2020 Was a Banner Year for Fried Chicken Sandwiches
2020 proved to be a great year for innovation around fried chicken sandwiches, with creative ideas and bold flavors. And as we’ve already seen in 2021, the love for fried chicken continues.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best fried chicken sandwiches of 2020 and how they could affect trends in 2021.
2020 in Fried Chicken Sandwiches
Our first inclusion is Famous Dave’s Iris’ Comeback Chicken Sandwich. This crunchy concoction features a fried chicken breast on a brioche bun with two spicy pickles and comeback sauce. What’s “comeback sauce?” It’s a savory and spicy chile-infused mayonnaise sauce popular in the Southeast.
Think of it like a fiery aioli made by simply combining a flavorful chile sauce or paste with mayonnaise and some seasonings. It’s an easy upgrade to any menu.
Quaker Steak & Lube
Quaker Steak & Lube jumped on a few great trends of 2020 with their Buffalo Chicken Sandwich. It’s a grilled or fried chicken breast tossed in hot buffalo sauce and served over shredded lettuce, tomato, onion, and dill pickle chips on a brioche bun.
It may be a classic, but when done right with a killer buffalo sauce, it’s also a plow horse of a menu item. The key is getting a buffalo sauce that’s just spicy enough to keep adventurous eaters happy, but not so hot that it makes other diners wary to order.
Lucille’s Smokehouse Bar-B-Que
Keeping up with the spicy trend, Lucille’s went all in with their Nashville Hot chicken Sandwich. Featuring a spicy fried chicken breast, sweet pickles, coleslaw, and Alabama white barbecue sauce on a brioche bun, it does a great job of balancing the heat with sweet and creamy flavors.
And Lucille’s certainly isn’t the only one to launch a Nashville Hot build. BJ’s, Yard House, and even Red Lobster all jumped on the trend in 2020 as well. Fine by us, the more the merrier when it comes to Nashville Hot.
Lucille’s also launched a Crispy Hot-Honey Chicken Sandwich in 2020. A similar build as the Nashville Hot, except it’s tossed in a sweet/hot honey glaze.
Our final entry on the list goes all in on upgraded BBQ flavors. Roy Rogers launched a Bacon Bourbon Chicken Sandwich that hits just the right balance of sweet, smoky, tangy, and savory. It’s a breaded and fried chicken breast (or grilled breast), with bacon, Bourbon Street Sauce (a sweet and tangy bourbon-flavored sauce) and pepper Jack cheese on a bun.
That hint of heat from the pepper Jack cheese is really the difference maker here. It does a great job of balancing the sweet and smoky flavors of the Bourbon Street Sauce.
What’s Next for 2021?
Time will tell. But we’d guess you’ll see innovative new takes on crispy chicken sandwiches featuring global flavors like curry and Korean BBQ. And with a reinvigoration for Chinese American cuisine, we wouldn’t be shocked to find a General Tso’s or a Kung Pao making a national debut, either.