REVIEW: McDonald’s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders with Signature Sauce

McDonald s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders 1

The way I see it, eating McDonald’s at two in the morning is the only way to eat McDonald’s. The atmosphere is so laid back and amicable.

The employees openly discuss their love lives and curse at each other. Everything is drowned out by the sound of old Lionel Richie songs and whatever’s airing on Fox Sports 2 (usually infomercials promising to improve your golf swing). And best of all, nobody even cares that there’s a guy in the back, taking pictures of his four-piece Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders meal like he was examining a C.S.I. victim — with the flash on and everything.

The more cynical sorts out there might take a look at these newfangled McProducts and immediately assume they’re nothing more than elongated nuggets. Not true. While the white meat may be indistinguishable from the McNuggets we all know and love, the breading tastes much different.

McDonald s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders 2

I pick up the subtle flavor of the buttermilk batter, and the overall coating is noticeably spicier than the average McDonald’s chicken offering. The texture is also a bit grittier than what we’re used to from the chain. Imagine a breading halfway between the regular Chicken McNuggets outer shell and Popeyes’ Handcrafted Spicy Tenders and you’ve got a fairly apt description of what we’re working with here.

McDonald s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders 4

But that’s not all. The all new chicken tenders also come with what McDonald’s is billing as its “Signature Sauce,” and all in all, it isn’t too shabby. I suppose the best way to describe it is a mildly tangier Catalina (French) dressing or a slightly spicier-than-normal blend of Thousand Island dressing. Regardless, it’s quite zesty, and the teensy-tiny hint of spiciness should be palatable to even the tamest of taste buds.

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And even if you don’t particularly like the Signature Sauce, the cardboard chicken tender carrier case comes with a handy-dandy double slot so you can wedge in a pair of sauce containers. As an avid sauce connoisseur, I’d suggest pairing the tenders with both the Sriracha Mac Sauce and the McRanch dressing (a great chaser to offset the spiciness of the former, naturally.)

On the whole, I’d consider the Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders to be a fairly decent – albeit somewhat bland – addition to the extended McNugget family. The tenders themselves are surprisingly long (three to five inches, approximately) and they will fill you up fast, especially when doused in a goulash of sauces.

One word of warning, though: NOTHING goes well with the amalgamation of honey mustard, habanero ranch, and spicy buffalo sauce, except a bottle of Maalox.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 pieces – 370 calories, 190 calories from fat, 21 grams of total fat, 3.6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 910 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 28 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 4-pieces
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: The breading has a unique taste and texture. The tenders are crisp, juicy and filling. It’s a lot of fun to test out how the tenders gel with all those sauces and dressings. 
Cons: The Signature Sauce is a bit too weak. The tenders probably would’ve benefitted from being just a smidge spicier. The horrified glare of strangers as they watch you mix the creamy southwest dressing with Sweet ‘N Sour Sauce.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Signature Sriracha Burger and Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich

McDonald s Signature Sriracha Burger

Welcome to 2014, McDonald’s!

Okay, I kid.

But McDonald’s Sriracha Signature Crafted Recipe would’ve been way more exciting back in 2014 when sriracha was still making its way onto almost every product imaginable.

But now that it has ended up onto almost every product imaginable, I look at this new Signature Crafted Recipe and go, “Hey! Glad you finally made it to the party. Um, almost everyone went home and we’re cleaning up. But you’re welcomed to stay. There’s not much food or drinks left. I think there’s some warm salad and maybe a slice of pizza somewhere and, um, some bottled water sitting in melted ice.”

But after tasting the sauce, I got excited. Because McDonald’s didn’t use some ordinary sriracha, it created a sriracha-Big Mac Special Sauce hybrid, and it tastes wonderful. It’s creamy, spicy, sweet, and tangy. I want to dip McNuggets in it (sorry, my beloved Hot Mustard). Heck, I want to dip everything in it. And I can because it’s also available in a dipping container.

The Sriracha Mac Sauce is not, using a McDonald’s reference, Hot Habanero-spicy, but it might be the second or third spiciest sauce to ever be available on the McDonald’s menu in the U.S. It’s also not Huy Fong Foods Sriracha-spicy, if you want another heat reference.

