This may or may not come as a scintillating surprise, but the best-selling menu item at Buffalo Wild Wings isn’t any of the brand’s famed chicken wing varieties, it’s the so-called "boneless wings." Why the quotation marks? Because boneless wings are really just large chicken nuggets. Or small chicken tenders, it’s your call on the semantics. Most people though actually aren’t shocked or appalled to learn that these boneless bites outsell traditional chicken wings because, linguistic fluidity aside, Buffalo Wild Wings offers some really good boneless wings. And chicken tenders, which, as it happens, is at the heart of the matter today.
Why? Because today Buffalo Wild Wings released a new sandwich as of June 22 — or a line of sandwiches, in fact — that feature a large chicken tender set into a brioche bun. It’s kind of like a chicken tender hot dog, which is, of course, why the chain is calling its latest menu addition the Bird Dawg. Buffalo Wild Wings’ new Bird Dawgs come out in tandem with new summer happy hour offerings from the chain, including beers and cocktails, some of which will sell for just $3 or $5, respectively, from three to six each on weekday afternoon. During that same happy hour period, the new Bird Dawgs will be priced to sell, too. As we did our testing during the lunch hour, we stuck with a sandwich sans a boozy drink, though, so let’s go ahead and talk about that.
What’s in these Bird Dawgs?
First things first: let’s talk chicken. Every Buffalo Wild Wings Bird Dawg sandwich (if you’ll allow the term — which causes much debate, to be sure, but for the record, most foodies agree that yes, a hotdog is a sandwich) is anchored by a large, hand-breaded chicken tender. And all three of the Bird Dawg sandwiches are offered in a split-top brioche bun. Then things get a bit, shall we say … wild. There are three types of Bird Dawg as of their release, and these are the Loaded Bird Dawg, the Honey BBQ Bird Dawg, and the Buffalo Bird Dawg.
The first, the Loaded Bird Dawg, is topped with beer cheese (that’s a thin, spreadable cheesy foodstuff, FYI), grilled onions, green onions, and wild honey mustard. The Honey BBQ Bird Dawg also features honey, this time in the shape of honey BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, slaw, and chopped green onions. And finally, the Buffalo Bird Dawg is topped with ranch dressing, Napa slaw, sliced green onions, and a medium spicy Buffalo Wild Wings sauce. You can, of course, create your own custom Bird Dawg with toppings of your choice, but it’s a good idea to go ahead and try one (or all three) just as the flavor crafters at Buffalo Wild Wings designed it, because they did a pretty fine job.
How much does the Buffalo Wild Wings Bird Dawg cost?
During that 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. happy hour we talked about, a BW3 (remember why it’s called that? Buffalo Wild Wings used to be Buffalo Wild Wings & Weck, thus the three Ws) Bird Dawg will around $5 (price may vary depending on location). And frankly speaking, a Bird Dawg is a decent price at $5 but is overpriced if you pay much more for it. This is, after all, essentially just a chicken tender stuffed into a bun and topped with a few ingredients. Yes, it’s a large, breaded, and tasty chicken tender and that bun is a soft and buttery brioche split roll, and sure, the toppings are tasty. Still though, in most basic terms, a chicken hotdog, and a hotdog priced at five bucks is less than ideal. Except when you’re at a ballgame or theme park, in which case it’s a steal.
Outside of that time window, they will be priced differently based on location. At one location we checked, a pair of Honey BBQ Bird Dawgs with a side of fries sells for $13.29. (As do a pair of either of the other Bird Dawgs plus fries, for the record.) With a regular order of fries there costing $5.29, we can subtract that from the price and get eight bucks which, split in two, as there are two bird dawgs per order, means $4 per Dawg. And that’s a price we’re good with.
How long will Bird Dawgs be on the menu?
Unlike so many new menu items that come and go, it seems Buffalo Wild Wings’ newest addition to the menu is here to stay. Or at least the Bird Dawgs have been added to the menu without a specific plan for ending the run of this new "larger than life chicken experience." (Their words, not ours! Calling eating a chicken tender hotdog an experience is just a bit rich for us.) Often new menu items are added for a limited time only to be later made permanent based on their popularity — and sometimes they come and go, as with the near-mythical McDonald’s McRib sandwich.
