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The New Economy

McDonald's chicken says 'au revoir' to Italian flavor

McDonald's chicken will be more French and more 'neutral.' Topping the McDonald's chicken sandwich: mirepoix.

By Mary Helen MillerCorrespondent / May 23, 2011

A man walks out of a McDonald's restaurant in New York in this Jan. 24, 2011, file photo. The chain is switching from an Italian to a more neutral, French flavoring for its premium McDonald's chicken sandwich.

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters / File

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Chicken sandwich connoisseurs may notice a certain je ne sais quoi in McDonald's new grilled chicken.

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That’s because the restaurant is stepping away from its traditional Italian-flavored chicken (don’t worry if you never noticed) to achieve “a more neutral flavor profile,” Dan Coudreaut, McDonald's menu director, told the Nation's Restaurant News, an industry publication.

The new premium chicken will be seasoned with mirepoix, which is a French seasoning made from onions, carrots, and celery, as well as salt, pepper, and “maybe a little garlic and herb,” Mr. Coudreaut told NRN.

Chicken of this kind of refined subtlety needs a bun to match. The white bun, previously oval-shaped, will be swapped for a round one, with whole grains and cracked wheat.

Besides its new chicken recipe, McDonald's has a few other changes afoot. It is reintroducing the Asian salad – which will be topped with the new chicken – and it is rolling out a few new sauces for its chicken McNuggets and Chicken Selects breast strips.

The ranch dressing, which has traditionally been served with the chicken strips will have “more of a buttermilk flavor,” and will be available for McNuggets, too, Dan Coudreaut told the trade publication. And there will also be a Thai-inspired dipping sauce: hot buffalo and sweet chili.

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