McDonald’s Chicken May Start to Actually Taste Like Chicken

Responding to consumer demand, the fast-food mega-chain has finally started to reduce the amount of ingredients in its food.

(Photo: Facebook/McDonald's)

Apr 3, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Josh Scherer has written for Epicurious, Thrillist, and Los Angeles magazine. He is constantly covered in corn chip crumbs.

With some quality sea salt, black pepper, lemon juice, a few sprigs of thyme, and a healthy splash of extra-virgin olive oil, you can make the tastiest chicken breast known to mankind. All it takes is six ingredients.

McDonald’s feels the need to overachieve: Its Chicken McNuggets boast 25 ingredients, its newly revived Chicken Selects have 21, and even its unbreaded grilled chicken breast somehow manages to fit 18 different seasonings and additives into a 4-ounce meat disk. But that’s all going to change in the next few weeks.

According to a report from The Associated Press, McDonald’s will be dropping six ingredients from its current grilled chicken breast recipe and rebranding it as “Artisanal Grilled Chicken” sometime in mid-April. It will be left with 12 comparatively reasonable components: boneless skinless chicken breast with rib meat, water, salt, vegetable starch, sugar, garlic powder, lemon juice concentrate, honey, onion powder, dried vinegar, natural flavors, and baking soda.

The biggest change for the fast-food juggernaut will be removing sodium phosphates—commonly used as a preservative and stabilizer—and eliminating maltodextrin. Despite the egregious and downright inaccurate use of the word “artisanal,” McDonald’s new chicken breast signifies an important moment in the chain’s attempt to regain consumer trust.

After McDonald’s 2014 third-quarter profits fell an alarming 30 percent from the previous year, president Mike Andres announced the company would make an effort to simplify the menu and ultimately reduce the amount of preservatives. Newly crowned CEO Steve Easterbrook—who made a name for himself by shortening produce supply chains and adding organic milk at McDonald’s locations in the United Kingdom—seems to be following through on those promises. Earlier this month, McDonald’s also announced that it would stop sourcing chicken that has been treated with human antibiotics.

The Artisanal Grilled Chicken will be cooked in a blend of olive oil, canola oil, and dried herbs, as opposed to the old standard of artificially flavored liquid margarine. According to Jessica Foust, McDonald’s director of culinary innovation, “It’s a very real chicken experience—something closer to what you make in your own home.”

McDonald’s just might be onto something with this whole “food should taste like food” idea.