McDonald s Signature Sriracha Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich

I experienced this new sauce with the Signature Sriracha Burger and Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich. Both also feature baby spinach and kale, tomato, crispy onions, white cheddar, and your choice of an artisan roll or sesame seed bun. I went with the artisan roll for both.

McDonald s Signature Sriracha Burger 2  1

McDonald s Signature Sriracha Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich 2

There was a decent amount of the bright orange goop in both sandwiches. Smeared inside the top bun, it’s used as glue to help prevent the crispy onions and greens from falling out (some still did).

The crispy onions remained crunchy even though they sat on the sandwich for several minutes while I took photos, but had no meaningful flavor. White cheddar has been McDonald’s go-to cheese for these premium sandwiches, and while it provides a creaminess, it doesn’t do anything for the overall taste since the sauce overpowers it. As for the baby spinach and kale, it was nice having a different set of greens than the usual green leaf lettuce or shredded iceberg lettuce.

McDonald s Signature Sriracha Burger 2

McDonald s Signature Sriracha Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich 3

But as I ate the burger and chicken sandwich, both of which I enjoyed, I couldn’t help but think the three toppings are there more for aesthetics than anything else. They don’t enhance the flavor of the sandwiches. They’re just there to justify the “premium” price.

It’s not like the Big Mac where the pickles and onions add to the flavor of the Special Sauce. But then again, their blandness allows the Sriracha Mac Sauce to shine. Ugh, maybe I’m analyzing this deeper than any normal human should, after all, it’s just fricken’ fast food. Who cares? As long as it’s tasty.

With that said, I do think the Sriracha Signature Crafted Recipe is tasty. As a matter of fact, it’s the best tasting one so far. I thought the original varieties — Pico Guacamole, Maple Bacon Dijon, and Sweet BBQ Bacon — lacked strong flavors (Pico Guacamole and Maple Bacon Dijon) or were boring (ANOTHER BBQ bacon cheeseburger).

This latest recipe has none of those issues.

Welcome to McDonald’s, sriracha!

(Nutrition Facts – Burger with artisan roll – 670 calories, 320 calories from fat, 35 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1010 milligrams of sodium, 56 grams of carbohydrates, 13 g 4 grams of fiber, 32 grams of protein. Buttermilk Crispy Chicken with artisan roll – 730 calories, 300 calories from fat, 33 grams of fat, 7 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 1430 milligrams of sodium, 75 grams of carbohydrates, 13 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fiber, and 32 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price:
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Sriracha Mac Sauce tastes wonderful and is available as a dipping sauce (HELLO, McNuggets and Fries!) Toppings give it the appearance of premium. The best tasting of the Signature Crafted Recipes.
Cons: Other toppings don’t enhance the flavor of the sandwiches. McDonald’s coming late to the sriracha party.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Signature Crafted Recipes

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes

Baseball has been deemed “America’s pasttime” since these uniforms (photo attached) were en vogue, but now the typical game takes longer than an actual marathon.

MLB is engaging in steps to improve interest in their game, like the intentional walk signal. But their best move has been a change to their vaunted 7th inning anthem: “We’ll buy you nuggets in 4 or 6 packs.”

The Mid-Atlantic teams have partnered with the Golden Arches to bring free McNugget promotions on their app. The beleaguered Phillies have offered a free 4-piece whenever they score three runs. Their more successful counterparts, the Orioles and Nationals, have higher standards along with bigger rewards: four runs nets you a 4-piece, with six, ten, and twenty nuggets also attainable. (Notably, the Nats have restricted their rewards to home games, presumably due to road games in Colorado). Rest assured, if either club surpasses the 20-run plateau, I will make my way through the Chesapeake region, with a tank full of gas and a bunch of “burner phones.”

McDonald’s isn’t just trading nuggets for bloated ERA’s. They’re also giving you a chance to be a manager of the toppings on your own sandwich. The new Signature Crafted Recipes line attempts to emulate quick-service burger joints like Five Guys and SmashBurger by allowing you to customize your sandwich.

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Just don’t expect a plethora of choices. The options are limited to two bun choices, three protein choices, and three topping styles. That’s still enough combos to fill out a lineup card for both teams. We here at the Impulsive Buy selected the three featured options — the Mays, Mantle, and Snider of the bunch, if you Will(ie).

