Wendy's Steps Up The Stakes In The Chicken Sandwich War With Their Hottest One Yet

The spicy sauce will be on their fries, too.

Wendy's Ghost Pepper Ranch Chicken Sandwich

Courtesy of Wendy's

In the last several years, fast-food and fast-casual restaurants have been in a chicken sandwich war of sorts, if you haven't noticed. In 2019, Popeye's released a new one to thunderous applause, but amid overflowing drive-thrus and unmet demand, Chick-fil-A declared theirs to be the best, as the original. That didn't stop every other restaurant from attempting their own versions, some with great success and some not.

Today, Wendy's is ready to renew that heated battle with perhaps the hottest chicken sandwich yet—Ghost Pepper Ranch Chicken Sandwich.

John Li, VP of Culinary Innovation at Wendy's, told Southern Living, "People's eating patterns are shifting, and they're much more willing and open and wanting to have food that has a little bit more oomph behind it. [At Wendy's,] equity has been built up over time since we launched not just our spicy chicken but actually our spicy nuggs in addition to that, plus some specials we have introduced in the past—our loaded jalapeño is a good example."

Spice isn't everyone's thing, of course, but with more and more brands releasing spiced-up versions of snack foods, appetizers, and meals, Li says they have the license with consumers to try this new sandwich.

"They're saying, 'Wendy's, why don't you actually do more?' So for us, we wanted to do spice in a way that is a zag instead of the zig a competitor would do. [We wanted to do something] that made sense for us because we felt there's pressure if we're considered the queen of spice,"he says.

The final result of these spicy excursions is a new Ghost Pepper Ranch Chicken Sandwich and Ghost Pepper Fries.

It can't be all heat all the time—customers do want a balance and flavor amid the spice, Li said, so the sandwich is made with a creamy ghost pepper ranch sauce.

"[This sandwich] has four layers of heat—the spicy chicken with its really unique white cayenne and black pepper heat—plus three more layers of a ghost pepper cheese, crispy onions that are ghost pepper ranch seasoned, and ghost pepper ranch.," he says. "Here's the key, we used ranch in two different areas. Ranch is like the training wheels for anything. Anything attached to ranch, consumers love it."

And if that wasn't enough heat, you can also order Ghost Pepper Fries, which are Wendy's typical natural-cut fries with a new spicy fry sauce made with ghost pepper.

Itching to try one of these sandwiches? They're rolling out to restaurants this month. If you positively can't handle the heat, you can always grab a Frosty. Wendy's is also bringing back the limited-time Strawberry Frosty this month.

First released in 2022, the berry-flavored Frosty was such a hit, Wendy's decided to bring it back sooner this year so customers have even longer to enjoy it before it's gone again.

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