REVIEW: Starbucks Chicken, Maple Butter & Egg Sandwich

Guess who’s back? Back again?

Not Slim Shady, but Starbucks’ Chicken, Maple Butter & Egg Sandwich! It officially joined the permanent menu this past January after a brief week-long stint in June 2022.

I tried it when it debuted and have similar thoughts about it this time around. So basically, it’s the same sandwich – breaded white meat chicken, eggs, and maple butter spread on a toasted oat-biscuit roll – just with all the undisclosed kinks figured out.

This breakfast combo of chicken, egg, and biscuit seems so familiar, yet there’s distinctiveness. There is nothing quite like it at other quick service establishments or on Starbucks’ current food menu. Plus, a toasted oat-biscuit roll just sounds unique and fancy.

As I pulled my freshly heated sandwich bag from the hand-off counter and peered at it while making my way to a table, I was immediately hit with a sweet honey smell. My Pavlovian response to the sweet and savory breakfast was, “Oooh, McGriddle!”

Visually, though, it was pale and almost looked underbaked, which was unsurprisingly unlike the golden tones of the re-touched menu photography. The chicken looked like an oversized chicken nugget, which gave me grade school cafeteria food vibes. I noticed and appreciated that the egg layer was equal in size to the chicken patty. It was a plus to me because it seemed like it would be more filling and, thus, worth the nearly $6 price tag.

I was disappointed to find just a thin layer of maple butter on just one side of the sandwich. It was impressive that such a small amount packed such big smells but meh flavors. This, unfortunately, made me think that maybe it was just artificial flavoring. This realization detracted from my perception that it was a premium sandwich made with high quality ingredients. Boo.

All put together, it was really dry. Also, like in grade school, the chicken was a touch rubbery with no crispiness whatsoever. The oat biscuit roll didn’t do the sandwich any favors. It had the dryness of a biscuit and biscuit-ish flavors (see: butter) without actually being one. After a few bites, I ended up deconstructing it and just eating the chicken and egg together. I solved the dryness issue and still got the sweetness of the maple butter because it attached itself to the chicken breading.

The bright side to all of this was that at least it was heated thoroughly. I’ve unfortunately had many Starbucks sandos and wraps that were still cold in the middle.

Does this dethrone my latest bacon gouda sandwich kick or the chain’s outstanding Potato, Cheddar & Chive bites? (Pro tip: ask for hot sauce.) Nope. But I can understand why some folks looking for something with more protein or sweet and savory flavors might be into this.

Purchased Price: $5.45
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 sandwich – 150g) – 450 calories, 24 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 160 milligrams of cholesterol, 1040 milligrams of sodium, 42 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Savory Chili WcDonald’s Sauce

What is WcDonald’s?

Well, in Japan, it’s Wakudonarudo, and it’s been a part of anime and manga culture for many years to, I imagine, skirt trademark laws. But McDonald’s decided to transport all of us to the WcDonald’s universe by offering the Savory Chili WcDonald’s Sauce.

Here’s what McDonald’s had to say about it:

So savory and bold! The new Savory Chili WcDonald’s Sauce is a delicious, sticky sauce straight from the WcDonald’s universe. It gets its unique characteristics from the unmistakable aroma and fiery warmth of ginger, lingering umami from garlic and soy sauce with a little punch of heat from chili flakes. It’s the perfect dipping sauce for a 10 piece Chicken McNuggets and our World Famous Fries.

While I didn’t try it with McDonald’s fries, I dunked six McNuggets into it and it is definitely not wiggity wiggity waku, I mean, wack. While I enjoyed it and would probably get it again, something about it bothered my taste buds.

The ginger and soy sauce stood out the most, with hints of garlic. All those flavors were nice, but by the fourth or fifth McNugget, it started to get too salty, which I imagine was caused by the soy sauce and miso. It’s similar to when I dip my sushi into soy sauce for too long, creating a salty bite that takes away from the flavors that should stand out. Even the sauce’s sweetness didn’t help temper the saltiness enough. As for its heat, it didn’t kick my taste buds as hard as last year’s Sweet & Spicy Jam or Mambo Sauce, but it was significantly hotter than my usual Hot Mustard. Although, it wasn’t even spicy enough to make me forget about the saltiness.

