Review: Buttermilk Chicken Bacon & Swiss from Arby’s

A few years ago it was burgers. Now, fast food is moving in a new direction: Chicken. Spurred by the success of Chick-fil-A, southern food, and all things fried, quick-service chains are giving the once bland and overcooked chicken sandwich a makeover. Arby’s is the latest chain to jump on America’s chicken sandwich love affair. The chain’s new Buttermilk Chicken Sandwiches are touted as bigger than the brand’s previous versions, in addition to getting a buttermilk marinade and a buttermilk breading. I decided to check out the Bacon & Swiss version to see if the sandwiches could live up to the hype.Arbys Buttermilk Chicken The new sandwiches are definitely bigger, but I don’t know how much “better” they are. The breading on my sandwich reminded me of the breading on the McChicken sandwich; there’s definitely a “value menu” chicken sandwich taste to it, while the slightly crispy, shake-and-bake flavor of the soggy interior crust made itself known in each bite. The meat inside the fillet wasn’t juicy, or succulent, or slightly sweet. In other words—it didn’t taste a damn thing like the gold-standard of chicken sandwiches, the Chick-fil-A chicken fillet. Arbys Buttermilk ChickenThe meat may not have been dry, but it was plainer than a farm in Nebraska and way too salty. Combined with a crust that lacked any distinctive spice or flavor from the cooking oil (or supposed buttermilk breading), the entire chicken component was a letdown.  I wish I could say the addition of bacon and cheese made the sandwich worth it, but that just wasn’t the case. My local Arby’s was pretty skimpy on the pepper bacon, while the mild but milky swiss cheese took a few minutes to melt. Both the bacon and the cheese were okay, but they couldn’t make the sandwich.  Less than fresh iceberg and tomatoes felt out of place, while the bun, squishy but a tad too doughy, was too much bread for the sandwich. The entire sandwich reminded me of the common analogy that sportscasters use for a young athlete who hasn’t quite matured or grown into his or her body.Arbys Buttermilk ChickenAfter having the honey mustard sauce of the new Wendy’s Grilled Chicken sandwich, I was expecting a complex, tart, and sweet sauce from Arby’s. But Arby’s honey mustard is far too viscous and watered down to really make its presence felt, and, buried in the bun and the iceberg lettuce, it hardly touches the chicken.Arbys ButtermilkI won’t mince my words: This was the most disappointing sandwich I’ve ever had from Arby’s. The chain that has done such an amazing job of innovating and developing new ways to make meat tasty just couldn’t seem to conquer the chicken sandwich. With plain breading and no discernable buttermilk flavor, the new chicken sandwiches are a definite miss that prove not every menu board “upgrade” is worth it.

Pros: Decently priced and filling sandwich at $4.99. Swiss cheese is a higher quality than most fast food cheeses. Bacon is crispy and has good smoky flavor.

Cons: Buttermilk chicken filet is plain and lacks any buttermilk flavor. Bacon and cheese components don’t mesh with the chicken. Honey mustard is runny and lacks bold flavor. Too much bun.

Taste: 5.00/10
Value: 7.00/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 6.00/10
Price: $4.99

Overall GrubGrade: 5.00/10

More Info: arbys.com
Nutrition Facts:
650 calories, 22 grams of fat, 31 grams of saturated fat, 9 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1750 milligrams of sodium, 56 grams of carbs, 9 grams of sugar, 39 grams of protein

36 comments on “Review: Buttermilk Chicken Bacon & Swiss from Arby’s

  1. Gr8pimpin says:

    You hit it on the head about the McChicken similarities. That was EXACTLY my reaction when I tried the basic sandwich yesterday. Mine was kind of juicy, and while I enjoyed it, their previous version was better, IMHO. Chick-Fil-A’s chicken is superior but kudos to Arby’s for their creativity like the buffalo version.

  2. Jonathan Wayne says:

    …keeps driving by right on to Chick-fil-a.

  3. mike says:

    I agree with this review it is exactly how I felt after having this a few days ago. A step in the wrong direction

  4. Justin ST says:

    I agree, it was a bit terrible. Arby’s seems to be regressing, which is a shame.

  5. khanman says:

    9 grams of trans fat? Holy s**t!

  6. Brian says:

    Wow. That’s a sad looking chicken sandwich. I should have taken a picture of mine for a comparison. It was an entirely different experience for me. Sorry yours was such a disappointment.

  7. Chrystal says:

    I worked at Arby’s as a teenager, the chicken, bacon and swiss never came with lettuce and tomato on it and the cheese used to be an ameri-swiss blend. Too bad the new chicken sucks, that was about all I would eat.

    I saw a poor review of the Chicken Cordon blue too, bring back the cheap deli ham and ameri-swiss cheese please. New better quality products are all well and good but if you change the classic flavor of the sandwich, people will be disappointed.

