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.

McDonald s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Tenders 3

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.

McDonald s Signature Crafted Recipes 2

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 Italian and Greek McTasters (Canada)

McDonald's Italian McTaster

I’m going to admit it: I liked the McPizza.

I ordered it quite a few times during its brief but memorable life, and I mourned for its little pizza soul when it inevitably got pulled from the menu (because let’s face it, pizza at McDonald’s was never going to be a thing, as much as they pushed hard to make it happen).

It’s okay, McPizza: you’re in McDonald’s heaven now, partying with the Super Hero Burger and trading war stories with the McDLT.

So when I heard that McDonald’s was taking another culinary excursion to Italy (and stopping off in Greece for good measure), I got pretty excited. It’s never going to fill the McPizza-sized hole in my heart, but then is anything ever going to fill that hole? No. The answer to that question is no.

McDonald's Italian McTaster 2

Happily, the Italian leg of Ronald McDonald’s European tour was actually pretty satisfying. The Italian McTaster consists of a Junior Chicken patty, topped with lettuce, tomato, parmesan and herb sauce, and parmesan flakes, all on a ciabatta bun (dubbed an “artisan-style bun” in a further attempt by the fast food chains to make the word artisan completely meaningless).

McDonald's Italian McTaster 3

I enjoyed it. The herby, slightly garlicky sauce works in tandem with the salty Parmesan to give the sandwich a nice zingy kick of flavour, and the lettuce and tomato adds some welcome freshness. The chicken was a standard-issue Junior Chicken patty, and the chewy ciabatta bun suited it quite well.

However, like a vacation that doesn’t quite know when to end, the Greek McTaster wraps things up on a sour note.

McDonald's Greek McTaster

It consists of a standard beef patty (the smaller one, not the Quarter Pounder or the Angus) topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion, feta cheese, and Mediterranean olive sauce. It’s basically a Greek salad on a burger, which doesn’t sound like a horrible idea in theory, but the execution is off. Despite the inclusion of assertive flavours like salty feta and briny black olives, the flavour here is oddly muddled and far more muted than you’d think it would be. It’s a half-hearted melange of flavours that never comes together or stands out in any meaningful way.

McDonald's Greek McTaster 2

The mediocre patty doesn’t help matters, though after the uncharacteristically tasty patty in the last McDonald’s burger I reviewed, its badness is actually weirdly comforting. McDonald’s beef shouldn’t taste particularly good; it should be inoffensively lousy, with a dry, crumbly texture and no particular flavour. That’s just the way things are supposed to be.

McDonald's Greek McTaster 3

A patty like that needs the toppings to do the heavy lifting, and the toppings here just aren’t up to the task.

Although the chewy, dense ciabatta bun works quite well in the Italian McTaster, the bun proves to be a little bit too hearty for the diminutive beef patty. It’s overwhelming.

The quality difference between the two McTasters becomes even more pronounced when you have both sandwiches in front of you and you’re alternating between the two. The Italian has a nice contrast of textures, with flavours that really pop. The Greek…does not have those things.

So for those keeping track: the McPizza-sized hole in my heart? Still unfilled. Your move, Ronald. Your move.

(Nutrition Facts – Italian McTaster – 370 calories, 18 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0.2 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 810 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 12 grams of protein. Greek McTaster – 330 calories, 17 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0.4 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 690 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 14 grams of protein.)

Item: McDonald’s Italian and Italian McTasters (Canada)
Purchased Price: $2.99 CAN (each)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Italian)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Greek)
Pros: Italian has a nice combo of crispy chicken and tasty toppings. Chewy bun suits the chicken well.
Cons: Greek features a mediocre patty with bland toppings that can’t quite save it. Chewy bun overwhelms the small hamburger. Profound McPizza-related sadness.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Jolly Burger (Canada)

McDonalds Jolly Burger 1

Ever since McDonald’s (and pretty much every other fast food joint) started storing pre-cooked patties in those weird food drawers, their burgers have ranged from “dry” to “super dry” all the way to “oh my lord is that dry.”

Imagine my shock and befuddlement, then, when not only was the Quarter Pounder patty in my Jolly Burger not dry, but actually kind of juicy. A juicy patty at McDonald’s? Where’s the weird, pebbly texture? Where’s the dessicated beef that crumbles into dry little meat granules? What is this wizardry?

I don’t know if McDonald’s have somehow improved their process, or if I just got lucky with a one-off burger that happened to be fresh from the griddle. I suspect the latter, but I would love to be wrong.

McDonalds Jolly Burger 2

The patty even had a decent beefy flavour that I would categorize as “not unpleasant,” so basically the whole experience made me wonder if Ronald McDonald had snuck into my house and Incepted me.

But of course, the bigger question is how the toppings were; even if I just got very lucky with the patty (and I suspect that I did), the toppings will be more consistent no matter which McDonald’s you go to.

They were pretty tasty!

McDonalds Jolly Burger 3

The star of the show is the creamy peppercorn sauce. It tastes kind of like a variation on peppercorn gravy, with a sweet, pleasantly zesty flavour, and a kick of savoury oomph that complements the burger well. 

The grilled onions were a touch undercooked, with a bit more bite than you’d probably want, but otherwise added more savouriness and blended quite well with the peppercorn sauce.  

The combined sweetness of the sauce and the griddled onions might have been sweet overload, but the two slices of melty processed white cheddar added a nice dose of saltiness to round out the sweet.

McDonalds Jolly Burger 4

As for the one piece of leaf lettuce, it seemed present more for colour than anything else; it added nothing to the taste or texture of the burger.

The whole thing comes on a cross-split bun, which basically tasted like a slightly denser, heartier version of what you’d find on a Quarter Pounder. It was a good fit for the burger at hand.

McDonald’s bills this burger as “holiday-inspired,” and yeah, with the gravy-like sauce and the savoury grilled onions, I can see it. It’s not exactly a turkey dinner, but it’s probably about as holiday-appropriate as you’re going to get from the golden arches.

(Nutrition Facts – 540 calories, 28 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1220 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 8 grams of sugar, 29 grams of protein..)

Item: McDonald’s Jolly Burger (Canada)
Purchased Price: $5.69 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Juicy, mildly flavourful patty. Blend of zesty peppercorn sauce, savoury grilled onions and salty cheese is quite tasty. Hearty cross-split bun.
Cons: Slightly undercooked onions. Borderline too sweet. Getting Incepted by Ronald McDonald.