We Tried Arby's New Boneless Wings So You Don't Have To

Where "The Simpsons'" identical twin Sherri (or maybe it was Terri) once lamented she was so hungry she could eat at Arby's, today she might even prefer it to Krusty Burger. Because is Krusty the Clown offering a limited-time menu of boneless chicken wings, served with both Classic Buffalo and Honey Hot Sauce? Not in this week's episode. But Arby's, on the other hand, is, rolling out six-and-nine-piece orders beginning Monday, October 25.

And enticing as fried chicken from a roast beef restaurant might sound, perhaps your early-week lunch plans didn't allow for an impromptu trip to Arby's. Or maybe you've been traumatized by too many fast food poultry products, and immediately brushed off the new boneless wings as an excuse to serve us deep-fried mushy chicken by-products. But are Arby's boneless wings a legit wing alternative? Or are they just nuggets dressed up like they belong at Hooters? We hit our local Arby's, tried both varieties, and found out how they stack up.

What are Arby's boneless chicken wings?

Taken literally, a boneless chicken wing sounds a little creepy. Like, somehow, the poultry engineers at Arby's found a way to create a completely amorphous chicken somewhere in a deep, underground lab. And these "wings" are its sad, boneless arms. Of course, anyone who has spent a Sunday watching football with someone who refuses to eat anything but white meat knows boneless wings aren't wings at all, but rather a sort of strange cousin of the chicken tender and chicken nugget. Or, as comedian Jimmy Yang said in Bon Appetit, "They are little white meat lies."

In the case of Arby's, these boneless "wings" are small, nugget-like whole white meat pieces, breaded and deep fried. They're not nearly as large as a chicken strip or chicken tender. But as opposed to most fast food chicken nuggets, which taste like they're made of ground up chicken mush, these boneless wings have the consistency of a whole piece of chicken breast. If you're a wing purist, you might call them an abomination. If you think chicken bones are "icky" and best saved for santeria ceremonies, boneless wings are probably the move.

What flavors do Arby's boneless chicken wings come in?

Arby's boneless chicken wings come in two flavors: Classic Buffalo Sauce and Hot Honey Sauce. Arby's describes the Classic Buffalo Sauce as "a cayenne pepper sauce ... base combined with melted butter goodness to create a craveable fusion of a classic flavor with a kick of heat." Now, one's definition of "melted butter goodness" can mean a lot of things, depending on whether one is enjoying a fresh croissant on the streets of Paris, or a bag of artificially-flavored microwave popcorn. But in this case, the butter is used to tone down the cayenne pepper flavor, much in the tradition of how the original Buffalo wing was created at Anchor Bar way back in 1964.

As for Honey Hot? It has slightly less tradition and direction, and from all accounts seems to be an Arby's original. Arby's describes the Honey Hot Sauce as "a mouth-watering blend of honey, lime, and smoky flavors with a medley of peppers for just the right mix of sweet and heat!" This sounds like it might be a distant, inbred relative of sweet barbecue sauces, but that's not quite the case either. If you're not big on Buffalo sauce, though, and still want something at Arby's other than roast beef, it's not a bad option. They'll make them naked too, if you ask nicely. Though at that point, just order the strips.

What are Arby's boneless wings served with?

In the press release announcing the launch of their boneless wings, proudly quips, "because no one actually eats the celery wings usually come with – Arby's is offering its 6pc Boneless Wings with crinkle fries." Somewhere, the makers of Lipitor are celebrating. But Arby's is wrong: Plenty of us eat the celery. How else could we justify eating a whole order of wings by saying, "I ate all the green stuff too, so basically lunch was a salad." Now what are we supposed to do, pass off fried potatoes as a vegetable like we're a poorly-funded school lunch program?

Yes, the answer is yes. And the order of crinkly fries that accompany your Arby's boneless wings satisfies in a way celery never can. The serrated, greasy goodness is the perfect devil-may-care companion to the boneless wings, leaving you full and euphoric when you finish, even as the oily pit of regret starts to creep up your stomach. Pack an antacid, have a kale smoothie for breakfast, and just enjoy the side.

Do Arby's boneless wings come with a dipping sauce?

