NEW YORK (Reuters) – Burger King will launch a new crispy chicken sandwich this year in the United States after successful tests, it said on Wednesday, the only major fast-food burger chain that plans to bread its fillets by hand in restaurants.
The company, a unit of Restaurant Brands International Inc, is competing against rival hamburger brands, including McDonald’s Corp for consumers’ increasing cravings for chicken.
Burger King will also be competing against Popeyes, another Restaurant Brands International unit that helped launch the popularity of chicken sandwiches when it rolled out its first sandwich in 2019.
Burger King started test-runs at a few locations in September. The sandwich will come in original or spicy and will be served on a potato bun with deli pickles and a savory sauce.
The company would not confirm exactly when the sandwich will launch. The item will be rolled out to 1,000 Burger King locations at a time, according to Ellie Doty, chief marketing officer, Burger King North America.
Comparable sandwiches to be sold by McDonald’s and some other chains are usually pre-breaded and frozen before arriving at restaurants.
Burger King’s approach, however, will be similar to Popeyes and other chicken specialists.
It could be a big challenge for operations. Burger King must add new breading stations inside of stores, with about 6 different bins for dredging and battering the white-meat fillets.
The sandwiches will take about five minutes to prepare versus two to three minutes to grill a Whopper, for example, Doty said.
The sandwich is currently being tested in six areas and selling for different prices. In Huntsville, Alabama, it is $3.89, and in Providence, Rhode Island, it costs $3.99 – about the same price as sandwiches from competing chicken chains, including Chick-fil-A.
Burger King has not determined a final price yet, Doty said.
(Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Aurora Ellis)