Over the years, the Southwest-themed chain has spawned a number of menu hits. One of those successes is the fan-favorite chicken crispers. But the decision to revamp that recipe has left many loyal customers baffled. Late last year, Chili’s decided to scrap the old crispers, which were tempura-battered chicken tenders, and introduced an “improved,” crispier batter.
Naturally, there has been blowback. A petition was even started (to no avail). The Twitter outrage on the subject has been palpable — well, as palpable as anger over chicken tenders can be, anyway. “This might be the worst day of my life,” tweeted one person, according to USA Today. We're guessing that person's nickname is something like "Lucky."
With an eye to giving the chicken crispers version 2.0 an open-minded shot, we placed a curbside order through Chili’s website.
First, let’s get the sides that came with the crispers out of the way. A lifeless white cheddar mac and cheese was in a tiny container, barely half-full, and an order of Texas cheese fries (we upgraded from regular fries) came with our crispers. The fries were covered in melted shredded cheese, jalapeños and green onions and, like the mac and cheese, were uninspiring. Obviously, these would have been better eaten tableside as soon as they came out of the kitchen. Alas, they couldn’t survive a less-than-10-minute ride away. By the time we pulled the fries out, the melted shredded cheese had melded the fries into a unified object we could’ve played catch with in the yard.
But one doesn’t order crispers for the mac and cheese or fries. The new crispers, which will set you back $14.39 for five, come with two dipping sauces of your choice (choose from Buffalo ranch, Buffalo, barbecue, honey mustard and sweet chili zing) and a mandatory side of ranch. You can also select from either regular or honey chipotle crispers. We went with regular.
As far as chicken tenders go, they weren’t bad. They were indeed crispy, and we always give credit when a place doesn’t overcook the chicken, which this Chili’s location did not. The crispers came semi-moderately juicy enough, and the sweet chili zing sauce enhanced these tenders from merely serviceable to borderline good. But among the sea of chicken tenders that exists out there on menus everywhere from coast to coast, does Chili’s new chicken crispers stand out? Nah. Adequate but unremarkable.
-lethal despair from the original chicken crispers being removed from the menu— Chris Nini (@ChrisNini27) March 7, 2023
@OGCrispers on Twitter (yes, there’s an account dedicated solely to fighting the tragic demise of Chili’s old chicken crispers) said it best: “You used to have unique, quality chicken tenders, but now you’ve gotten rid of them for chicken tenders you can find anywhere. It’s simple, bring back the OG chicken crispers, and the outrage will end.”
Yep, chicken tenders are serious business, folks.