Why Olive Garden's Chicken Is Being Questioned

If someone mentioned the words "Olive Garden" to you, what would be the first thing you think of? Would you think of endless breadsticks, buttery and dripping in garlic salt? Bowls upon bowls of pasta in a variety of cream and tomato sauces? Trying to prove to your friends that you can conquer the Tour of Italy? While these are all indeed things that Olive Garden is well-known for, the Italian-styled restaurant also has many chicken dishes. Chicken Parmigiana, chicken Alfredo, and chicken and shrimp carbonara are among the many poultry-based options on Olive Garden's menu.

But there have been some rumors about just how fresh the meals at Olive Garden really are. People have joked online in such places as Reddit have even joked that Olive Garden's main chef is a microwave that reheats frozen food. However, a former employee once claimed in a Reddit AMA that while most items are "either pan fried, deep fried or grilled," the only times microwaves come into play is when "heating the dipping sauce and some of the warm desserts."

A different person identifying themselves as a former employee, however, suggested that Olive Garden's chicken dishes are something to be avoided and not because of a microwave. What's their purported gripe with Olive Garden's chicken?

A TikTok user alleged that Olive Garden has 'mystery' chicken

TikTok user spookyshanny said she spent 10 years as an Olive Garden employee. And in response to a video prompt requesting that people share which restaurant they would never eat at, spookyshanny answered with Olive Garden. Her reason was strangely cryptic – perhaps even "spooky" – claiming that "there's a reason" people supposedly feel terrible after eating there. Not satisfied, some viewers pressed her for more of an explanation. In another video, as Newsweek reports, she gave her reasons. "All across the board, they changed their chicken about six years ago from good chicken to chicken that's not so great," she claimed. She further alleged that the meat is "not 100% chicken, and the chicken that comes on the never-ending pasta bowl is actually canned chicken. Or, canned mystery chicken." 

We can't verify any of those claims. But some customers have also complained about the quality of Olive Garden's poultry. A Facebook review of the chain's chicken parm alleged that the dish didn't contain " real chicken breast meat" but something "like [a] Tyson chicken patty." Similarly, another user claimed they paid 17 bucks for "some fake tasteless formed chicken patty." A TripAdvisor review of the chicken marsala even went so far as say the meat had a "McNugget processed" quality.

While Olive Garden has responded to customer complaints, to our knowledge it hasn't issued any official remarks about the quality of its chicken as of yet.