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The best value menu chicken sandwich

Surprise, surprise. There is none.

I just got bored with looking for good food, so decided to go the fast food route for a while. Frankly I don't care much if it tastes good. Cheap and momentarily filling is enough.

They all have croquet-like formed, extruded .. whatever ... processed, hopefully meat of chicken origin encased in some sort of coating which gives the patty the flavor ... usually salt.

From there the variables are whether the iceberg lettuce is shredded or a leaf (which will go limp if the sandwich isn't immediately inhaled). Some rolls have sesame seeds ... but given they don't usually add any sesame flavor ... why do they bother?

Size, price and condiments are other variables.

This all sort of started when after a McDonald's chicken sandwich that was surprisingly good, I had a spongy chicken sandwich from Church's that made me open the bun and see just what it was I was chewing on.

Here's the results. Photos match numbers ... first photo ... the winner of this pagent, 2nd photo, second runner up and will take first place should the winner go away. Etc.

FIRST PLACE: KFC snacker $1.59 - Sesame bun, shredded iceburg, mayo

There is no official full-size chicken sandwich at KFC. The value menu honey bbq or buffalo sauce sandwiches (also available as snackers) are shredded meat in sauce. They are sort of chicken sloppy Joes ... real sloppy.

Originally the snacker was much smaller and under a dollar. IIRC, it was also a real piece of chicken and not formed meat.

It is still the smallest sandwich, but size increased with price. The chicken seems like it is now formed meat, but is really closest to an actual slice of chicken which makes it the winner. The coating has a peppery taste, but it isn't the same taste as KFC original recipe.

There was an offer of a packet of sauce which I declined.

SECOND RUNNER UP: Wendy’s - 99 cents - Plain bun, iceberg leaf, mayo

This was the largest and thickest patty. The slightly sweet bun was flavorful. The patty was salty, but not overwhelming. A nice crisp iceberg lettuce leaf added crunch.

THIRD PLACE: McDonald’s - $1 - Plain burger bun, mayo, shredded lettuce

If you can get one just made, it can be good, the coating and iceberg giving it a nice crunch. The bun is kind of bland but it is lightly toasted. The flavor of the patty is assertively peppery, lending some flavor. It is the only one I could probably identify in a blindfolded taste test.

FOURTH PLACE: Jack in the Box $1.29 – Plain bun, iceberg leaf, mayo, catsup

This was the Switzerland of chicken sandwiches – totally neutral which made it forgettable. The iceberg leaf was on its way to wilted. The salty, thin patty had very croquette-like meat, While Jack has upgraded the quality of many of its burger buns, this is the awful, cheap, cottony one that gets used for the Breakfast Jack. Complimentary catsup included in the bag … it needed it. While this is location dependant, it was also carelessly put together.

DEAD LAST: Church’s - 99 cents – sesame bun, shredded iceberg, mayo, hot sauce, catsup

This came in a plain, unmarked paper bag … like there was something in there no one wanted to claim credit for. It was in a plain white wrapper. The only identity came from the Church’s name on the condiments.

The patty was spongy, having the quality of the mystery meat of the McRib. Seriously, I looked at it closely wondering what the heck this was. The bun was ok and the sesame seeds had some flavor. A sprinkle of semi-crisp shredded iceberg completed the sandwich.

ALSO RAN – Burger King $1.04 special Fourth of July original chicken sandwich

No photo. BK has the wisdom to know what it does is burgers, not chicken. So there is no value menu chicken sandwich. However, on July 2nd – 4th, it offered its full-size original chicken sandwich

I don’t remember much of this other than it was large and the chicken tasted like it was salt formed into the shape of a patty.

My opinion if making a value menu selection ... skip the chicken sandwich and go for the burger.

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  1. If you are ever near a sonic you should try the chicken sandwich there. Not only was it the best value menu chicken sandwich I ever had it was also the best value menu item I ever had. Only had it once so maybe it was a fluke, but mine came with two or three nice size chicken strips. No mystery meat here and it actually filled me up.

    2 Replies
    1. re: elliora

      Thanks !!! I'll give it a try next time I drive by Sonic. I always have hope there's something better.

      1. re: elliora

        Wow, no kidding. It IS the best value menu item I have ever had.

        As mentioned, real chicken and a great crispy coating. If Sonic ever moved into fried chicken and had that coating, I'd buy it. Also, the bun was nicely toasted. As mentioned, it is one of the most substantial value menu items. I was filled after eating it.

