As health conscious diners shy away from red meat, restaurants have often resorted to offering up alternative patty options on some of their signature burgers. Still, few of those signature burgers have the global cachet of the Big Mac, so when McDonald’s decides to replace its “two all-beef patties” with chicken, the resulting “Chicken Big Mac” is a sandwich worth discussing.
McDonald’s Australia is the latest country to officially get its hands on the chicken-enhanced take on the Big Mac, though other small markets have it as well including Qatar, Egypt, the UAE and the Netherlands. According to Australia’s news.com.au, customers have been whipping up their own Chicken Big Macs for years by making the “secret menu” request that employees swap out the Big Mac beef patties for the ones found in a McChicken, and supposedly the official Chicken Big Mac is no different. “The iconic Big Mac and the McChicken are among our most popular burgers, so it made sense to mix up these two classics and give our customers a new and exciting product to try,” McDonald’s Australia’s CMO Jenni Dill told the news site.
The Chicken Big Mac was actually being heavily advertised while I was in Amsterdam last month, so I stopped in to grab one – ostensibly because I knew the day would come when I would have to write about it, but also because I was genuinely intrigued. Unfortunately, I was also considerably disappointed. Beyond the typical McDonald’s gripes (like the cheese never melting), I had two major issues. First, McDonald’s has better chicken patties on its own menu. As “iconic” as a McChicken may be, the patty is somewhat just an oversized McNugget, and at least on the version of the Chicken Big Mac I had in the Netherlands, I found the two patties to be painfully boring. Meanwhile, I don’t mind McDonald’s Buttermilk Crispy Chicken Sandwich; two of those patties would have been more up my alley. However, the biggest problem with the Chicken Big Mac was that the so-called “Special Sauce” just didn’t work here. Apparently, there’s a reason you never see Thousand Island dressing as dipping sauce: Added to chicken, the result tastes amazingly bland. Chicken needs a sauce with a bit of added pop, and Big Mac sauce just didn’t cut it.
In the end, I’m happy I tried the Chicken Big Mac, otherwise the curiosity would have killed me. Since McDonald’s Australia says the sandwich will only be available until July 18, I guess that intrigue alone will be enough to sell plenty of them. But for Americans, the limited-time offering certainly isn’t worth traveling halfway around the world to try. Now, Amsterdam… I guess that’s always worth travelling to.