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Pico Guacamole

Batting leadoff was the Pico Guacamole with grilled chicken on the artisan roll. Discovering the first major fast food sandwich adorned with a lime wedge was like taking a big lead off first base. However, finding out that my hands would become messier from this sandwich than holding a rosin bag was something of a detraction.

The grilled chicken patty was relatively standard, although there was some spice and it wasn’t dry, so there were positive attributes. The artisan roll was soft but not mushy. I enjoyed the guacamole -— it fell short of feeling homemade, but was far better than Subway’s recent offering. The lime gave everything a fresh feel, even after I brought the sandwich home for inspection before consuming.

This sandwich was not a five-tool player. It did have holes in its game. Namely the pico de gallo, which was not a distinguishable flavor with the much stronger flavored guac. The white cheddar cheese was also invisible, as I would soon find out it was on all three sandwiches.

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Sweet BBQ Bacon

On deck was the Sweet BBQ Bacon, with Buttermilk Crispy Chicken, also on the artisan roll (why they didn’t “load the bases” with three bread options as well is perplexing). The chicken patty was somewhat like a McChicken patty, but with a little more TLC. However, the size of the patty was only marginally thicker than the bun, which pales in comparison to the also recently released KFC Zinger. Conversely, I might say this sandwich exceeds the Zinger in spiciness. The heat builds as you eat and made me enjoy this more as I dug in.

The sandwich was onion heavy, which I appreciated (I’ll often order extra on fast food). There were two types. The sautéed onions, that tasted legit, and frizzled onions, which largely just added to the overkill of breading from the patty and bun.

The bacon was the final detail. It was nice and salty on its own, but its impact was suppressed by the other ingredients when eaten together.

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes Maple Bacon Dijon

In the hole was the Maple Bacon Dijon, with a beef patty (perhaps “burger” is on Vince’s McMahon’s list) on a sesame seed bun. Dijon was a new, interesting taste, although it appears in some bites and vanishes in others. Otherwise, this was the most familiar flavor combination for Mickey D’s. As for the maple? None was detected. It was indicated that maple seasoning was added to the bacon, but when I tried the bacon solo it appeared to be standard.

I suppose these were the same grilled onions that appear on the BBQ version, but against the backdrop of the stronger flavor beef patty, they did not stand out nearly as much.

The bacon wasn’t that noticeable here either amidst a sea of lettuce and again the stronger tasting burger. It seemed a little wimpier this time, although before you start computing the WAR (Working As Refreshment) stat, I did order each sandwich from a different location, so maybe the differences can be attributed to that factor.

In the end, the concept of “premium crafted sandwiches” is no different than Wendy’s LTO offerings, but with three released at the same moment. If McDonald’s wants a premium line to last, they will have to consider a larger product. “Fast foodies” do exist these days, but they still want to be satiated by the food. When it came to these members of the lineup, I didn’t get a complete game out of them. I still had to trust the bullpen (value menu) to finish it out.

(Nutrition Facts – Pico Guacamole Grilled Chicken – 520 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 1540 milligrams of sodium, 50 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, 4 grams of fiber, 40 grams of protein. Sweet BBQ Bacon Buttermilk Crispy Chicken – 800 calories, 320 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1820 milligrams of sodium, 80 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of sugar, 5 grams of fiber, 39 grams of protein. Maple Bacon Dijon Beef Patty – 640 calories, 330 calories from fat, 36 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of cholesterol, 1260 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 37 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.79 to $5.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Pico Guacamole Grilled Chicken)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Sweet BBQ Bacon Buttermilk Crispy Chicken)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Maple Bacon Dijon Beef Patty)
Pros: Sauteed onions. Building BBQ heat. Lime wedge freshness. Hunter Greene’s potential to join the 20 HR / 20 SB / 20 win club.
Cons: None of the options are large enough. White cheddar is irrelevant. Gusto de pico es pequeno. The Twins passing on Greene with the number one pick.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Fried Guava Pie

McDonald’s Fried Guava Pie

Two things you should know about McDonald’s pies in Hawaii.