Okay, wing fans, there's no nice way to say this so we're just gonna spit it out: Arby's boneless wings are served with ranch. Why are we apologizing? If you've ever been to Buffalo and tried ordering ranch with your wings, you know they react about as well to this as they do to the words "Scott Norwood." Which is to say, not well at all. And wing purists –- especially those hailing from Western New York –- will treat ranch dippers with a disdain usually reserved for serial killers, and people who order well-done steak. Then again, if you're a wing purist, you're probably not ordering boneless wings. And you're definitely not ordering them at Arby's. 

You're welcome to request any other dipping sauce Arby's offers too, though it won't be automatic. And complicating a fast food order has never, in the history of fast food, improved the chances of anyone getting your order right. If you insist on dipping, but refuse to use ranch, we respect that. But we also respectfully suggest you get your wings to go and dip them in something from the side shelves of your refrigerator.

How much do Arby's boneless wings cost?

The price may be the best part of Arby's new boneless chicken wings, and we believe during a different era they'd have been hocked on late-night television by a guy who also sells "high-end" Japanese steak knives.

"How much would YOU expect to pay for six, golden, fried, white meat nuggets, slathered in either Buffalo or Hot Honey Sauce? $25? This ain't New York City! $15?? Try again. Would you believe you can get all that greasy goodness for the low, low price of only FIVE DOLLARS??? But wait, there's more! We're not gonna throw you a few pieces of soggy celery to justify our prices! Act now and we'll give you all that chicken, AND a whole order of crinkly cut fries! Usually, that order of fries would tack on another $1.69. PLUS TAX! But act now, right now, and we're gonna give you ... hold on, I gotta say this quietly so the boss doesn't hear ... we're gonna give you those fries (looks around, drops to a whisper) for free."

How do Arby's boneless wings compare to traditional restaurant boneless wings?

We didn't have a chance to take Arby's boneless wings to the nearest sit-down emporium of fried chicken parts, so a side-by-side comparison wasn't conducted. But Arby's boneless wings did what few fast food items have done in recent memory: It was higher-quality than expected. The meat tasted fresh, juicy, and not even a little bit gristly or freezer burned. The breading was thick and crispy, and the sauces were applied with a generosity usually reserved for grandmothers who think you're getting too skinny. To put it plainly, Arby's boneless wings stand up to pretty much any we've had in a restaurant, and for five bucks make for an exponentially better value.

So, why does Arby's, long maligned for its heavily-processed roast beef, put out a boneless wing that could stand talon-to-talon with a restaurant's?  Because Arby's owns Buffalo Wild Wings (via CNN). They acquired the yellow-and-black behemoth back in 2017 for $2.4 billion in cash, according to Bloomberg. Given that Arby's is now under the same, greasy culinary umbrella as the nation's leading full-service chicken wing chain, it reasons their wings would be solid.

How do Arby's boneless wings stack up to the rest of the menu?

One's opinion on how the Arby's boneless wings compare to everything else boils down to personal preference. Comparing chicken and roast beef is like a carnivorous version of comparing apples and oranges, so if one is more inclined towards red meat they'll likely be a little disappointed in the boneless wings. They're not exactly what one goes to Arby's for, a little like ordering pizza at Taco Bell or a salad at McDonald's.

Now, compared to other poultry offerings on Arby's menu, the boneless wings are actually quite good. They lack the slimy, mystery meat quality of the roast chicken sandwiches, and don't leave a giant ball of grease in your stomach like the fried chicken sandwiches. Of course, if you're hankering for chicken, Arby's is kind of an odd choice. But these are going the be the lone white meat option that won't disappoint, and may even leave you pleasantly surprised.

Here's the verdict on Arby's Classic Buffalo flavored boneless wings

Buffalo sauce, in its essence, seems like it should be fairly simple. Cayenne pepper sauce, butter, and a whole lot of melting on top of fried chicken. Of course, the legislative process also seems like it should be fairly simple, and anyone who has spent an hour watching C-SPAN knows that's definitely not the case. Arby's Buffalo sauce isn't so much the standard buttery stuff you find at sports bars and short-short wing emporiums. It's got a strong vegetable flavor to it, which might make up for the celery that's noticeably absent from the order.

