I thought that the hardest part of eating Wendy’s Hot Honey Chicken Sandwich would be weathering the habanero hot honey (or saying its name three times fast). As it turns out, the actual hardest part was just getting to the honey.
Prying the top bun off to take a picture of the sandwich’s contents required some legitimate elbow grease, for which I was rewarded with an extremely strong aroma of pickles. I had known the sandwich would contain “pickle chips,” but honestly, I’d assumed that that was just a synonym for a couple of thinly-cut pickle slices, so I was pretty puzzled to discover a hearty heaping of what looked like straight-up potato chips, just a bit green (that’s more or less how they tasted, too). Delving into the “What’s on it” menu on Wendy’s website helpfully specified that these were actually “Crunchy Dill Chips” (as opposed to the more traditional experience of “Crinkle Cut Pickles”). Mystery solved, I sampled each of the other components in turn, a supporting cast consisting of:
“Premium bun”: Soft, airy, and inoffensive. Not immediately clear how it was different from the alternative option that the website has labeled “sandwich bun.”
Applewood smoked bacon: Thick and chewy, striking an impressive middle ground between too fatty and too burnt.
Pepper jack cheese: So creamy and mild that I mistook it for White American at first, though it finally left a whisper of peppery spice in its aftertaste.
Chicken: A typical breaded chicken breast (I opted for the “Classic” version of the sandwich, rather than “Spicy” or “Grilled”). Basically, one giant nugget.
And the titular hot honey?
My impression, frankly, was that it was difficult to locate, even after performing bun surgery. I expected the honey would be coating the chicken, so it took a while to realize that it was actually applied directly to the top bun, almost entirely obscured by pickle chips. On its own, the taste made a pleasant impact, with a spiciness that was noticeable but didn’t cross the line into painful, tempered as it was by a simultaneous rich sweetness.
Unfortunately, the sandwich as a whole ended up somehow tasting like less than the sum of its parts. The plump, juicy chicken dominated the experience both in terms of texture and taste. I guess it’s a positive sign that Wendy’s doesn’t skimp when it comes to meat, but you’d hope that the promising array of other ingredients would be way more prominent, and they simply did not deliver. After a few bites, I started to pick up on a bit of tanginess from the pickle chips and some sweetness from the honey (plus after swallowing, the roof of my mouth had a telltale tingle from the heat), but if I’d been taste testing this blind, I wouldn’t have even known the cheese and bacon were there.
Wendy’s also offers a dipping cup of hot honey that you can order as a side, so adding more might help the exciting-on-paper flavor to seriously shine. I did ultimately enjoy my meal, but that might just be because I really like basic chicken sandwiches. If you’re looking for something more exciting, this offering will probably not have you calling out, “Honey (Chicken Sandwich), I’m home!”
Purchased Price: $6.19
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 700 calories, 31 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 2040 milligrams of sodium, 70 grams of total carbohydrates, 18 grams of total sugars, 2 grams of fiber, and 37 grams of protein.