Saucy chicken is the newest battle in the QSR chicken wars

Popeyes Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich
Popeyes Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich / Cristine Struble

After seeking supremacy sandwiched between two buns, saucy chicken is the latest food trend to take over the quick service menu. Spicy, tangy, and even swicy are all the flavor combinations that have people asking for extra napkins.

Sauces are more than just a condiment for dipping. When used with conjunction with other ingredients, that first bite makes the palate jump for joy. The perfectly fried coating gives way to a juicy chicken. As that sauce infuses its flavor into every crevice, that total eating experience is superb.  

While the sauce brings excitement to the eating experience, it is nothing without a well-prepared piece of chicken. First and foremost, fried chicken must start with a crispy, crunchy texture. Sauce on a soggy coating makes for an unpleasant bite. Beyond the bold flavor, it is the contrasting textures that make the taste even more enjoyable.

Over the past several months, saucy chicken has taken over the QSR chicken menus. From sandwiches to nuggets, people are ready to cover, smother, and sauce that crispy, crunchy bite.

Smashburger kicked off this food trend with its swicy offering, the Mango Habanero Crispy Chicken. As the sauce nestled into the crispy coating, it excited the palate. One bite has the heat rising only to be followed by a tamer taste. For anyone who loves the tropical spicy, this chicken sandwich earned top billing.

Taking a different turn in the saucy chicken trend is Popeyes. With its first sauced item, the Golden BBQ Chicken Sandwich brings its version of a Carolina BBQ sauce into the conversation.

The combination of buttermilk infused chicken with the tangy sauce keeps the bite from being too heavy. Served on its classic brioche bun, it was makes another run for top chicken sandwich billing.

KFC took a different approach to the saucy chicken conversation by highlighting its nuggets. The KFC Saucy Nuggets became an instant hit.

With several different sauces on the menu, there is an option that appeals to every taste preference. From tangy to spicy and classic to globally inspired, it is a saucy smorgasbord.

Saucy chicken trend never loses sight of the real food star.

From sandwiches to nuggets, the saucy chicken trend is here to stay. While the flavors offer excitement, it is more than versatility on the menu. There is an element of convenience.

More recently, quick service restaurants have adapted to the return of convenient, on the go eating trends. Today’s consumer has turned to handheld wraps, portable, easy to eat options. While people might crave that sauce, it is inconvenient to dip the food.

By serving the chicken sauced, guests can enjoy the flavor they want but in a more convenient, portable eating item. Just as long as the chicken is not over-sauced, with the potential of being too messy, everyone will be happy to allow the restaurant to sauce up that food.

Will the saucy chicken trend continue? Given the plethora of flavor combinations and the popularity with guests, it does not seem likely to end any time soon.