Review of McDonald’s Ranch California Chicken
What they say:
Two pieces of succulent crispy chicken with Beechwood smoked bacon, Pepper Jack cheese, tomato, lettuce and ranch sauce, all in a toasted bun.
Price: £4.19 for the burger only. £5.69 for a meal + 40p for large upgrade.
Calories: 653 kcal.
Big name promos like McDonald’s Great Tastes of America sometimes take flack for attaching names or geographic labels to burgers with considerable poetic licence.
In this case, we need to have a look first at the ranch sauce – the key ingredient for analysis on this burger.
The Ranch California Chicken is the sidekick to the four beef offerings in GTA 2017, and is therefore the only one that will be available for all eight weeks.
What do you mean, you’ve never heard of ranch sauce?
Well, not surprising. It is very big in America, where you can even get ranch flavour crisps. Back here in the UK, it’s relatively unknown.
So, is McDonald’s correct in labelling it from California?
Well, sort of.
California (Santa Barbara to be specific) was where the dressing got its name – it was produced on a ranch there. But its inventor actually developed it in Alaska.
I just can’t see the Ranch Alaska Chicken selling so well, so California will do.
It’s a mayo and buttermilk based dressing, with some usual suspects, and usually dill, parsley and mustard seeds, giving it a mild-ish yet distinctive pep.
It’s all very pleasant and I for one don’t understand why it’s not widely available here. Perhaps McDonald’s can change all that?
The Ranch California Chicken comes in its own vibrantly coloured red, white and blue GTA branded box. It’s out at the start of the promo along with the returning New York Stack.
Opening the box, I was greeted by a fresh bun with lettuce aplenty, and a large visible tomato. Slightly melted Pepper Jack cheese covers the two Chicken Selects. So far, so normal.
Inside, the smoked bacon (very finely sliced) was present. This, along with the lashings of the white ranch sauce was where this burger took a step away from normal and became interesting.
We’ve discussed Chicken Selects on these pages before, and I can remind you that we are fans.
They are very reasonable and have a particularly satisfying crispy crunch. Biting down through this, my palate worked its way through bread, smoked bacon, ranch, cheese, crispy chicken before returning to the bread. The first bite told me I liked this.
There’s a fine array of textures and flavours going on inside this one – I really suggest you go and grab one, even if you are enticed by the beef options too.
The smoked bacon did the job and worked really well with the ranch sauce (which I’ll come back to).
The crispy Chicken Selects were thoroughly enjoyable, and coated in that ever-so-slightly perky Pepper Jack cheese, they stood above more average high street chicken burgers.
I began this review with the ranch sauce and I’ll end it with ranch sauce.
This is what MAKES this burger.
It’s applied generously here so you can’t help but notice it and is made up of quite a few ingredients – no doubt McDonald’s has added its own twist to the recipe.
What stands out for me is the garlic, the mustard seeds and of course the dill. It’s the dill that becomes the lasting taste on the tongue, long after you’ve returned your tray.
I really like the Great Tastes of America line-up this year and will be having each of the beef burgers.
I’m so glad I had the Ranch California Chicken first and can only hope that 2017 is the year ranch sauce hits the UK properly.