REVIEW: Jack in the Box Unchicken Sandwich

Jack in the Box Unchicken Sandwich Sign

Which came first, the chicken or the pea protein isolate?

Domesticated chickens date back to 2000 BC, but peas were present a few thousand years before that. When considering whether those peas were dried, milled, wet filtered, and put in a centrifuge to extract the protein… I’m going to just give the chicken a win. And Jack in the Box is giving the chicken a win too, sparing them from its new offering, the Unchicken Sandwich.

Jack in the Box is currently testing the Unchicken Sandwich only in restaurants near Reno, NV and Monterey, CA, making them just the second major fast food chain in the US to test plant-based chicken. This follows KFC’s Beyond Fried Chicken tests in 2019 and earlier this year. Jack in the Box has partnered with Raised & Rooted, a subsidiary of Tyson Foods, to bring its Unchicken Sandwich to the meatless crazed masses.

Raised & Rooted advertises its chicken alternative as a blend of pea protein isolate, bamboo fibers, egg white, and golden flaxseed. The breading is Jack’s recipe, available in original and spicy. I opted for the latter.

Jack in the Box Unchicken Sandwich Lettuce

Aside from having a plant-based patty, the sandwich offers the standard accompaniments of a toasted split top bun, mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato. My sandwich came with what can only be described as an aggressive amount of lettuce. While Jack in the Box is usually generous with lettuce, it seems it may have gone overboard to compensate for the very thin Unchicken patty.

Jack in the Box Unchicken Sandwich Spicy Coating

Upon my first bite, I was immediately hit with an intense amount of spice. As someone who is often disappointed by the lack of spice in fast food offerings, the strong cayenne and paprika flavor from the crisp breading offered a welcomed punch. The plentiful amount of lettuce, along with the tomatoes, worked well to help cool down the heat.

Jack in the Box Unchicken Sandwich Split

If I was not cued to the fact that it was a plant-based sandwich, I don’t think I would question that it was anything but a thin, processed chicken patty sandwich. The grain-like aftertaste you get when tasting the patty alone is masked quite well by the spices in the breading. On close inspection, the Unchicken is denser than most chicken patties. But when eating the sandwich together, it is remarkably similar to the texture of chicken.

Having tried plant-based burgers and chicken nuggets in the past, Jack in the Box’s Spicy Unchicken Sandwich takes the top spot as the most convincing imitation. Keeping the patty thin and having a crisp, spicy breading really hides any shortcomings that come from utilizing a chicken alternative. If you’re inclined to eat a more plant-based diet, this is definitely one to try.

Purchased Price: $5.49 (sandwich only)
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Not available.

REVIEW: Carl’s Jr./Hardee’s Prime Rib & Cheddar Angus Thickburger

Carl s Jr Prime Rib  Cheddar Angus Thickburger Box

Hearing the words “prime rib” brings thoughts of a thick slice of premium beef, served medium rare with au jus. For me, those thoughts are even accompanied by memories of special occasions with family during the holidays. But thinking realistically, I set those lofty expectations aside and ventured to the Carl’s Jr. drive-thru to try its new Prime Rib & Cheddar Angus Thickburger.

Carl s Jr Prime Rib  Cheddar Angus Thickburger Clothed

At first glance, the burger looks a little on the sparse side with only the 1/3 lb. Angus beef patty peeking out of the toasted bun. The cheddar cheese sauce clings to the thin slices of prime rib on top of the burger patty with the caramelized onions hiding underneath.

Carl s Jr Prime Rib  Cheddar Angus Thickburger Alone

From the initial bite, you know that it will deliver on a strong beef flavor just as any burger topped with steak pieces should. The thin prime rib slices are tender while still providing a little extra chew to give the burger a nice texture while eating.

Carl s Jr Prime Rib  Cheddar Angus Thickburger Peek

It takes trying a piece of the prime rib on its own to appreciate the nice pepper notes that it contains. While appearing medium rare in advertising, there is no surprise that the prime rib is medium well at best. It is, however, neither dry nor tough and meets my tempered expectations of a fast food restaurant ambitiously taking on the fine cut of meat.

Carl s Jr Prime Rib  Cheddar Angus Thickburger Split

The warm cheese sauce does not have the strongest cheddar flavor but is just the right consistency, thick enough to not cause a mess while showing no sign of clumps or graininess. The predominant flavor of the whole burger is the caramelized onions, bringing with them an accompanying hint of sweetness. The onions were cooked properly, providing just the slightest crunch and offering the taste that will linger in your mouth the longest.

A notable aspect of the Prime Rib burger is just how clean it is to eat. Between the less than generous portions and the cheese sauce keeping the prime rib pieces in line, only a few small onions ever escaped the otherwise tidy burger. The days of the “if it doesn’t get all over the place, it doesn’t belong in your face” Carl’s Jr. seem to be long gone.

Overall, the burger brings a satisfying onion and beef flavor, with a gentle whisper of cheddar cheese. However, while the prime rib is juicy on its own, the burger as a whole is on the dry side. It also is missing a dynamic flavor that would make me crave another one. This might be remedied with the addition of a horseradish sauce or by improving the flavor of the cheese sauce.

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s also offer their sliced prime rib in both a breakfast burrito and a buttermilk biscuit paired with Swiss cheese and a fried egg.

Purchased Price: $7.59
Size: Single Patty
Purchased at: Carl’s Jr.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 740 calories (Editor’s Note: Yup, that’s the only nutrition info we could find. If someone knows where to find the rest, let us know in the comments.)

ANNOUNCEMENT: New Impulsive Buy Writer Brandon

It seemed just like any other day as I sat on my couch after school. That was until a man came on the television, confidently walking down the street while greeting all he encountered. Adorned with black-rimmed glasses and flashing a pair of finger guns, I watched closely with furrowed brow as he stopped dead in his tracks.

“Little Hungry… Little Hungry.”

He uttered it only twice but it must have echoed through my head hundreds of times in a mere instant. I too was a little hungry. I felt heard. I felt seen. It would take me years to come to terms with it, but this man would have a profound influence on the course of my life. Eddie “The Echo” might have been a character in a McDonald’s ad to introduce its new McDouble. But it awoke a beast in me that has yet to be fully satiated.

“How Ya Doing… How Ya Doing?” fellow perusers of The Impulsive Buy, my name is Brandon. And while I was alone that afternoon in California, I know that all who read this were with me in spirit. We all venture to taste that new combination of flavors and share a passion for all that is limited edition.

From that couch I would journey on to get a college degree, graduate from culinary school, get married, and have children. But never did I lose that yearning to discover. And as a new item hits the store shelves or pops up on the drive-thru menu board, the timeless words of Eddie still echo in my mind.

“Sounds Good… Sounds Good.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: So, um, this Brandon is not the Brandon who we’ve been posting reviews from recently. He’s a different Brandon who I brought on in 2016 and, unfortunately, had to stop reviewing later that year. But that Brandon is back! And this Brandon is a completely different person.)