Wendy's Saucy Nuggs: 7 New Nugget Options, Dripping With Flavor

hand holding Wendy's Saucy Nugget
hand holding Wendy's Saucy Nugget - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

Wendy's has a new line of sauced-up nuggets entering the fray, and frankly, I couldn't be happier to see chicken nuggets finally getting the attention that I think they so rightly deserve. No longer relegated to the kid's menu, nuggets are growing up right along with the generations that made them so popular in the first place: millennials and Gen Z. The latter of which is the target audience for Wendy's new Saucy Nuggs, due to its growing appetite for spice and fast food.

Leveraging a hefty amount of nostalgia, along with a set of flavors that's both familiar and a little adventurous, the Saucy Nuggs are meant to appeal to a wider audience than traditional nuggets with a more predictable variety of dipping sauces. The Saucy Nuggs flavors are bigger, spicier, and, yes, saucier than anything already in the Wendy's chicken nugget lineup.

Mashed was invited for a sneak preview of the new nuggets at one of Wendy's New York City restaurant locations before they hit drive-thrus everywhere. There, Wendy's Vice President of Culinary Innovation, John Li, walked us through each of the new flavors and provided insights into their development along the way. Here's everything you need to know about the new nugget flavors, and when you can expect to lay your fingers on them for yourself.

Read more: Ranking Fast Food Fried Chicken Sandwiches From Worst To First

What To Expect On The New Saucy Nuggs Menu

Wendy's Saucy Nuggs in bowl
Wendy's Saucy Nuggs in bowl - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

There are seven new Saucy Nuggs flavors hitting the Wendy's menu, although three of the flavors are spicy upgrades to base flavor counterparts. These will include a Honey BBQ and Spicy Honey BBQ, Garlic Parm and Spicy Garlic Parm, Buffalo and Spicy Buffalo, as well as a Spicy Ghost Pepper variety — which, for obvious reasons, doesn't have a non-spicy counterpart.

The new Saucy Nuggs will be available in restaurants everywhere on June 10th. But for those who want to try the new nugget lineup a week early, there's a workaround: the Saucy Nuggs will be available exclusively through the Wendy's app beginning on June 3rd.

Several serving size options will be available, whether you're just having a little snack or are trying to feed several people. The new nuggets flavors will be available in 4, 6, 10, and 20-piece increments. The 20-piece option will be a new addition to the nuggets menu, which currently tops out at 10 pieces per order. How much these cost will vary depending on your location, but prices will begin at $2.99 before tax for the 4-piece nugget option, and $10.89 for the 20-piece option. Combo options that include fries and a drink alongside the saucy nuggets will also be available.

Honey BBQ And Spicy Honey BBQ

Honey BBQ and Spicy Honey BBQ Saucy Nuggs
Honey BBQ and Spicy Honey BBQ Saucy Nuggs - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

It's not entirely surprising to find a BBQ flavor on the menu, but instead of sticking with the same BBQ sauce already served for dipping, Wendy's created a new Honey BBQ sauce to toss its Saucy Nuggs in. The regular version of the sauce is noticeably sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. It will most likely appeal to anyone (like myself) who enjoyed a drizzle of honey on their chicken nuggets as a kid, but are looking for a little more complexity now. The Honey BBQ sauce also has a hint of smoke to it that doesn't come on too strong.

As for spice, the Spicy Honey BBQ Saucy Nuggs layer on the heat without being intimidating, which is good news for anyone who wants to wade into the world of spicy sauces slowly. There's a gentle level of heat to this spicy sauce, but not enough to make you break a sweat — and it's far from the sinus-clearing level of spiciness that the more adventurous diners tend to chase down.

So, while the spicy version of the Honey BBQ Saucy Nuggs has a little zing to it, you won't be bombarded with any extreme peppers here. During our tasting with Li, he mentioned that the spice blend that adds heat to these nuggets is created with white and black pepper, cayenne, paprika, and an additional oleoresin extracted from spices to round out the flavor.

Garlic Parm And Spicy Garlic Parm

Garlic Parm and Spicy Garlic Parm Saucy Nuggs
Garlic Parm and Spicy Garlic Parm Saucy Nuggs - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

When they say Garlic Parm, they aren't messing around. These nuggets aren't casually seasoned with a shake of garlic powder and a quick zest of Parmesan — instead, they're practically radiating garlic and parmesan. Think of the most formidable plate of chicken parmesan served at your favorite Italian restaurant, shrink that down to nugget size, and you'll have an idea of what's going on here.

Garlic lovers will appreciate the level of attention given to this particular ingredient, which is used in four different ways to complete the robust garlicky profile. The blend includes a combination of garlic powder, roasted garlic, minced garlic, and garlic oil. Additionally, the nuggets are seasoned with a restrained amount of parsley and dill for a balanced herbal note that complements the garlic and parmesan flavors well.

The spicy version of the Garlic Parm Saucy Nuggs amplifies everything about the nugget. It's cheesier, saltier, more garlicky, and, of course, spicier. Compared to the Spicy Honey BBQ nuggets, the Spicy Garlic Parm nuggets take the spice up a notch or two, sort of like someone added extra red pepper flakes to the sauce mix. The heat level isn't painful, but it might start to make those with a very low heat tolerance a little squeamish.

