It doesn’t get much better than a jalapeno popper with fried breading giving way to the heat of jalapeno and the perfect balance of cream cheese. While I’m a fan of the classic cream cheese version served with a side of ranch dressing, I also appreciate popular variations that add in cheddar cheese and bacon.
So when Wendy’s unveiled its new Jalapeno Popper Sandwich, it instantly had my attention. In addition to the choice of either grilled, classic, or spicy chicken breast, the sandwich is loaded with jalapeno cream cheese, shredded pepper jack cheese, jalapeno slices, applewood smoked bacon, and cheddar cheese sauce.
To my surprise, no actual jalapeno poppers were harmed in the making of this sandwich. While the flavors are all present, if your tongue, hand, face, and shirt are not all at risk of getting burned by spraying jalapeno juice or cream cheese napalm with each bite, does it really deserve the name “jalapeno popper”?
I was somewhat in disbelief when I opened my sandwich to find only three jalapeno slices, especially since Wendy’s has specifically mentioned that the sandwich comes with six jalapeno slices. Wendy’s also promised I would be exclaiming, “Oh, jal, yes!” from the first bite, but my first bite did not even contain jalapeno, so I was luckily able to remain composed and exclamation free. Its jalapeno slices are crunchier and spicier than most fast food places, so when I did reach them in the sandwich, they brought a strong burst of flavor and heat.
The cream cheese spread on the top bun contains a few small jalapeno pieces and gives a slightly sweet, slightly tangy flavor that dominates the sandwich. Wendy’s would be better served by adding more of the cream cheese spread in place of the shredded pepper jack cheese and cheddar cheese sauce which are dominated and forgotten by stronger flavors.
The three bacon slices were thick and crunchy while adding a slight smokiness that works beautifully with the jalapeno and cream cheese. The spicy chicken was juicy with the spices in the breading occasionally coming through in an already flavor packed sandwich.
The overall heat of the sandwich built up to a noticeable but not noteworthy amount by the end. Shredded pepper jack and cheddar cheese work only to muddle the flavors, the amount of jalapeno slices needs to live up to its promise, and the size of the sandwich seems small for the price. But the jalapeno cream cheese spread is a winner that enhanced many of the other components of the sandwich and will keep you craving that next bite.
Purchased Price: $6.49 (small combo is $8.99)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 600 calories, 26 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1660 milligrams of sodium, 54 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 37 grams of protein.
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