Along with the sauce, McDonald’s also created a manga surrounding this new sauce that you can read by scanning the QR code on specially marked bags or in the photo above.

This Savory Chili WcDonald’s Sauce is good enough that I see myself getting it again while it’s still around. The flavors are there, but I thought its saltiness brought it down. Maybe folks like it salty in the WcDonald’s universe.

Purchased Price: $4.69 for 6-piece McNuggets
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 container) 50 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugar (including 9 grams of added sugar), and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Breakfast Empanada

My local Dunkin’ was giving out free samples of the new Churro donut the other day, so I pocketed one to eat later in the day. Ya know, because I didn’t wanna spoil my supper.

Alright, I lied, I grabbed three little baggies on my way out when they weren’t looking. I know, you don’t have to say it – I’m what’s wrong with society. Believe me, I fully expect to see a printed camera shot of me on the wall with the words, “Do Not Serve This Slob,” next time I get a coffee.

Anyway, when it came time to sample said donut bites, two of them weren’t donuts at all. They were little bites of the new Breakfast Empanadas – ice cold bites of a sausage, egg and cheese empanada.

Serves me right, I guess… but ya know what? As gross as an empanada sitting in the car for five hours sounds, it wasn’t bad. In fact, it was good enough to go back the next day and try one hot out of the (microwave) oven.

The breakfast empanada consists of egg, cheese, and sausage paste baked inside a pastry shell. That’s not the most appetizing description, but it’s essentially what it is. The contents are like that of a Pillsbury Toaster Scramble, while the taste was similar to Dunkin’s Omelet Bites, just not as dry.

The crust is greasy and flakey but still quite enjoyable. I wouldn’t say it’s completely authentic to a traditional empanada, but maybe closer to a pot pie. It has a “sheen” to it, like a knish from a Jewish deli. I actually think the crust may have been the best part.

The inside is fine but leaves a little to be desired. The flavors blend well, but it can’t shake an underlying “cheap” taste that I don’t think a lot of other Dunkin’ foods have to this degree. I think it stems from the scrambled eggs that needed to be a little firmer. Some bites were so mushy they bordered on liquid and really relied on the crust to sop it up.

The sausage crumbles also didn’t have much texture, but they still boasted one overwhelming spice I couldn’t pinpoint. It made me think the empanada might’ve needed a zesty sauce or salsa to counter it. If the middle wasn’t an egg porridge, I’d say the crust-to-filling ratio was too high, but I appreciated the empanada shell’s role in this situation.

It’s funny; the hot version wasn’t much better than the cold. I should’ve Goldilocks’d it and waited about fifteen minutes, so it was just right.

In the grand scheme, this is probably a one or two-time purchase, but it’s not surpassing the Wakeup Wraps or Breakfast Tacos for me.

Still, you know how the menu works. The empanada will probably be gone in a month, so it’s worth a try. It’s a pretty convenient and satisfying meal. If not, you can always just steal three samples instead.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 470 calories, 33 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 130 milligrams of cholesterol, 760 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 4 gram of total sugars, and 12 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Cinnamon Sugar Churro French Toast Sticks

Jack in the Box’s Cinnamon Sugar Churro French Toast Sticks are a tasty way to start your morning, or because the menu item is available to order any time of day, they’re also a tasty way to begin or end an afternoon or evening.

The limited time offering features three or six French toast sticks dipped in sweet vanilla batter that are deep fried and then rolled in cinnamon sugar. It also comes with a container of syrup.

The description makes it sound delightful, but including “churro” in its name is kind of a stretch. I mean, deep fried and rolled in cinnamon sugar is almost the textbook definition of a churro, but part of the experience is its star shape. These look like Jack’s Classic French Toast Sticks, but maybe slightly darker. I’m not sure if adding “churro” was necessary because calling it Cinnamon Sugar French Toast Sticks would’ve excited me enough to try it over Jack’s Classic version. But I guess churro is the flavour du jour at the moment. (Also, pickle for some reason.)