  1. They’re fried. Hawaii is one of the few places in the United States that offers fried McDonald’s pies. (Oddly, we are also the healthiest state in the country.)
  2. We have local seasonal pie flavors many of you would call “exotic.” The Haupia Pie features a coconut-flavored filling with gelatinous pieces and the Taro Pie has a purple filling with gelatinous cubes.

McDonald’s Hawaii’s newest fried pie doesn’t have jellylike cubes, but it does have a thick guava-flavored filling. To be honest, I’m surprised our local McDonald’s didn’t come out with a guava pie sooner because guava is our state fruit.

And if you look that up on the internet, you’ll learn it’s not. But we use the fruit in enough products that it should be.

Even though we love the tropical fruit, the 50th state can’t brag about it being the first one to have McDonald’s guava pies. Florida can claim that fact that no one from there will brag about. Although, not to brag, theirs was baked.

The exterior of the Fried Guava Pie looks like the skin of someone who was in a freak chemistry laboratory accident. But, man, that bubbly skin is crispy like the best fried chicken you’ve ever had. It has a level of crispiness that you wish McDonald’s chicken filets, patties, and McNuggets had.

McDonald’s Fried Guava Pie 2

The viscous pink filling has a flavor that reminds me of the canned guava nectar I drank as a kid, but warm. Perhaps, too warm (and maybe a bit too sweet). My taste buds are so used to having that delicious flavor ice cold that it’s weird to taste it at a higher temperature. It’s like drinking warm soda. Also, a few chomps had a sweet chemical zing to them. It was a turnoff to my taste buds, but it wasn’t in every bite so it didn’t prevent me from eating the whole pie.

Haupia and taro are foods I don’t eat, but love them when in the form of McDonald’s fried pies. With guava and McDonald’s Fried Guava Pie, it’s the opposite.

(Nutrition Facts – 210 calories 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Flavor reminds me of canned guava nectar. Super crispy shell. Fried pies.
Cons: Occasional chemical bite. It’s weird tasting a flavor I usually consume cold. Regional pie variety. Wikipedia saying Hawaii’s state muffin is the coconut muffin.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Mac Jr.

McDonald's Mac Jr.

When I was sharing the news that McDonald’s now has a Mac Jr. with a co-worker (side note: we’re marketers, so creativity is always on the brain), we both deemed it a lack of innovation on Mickey D’s part for calling it Jr. since so many other chains Jr.-ize their burgers.

Personally, I think it should be called the Baby Mac. So much so, in fact, that I’ve had to stop myself from writing Baby instead of Jr. several times already.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 3

But lack of creativity in the name is not what I’m here to judge, so let me tell you about the size and the flavor. While the good old Big Mac has two meat patties, you’ll find just one on the limited time only Mac Jr. From bottom to top, the burger was built as so: Bun, cheese, meat, pickle, onion (very little onion on mine), lettuce, Big Mac sauce and bun.

I’m going to have to agree with Leonard here, I wish the meat was more prevalent in size. Because the patty was so thin, it left me wanting more. (Thank goodness I also picked up an Oreo McFlurry. Purchase price? $1.99 for a snack size.) I easily polished off the burger without feeling completely satisfied.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 4

But that being said, the taste was on point. There was a great ratio of cheese to meat, and the pickles were fresh and crunchy. And the sauce? Oh, the Big Mac sauce. My only gripe is that my friendly McDonald’s Mac Jr. assembler was a little heavy-handed on the sauce. As soon as I unwrapped the paper, it was oozing out of the sides. Delicious and warm, but slightly too much. I think this is the case where it’s just a tad too much of a good thing.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 5

If you’re in the mood for the Baby Mac, err… Mac Jr., you won’t be disappointed in flavor. McDonald’s definitely gets that right. However, I caution to you add some fries or that beautiful, sweet McFlurry if you’re looking for a complete meal but don’t want the extra meat and bun of a Big Mac or Grand Mac.

(Nutrition Facts – 460 calories, 240 calories from fat, 27 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 830 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 21 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Cost is less than my morning coffee order. It’s the adorable little sibling of the Mac family.
Cons: Pretty thin meat patty, a bit too much sauce (but is that really a problem?)