McDonald's Crispy Chicken Sandwich: What To Know Before Ordering

Although the company's main focus is burgers and fries, McDonald's is no stranger to serving up chicken. As any McDonald's connoisseur can tell you, nothing completes a trip to the Golden Arches like a box of golden, crispy McNuggets fresh out of the fryer. Aside from the classic nuggets, McDonald's also served up a whole roost of poultry, from the popcorn chicken-like McBites back in 2012 (via ABC News) and the Chicken Selects of 2004 to 2013 (later known as Buttermilk Crispy Tenders when they returned in 2017) to the classic but sadly discontinued Snack Wrap. But if a paltry box of a few — or a few dozen — McNuggets aren't enough to satisfy your craving, then perhaps the Crispy Chicken Sandwich is more your style.

Introduced in 2021, McDonald's newest sandwich joins the ring of other fast-food giants, such as Wendy's, KFC, Chick-fil-A, and Popeye's, trying to lay claim to having the juiciest, most tender, and most profitable chicken sandwich on the market. For hardcore fans of Mickey Dee's, the answer of who has the best chicken sandwich is obvious. Yet, to those who can't pick just one sandwich to call the best, just what exactly is McDonald's Crispy Chicken? Is it another smash hit from the beloved burger joint or is it just another gristly mess to try and cash in on the sandwich trend? 

What is the Crispy Chicken Sandwich?

The Crispy Chicken Sandwich is exactly what it says on the box: A southern-style hunk of crispy white meat chicken on a toasted, buttered potato roll (via McDonald's). Perhaps designed to cater to those who consider themselves fried chicken purists, or perhaps mimicking another famed chicken creation, the sandwich comes with crinkle-cut pickles and nothing else. In case this may seem rather underwhelming to you, this humble hunk of white meat is actually the "original" version of the Crispy Chicken Sandwich. True to the classic McDonald's flair, the Crispy Chicken has three variations, each made to please those seeking something a little more substantial in their sandwich and those who want a little heat.

The Spicy Chicken Sandwich follows the same recipe as the original, but it's slathered in McDonald's Spicy Pepper Sauce to give it a little extra heat. The Deluxe Crispy Chicken Sandwich boasts juicy Roma tomatoes, crisp shredded lettuce, and a healthy dose of mayo spread over the bun. If it's hard to decide between either two, then the Spicy Deluxe Crispy Chicken Sandwich, in which the spicy pepper sauce replaces the mayo of the Deluxe sandwich, is a clear tiebreaker.

How much does a Crispy Chicken Sandwich cost?

While a trip to McDonald's probably won't put that big of a dent in your budget, you have to wonder if you're getting a good deal buying one of the Crispy Chicken Sandwiches. Priced at around $3.49 to $3.69 (via CNBC), the Crispy Chicken Sandwich isn't too expensive. The sandwich's counterparts, the Spicy Crispy Chicken and the Deluxe, are priced in the $4 to $5 range (via Menu and Price). If purchased as part of a meal, the sandwiches along with the included side and drink will cost between $6 and $7.

But how does this compare to other fast-food chicken sandwiches? Are you really getting value, or just paying an absurdly marked-up price? According to YUM, KFC's Extra Crispy Chicken Sandwich costs $3.99, while a combo meal averages $6.99. Wendy's chicken sandwich costs around $4.99 on its own, according to CNN. These all seem to fall into the same price range, $3 to $7.  It is important to note, however, that these prices vary slightly from place to place, although the differences are usually as minor as a few cents more to a dollar or two price increase, so it's best to keep that in mind the next time you decide to grab a chicken sandwich for lunch.

Is the Crispy Chicken Sandwich a healthier option?

Since fast food isn't particularly well-known for health benefits, it's safe to say that unless you're getting just a salad or a drink, your McDonald's order might add on a few calories. Yet, a chicken sandwich with just pickles and a bun doesn't sound too offensive, right? According to Fast Food Nutrition, the Crispy Chicken Sandwich is 470 calories, 180 calories less than the chain's Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich. Both Spicy and Deluxe versions are 530 calories, with the Spicy Deluxe only being 10 calories more. While not as high as the 740 calories of a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, the chicken sandwiches can still be a heavy option, especially when purchased in a meal. But how do they compare to other chicken sandwiches out there? 

KFC's classic Chicken Sandwich racks up 650 calories (via CalorieKing), and Popeye's famed chicken sandwich is 699 calories (via Popeye's nutritional chart). Chik-fil-A's sandwich comes in at 440 calories. While not as light in calories as Chik-fil-A's chicken sandwich, McDonald's Crispy Chicken Sandwich has significantly fewer calories than KFC and Popeye's sandwiches, making it a comparatively healthy choice over the competition. Moderation, however, is still highly encouraged. 

Is the Crispy Chicken Sandwich good?

Even if the Crispy Chicken is somewhat healthier than it's competitors and has a similar price range, the most important factor is how it tastes. After all, getting a bargain and keeping healthy wouldn't matter if the sandwich just wasn't that good to begin with. 

Popular food reviewer TheReportOfTheWeek's John Jurasek (also known as "ReviewBrah") described the Crispy Chicken Sandwich as "basic," but noting the simplicity of the sandwich works in its favor. He described the chicken as being tender, flavorful, and very juicy, but points out that there is a lack of crispiness in the sandwich and bun-to-chicken ratio. Jurasek also reviewed the Spicy Chicken Sandwich as well, describing the chicken in the spicy version as being more tender and the sauce being reminiscent of a spicier buffalo sauce. Jurasek ends the review saying the sandwiches are "good for what they are," and that the Spicy Chicken Sandwich is his favorite.

The Takeout's review covered all three of the Crispy Chicken variations. They described the original variation of the sandwich as "bland," the breaded filet itself was nothing too spectacular, and the spicy variation was simply too spicy for their taste. The Deluxe sandwich, however, was the favorite, claiming the tomatoes, lettuce, and mayo "miraculously transform McDonald's decently edible Crispy Chicken Sandwich into something delightfully enjoyable."

It seems that the sandwiches, while not being as explosive to shake up the chicken market, are good for what they are: a fried chicken sandwich.

How popular is the Crispy Chicken Sandwich?

Ever since 2019, the so-called "Chicken Wars" have taken the fast-food market by storm, with almost every burger joint juggernaut bringing out their own versions of fried chicken on a bun.  All over the country and online, people have been sharing their opinions about the best chicken sandwich, including the ones from McDonald's.

Eat This, Not That placed the classic Chick-fil-A sandwich as their No. 1 while placing McDonald's at No. 3, claiming that the company's chicken-based products such as the original McChicken puts them in a pretty decent position.

Palm Peach Post in Florida ran a "#ChickenSandwichWars" poll, in which readers across multiple Florida-based newsletters and newspaper sites sent in their votes to see who they thought had the best chicken sandwich. While Popeyes won with 135 votes, both Arby's and McDonald's earned only a paltry two votes each.

In Thrillist's review, they placed McDonald's Crispy Chicken Sandwich at No. 8, saying that while they appreciate the simplicity (just as John Jurasek), the potato bun was far too dry and the chicken itself was unremarkable compared to other fast-food offerings. Popeyes took home first place.

It's important to note, however, that these are all opinions. You may find McDonald's Chicken Sandwich to be the best of the best, or something that wasn't worth a chicken's life. Perhaps after this, you'll get a Crispy Chicken Sandwich for yourself, or just stick to the McNuggets.