ATLANTA—Chick-fil-A is testing a plant-based sandwich in three markets: Denver; Charleston, South Carolina; and North Carolina's Greensboro-Triad region.
The Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich features a cauliflower filet instead of a chicken patty. Otherwise, it is prepped similarly to the QSR’s chicken sandwich. The cauliflower is marinated, breaded with the company’s signature seasoning, pressure cooked and served on a toasted bun with two dill pickle chips.
"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. "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."
According to Chick-fil-A, the sandwich has been in the works for four years and was created, developed and tested by Chick-fil-A chefs. The company tried other plant-based options, including mushrooms, chickpeas and chopped vegetables formed into patties, but cauliflower was the ultimate winner, according to a blog post.
"We explored every corner of the plant-based space in search of the perfect centerpiece for our plant-forward entrée," said Stuart Tracy, culinary developer of the Chick-fil-A Cauliflower Sandwich. "Time and time again, we kept returning to cauliflower as the base of our sandwich."
QSRs and fast-food chains have been adding plant-based alternatives to their menus in recent months as customers watch their meat consumption. Taco Bell also is testing a vegan plant-based protein option in Birmingham, Alabama, inspired by “classic Taco Bell flavors.” Last year, Taco Bell tested a “Cravetarian” plant-based protein, made from peas and chickpeas, and the Naked Chalupa with a crispy plant-based shell made from pea protein.
Last fall, Panda Express brought back its plant-based orange chicken menu offering, Beyond The Original Orange Chicken, nationwide for a limited time, following a successful test run. In early 2022, KFC launched plant-based fried chicken made with Beyond Meat products. The fried chicken was available for a limited time.
A recent Bloomberg article reported how Americans are turning to vegetarian and vegan lifestyles to offset the skyrocketing cost of meat. Although vegetarianism and veganism have gained popularity over the past few years, lately the reason for people switching to these ways of eating has been because they are more worried about stretching their dollars than about health, ethical and environmental concerns.
NACS Magazine explored the plant-based trend in “Plant-Based Food Takes Root.”