Chicken sandwich throwdown: McDonalds vs. Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A vs. McDonalds
Photos by Serious Eats

I started seeing the commercials for McDonald’s Southern Style Chicken sandwich on Cinco de Mayo, inexplicably. When I saw the commercials, my first reaction was — “that sure looks a lot like the Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich. Mmm, I could really go for a Chick-fil-A sandwich.” Sure enough, I wasn’t the only one to make the connection. In fact, Serious Eats decided to do a Bobby Flay-esque throwdown post on the two sandwiches.

Here’s his verdict:

How’d It Taste?

But, yeah: Most important is how it tastes, right? Honestly, this sandwich from McDonald’s was a pretty accurate recreation of the Chick-fil-A sandwich, based, of course, on the specimens we got our hands on. I know some Chick-fil-A partisans will rip me a new one for saying that, especially based on the fact that we got our Chick-fil-A from a college dining hall food court in New Yawk City, but there was very little difference in flavor.

I thought the McDonald’s version was a smidgen more salty and peppery, while the Chick-fil-A tasted more fried-chickeny yet more subtle at the same time. And, of course, it was more buttery because, well, it had more butter applied to its bun. The butter difference was very subtle, though, and I don’t think I would have noticed it if not pitting these two sandwiches head to head.

Even the most serious of eaters in our midst, Ed Levine, had a hard time choosing one in a blind taste test. He ended up choosing on looks—picking the Chick-fil-A for its more ample breast; toasted, buttered bun; and darker brown coloring.

Verdict: If you don’t have a Chick-fil-A near you (or are, like me, cruelly barred from one due to your non-student status), you’re not going to do too bad by grabbing the Faux-fil-A from Mickey D’s.

Faux-fil-A. I like it. Anyway, I had the sandwich myself last night and agreed — the fillet is not as tasty as Chick-fil-A’s, plus there was no crunchy edgy goodness, and the bun was not as good. And there is something about the crinkle-cut pickle, even though I always take them off. But, as he pointed out, when there is no Chick-fil-A near you (nearest one to me is in friggin Oxnard), or you have your hankering on a Sunday when they’re closed, its not a bad second choice. I’m hoping, actually, that the competition with McDonalds will make Chick-fil-A open more locations, closer to me!

Oh, and you can try it yourself for minimal cost. Try it out on Thursday for free with the purchase of a medium or large drink.