Chicken sandwiches were already ubiquitous on the menu the day Popeyes launched its crispy version on Aug. 12, 2019. But when the chain ran out of the sandwiches in two weeks, it was clear that it was on to something.1
Facts show that this crowd favorite isn’t slowing down. Consumers spent $2.4 billion on breaded chicken sandwiches in Q2 2022 for a volume of 678 million sandwiches, up 3% over Q1.2 And, in the first half of 2022, 138 restaurant companies and convenience stores introduced chicken sandwich specials compared with 111 chains that rolled out specialty burger promotions.2
Clearly, the chicken sandwich wars aren’t over. That’s why Perdue Foodservice has launched two new products to help operators get into the game: PERDUE® NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER HOMESTYLE CHICKEN FILET and PERDUE® NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER SPICY CHICKEN FILET. Meet the growing demand for quality chicken sandwiches without adding mess in the kitchen with these pre-marinated, pre-breaded chicken filets that reduce labor and prep — just fry! Raised with no antibiotics ever and on a 100% vegetarian diet with no animal by-products, these new filets help you conquer the chicken sandwich wars.
Wondering how you can stand out from the competition? Given that 79% of consumers love or like chicken sandwiches,3 you have to ask yourself how you can capture your slice of that profitable pie. Before you launch a new or revised version of your own, consider these four ways to create a stand-out chicken sandwich.
Consider the crunch quotient
If the labor needed for batter-coating and frying a crispy chicken sandwich is a concern for your operation, Perdue Foodservice has you covered. For one, check into supplier-sourced breaded chicken in various forms that will bring the crunch. For example, Perdue offers a range of pre-breaded chicken tender, appetizer and filet products.
Be creative with these convenient options. Perhaps you could present the PERDUE® breaded chicken breast tenderloins stuffed inside garlic bread with fra diavolo sauce and mozzarella cheese, suggests Mike Buononato, chef and senior vice president for Creative Food Solutions. “Or consider a crispy banh mi with the PERDUE® breaded and pre-browned chicken strips in Vietnamese bread with pickled carrots and daikon radish, fresh cilantro, cucumber and butter mayo.”
Batter coating isn’t the only game play leading to a crispy outcome. In March 2022, Panera Bread launched its first chicken breast filet sandwich. Its new Chef’s Chicken Sandwich comes in two versions, “Signature Take” and “Spicy Take,” both seared and sous vide-finished. Though neither one is breaded and fried, the chain did add a promotable crunch to the sandwiches. The Signature Take is topped with Parmesan crisps, while the Spicy Take is topped with crispy pickle chips. The chain reports that the two sandwiches are the most popular menu items and helped them to attract more men looking for a substantial meal.2
Bust out the spice
You are sure to please and draw in business if you combine crispy chicken with a dose of heat. In fact, 46% of consumers say they are eating more fried/breaded chicken with spicy flavors than they were two years ago.4 In addition, spicy chicken is on the rise and has experienced double digit growth in the past 10 years.5
Arby’s punched up the spice in a Q1 2022 promotion with its Diablo Dare Crispy Chicken Sandwich that it billed as the spiciest sandwich on the market. It boasted heat from five sources: ghost pepper jack cheese, fiery hot seasoning, fire-roasted jalapenos and Diablo BBQ sauce, served on a red chipotle bun.6 For the biggest buzz, the chain warned the sandwich “is so spicy, we had to include a free vanilla shake to cool your mouth down between bites.” Many media outlets ran articles on the generous promotion.
Experiment with spice sources projected to grow on chicken sandwich menus, such as spicy mayo, chipotle aioli, Sriracha, chipotle and jalapeno pepper.7
“Hot honey is on fire right now,” Buononato says. “Seizing on that trend is simple because hot honey is not difficult to make and is a perfect vehicle for differentiation. Infuse your own honey variant with different styles of hot sauces, crushed and dried chilies, pickled jalapenos, ginger or even crushed spicy snacks like Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.”
Perdue Foodservice makes it easy to meet the growing demand for spicy chicken sandwiches with its new PERDUE® NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER SPICY CHICKEN FILET, raised with no antibiotics ever on an all vegetarian-fed diet with no animal by-products. Now available, this pre-breaded and pre-marinated filet is ready to go from bag to table in minutes, saving you time and labor. With a medium level of spice, this spicy chicken filet is perfectly customizable across cuisines.