The taste is more complex than most Buffalo sauces, and if you're into the buttery side of Buffalo this won't be for you. If you're more inclined towards spice and natural tones, you'll be happy. As the intriguing flavors fade away, a peppery feeling comes to the front, giving the boneless wings a spicy kick that lingers in the mouth. They're not painfully hot, but if you're not a spice person they may be too much for you. Fans of hot food — you won't be disappointed.

Here's the verdict on Arby's Honey Hot flavored wings

Opposed to the Buffalo style -– which is fairly standard and known across the world –- the Honey Hot boneless wings are an original flavor to Arby's. It's also aptly described: The sweetness of the honey overwhelms your mouth for a while. Then, once it mellows out the peppery heat comes through. At first, the flavor is hard to pinpoint, as the mild sweetness feels rounded out by an almost herbal taste. But as the sauce lingers, you begin to remember afternoons sipping sweet tea on a warm, breezy porch somewhere in the South. Or, at the very least, slamming a bottle of sweet tea at a gas station and imagining you're on a porch.

If you've ever had Jack Daniel's honey whiskey or any of those sweet tea vodka drinks, this is kinda like that. Except instead of a boozy finish, you get spicy. They're ideal if you prefer sweet to heat, or if you're hankering for wings and aren't a fan of Buffalo sauce. The boneless wings are liberally tossed in the stuff, and they'll leave your hands incredibly sticky even if you try to use a fork. Just make sure to wash your hands after.

Should you dip either of these flavors in ranch?

Again, anyone from the shores of Lake Erie would stand up and shout with great indignance, "For the love of God, no!" at this question. But, given that Arby's serves the boneless wings with ranch, and we're reporting on the overall Arby's boneless wing experience, in the name of journalism we're doing it. If this means we're no longer allowed inside Bar Bill Tavern, it's a sacrifice we'll make.

The ranch cools the Buffalo flavor miraculously, so if you're into the buttery tang of Buffalo sauce but have to pound milk any time there's too much pepper on a potato chip, it's an excellent tool. The sauce itself is petty standard -– a creamy, herby blend that could be Kraft if we didn't know better. And eating it on its own is nothing novel. Mixed with the Honey Hot sauce, it adds a soft, dairy note to the overwhelming sweetness. Essentially, you can use the ranch to tone down the respective dominant flavors of the buffalo wings. But it's not necessary.

How long will Arby's boneless wings be around?

Arby's wouldn't give a whole lot of info on how long we'll be able to acquire their boneless wings, aside from the ever-vague "limited time." If other short-term offerings, like Burger King's ghost pepper nuggets and plant-based nuggets, are any indication, this is a market test of sorts. And if the boneless wings end up flying off the fryers, they'll be around for a while. If the reaction is as tepid as a mild Buffalo sauce, this might be a short-term thing. But given they just launched in late October, you've probably got at least a little bit of time.

That said, the boneless wings are far from the only fried chicken option on Arby's menu, so if you run out of time on this one you can always try their chicken tenders or chicken nuggets. You can also roll over to your nearest Buffalo Wild Wings and probably get a pretty close approximation, since they're owned by the same company. No drive-thru there, and you'll be paying a lot more than five bucks unless you luck into some insane happy hour special.

Nutrition information for Arby's boneless wings

Much like they'll surprise you with their meat quality, Arby's boneless wings will also surprise you with their calorie count. They're not anyone's idea of a "healthy" lunch, but a six-piece order of boneless Buffalo wings only has 350 calories, according to Arby's menu. The copious sugar in the Honey Hot sauce cranks the calorie count up a little more, bringing 430 calories per six-piece order. The order of crinkle fries more than doubles your calorie count, however. One order contains 390 calories, so your entire lunch ranges from 740-820 calories.

Delving a little further, one order of the Honey Hot wings has 16 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 50mg of cholesterol, and a show-stopping 1,730mg of sodium. That's on top of 48 grams of carbs and 26 grams of sugar. Breading and a sweet sauce will do that. The closer-to-keto option would be the Buffalo wings. Those contain 18 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, and 50 mg of cholesterol. They've only got 20 grams of carbs, though, and 2 grams of sugar. Boneless Buffalo wings are still a sodium bomb, though, with 1,610 mg per order.