If there were a Netflix mini-series about Fast Food Fried Chicken, spicy nuggets deserve their own episode.
Obviously, spicy chicken is nothing new, but when it comes to fast food’s big players, Wendy’s was the first one out of the gate with spicy nuggets. But its on-again, off-again availability eventually opened up space for Burger King to come onto the scene in 2017. They also came with a healthy side of creative social media stunts, including giving away free nuggets to anyone named “Wendy.” Amazing!
McDonald’s has offered spicy chicken items along the way, from various sandwiches to its Spicy Chicken McBites in 2012. But these new McDonald’s Spicy Chicken McNuggets are, apparently, the first new nugget flavor (officially) since 1983. And that’s not all, folks. These are accompanied by the Mighty Hot Sauce, the first new dipping sauce since 2017 (2018’s Szechuan sauce was a return, remember?)
My first impression? The packaging is lame. But it’s what’s on the inside that counts, so who cares?
My second impression? These nuggets are gorgeous! They had more of an orangey hue (am I imagining that?) than the standard Chicken McNuggets, and the tempura coating looked extra flakey. The Mighty Hot Sauce had the crimson tincture of torturous flames and visible chili flakes. Ohboyohboyohboy!
I tried the Spicy McNuggets without the sauce first. The texture was familiar and on point, super flakey and with that sort of airy fluffiness McNuggets are known for. I’m sure that texture isn’t everyone’s preference, but these deliver if you like McNuggets.
The spice level started out mild and grew naturally, like heat from a real spice source. Mine seemed to have a “dry heat,” which you’d expect on chicken. There doesn’t appear to be any seasoning within the nugget; it’s all on the coating.
My only small complaint is that the spice level seems to vary drastically from nugget to nugget. I was concerned when the first McNugget didn’t deliver much heat, but it grew with the second. But it doesn’t get hot enough for me when eating the Spicy McNuggets without the sauce.
But then, from a humble little black plastic cup, comes the Mighty Hot Sauce, karate-kicking the doors RIGHT off this mother with HEAT.
This sauce is fire. It coats the Spicy McNugget perfectly. In the laziest of descriptions, it’s like the sweet and sour sauce with heat. But it’s better than that. It has pepper flavor, a vinegar kick that hits you right away, a sweet *thwak* from, what is that on the label, Apricot? And then a long slow burn that leaves your tongue and lips tingling for a while after you’re done eating.
Pretty soon, I couldn’t tell whether the heat of each new bite was building from the McNuggets, or if the Mighty Hot Sauce was just blazing away. I found myself wishing I’d asked for honey or maybe ranch to balance it out. When I get these again (yep, “when”), I’ll definitely order fries and try dipping them in this spicy sauce.
Overall, I think this entry into the spicy nugget competitive landscape was well done by Mc’y D’s. It stayed true to its style of McNuggets while offering something new with a spice level you can build upon to your liking. If you want to take it to a 10, load on that Hot Mighty Sauce.
I’m glad McDonald’s didn’t try to overhaul its signature McNuggets too much, and that it launched a hot sauce that is genuinely hot. I will definitely be a repeat customer.
P.S. For what it’s worth, 50% of my McNuggets were boot shapes! Is there some kind of McNugget horoscope reading for when that happens?
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 6 Spicy McNuggets + 1 Mighty Hot Sauce
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (6 McNuggets) 250 Calories, 16 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 540 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fiber, and 14 grams of protein.