These French toast sticks are as crispy as they look, but the interior is a bit dry. However, that dryness is less noticeable when they’re dipped into the provided syrup. While I enjoyed all three pieces, I wish they were rolled in cinnamon sugar longer, creating a thicker and sweeter sugary crust. The cinnamon sugar flavor is there, but I want it to stand out more to make these taste outstanding without some syrup, like an actual churro. Of course, that might be my sweet tooth doing all the talking.

But overall, they’re good enough that I’m kicking myself for not getting a six-piece order instead, and they’re definitely an upgrade over Jack’s Classic French toast sticks, which are the same price.

So, whatever time it is, it might be worth your time to get Jack in the Box’s Cinnamon Sugar Churro French Toast Sticks.

Purchased Price: $2.50*
Size: 3-piece order
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 250 calories (no other nutritional information is available on Jack in the Box’s website).

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Cheesy Chicken Crispanada

While others were gearing up for the Super Bowl, I was busy with my own personal Super Bowl, the Taco Bell Live Más LIVE event, which featured a whole lot of product news, including the announcement of the limited-time-only Cheesy Chicken Crispanada, a delightful bit of wordplay whose combination of “crispy” and “empanada” lives gamely up to the legacy of such hero portmanteaus as the “quesarito.” But is its taste equally impressive?

As a quick, handheld, Mexican-inspired comfort food packed with carbs, meat, and cheese, this offering fits perfectly into Taco Bell’s menu, but that familiarity has the downside of rendering it not particularly exciting.

Though this is a savory snack (unlike Taco Bell’s previous empanada, the no-longer-available Caramel Apple variant—RIP), the fried dough coating glistened in a way that reminded me of sweet treats like zeppole or beignets. My first bite of the crispy corner had a surprisingly deep, almost nutty flavor. I had expected the outer shell to be little more than a vessel for what was within, so I was intrigued that it had such a distinctive character. And that snap when I bit into it certainly lived up to the crispiness promised by the name!

Of course, I couldn’t get the whole picture without tasting the inner contents. Unfortunately, I also couldn’t taste the inner contents without burning the heck out of my tongue (and my hand when I accidentally allowed some of the molten filling to leak out, but that can probably be chalked up to user error).

This delicacy was fittingly, as the kids would say, pretty fire. (For my fellow olds, that means it was good!) The seasoned shredded chicken swims in a sea of cheeses, of which my discerning palate could pick out two different types: orange and white. Taco Bell’s press release, helpfully, is a bit more specific—the blend contains cheddar, mozzarella, and “Monterey pepper jack.” (I thought “Monterey Jack” and “Pepper Jack” were two separate things, but eh, I’ll bite my already-burnt tongue.) The press release also sings the praises of the presence of garlic, tomato, and onion, but honestly, I didn’t notice those at all. Oh, and if you want to add some additional hot flavoring to that hot temperature, the Crispanada comes with a side of Spicy Ranch sauce.

This all tastes pretty yummy, so perhaps my biggest complaint is that the filling didn’t, well, fill the entire empanada. It was primarily slathered onto one side, leaving most of the meal hollow. That airiness, combined with a portion on the more diminutive side, means that if you’re trying to make a meal of this, you’ll probably want to order two. You could also just opt for the Cheesy Chicken Crispanada Deluxe Box, which, in addition to its namesake, nets you a Chalupa Supreme, Beefy 5-Layer Burrito, medium fountain drink, and an order of Cinnamon Twists.

Ultimately, this item isn’t revolutionary, but it doesn’t really need to be. Those who generally like Taco Bell’s cheesy, chicken-y confections will enjoy it, and those who don’t… well, at least they can look forward to everything else announced at Live Más LIVE, like Baja Blast gelato!

Purchased Price: $4.49
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 280 calories, 15 grams of fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.