Chick-fil-A is testing a cauliflower sandwich

The Chick-fil-A cauliflower sandwich: What you need to know

Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich

Chick-fil-A’s first-ever plant-based sandwich is now available for a limited time in select locations in the United States.

Called Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich, the fast-food chain’s latest menu item is being tested at restaurants in three markets in the country starting Monday, February 13th.

Does Chick-fil-A have a cauliflower sandwich?

Yes. As mentioned above, Chick-fil-A is serving a cauliflower sandwich as part of a pilot test. This means that the new sandwich is not yet a permanent menu item and will only be available in select locations while supplies last.

What is Chick-fil-A cauliflower sandwich made of?

Chick-fil-A’s new sandwich is made with a tender filet cut from a whole, real cauliflower. Prepared similarly to the original Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich, the plant-based alternative is marinated, breaded with a signature seasoning, pressure-cooked, and served on a toasted buttery bun with two dill pickle slices.

“Cauliflower is the hero of our new sandwich, and it was inspired by our original Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich,” said Leslie Neslage, director of menu and packaging at Chick-fil-A, in a press release. “Guests told us they wanted to add more vegetables into their diets, and they wanted a plant-forward entrée that tasted uniquely Chick-fil-A. Our new sandwich is made with the highest quality ingredients and whole vegetables, and we hope it offers customers another reason to dine at Chick-fil-A.”

What does Chick-fil-A cauliflower sandwich taste like?

Eve Chen of USA Today has tried Chick-fil-A’s new cauliflower sandwich, and according to her, the breading and marinade of the cauliflower filet “really came through” that it “didn’t need extra sauce.”

Chen admitted that she initially had reservations about the overall taste of the sandwich. “I had been a little worried because the cauliflower is previously frozen, which can make it a little soggy,” the writer explained. “But it was perfectly pressure cooked with a nice crunch and hearty mouthfeel that didn’t weigh me down.”

Stuart Tracy, the Chick-fil-A chef who developed the sandwich, didn’t share the secret behind the crunchiness of the cauliflower. But he did admit in an interview with USA Today that they had dedicated a lot of time learning the right texture for the cauliflower. “A lot of the development timeline was like OK, how do we get it to not be like sweaty, mushy, stinky cauliflower, but also not like raw, dry, ‘I can’t even swallow this’ cauliflower?’” Tracy recalled. “It was a fair amount of work.”

Is Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich vegetarian?

Though Chick-fil-A calls its cauliflower sandwich its first plant-forward entree, the new menu item is not vegetarian. The restaurant chain is meticulous about food safety, but it doesn’t have areas specifically reserved for preparing vegetarian meals in its kitchens.

“This is made with cauliflower, pickles, bread, milk, and eggs. If that works for your definition of vegetarian, awesome,” Leslie Neslage said of the chain’s cauliflower sandwich. “But it is not isolated in our kitchens. We have chicken all day, every day, and that’s not going away, so we want to be very candid and open and honest with our customers.”

Is Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich gluten-free?

While Chick-fil-A does offer gluten-free buns, its cauliflower sandwich is not gluten-free because the cauliflower breading is made with gluten.

How long has Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich been in the works?

In a blog post, Chick-fil-A’s senior lead culinary developer Stuart Tracy revealed that he made the first-ever iteration of the cauliflower sandwich in October 2018 after finding out that “customers wanted a way to incorporate more vegetables into their diets.” While Tracy knew that he had something special right away, it took years before his concept made it to pilot testing with help of other Chick-fil-A chefs.

“This is not something that was part of a product catalog that we pointed to and said, ‘Yep, do that. Sprinkle some Chick-fil-A magic dust on top of it and it’s ours now,’” Tracy said in his interview with USA Today. He shared that they had to work with suppliers to grow and slice cauliflower to the company’s desired dimensions and also perfect the preparation process so it could be easily executed by team members in the kitchens. “We invented it from the ground up, pun fully intended,” Tracy said with a laugh.

As for why Chick-fil-A ultimately decided to go with cauliflower as the centerpiece of its plant-forward sandwich, Tracy told USA Today that cauliflower has a “mild flavor”, which makes it a
“great alternative to chicken.”  He added that they “created several different iterations and conducted taste tests and once we saw the excited smiles of the taste testers from our team and various focus groups and heard the positive reviews, we knew we had found the right centerpiece for the sandwich.”

What makes Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich different from other plant-forward sandwiches?

According to Tracy, Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich stands out from other plant-forward sandwiches like the Impossible Whopper of Burger King and the McPlant of McDonald’s because of its organic look.

“When most people think about a plant-forward sandwich, they might picture a patty molded from chopped vegetables, but this sandwich is what you could call a cauliflower steak,” Stuart Tracy wrote in a blog post. “It’s real cauliflower, cut then breaded in Chick-fil-A seasoning and pressure cooked, just like our original Chick-fil-A Chicken Sandwich. It’s delicious and something you might not expect on a quick service restaurant menu.”

Where to buy Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich

Starting today, February 13th, the Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich is available for a limited time, while supplies last, in the following three trest markets: Denver, Charleston, South Carolina, and the Greensboro-Triad area of North Carolina.

How much does Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich cost?

The cost of Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich varies by market location, but the menu item’s starting price is $6.59.

Will Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich be available nationwide?

It has yet to be determined whether the restaurant company will offer its cauliflower sandwich in all its locations across the country. The results of the ongoing testing phase will dictate whether the sandwich will be available nationwide.

“We really want to make sure it’s the right thing for our customers, it’s the right thing for operators, it works well for our team members, it makes sense for the business,” Leslie Neslage told USA Today, pointing out that if everything goes well, the sandwich could be available across the country within half a year to a year. “[But] if we have to make some tweaks and changes, it takes a little bit longer.”

Sources: Chick-fil-A, Chick-fil-A, USA Today
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