package of spicy, salty, and sweet. And don't forget to go deluxe for much needed freshness!

If there happens to be a Jollibee in your neck of the woods, give the Chickenwich a try. Otherwise, wait it out for the chain's imminent expansion or simply keep enjoying Popeye's superior product.