Chicken Sandwich Wars Heat Up With KFC’s Version of a Pickle-Topped Fillet

World's largest chicken chain goes head-to-head with Popeyes and Chick-fil-A

the new kfc chicken sandwich
KFC has a new weapon in the chicken sandwich wars, as it tests its version of a fried fillet with pickles and mayo. KFC
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Key insight:

It was only a matter of time before KFC got involved in the chicken sandwich wars. The world’s largest chicken chain has rolled out a bigger and, it promises, “better and more premium” fried chicken fillet sandwich.

“We wanted a chicken sandwich that really lives up to our legacy as the fried chicken experts,” said Andrea Zahumensky, CMO of KFC U.S., in a statement. “And let’s face it, ours wasn’t the one to beat.”

Dubbed simply the KFC Chicken Sandwich, it’s 20% larger than KFC’s current sandwich, the Crispy Colonel, and is double-breaded to be extra crispy, served on a brioche bun with pickles and classic or spicy mayo.

Unfortunately, if you want one you’ll have to travel to Orlando—at least for now. The item is being tested through June 21 at select locations in the Central Florida city.

KFC’s latest offering puts it in a head-to-head contest with rivals Popeyes, which has reported explosive growth since unveiling its own chicken sandwich last summer, and Chick-fil-A, whose original Chicken Sandwich has long been the yardstick against which all others are measured in the fast-food chicken sandwich game.

A heated battle over who has the best sandwich ensued on Twitter last summer, with brands like Wendy’s and Boston Market getting in the game as well.

In the first quarter of 2020, Popeyes said same-store sales were up 26%, largely due to the chicken sandwich effect, even as the pandemic took a bite out of rivals’ sales.

KFC’s process for getting to the new sandwich was extensive. Eight variations of thickness and brines were tested to determine the right pickle, while the bun was chosen from among six bakeries and underwent more than 10 formula revisions “in order to find the right one to hug the larger-than-ever filet in just the right way,” Zahumensky said.

“We knew an upgrade was necessary, so we painstakingly selected each ingredient to create a bigger, better and more premium sandwich than ever,” she added. “I think we’ve unlocked a chicken sandwich that won’t just compete, it’ll win with fried chicken lovers everywhere.”

The price tag for the sandwich à la carte is $3.99, or $6.99 for a combo that includes a side and medium drink.

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@RichCollings Richard Collings is a retail reporter at Adweek.