        Another bonus is getting the apres value menu dinner mint.

        1. re: srsone

          Nope. Actually, IRRC, there might be one somewhere in Northern California, but it is not near me and I haven't found it yet. Do they have a value sandwich as well as the regular chicken sandwich?

          1. re: rworange

            The Chik-fil-A is in Roseville and a mandatory stop on the way home from Tahoe. Definitely the best fast food chicken sandwich.

            1. re: artemis

              But sadly no value menu chicken sandwich. Given what they are, that might be a good thing. Thanks for the tip about the shop on the way to Tahoe though.

        2. RW..did my own value chicken sandwich comparison a few months back.

          There was no KFC in my town so they were not evaluated.


          2 Replies
          1. re: rochfood

            Cool. I hear you about queasy

            Two votes for Wendy's. I'm more likely to buy Wendy's than KFC because of value and only marginally better chicken. If KFC had stuck to real chicken with the larger size, it might be different.

            Loved you weighed the patties and Wendy's actually is the largest.

            The Arby's thing is surprisng. My understanding was at the time you did your test Wendys owned Arbies which they just sold. I guess quality wasn't determined by the parent company.

            1. re: rworange

              I still miss KFC Chicken Littles.

              No pretension there. It was just a small bun, a slab of reconstituted chicken, some tartar-like sauce, and voila.

              It was like a Chicken Nugget, flattened to be a sandwich. Didn't even try to be a "real" sandwich.

            1. re: majordanby

              I don't believe Popeye's qualifies as "bargain" or "value menu" . ... Where I am the chicken sandwich is 2.99. It's pretty good though.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Yeah, there was no value menu sandwich at Popeye's. When you get over $2 we are talking a diffferent animal. Actual chicken may be involved ... or at least more of it and closer to meat.

                1. re: rworange

                  i see. ive done taste tests of fried chicken between kfc, popeyes and churchs and popeyes typically wins 9 times out of 10.

            2. Good show! It dovetails nicely with my own bottom-feeder findings. if you get the chance, try the off-menu 99 cent spicy chicken from Hardees (or Carl's Jr, depending on where you are). They make it fresh when you order so it is always hot and crispy, and the bun is toasted and buttered which really makes the sandwich. I think it's the best way to spend $1 at any fast food place.

              1. IMO, Chick Fil a has the best chicken sandwich, by far. McDonald's $1 McChicken sandwich is by far the worst. Ever notice that the McChicken is 11% fat vs. 4.5% for their grilled chicken sandwich (even higher fat content than a cheeseburger) with over 40% more salt by weight vs. their classic grilled chicken sandwich? Ever wonder how / why they can stack so much fat & salt into into that concoction?

                5 Replies
                1. re: Clams047

                  Yes, but this isn't about chicken sandwiches. It is about value menu chicken sandwiches.

                  Does Chic-a-Fill have a value menu sandwich in the $1 range ... or, at most, under $2?

                  1. re: rworange


                    People are not reading the complete title of your post. They see "Best" and "Chicken Sandwich"

                    1. re: rworange

                      Good point. However, one can argue that a chicken sandwich made from pieces of chicken (Chick fil a, McDonalds grilled chicken sandwich, etc) can actually be a better value for protein than the heavily salted, fatty chicken scrap concoctions that sell for about $1.

                      The Mcdonald grilled chicken, for example, has twice the protein of their McChicken, with about half the fat. Not sure of the grilled-chicken price, but for many, it can be a better value, unless fat is your preference.

                      1. re: Clams047

                        The regular chicken sandwich is nearly $5 without fries or drink. If I'm going to spend that amount of money, it is not going to be at a fast food joint but a regular restaurant.

                        As I wrote in the OP, in terms of value menu choices, go for the burgers and not the Chicken.

                        1. re: rworange

                          Agree that the burger is the better value on the dollar menu vs. chicken, especially where I spring for the double cheeseburger, holding the cheese - typically only about 10-20 cents more than a single burger. (One can order a double burger for the same pricing, but I've found many cashiers get confused by the double burger)

                          As for the McDonald regular-chicken pricing, it must vary significantly around the country. Last night, I picked up two using a 2-for-1 coupon for $3.47 (plus tax). I would need four McChickens to match the protein level (cost = $4), where the latter would have about 3.6 x the fat.

                          Bottom line, the use of coupons on "premium" sandwiches can be a much better value than buying off the dollar menu.