First Bite: Chick-fil-A’s New Cauliflower Sandwich

BY Steph Wilson

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First Bite: Chick-fil-A’s New Cauliflower Sandwich

Dek goes here…

Ah, Chick-fil-A. The fast-food chain we love to hate. But you can’t deny that they know how to keep us talking. Whether it’s their controversial stance on social issues or their delicious chicken sandwiches that keep us coming back for more, we can’t seem to quit them. So when we heard they were testing a new cauliflower sandwich in Denver, we were skeptical, to say the least.

But being the intrepid food writers that we are, we decided to give it a try. The Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich was created, developed, and tested in-house by Chick-fil-A chefs who worked diligently for nearly four years finding the right ingredients and perfecting the recipe for the new sandwich. “Our challenges really stem more from operational issues vs. taste,” said Stuart Tracy, Chick-fil-A’s principal culinary lead for menu and packaging, in a statement. “Our Operators and Team Members have to be able to prepare and serve menu offerings with ease, so some of the ideas we had were good in theory, but they would have put too much pressure on our restaurant teams.”

The sandwich is made with a cauliflower filet that is marinated, breaded with the original seasoning, pressure-cooked, and served on a buttery bun with two pickle chips. It’s not vegan, but it’s a plant-forward option that caters to the growing demand for meatless options. The preparation is similar to the original Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, but it’s not quite the same. The cauliflower filet is surprisingly close to poultry, with a protein-like stringiness typical of a chicken breast. But make no mistake, this is not chicken. The flavor is unmistakably cauliflower, with a faint vegetal sweetness and a tickle of heat from the marinade.

The sandwich costs about $2 more than the OG chicken sandwich and only saves you 140 calories. Is it worth it? Well, that’s up to you. If you’re a die-hard Chick-fil-A fan who wants to try something new, go for it. But if you’re on a budget or counting calories, you might want to stick with the tried and true.

So why was Denver chosen as a test market for the sandwich? Well, it’s not the first time Mile High denizens got to decide whether a new product will be a hit or a flop, and brands are often selecting the city to test new items. The thinking behind the marketing decision is that Denver is a representative cross-section of the United States. Not to mention it’s no secret that Denver is a food-forward city, which makes it even more appealing to brands like Chick-fil-A. From farm-to-table restaurants to craft breweries, Denver has a diverse culinary scene that is always hungry for something new. If this new cauliflower sandwich performs well in Denver, it could be rolled out nationwide.

That’s a lot of power to yield—if you try the sandwich, you’re upping the chances that other people will get to one day try it, too. Same goes for the opposite: if you decide not to try it, you might be sparing others from having to make that decision in the future. The power is in your hands—or not.

But if it is, I highly recommend dunking it in some of the signature Chick-fil-A sauce—a universal menu enhancer across the board.

It’s not the greatest sandwich, but it’s not totally bad—and the brand deserves credit for the R&D that went into creating the menu item. It took a chance on a cauliflower sandwich, and while it’s not omg so good, it’s not a total disaster. It might not be for everyone, but it’s a step in the right direction. And who knows, maybe someday it’ll have a vegan option that we can all get behind. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steph Wilson

Steph Wilson is a writer, editor, and creative maximalist in Denver. She makes magazines for a living and throws color around the world like confetti for fun.

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