In this case, it seems Buffalo Wild Wings is confident enough in its newest menu item to make it a permanent fixture; we’ve seen no indication anywhere that they are only going to be around for a limited time. That said, the way they are offered, meaning as part of the Buffalo Wild Wings summer Happy Hour push, may change, so don’t count on the price staying the same indefinitely. And also, if the new Bird Dawgs don’t prove to be a hit (which we doubt, frankly — we’ll tell you about the taste soon enough!) then of course they could be pulled from the menu later.
How do the Bird Dawgs compare to other Buffalo Wild Wings menu items?
Honestly, the newest menu item at Buffalo Wild Wings really is a newcomer for the chain: the Bird Dawg is quite unlike anything else the restaurant offers. BW3 has a number of chicken sandwiches, to be sure, but they are all rather traditional sandwiches in that they are served on round buns with (for the most part) traditional ingredients like lettuce and tomatoes. Bird Dawgs are on a roll shape that’s new to the chain, and they use a larger tender than you’ll usually get when you order Buffalo Wild Wings’ Hand-Breaded Tenders, too.
That said, it’s chicken that’s still the main event in the Bird Dawg, and it’s honey, BBQ sauce, or Buffalo Wild Wings sauce that adds most of the flavor to the various Bird Dawgs, so it’s not like these will be a wildly unfamiliar food in terms of a flavor profile for anyone who already loves the chain. In other words, Bird Dawgs are a new shape and new use of some classic Buffalo Wild Wings ingredients with the one totally new facet being that split brioche bun. Oh, and that beer cheese on the Loaded Bird Dawg — and it’s actually New Belgium Fat Tire Beer Cheese, to be precise.
What’s the Bird Dawg nutrition info?
Look, you don’t order food from a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant because you want the healthiest meal you’ve ever eaten, you know that, right? Great, we’re on the same page. And when you choose to treat yourself to a new BW3 Bird Dawg, what you’ll find on the nutrition pages about the new menu items are stats that are … not great, nutrition-wise, but again, we knew that going in, right?
The calorie counts Buffalo Wilds Wings shares have the fries included and are for a pair of Bird Dawgs, so you can subtract those calories from the fries out and divide the number leftover in half, but you won’t need to, because we did it for you. A regular order of BW3 fries has 420 calories, for reference. Starting with the Buffalo Bird Dawgs, the meal calorie count is 1,380. Take out the 420, and we get 960. Divide that in half and we end up with 480 calories per Buffalo Bird Dawg, which is a little more than a McDonald’s McDouble, for reference, which clocks in at 400 calories. Now, the Loaded Bird Dawg meal has 1,440 calories, so with the same 420 calories removed and the remaining count split, that’s 510 calories per Loaded Bird Dawg, which is only a bit less than a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder with Cheese, FYI. Finally, the Honey BBQ Bird Dawg meal has 1,580 calories. Do that same calculating, and you’ll get 580 calories per Dawg, or markedly more than a Big Mac.
Verdict: Did we like the new BW3 Bird Dawgs?
Yes, yes we did. All three of the Bird Dawg sandwiches from Buffalo Wild Wings that we tried had a soft, buttery bun that held its shape well, not growing damp or soggy even though the order was a delivery, which was impressive. Each of the chicken tenders was thick and of generally uniform shape — critical for a hotdog type of sandwich. And then, of course, there were the other ingredients that made each one unique.
The Honey BBQ Bird Dawg has a nice barbecue sauce tang that, as you will not be surprised to hear, is also subtly sweet and smokey. The slaw and green onions add a nice bit of crunch and the ranch adds a bit more tang and some creaminess that works well with that crunch. The loaded Bird Dawg features grilled onions as the star ingredient: they add a nice little bite and good texture, while the beer cheese is tangy and tasty and the honey mustard sweet and warm (as in not hot, but not without spice).
The Buffalo Bird Dawg has just enough heat to where we can use the word "kick," but only people who really can’t tolerate spice well will find it too intense. We loved the spicy sauce (it’s the chain’s medium sauce) balanced by cooling ranch sauce and some cheese crumbles that, to be candid, aren’t on the menu and were not requested but were very good, so go ahead and request them based on our happy accident.