Smashburger’s new Scorchin’ Hot Crispy Chicken – how spicy is it?

Smashburger Scorchin' Hot Crispy Chicken

Smashburger are the latest to pitch their sandwich in the famous Chicken Sandwich War. Arriving on menus as of April 19th, the popular burger chain decided to also double down with another popular trend – spice. Writing about their new release, Smashburger writes, “Inspired by Nashville Hot Chicken. Tender, juicy and real heat that makes you sweat and smile with every bite. Topped with pickles and spicy red pepper mayo on a toasted bun, it’s so much more than a spicy chicken sandwich.”

As a lover of all things spicy, fried and chicken I was sold. With a name like ‘scorchin’ I was hopeful that there was some real capsaicin heat under the hood too.

The sandwich arrived in a fairly generic paper wrapper; it was a little surprise given the lengths other brands have gone too (KFC, Zaxby’s) in trying to replicate the success of Popeyes, going as far as creating their own visually appealing foil wrapper. Not here – the packaging didn’t even mention chicken per se. It’s not a deal breaker of course, just a curious lack of detail.

Inside the wrapper, a first visual inspection (see full pictures below) of the sandwich was that it was reminiscent of an old school chicken sandwich – something from the fast food world prior to Popeyes infamous chicken launch in 2019.

The coating is breading based and heavy, thick and crunchy. There’s a thundering roar with every bite, and the crisp holds up for a long time, even after a ride home from the store. That said it’s a greasy, dense coating – far removed from the light batter of Popeyes.

The chicken itself was so-so, it’s not up there with KFC, Popeyes or even Zaxby’s fried chicken sandwiches, but its certainly a step up from McDonalds recent disappointing trio of sandwiches.

And the heat you ask? How hot is the “scorching”. The flavor and heat profile is very reminiscent of tabasco hot sauce, with a slight acidic twang. There’s also some lingering cayenne and black pepper on the back too. It certainly beats last years Wendy’s spicy chicken on the capsaicin levels, but that’s not saying much. It’s not up there with McDonald’s Hot N Spicy which is notably a little more tingly I’d say.

The company writes the sandwich should have a “spicy red pepper mayo” but if you review the photos below you can see my sandwich was fairly scant. I wonder if I’d have asked for them to not hold the sauce, and bring the heat, things might have been different.

Overall, a fairly average sandwich that doesn’t live up to the Scorchin name tag, nor hits the heights of the very best chicken sandwiches on the market; I’d place it around middle of the pack, but there’s one last kicker that detracts further; priced at $7.29 (here in SLC) its almost double the price of Popeyes and KFC.

Smashburger Scorchin' Hot Crispy Chicken packaging
Smashburger Scorchin’ Hot Crispy Chicken packaging
Smashburger Scorchin' Hot Crispy Chicken toppings
Smashburger Scorchin’ Hot Crispy Chicken toppings
Smashburger Scorchin' Hot Crispy Chicken
Smashburger Scorchin’ Hot Crispy Chicken
Smashburger Scorchin' Hot Crispy Chicken side view
Smashburger Scorchin’ Hot Crispy Chicken side view
Smashburger Scorchin' Hot Crispy Chicken close up
Smashburger Scorchin’ Hot Crispy Chicken close up
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Hi there, I'm Stuart, nice to meet you. I'm a food writer of more than 15+ years experience writing about food and drink in all its forms, fine dining through the to the grocery store. I've also got a secret obsession with fast food too. You can find my writing at places like Gastronomic SLC, Visit Salt Lake, The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah Stories, Utah Now Online and many others.