3 Fried Chicken Dishes That Go Beyond the Bucket

    How three quick-serve concepts are taking classic fried chicken to a whole new level.
    Menu Innovations | November 2019

    Starbird / Albert Law


    Starbird’s Big Star Sandwich

    “Last spring, we launched our Big Star Sandwich, Starbird’s riff on a bold and saucy classic crispy chicken sandwich. The star of this sandwich is our house-made Star Sauce, a sweet and smoky white barbecue sauce. This sauce has resonated incredibly well with our guests and is now the most popular dipping sauce on our menu. This sandwich represents the bold flavors of our menu perfectly and is a great way to introduce our brand to new guests.”

    —Aaron Noveshen

    founder and CEO

    The Players:

    • Crispy chicken
    • Sliced tomato
    • Shredded lettuce
    • Dill pickles
    • Star Sauce (sweet and smoky white barbecue sauce)
    • House-baked roll


    Panda Express’ Sichuan Hot Chicken Tenders

    Panda Express

    Panda Express’ Sichuan Hot Chicken Tenders

    “Guests’ tastes and preferences are continuing to evolve, and, as they look to experience new bold flavors, we want to make sure Panda Express is continuing to elevate our menu offerings and stay current with the food trends guests are seeking. This mindset is what helped us come up with an LTO that we offered our guests earlier this year—Sichuan Hot Chicken. As part of our culinary innovation process, our team traveled to Chengdu, China, for inspiration and research. We decided to mix the Sichuan peppercorn with the classic American flavorings of Nashville hot chicken to create a first-of-its-kind American-Chinese original.”

    —Chef Jimmy Wang

    head of culinary innovation

    The Players:

    • Extra crispy, all-white-meat chickentenders
    • Oil-based Sichuan Peppercorn sauce
    • Proprietary spice blend


    KFC’s Cheetos Sandwich


    KFC’s Cheetos Sandwich

    “We launched the KFC Cheetos Sandwich in July after a limited test in various markets earlier this year. The Cheetos Sandwich was a unique take on the Crispy Colonel Sandwich—a juicy, hand-breaded Extra Crispy chicken fillet drizzled with a special Cheetos sauce, layered over Cheetos and mayo and placed on a toasted bun. Part of our food innovation strategy is stepping outside of the box and bringing fans new and exciting menu items that create buzz. With this launch, we targeted a millennial demographic and passionate Cheetos fans.”

    —Vijay Sukumar

    chief food innovation officer

    The Players:

    • Hand-breaded Extra Crispy chicken fillet
    • Cheetos sauce
    • Cheetos
    • Mayo
    • Toasted bun