Battle of the Italian Chicken Sandwiches: Wendy's vs. Burger King
Nostalgia and familiar flavors are currently sweeping restaurant menus, and according to trend reports, we can expect to see a lot more of that in 2023. And what fits that bill better than the familiar Italian flavors and scents from nonna's kitchen? After all, who doesn't love brick red herby tomato sauce over crispy chicken cutlets, smothered in gooey mozzarella?
When Burger King and Wendy's debuted Italian chicken sandwiches with the iconic flavors of Chicken Parmesan at the same time, I had to try them. I tasted both items side by side and rated them on appearance, taste, and price, and picked the one that should star in your lunch break.
Full disclosure, I tried Wendy's Italian Mozzarella Chicken sandwich the day it came out. Out of the four new Wendy's items, it was the best one, and I was prepared for it to take this taste test too. It is a big sandwich with a large herby bun, a nice crispy chicken breast, and—the clincher—an actual fried mozzarella patty in the center. It's a good-looking sandwich.
Burger King's Italian Royal Crispy Chicken is smaller—it's also cheaper—but has a glossy brioche bun with a breaded chicken cutlet, tomato sauce, and a bit of white mozzarella sticking out the side.
The appearance win easily goes to Wendy's, but as you'll see, judging a book by its cover proves to be tricky.
Wendy's chicken sandwich is huge, and a bit hard to bite. It's a lot of sandwich, but that isn't necessarily a good thing. The large bun and breaded chicken and mozzarella take over, so you get a lot of carbs in one bite. There isn't enough sauce to moisten this behemoth of a sandwich. The mozzarella patty would be better if it were piping hot, but most people place to-go orders, so the sandwich will cool down a bit.
Burger King's Italian Royal Crispy Chicken doesn't look as big, but it delivers on big chicken flavor. Take a look at the image (BK is on the right) and you'll see that Burger King's chicken is thicker, though the sandwich is smaller overall. The chicken tastes marinated and it's surprisingly juicy compared to the drier Wendy's patty. Also, you'll see there is sauce on both sides of the bun, adding much-needed moisture and flavor. The breading on the BK chicken was also crunchier, the sandwich lived up to its name.
In terms of the sauce, both chains need to consult nonna to get it right. They were both overly acidic and needed more flavor development.
Customers have been complaining about the price of fast-food restaurants in 2022. The resounding message that chains should be getting is that their food is getting too expensive. But it looks like those pleas are falling on deaf ears, especially with these two higher-end items.
The Wendy's sandwich is prohibitively expensive at almost $9. That's a lot for a fast food sandwich. Burger King's offering is not much better at almost $7. Both of these prices are without fries and a drink, which will put both over $10. The novelty of these sandwiches might get customers in the door but they won't be coming back over and over again.
Burger King's Italian Royal Crispy Chicken Sandwich wins this round of chicken sandwich wars because it tastes better and it's less expensive. Wendy's Italian Chicken Sandwich is 100% worth a try because of the unique fried mozzarella patty—which you can also get on a burger—just make sure it's hot.
For everyday eating, though, you have to go with the less expensive Burger King option, which, though less flashy, will deliver Italian flavor and juicier chicken. Also, if you're counting calories the Burger King option has a manageable 530 with 56 grams of carbs, while Wendy's sandwich has 780 calories with a whopping 81 grams of carbs. That's a lot of starchy stuff for a big price tag.