Biting into a hot, juicy, breaded chicken sandwich from your favorite fast-food restaurant can be so satisfying, especially when it’s paired with some greasy fries and your favorite fountain drink. But because fast food is so quick and affordable, it’s safe to assume that this type of food isn’t always made with the freshest and most whole ingredients, which can leave some chicken sandwich fans wondering which fast-food sandwiches are actually made with 100% chicken—and which ones aren’t.
Your mind may think “mystery meat” when you think of fast-food chicken, but there are actually some restaurants using real, whole pieces of chicken in their sandwiches. In fact, places like Popeyes, Shake Shack, Chick-fil-A, and KFC are all making their chicken sandwiches with 100% chicken.
Unfortunately, though, while some of the most popular fast-food restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s offer menu items that also use whole chicken pieces, they also have options that feature more than just chicken. Read on to see which fast-food chicken sandwiches feature more than poultry, and for more, don’t miss The #1 Unhealthiest Order at Every Major Fast-Food Chicken Chain.
Burger King may be most famous for its Whopper, but chicken sandwich lovers can also find a few options whenever they pull into the drive-thru. Even though sandwiches like their Crispy Chicken, Spicy Crispy Chicken, or Grilled Chicken are made with a full chicken breast, they aren’t entirely 100% chicken. Take, for instance, their Crispy Chicken Filet. This filet is made up of chicken breast meat made with rib meat, with 18% of the filet containing water, sodium phosphates, modified food starch, and a seasoning that combines ingredients like dextrose, maltodextrin, sodium phosphate, and modified cornstarch.
But the main culprit for a non-100% piece of chicken is BK’s Original Chicken Sandwich, which features an unusually long chicken patty made with 21 ingredients, including water, soybean oil, yeast extract, dextrose, maltodextrin, modified food starch, and sodium phosphates.
The McDonald’s McChicken is a classic order with just a bun, lettuce, mayo, and a “McChicken Patty.” And while this option may be helpful to people who are watching their nutritional intake since it has only 400 calories and much less fat than many of McDonald’s other entree options, it’s good to be aware of the fact that chicken isn’t the only thing you’re getting when you order this one. And even though they set the record straight on the whole “pink slime in their chicken nuggets” ordeal, there are still a handful of non-chicken ingredients to look out for.
According to their website, the McChicken Patty is a combination of ingredients like chicken, wheat flour, water, vegetable oil, modified corn starch, potassium chloride, sodium phosphates, and a leavening—which consists of ammonium bicarbonate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, and monocalcium phosphate. So no, it’s not pink slime, but it’s also not 100% chicken, either. The silver lining is that McD’s offers many chicken sandwiches that are made with whole pieces of chicken (the Crispy Chicken Filets).
Jack in the Box offers a variety of chicken sandwich options, ranging from a Spicy Chicken to a Cluck Sandwich to something a bit fancier like the Homestyle Chicken Ranch Club.
But if you’re ordering the plain Chicken Sandwich, you won’t be getting 100% whole chicken filets. For both their grilled and crispy filets, Jack in the Box does use chicken breast filets—mixed with ingredients like salt, sugar, monosodium glutamate (MSG), yeast extract, buttermilk solids, soybean oil, silicon dioxide, and sodium phosphates—but for the “Chicken Patty” the chain uses in this Chicken Sandwich, the patty is made with “chicken” or “chicken breast with rib meat extractives” along with water, modified food starch, and sodium phosphates.
Here’s the thing: Wendy’s has some shockingly unhealthy sandwich options—like their Pretzel Bacon Pub Chicken Sandwich, or their Pretzel Bacon Pub Triple Burger (which has over 1,500 in just one burger). But if you’re going for one of their “lighter” offerings like a Classic Chicken Sandwich or their Crispy Chicken Sandwich, just know that Wendy’s is one of the fast-food joints that serves up chicken-that-isn’t-entirely-chicken.
Their chicken filets are made with chicken breast with rib meat, water, monosodium glutamate, oat fiber, sugar, chicken broth and chicken fat, citric acid, and sodium phosphates. And their chicken patties — the main ingredient in their Crispy Chicken Sandwich — are a blend of chicken breast with rib meat, water, salt, and sodium phosphates.
This certainly isn’t to say that you shouldn’t order the chicken and are better off ordering one of their double or triple burgers, but it’s good to be aware that when you order any sort of chicken sandwich from Wendy’s, you’ll be getting a stomachful of other ingredients as well.
The Arby’s Classic Crispy Chicken Sandwich seems simple enough with just a bun, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and a chicken filet. But similarly to places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Burger King, the chicken filets are made of more than just chicken.
In their chicken filets, you’ll see some of the usual contenders like dextrose, maltodextrin, modified food starch, and sodium phosphates, along with hydrolyzed corn protein, dried cane syrup, whey powder, and calcium lactate. Similar combinations can be seen in their chicken strips and chicken nuggets as well.
First, you had the Whataburger, now you have the Whatachick’n Sandwich—which according to the Whataburger website is only 85% chicken. With a long list of ingredients containing things like sodium phosphate, sugar, maltodextrin, modified food starch, citric acid, and chicken flavor, this fast-food chicken sandwich isn’t all chicken.