REVIEW: Wendy’s Chicken Tenders and Side of S’awesome

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Wait, chicken tenders are a thing again?

When McDonald’s killed its Chicken Selects in 2015, I could have sworn the burger-centric fast foods chains were done with premium, dippable chicken. But the resurrection of McDonald’s Chicken Selects as Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders seems to have started something a trend. Case in point, Wendy’s feels the need to one-up the Golden Arches with brand new Chicken Tenders and a never-before-seen sauce – Side of S’awesome.

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I’ve eaten a couple hundred pounds of chicken tenders and I can tell you these are decent as far as the all-white meat stuff goes. They lack the kind of succulent, peanut oil-infused flavor of Chick-fil-A’s tenders, and you’re not going to mistake them for Raising Cane’s or Zaxby’s. But the breading is crisp and well seasoned, the chicken isn’t dry, and there are no textural abnormalities like slimy meat or hollow crevasses under the breading.

But the flavor is predictable: the ubiquitous garlic, onion powder, salt, and black pepper mix you’ve probably tasted in dozens of chain restaurant and food service tenders. In other words, unless you’re really into the breading, you’re gonna want something to dip these in.

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I’m assuming Wendy’s came up with the name for their S’awesome Sauce because someone thought it was cool; that or “Spread,” “Fry Sauce,” and “Ed’s Sauce” were already taken. In any case, they should have named it “It’s Alright Sauce” because it’s okay.

Advertised as “tangy, sweet, and smoky,” it has elements of the first two flavors but very little smokiness unless you count the whisper of Worcestershire on the backend. Overall, it trends neither distinctly tangy or sweet, instead finding a mild middle ground which tastes like two parts mayo, one part mustard, and one part ketchup. But it doesn’t pop; it doesn’t wow; it doesn’t make me lick my fingers and declare to my coworkers that this shit is s’awesome.

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Put another way, if dipping is your thing, then you’ll probably want to stick with your usual Wendy’s go-to sauce.

When I saw that McDonald’s brought back chicken tenders, and then Wendy’s followed suit, my first instinct was to ask myself why major fast food chains had deserted them in the first place. But now that I’ve tried Wendy’s new Chicken Tenders, I can’t help notice how ordinary they taste when lined up against the Raising Cane’s, Zaxby’s, and Chick-fil-A’s of the world. And, unfortunately, even a name like S’awesome Sauce can’t hide the fact that the entire combo is average.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 pieces – 300 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of total fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 920 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 22 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5 combo ($3.49 for order of 3)
Size: 3-piece combo
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Meatier alternative to Wendy’s nuggets. Solid crunch and well seasoned breading. Lower in calories than most chicken tenders.
Cons: S’awesome Sauce is pretty average. Tenders aren’t particularly succulent or juicy. Breading flavor is predictable. $5 combo meal isn’t as good as Dairy Queen’s $5 chicken tenders lunch.

11 thoughts to “REVIEW: Wendy’s Chicken Tenders and Side of S’awesome”

  1. Is the sauce similar to the new McDonald’s Signature Sauce (which is, in turn, similar to Canes/Zax sauce)?

    1. I just tried them tonight. It’s basically Chick-fil-a sauce with a barely noticeable pepper addition.

  2. This article also completely misses mentioning Arby’s chicken tenders, which I think are really good. Better than anything I had at Zaxby’s, that’s for certain.

  3. I didn’t care for the S’Awesome sauce. It tasted like a mix of ketchup and BBQ sauce with some spices. It was to tomatoey for me and to eat on the chicken.

  4. LOVE the S’awesome sauce……and the tenders..Not bad on the calorie end either. GREAT meal!!

  5. I tried these today. What a disappointment! I got the 4 piece, and when I opened them up, I couldn’t believe how small they were. I felt ripped off for the price I paid. They did not wow me at all. The taste was average. I expected more from Wendy’s.

    1. agree totally. I bought them twice. first box of 3 was OK-to-good. LOVE the breading, but a bit on the small side. I went back the next day (different store) and I really don’t know what part of the chicken they used, but the meat was darkish, and practically in chewable. after trying to get the first one down, I bit into the other two, and since the texture was same, I tossed them. what a waste. trust me. I won’t be buying these again. i’ll stick with the spicy chicken sandwich. have never had a bad experience with that product. sorry, wendys. nice try, but this item is a fail

  6. I thought these chicken tenders were pretty good, better than the McDonald’s ones. I haven’t tried the sauce though. For me, it’s usually bbq with some Sriracha added to make it spicy. I really wish they would bring back the spicy chicken nuggets. Those were the bomb.

  7. I can’t help notice how ordinary they taste when lined up against the [place I have never heard of], [place I can’t believe I have never heard of], and [place that isn’t open when I tried to visit] of the world.

    I was just trying to figure out the s’awes and it looks as if no one knows.

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