Panera Has Officially Joined The Chicken Sandwich Wars

Panera is known for a number of different things. It's got cheesy Asiago bagels, offers an affordable monthly coffee subscription for loyal customers, and its mac and cheese is kind of legendary. Because Panera is more of a cafe than a traditional fast food restaurant, it might get lost in the shuffle when it comes to keeping up with trends, but this spring, they're jumping into the pool in a big way. That's because the chain is launching two new chicken sandwiches, marking its official entry into the "chicken sandwich wars," according to a recent Panera press release.

There are two new sandwiches, both of which will be available at Panera locations nationwide on March 30 for $10.99. But unlike the warring crispy chicken sandwiches at McDonald's, Popeyes, Burger King, and KFC, Panera's are not breaded and fried. Each Chef's Chicken Sandwich will feature a chicken breast that's marinated in chicken broth and seasoned with Panera's Signature spice blend.

Panera has two new chicken sandwiches

Though both of the new Chef's Chicken Sandwiches start with a chicken breast filet, there are a few key differences. The "Signature Take" features a chicken filet, garlic aioli sauce, savory Parmesan crisps for crunch, "leafy emerald greens," and a buttery brioche bun, while the "Spicy Take" serves up the same chicken, but has spicy crunchy pickle crisps on top instead of cheese, as well as a generous dose of Panera's Spicy Buffalo Sauce.

If the new menu items sound familiar, that could be because Panera started testing out the chicken sandwiches back in September of 2021. At the time, they were called the Classic Chicken Sandwich with Aioli and the Spicy Buffalo Chicken with Aioli. During the test run, a selling point of the aioli was that it contained anchovies, but the current press release simply says that the aioli is made with "Extra Virgin Olive Oil, garlic, and a secret blend of spices." It appears the chain made some tweaks to the name of the chicken sandwiches (and perhaps the aioli ingredients) before the national roll-out on March 30.