It’s hard to think of a four-word combination that suggests a more satisfying fast-food breakfast than “honey butter chicken biscuit.” Texans fortunate enough to live in Whataburger country, where the sandwich is one of the chain’s most iconic menu items, have an understanding: the rest of the country can have their McMuffins or Croissan’wiches, we’ve got the honey butter chicken biscuit, its very name a tantalizing combination of four foodstuffs that all make one another better, each compounded by the next until the anticipated piquant pleasures multiply exponentially. “Honey” is good, “honey butter” is really, really good, “honey butter chicken” is great, and putting it all on a biscuit is perhaps the most delicious way one can receive 560 calories to start the day from a person on the other side of a drive-through window in exchange for a mere $2.89.
Don’t just take our word for it: the Whataburger Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit has spawned a cottage industry around its greatness. H-E-B sells Whataburger-branded honey butter on its shelves, so intrepid home cooks can try to conjure the confection in their own kitchens; the minor league baseball team in Whataburger’s hometown literally changes its name for every Wednesday game, from the Corpus Christi Hooks to the Corpus Christi Honey Butter Chicken Biscuits. And visitors, newcomers, and Texpats pen paeans to the creation’s deliciousness from afar, going viral in their slam poetry tributes or oozing sincerity in their wistful blog posts. Fans petition the company to offer it on a 24-hour basis, and improvise menu hacks to order one outside of breakfast hours. While Whataburger is ubiquitous across Texas, with roughly seven hundred locations in the Lone Star State, it’s downright scarce in the rest of the country. There are a handful of states with a few dozen locations—Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma among them—but once you leave Texas, generally speaking, you’ve left not just Whataburger territory but also, by extension, the very concept of the honey butter chicken biscuit behind.
Until recently, anyway. Wendy’s, the second-place national burger chain, recently began a new push for the revamped breakfast menu it introduced in 2020—and among the offerings is, indeed, a Wendy’s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit.
It would be foolish to put the two head-to-head in a taste-test competition. The Whataburger Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit holds a special place in the hearts of many Texans, and we ourselves are not excluded from that group. Given the loyalty Texans tend to have toward those orange and white stripes, we didn’t sample the Wendy’s sandwich to decide if we should switch our allegiance to the pigtailed purveyor of square hamburgers, but rather to determine: if you’re one of the many Texpats who spend their more bedraggled mornings yearning for the combination of sugar, fat, and protein that is the honey butter chicken biscuit of their youth—will the offering from Wendy’s, which has more than eight times as many locations as Whataburger, in every part of the United States, satisfy your craving?
The Star of the Show: Honey Butter
The Whataburger honey butter is such a beloved condiment that you can literally buy it by the bottle. It gets top billing at the orange and white stripes not by a quirk of fate, but because it is the star of the show. Any ol’ restaurant can slap a fried chicken strip between a biscuit and call it a sandwich; the honey butter that dresses the beloved menu item is where the magic happens, with all the pleasure of a generously applied layer of melty butter on a warm hunk o’ carbohydrate, with a sweet, honey-tinged kick.
At Wendy’s, the honey butter is less noticeable. If consumed straight from the bottle—an experiment we would be happy to conduct, if Wendy’s would like to send us one—it might be as delicious as the honey butter from Whataburger. It’s still butter, still infused with honey (or honey flavoring, or whatever)—but on the Wendy’s sandwich, it isn’t given the same spotlight it gets at Whataburger. That’s a problem, if what you fantasize about when you dream of the Whataburger sandwich is mostly just that sweet, melty layer. If you’re stuck at a Wendy’s, we recommend you just pardon yourself if it makes you feel gluttonous and ask for the sandwich with extra honey butter. But it’s not Wendy’s’ fault that the honey butter doesn’t stand out in the same way: it’s the chicken’s.
The Centerpiece: Chicken
The Whataburger Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit is a biscuit slathered in honey butter with a chicken strip in the middle. Whataburger’s chicken strips are not the same shape as a biscuit—they’re oblong little logs of breaded, deep-fried chicken breast. The biscuit is round, so some bites are mostly chicken, while other bites are just biscuit and honey butter. At Wendy’s, the chicken is a thin hockey puck that matches the biscuit bite for bite, so the honey butter doesn’t get the chance to steal the show. It might be bad for the honey butter, but it’s good for the chicken, which you get to enjoy more consistently throughout your sandwich-eating experience.
The Anchor: Biscuits
The biggest difference between the Whataburger and Wendy’s sandwich, though, is the biscuit. You don’t need us to tell you this, but Whataburger’s biscuits are good, y’all. If you went to a small-town diner and were served a Whataburger biscuit, you’d be like, “Yep, that’s what I expected to receive.” If you got a Wendy’s biscuit, you’d probably think, “Did that come from a little tube of prepackaged biscuit dough?” The Wendy’s biscuit is roughly on par with the biscuits at McDonald’s, not the glorious floof of a true Southern-style biscuit you get at Whataburger. Wendy’s is, after all, a chain from Columbus, Ohio. It’s fine, for fast food, but it is not transcendent.
Ultimately, that’s where the Wendy’s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit lands overall, too. It’s pretty tasty for Wendy’s! It has enough echoes of the Whataburger sandwich that, if we were forced to live in a Whataburger-less part of the country, would probably cause us to experience more nostalgic joy in its similarities than sorrow because of its differences. It’s doubtful that anyone is going to perform slam poetry in its honor, or name their minor league baseball team after it, but if you want a sugary, buttery, chicken-y kick on something that resembles a biscuit in the morning, you want it for three dollars, and you want to stay in your car while it is served to you, you will find something similar to what you seek at Wendy’s.