Hoffman's Houston
Drive-Thru Gourmet

Behold Church's smokehouse chicken, the best value in drive-thru

Behold Church's smokehouse chicken, the best value in drive-thru

Drive-Thru Gourmet - Church's Smokehouse Chicken
Courtesy photo

This week, I reached out for a plate of Bourbon Black Pepper Smokehouse Chicken, new from the "double-breaded" bone-in chicken shack, Church's, with 1,650 restaurants 'cross America and 'round the world.

This is an tastier and legit improved version of Church's original Smokehouse Chicken, introduced in 2016 and brought back earlier this year.

Here's the Bourbon Black Pepper Smokehouse Chicken breakdown: a half-chicken, marinated in smoky seasoning, deep-fried without breading or batter, then glazed with a sweet sauce laced with bourbon flavor and cracked black pepper.

Here's where I typically list the nutritional count, including calories, fat grams and carbs — and it's the law that fast food chains must post these numbers. But there's a loophole, isn't there always? They don't have to give up the digits on limited-time-only specials, like Bourbon Black Pepper Smokehouse Chicken.

You know, while Congress is busy doing nothing about serious issues facing our country, maybe they can get the chains to reveal the nutritionals on special items.

The only information I could squeeze out of Church's ... "the calories and fat grams are less than our classic fried chicken since there is no breading to absorb the oil."

The manufacturer's suggested retail price is $5 for half a chicken, one side dish and one honey-butter biscuit. We're talking a real half-chicken — a breast, thigh, leg and wing. This may be the best bargain meal going in the drive-thru.

The half-chicken is served in one piece, so you have a choice of attacking it with a knife and fork or picking it up with your bare hands and scarfing it savage-style. Either way, you're going to need a few extra napkins. This is juicy, juicy chicken — even the dreaded white meat breast.

Because Bourbon Black Pepper Smokehouse Chicken has no breading or batter, it pops from the fryer with super-crispy skin that seals in the chicken's natural juices. I usually avoid ordering fried chicken breasts because they're like shoe leather, but this white meat had me reaching for napkins. A wet, shiny chin isn't appealing.

The bourbon glaze has a ton of flavor that will have you giving the leftover bones a second lick before tossing the box. This is one of the most innovative items to hit the drive-thru in years.

For your side, choose between: mashed potatoes with gravy, fries, baked mac 'n' cheese, jalapeno cheese bombers, corn and slaw. The smart play is mac 'n' cheese.

And for dessert, Church's incomparable, sweet, chewy, honey-butter biscuit.


Ken Hoffman reviews a new fast food restaurant item every Wednesday. Have a suggestion or a drive-thru favorite? Let Ken know in the comments or on Twitter