Bring together unexpected flavors
Unexpected flavor combining is the ultimate in a custom premium chicken sandwich. The burger of the month in July 2022 at Austin, Texas-based Hopdoddy Burger Bar was actually a chicken sandwich that combined several flavor elements, including sweet, savory and bacon. The crispy fried chicken “patty” was accompanied by peanut butter bacon sauce, raspberry glaze and steakhouse bacon on a waffle-pressed bun.8
Unique ingredients can also lead to a clearly exclusive breakfast sandwich. The Village DC in Washington D.C. features a Chicken & Waffle Sandwich presenting a spectrum of distinctive flavors including a brown butter waffle with crispy chicken breast topped with powdered sugar, smoky chipotle maple syrup and honey mustard.
Assign multiple roles to your sandwich bread. Besides being a carrier, it also can contribute a crunch and/or spice. “A crispy focaccia loves to be topped with flavorful ingredients like rosemary, different cheeses and pickled jalapeno,” Buononato says. “Ciabatta bread is also a great option. Its soft and fluffy interior with a firm crunchy crust is a great option for breakfast or anytime.”
Tell an ingredient story
Remember that customers care about food with an ingredient story. This includes the commitment to responsibly raised proteins and clean ingredients. In fact, if you convey your brand identity by using advantage claims and quality ingredients, you can command a higher price for it. Some 75% of consumers say they are willing to pay more for antibiotic-free meat, for example.9 Additionally, 76% are more likely to purchase poultry with “clean label” claims.10
When it launched its new chicken sandwich, Panera included these ingredient attributes in its promotional materials, saying, “As always, you can enjoy Panera’s Chef's Chicken Sandwiches with the confidence in knowing they are made with chicken raised without antibiotics, and clean ingredients — food that does not contain artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors, and colors from artificial sources.”
To make it easy on labor- and time-strapped operators to meet the demand for elevated chicken sandwiches, Perdue Foodservice has launched a new PERDUE® NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER HOMESTYLE CHICKEN FILET, raised with no antibiotics ever on a 100% vegetarian diet with no animal by-products. Now available, this breast filet is coated with a golden-brown breading, providing the crunchy bite everyone craves. It’s also consistently sized to assist with portion and cost control, and individually frozen for ease of use.
By partnering with Perdue Foodservice, you can menu a superior chicken sandwich that combines crunchy texture with trendy spice elements, unique flavor pairings and a quality story. Customers will find it irresistible for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Get chicken sandwich inspiration with Perdue Menu Ideas.
- 1 Khal, Kevin, “A Brief Timeline of Popeyes Fried Chicken Sandwich Craze,” Complex.com, Nov. 18, 2019, https://www.complex.com/pop-culture/popeyes-fried-chicken-sandwich-brief-timeline
- Haddon, Heather and Thomas, Patrick, “The Popular Chicken Sandwich Gets a Redo at Panera Bread, Popeyes,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug.1, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/chicken-sandwiches-remain-the-star-of-inflation-era-menu-11659355384
- Datassential, FLAVOR
- Technomic: 2021 Center of the Plate Poultry Consumer Trend report
- Datassential, Chicken Sandwich Trends, August 2021
- Tyko, Kelly, “Arby’s New Diablo Dare Sandwich is So Spicy it Comes with a Free Vanilla Shake,” USA Today, Jan. 10, 2022, https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/food/2022/01/10/arbys-spicy-diablo-dare-sandwich/9133271002/
- Datassential “Chicken Sandwich Sauces and Flavors: Chicken Sandwiches” Instant Chart, 2022
- Thorn, Bret, “Menu Tracker: New Items From KFC, Boston Market and California Pizza Kitchen,” nrn.com, July 15, 2022, https://www.nrn.com/menu/menu-tracker-new-items-kfc-boston-market-and-california-pizza-kitchen/gallery?slide=12
- Zogby, John, “Antibiotic-Free Labels are Important to Two-Thirds of Americans When Buying Meat—and Data to Back-up Claims is Paramount, A New Poll Shows,” Forbes, Feb. 11, 2021, https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnzogby/2021/02/11/antibiotic-free-labels-are-important-to-two-thirds-of-americans-when-buying-meat---and-data-to-back-up-claims-is-paramount-a-new-poll-shows/?sh=27accd173c2b
- Datassential/Perdue Premium Poultry Claims Consumer Research report, May 2022