Review: Prime-Cut Chicken Tenders from Arby’s
Continuing on my never-ending quest to sample every chicken tender/finger/nugget ever conceived, I stopped into Arby’s recently to see how their “Prime-Cut” Chicken Tenders stacked up to some of my favorites. I was an unabashed fan of Arby’s old Popcorn Chicken, but in the two years since I reviewed the appropriately named all-white meat chicken bites, Arby’s has since revamped their formula.
These crisply breaded chicken tenders are the real thing – whole white meat from the prime cut of the chicken breast – and they come with a choice of dipping sauces, including our tangy Buffalo Dipping Sauce, BBQ, Ranch and sweet Honey Mustard.
I’m not exactly sure where the “prime cut” of a chicken’s breast is located, but wherever it is, I guess it must be pretty small. When opening my box of tenders, that was the first thing that struck me. Noticeably smaller than the Carl’s Jr. “hand breaded” tenders, Arby’s rendition also had a thicker coating. It balks recent trends of places like Raising Canes using a thinner, cornflake like coating, and instead reverts to a thick cracker that’s more crunchy than crisp. Fortunately I like crunchy, and for what the tenders lack in size, they make up for in a strong black pepper and garlic flavored coating that even manages a bit of a kick. They are salty as you would expect, but the coating doesn’t have as much surface oil or moisture as I’d expect. Texture-wise it reminds me a lot of the popcorn concept, and I’m a fan — that is, I’m mostly a fan, as a few of the flakes are burnt and lacking any way of adhering to the meat.
As for that meat, well, it just doesn’t live up to its juicy expectations. Not only is there comparatively little meat, but it’s among the driest pieces of all-white meat tenders I’ve ever sampled. A shame, really, and not a good bargain given the already small size of the order.
There’s been some debate as to the merits of chicken tenders on their own, and I’ll be the first to admit that without a crunchy exterior coating, they more or less just become a calorically dense vehicle for dipping sauce. There’s enough flavor in the breading and enough contrast in texture to make eating these tenders alone possible, but should you be sauce inclined, Arby’s does a good job of presenting you options. I’m not sure if this is standard practice, but I was not charged for extra sauce packets. Personally, I am a real fan of Arby’s Three-Pepper Sauce, which is actually served in an “all you can pour” station by the drink machine at my local Arby’s.. while Horsey Sauce and Arby’s BBQ Sauce get a lot of love, the Three-Pepper Sauce is truly one of the most underrated of all fast food condiments. essentially a kicked-up version of a cocktail sauce, it provides a little bit of everything without being boring or a nutritional bombshell at the same time.
I’m torn when it comes to these tenders. On one hand, the breading and spices make snacking on them a guilty pleasure, but I just can’t overlook the small size and poor meat-to-breading ratio, not to mention the complete lack of interior juice resonating within the meat itself. But dangit, the seemingly endless assortment of sauces Arbys brings to the table — heck, you could ask for these with red ranch sauce if you wanted to — makes giving them a failing grade impossible. A regular order in the future? Not at all. Worth seeking out on their own? Nope. But would I get them again in one of those coupon deals Arby’s always seems to offer in local papers and online? Not out of the question.
Pros: Crunchy exterior. Strong black pepper and garlic flavor on their own. Great sauce options. Abundant Arby's coupons.
Cons: Poor meat-to-breading ratio. Drier that Saudi Arabia on the inside. Some burnt ends. Expensive for their size. Inability to horde Three Pepper Sauce.
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.00/10
Overall GrubGrade: 6.25/10
3-Piece Prime-Cut Chicken Tenders Calories: 360
Total Fat: 17 grams
Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams
Cholesterol: 50 mg
Sodium: 1160 mg
Total Carbs: 31 grams
Fiber: 2 gram
Sugars: 21 grams
Protein: 46 grams