There’s no questioning that McDonald’s is the most recognizable fast food chain in the world. McDonald’s is where it all started, as far as fast food goes. Everyone is familiar with the Golden Arches, and staples like the Big Mac, Chicken McNuggets, and Egg McMuffins. They’re often imitated, never duplicated.
But while McDonald’s is at the pinnacle of the fast food world, they do some imitating of their own. For example, their McCafe line of beverages is a clear attempt to steal some customers from Starbucks; same goes for their recent restaurant renovations. Another example is their Southern Style chicken sandwiches, which are an obvious rip-off of Chick-Fil-A, right down to the pickle.
With McDonald’s food my opinion is generally that it’s ‘kinda good.’ Not all of their products are going to wow you, but they’re at fair prices, and they’re not turrible. Add the fact that there is seemingly a McDonald’s within every square mile in America and you have the top grossing restaurant chain in the country.
So that brings us to McDonald’s latest attempt at recreating a popular item in the fast food world: Chicken McBites.
Rolled out nationally last month, Chicken McBites are McDonald’s version of popcorn chicken, made famous by chains like KFC, Popeye’s, Sonic, and Arby’s. They come in three sizes: Snack size ($1.99), Regular ($2.99), and Shareable ($4.99). McDonald’s describes them as such:
Ready Steady Pop! Bite through the satisfying crunch of poppable pieces of chicken made with premium breast meat. They’re lightly breaded with a home-style flavor. With the handy holder for your favorite sauce, one dip and you’ll experience the perfect tasting snack and a delicious new way to love chicken.
My initial reaction: they’re probably kinda good. I like chicken and I like dipping things, so I don’t see how it could go wrong.
I first heard of McBites quite a while ago and was kind of disappointed that they hadn’t yet been released in my area, so I was surprised when one day I rolled through to get my usual 2 McChickens and saw a promotional poster for McBites. I promptly ordered the regular size with ranch dip. At $2.99, it’s a pretty good value. I would estimate you’re getting about 30 bites of chicken. The box also comes with a handy sauce holder.
But the real question is, how do they taste?!
My initial reaction was confirmed: they are indeed kinda good. They are nice and crunchy, although the breading does not have much flavor; just a bit of black pepper and maybe some salt. There really isn’t much chicken flavor either, which you can attribute to the lack of chicken.
As for the texture of the chicken, it doesn’t have the same weird sponginess of McNuggets, but it is also nowhere near as “real” as Chicken Selects.
The claims of ‘light breading’ are unfounded; I would say almost every McBite has more breading than chicken. They’re also quite dry and would be hard to eat without sauce. When I got to the bottom of the box there were a handful of crunchy bread pieces that were completely void of chicken. They were extremely dry, but once I covered them in ranch I didn’t care one bit.
When eating McBites, the sauce is very important because it’s really the only source of flavor. If you don’t like sauce you will not like McBites. I have eaten McBites about 4 times now, and tried them with different sauces every time.
Once I was feeling extra gluttonous and ordered the Shareable size. Do you ever order so much food that you feel like you have to pretend you’re not the only person in the car or else the employee will judge you? “Hey, person in the back seat, do you want anything? No, you just want to share? OK.” You haven’t done that? Me either.
Anyway, Ranch was my favorite sauce, because I love ranch. Chipotle BBQ comes in second, because it has a very good smoky flavor. Next comes Sweet n’ Sour, because salty and sweet is a great combination, although it should just be called Sweet, because there is no sour. Then Tangy BBQ; it’s definitely tangy but not great overall flavor. Honey Mustard comes in last, but I hate honey mustard so my opinion is invalid. But McBites are really just a new way for me to get Ranch into my mouth.
Overall, I give McDonald’s a C+ on McBites. They kind of half-assed this one, but luckily for them they can afford to do it because people like me will say they’re “kinda good,” and buy them because they’re cheap and McDonald’s is close-by.
For me, the main draw to McBites is the price. For $1.99, you get a nice snack; for $2.99 a meal (along with fries of course); and for $4.99, more McBites than you can eat by yourself. The other thing they’ve got going for them is this website, which is awesome. Dude reeeeeally loves McBites.
But if I’m craving popcorn chicken I still prefer KFC’s rendition, because they have chicken, and flavor (eleven herbs and spices, to be exact). If I’m at McDonald’s and craving chicken, I’ll still go with the McChicken or McNuggets.