Buffalo And Spicy Buffalo

Buffalo and Spicy Buffalo Saucy Nuggs
Buffalo and Spicy Buffalo Saucy Nuggs - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

You're in for a saucy, spicy ride, regardless of which version of the Buffalo Saucy Nuggs you decide to try. These nuggets are just as saucy as those 10-cent wings your college bar used to crank out on wings night, if not more so. And the Buffalo sauce? It comes out swinging. Having grown up in the Buffalo, New York area, Li kept his standards high when developing this sauce. He tells us that it took roughly five years to perfect, largely because he wanted it to be as close to authentic as possible. The regular Buffalo nuggets have a medium heat level, along with the creamy, buttery flavor and bright, acidic vinegar notes you'd expect from a truly good Buffalo sauce.

The spicy version of the Buffalo nuggets really layers on the hotter notes, but not aggressively. The additional heat takes the overall spice level from medium to medium-plus and will have the uninitiated reaching for their drinks or something to cool the burn off after a few bites. Luckily, it also comes with a side of blue cheese sauce for Buffalo purists, or buttermilk ranch sauce for those who aren't fans of the funkier, potentially divisive cheese sauce. At this point, you can expect to start adding sauces on top of sauces.

Spicy Ghost Pepper

Spicy Ghost Pepper Saucy Nuggs
Spicy Ghost Pepper Saucy Nuggs - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

It goes without saying, really, but there is no "regular" version of anything containing ghost pepper. There is only spicy. Wendy's could have created something with just a whisper of ghost pepper to attract the attention of heat-seeking daredevils and also appeal to those who might want all of the pleasure but none of the pain — but it didn't.

Instead, the culinary team created a ghost pepper sauce that makes your mouth feel like it's just eaten a tiny self-heating hand warmer, one that gets spicier the more you chew it. It doesn't burn your taste buds off straight away, so you can actually taste the salty and crunchy chicken nugget underneath. But the heat lingers long after you've finished the nugget and somehow seems to continue growing until you have consumed enough spoonfuls of the chain's famous Frosty to cool your tongue off.

I enjoyed the first Spicy Ghost Pepper Saucy Nugg on its own to get a taste of everything the sauce has to offer. But by the second nugget, I just started dipping the Spicy Ghost Pepper Spicy Nuggs directly into my Frosty to help cool the burn the moment it hit my tongue. It might not be as popular of a pairing as a Wendy's Frosty and fries, but it's one I can't recommend enough if you need relief from the ghost pepper burn in a hurry.

Saucy Nuggs Take A Snacking Classic To Saucier, Spicier Heights

hand holds up Wendy's Spicy Buffalo Saucy Nuggs
hand holds up Wendy's Spicy Buffalo Saucy Nuggs - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

Two things set the new Wendy's Saucy Nuggs apart from the competition. The first is that each of the four main options has a truly independent flavor profile. No two flavors taste interchangeable, and there's no mistaking which one is which the moment the sauce hits your tongue. Furthermore, each of the flavors is fully developed and met or even exceeded my expectations of how robust it should be. You won't find any watered-down sauces in this lineup.

The second thing that sets the Saucy Nuggs apart is just how saucy and spicy they actually are. You'll need to come prepared with a handful of napkins, or even hand wipes if you've got some. The saucy part of the name isn't just a playful riff, but a promise that ensures each bite of nugget is fully coated in its particular sauce. Likewise, the spicy versions of the nuggets aren't just suggestive of a little extra spice. They actually bring the heat and should satisfy anyone looking for a little extra fire.

I was particularly fond of the Buffalo Saucy Nuggs with a side of blue cheese sauce for dipping. The more sauce, the better, right? But I wouldn't turn down any of the new Spicy Nuggs flavors — and I'd happily order the Spicy Buffalo nuggets or the Spicy Ghost Pepper nuggets in particular again (as long as they come with a Frosty for me to dip them in).


Wendy's Saucy Nuggs Tasting Menu
Wendy's Saucy Nuggs Tasting Menu - Jenny Kellerhals/Mashed

During the Saucy Nuggs preview with the Wendy's team, I tasted the new nuggets in the order laid out here, pairing the spicy versions of each flavor with the regular versions while moving up in heat intensity with each flavor. Both buttermilk ranch and blue cheese dips were provided to accompany each flavor, along with fries, drink, and a Frosty. While the new Saucy Nuggs are fine on their own, the additional dipping sauces are a nice touch, especially for anyone looking to mitigate the heat of the spicy versions.

If you'd like to try the Saucy Nuggs in order of heat intensity alone, I'd recommend trying the regular versions of the Honey BBQ and Garlic Parm Nuggs first, then the spicy versions of each, followed by both of the Buffalo Nuggs, and finally, the Spicy Ghost Pepper Nuggs.

Prior to this tasting, I've had the opportunity to sample several of the competitor's offerings, including KFC's newest Saucy Nuggets, as well as sauced wings from Wingstop and Popeyes. Keeping those flavor combinations and offerings in mind while tasting Wendy's Saucy Nuggs helped define what is unique about this particular offering.

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