  8. Peter in Santa Rosa says:

    That’s a shame – I was looking at one of their flyer’s and was looking forward to trying a Cordon Bleu version.

    Seems like Arby’s is running a two-tier model, with really good higher end sandwiches like the Smokehouse Brisket and an economy tier with the Classic Roast Beef, sliders, etc. I really like the “premium” tier items, the lower tier ones not-so-much. I was hoping this sandwich was designed for the Premium tier, but clearly it was not.

    Thanks for saving me from a disappointing meal!

  9. doctorx0079 says:

    Anybody remember Arby’s Cravin’ Chicken with the Cravin’ Sauce? I miss that. I will probably have to try the Buffalo Chicken anyway because the Buffalo Sliders are so good, and Chick-Fil-A Spicy is not the same.

  10. Christopher says:

    Yeah that patty looks surprisingly like a McChicken patty.

    Hard to justify a $4.99 price tag, when you could get FOUR McChickens with any sauce you want for the same cost.

  11. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Disappointing to hear, I love the chicken strips from Arby’s so I was thinking this would be good. Guess I’ll be sticking to chick Fil a

  12. Jay says:

    After a long fast food layoff, I had a chicken sandwich from hardees and wendys last week. Both were cutlets. When did that happen? They both use to have chicken breasts. Both were terrible. I guess that leaves chik fil a as the only place serving a real piece of unadulterated chicken?

    • Barnaby says:

      I don’t think you understand what ‘adulterated’ means, and should pull the word from your vocabulary until you look it up.

      • Jay says:

        Get a dictionary kid. I’m speaking of chicken breast in its natural state, fried. Not a formed processed piece of chicken cutlet with binders, etc

        Now go home and get your shine box.

        • Barnaby says:

          A filet cut from a breast is not “adulterated” like a patty. Wendy’s and Hardee’s, and most other fast food joints, have chicken filet sandwiches… while it may not be an entire breast, they are “unadulterated” filets cut from a breast. A patty is processed & adulterated, a filet is not.

      • Cs says:

        I’m pretty sure he used the word properly.

      • Oleander says:

        Adulterated: render (something) poorer in quality by adding another substance, typically an inferior one.
        The word was used correctly. Perhaps you Should pull your head out of your nether regions.

  13. Nicky says:

    Arby’s had a chicken sandwich in the mid 90’s that had one big slab of “roasted” chicken, bacon, barbecue sauce, cheese and the usual veggies. It was served in a clear plastic box. Wish they’d bring that back.

  14. CulinaryZerg says:

    That’s disappointing. In fact I was sad to hear Arby’s was changing their chicken sandwiches. I always thought they had the tastiest “basic” chicken sandwich out of the major fast food outlets, save Chick Fil A.

    Sounds like a few others here agree that the prior version was better. Guess they needed to refresh the brand and worried less about the product.

    • M-Logan says:

      I am guessing this change was not made for the consumer, as it’s pretty clear the old chicken was better. This new bird must be a better deal for Arbys.

  15. CulinaryZerg says:

    Ok, so after my comment above I went and tried the Classic version. The chicken, while juicy and tender, has a poor crust. It’s not very crispy or crunchy, peels away from the chicken, and yes, has strange mushy inner layer tasting strongly of Shake-and-Bake. The patty could be mistaken for grocery store frozen aisle fare

    The biggest problem by far, however, is the bun. IT’S TOO BIG. The bun itself is sweet, dense, and fine. But it completely overwhelms the chicken. What good is making the chicken 10% bigger if you then make the bun 40% bigger/denser? Chick Fil A’s buns are small, plain, and forgettable, but it works because it actually lets the real star of the show, the chicken breast, stand out and shine. All I taste with Arby’s version is bun and mayonnaise.

  16. doctorx0079 says:

    Arby’s also took away their Waffle Fries! Did anyone else notice?

  17. Sascha says:

    I was hoping for the texture and flavor of the tenders used on the slider, that would have been awesome. Didn’t get that, but still a solid chicken sandwich. I had one on what was probably the debut day for the sandwich, then another a week or so later after seeing some of the negative reviews for them. Both times, I simply went with the Classic. I thought the chicken was much bigger, fresher, more moist and crispier than the previous version of their chicken, and it was that way both times. I did have one problem similar to Zerg above, that on one of my sandwiches the breading was peeling off a bit, but didn’t mind too much.

    Compared to the chicken in my area, it comes in above the Buttermilk of McDonald’s, the Big Chicken of Rally’s and the Homestyle of Wendy’s but below the chicken sandwiches at A&W, Dairy Queen and the Tendercrisp from BK. Comparatively, the Arby’s old chicken was not better than Wendy’s or Rally’s.

  18. Andrew says:

    Arby’s Buttermilk chicken is terrible. The one I had was incredibly dry and inedible. They used to have it right with the Cravin’ Chicken.Still it’s back to Smokehouse Beef Brisket for me (which is their GOAT sandwich).

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