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Wing Stop Has A New Carolina Gold BBQ Flavor — Here’s Our Detailed Review

With twelve different flavors, you’d think Wing Stop would have all its bases covered. And yet it seems like every year the wing chain dishes out a few new flavors that manage to be as delicious as they are inventive. In addition to some hybrid flavors, this year Wing Stop dropped a Hot Honey Rub (which in my opinion is one of Wing Stop’s best flavors) and, beginning today, its take on Carolina Gold. If you’re unfamiliar with Carolina Gold, it’s a variety of barbecue sauce that trades in the smokey and heavily spiced flavors for some mustard-based tang and brightness. Thanks to a sweet brown-sugar-heavy base, it tastes enough like barbecue sauce to register as such on your tastebuds but different enough to earn its distinct name.

Wing Stop’s new Carolina Gold BBQ sauce is now available at all Wing Stop locations nationwide, to get the best sense of the new flavor we tried it in every form factor offered at Wing Stop: as bone-in wings, boneless wings, and in sandwich form. What’s the best way to enjoy the new Carolina Gold flavor?

Let’s find out, starting with the wings!

Carolina Gold — Bone-In Wings

WingStop Review
Dane Rivera

Tasting Notes:

I’m going to begin this review with what I think is the weakest form factor for this wing flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I love bone-in wings and almost always prefer them to their boneless counterparts, which are essentially just chicken nuggets if we’re being real. But my problem with the bone-in is just how messy it leaves your hands. This sauce is sticky as hell, and since bone-in wings are a food that heavily involves both of your hands, it’s impossible to enjoy these without making an absolute mess. Granted, all saucy wings will stain your fingers, but there is a stickiness to this sauce that cakes on your fingers in the worst way.

As far as flavor goes, it’s great, it doesn’t contain as much tang as your typical Carolina Gold BBQ, instead focusing on the honey and brown sugar notes, with just a hint of mustard flavor on the aftertaste. There is almost no smoke here either, so if you like your BBQ sauce smokey, this isn’t going to deliver.

The Bottom Line:

Good, but far too messy to be enjoyable.

Carolina Gold — Boneless Wings

WingStop Review
Dane Rivera

The experience of eating the new Carolina Gold flavor is greatly enhanced by going boneless. You’re still going to get sticky sauce all over your fingers, but you can easily pop an entire boneless wing / nugget into your mouth with just one hand, creating significantly less mess. Hell, you could even use a fork to eat these things if you don’t mind getting roasted by your friends. If they do make fun of you, just pull the ‘ol George Costanza.

Look at them with disdain, scoff at them, and say, “How do you eat it, with your hands?”

The sweetness of this sandwich reminds me less of bbq sauce and more of the sort of Orange Chicken you’d typically find at a Chinese food hot lamp establishment, complete with a thick and sauce-absorbing breading that still manages to have some crisp to it.

The Bottom Line:

A much better experience than going bone-in and that’s coming from someone who generally avoids boneless wings.

Carolina Gold — Chicken Sandwich

WingStop Review
Dane Rivera

The chicken sandwich is easily the best form factor for the Carolina Gold. Thanks to the bun, this thing is mess-free, allowing you to enjoy the intensely sweet and sticky sauce without getting it all over your fingers. Wing Stop introduced chicken sandwiches to the menu earlier this year and at one point I had attempted to order every single flavor for a full ranking, but they sold out completely, so this was my first experience actually tasting Wing Stop’s chicken sandwich.

I fully get the hype. The chicken is incredibly juicy and tender, and unlike most chicken sandwiches, features a completely uniform filet — my guess is they pounded out this chicken breast filet until it was equal on all sides, which makes each bite remarkably consistent. The ratio of sauce to chicken is also a bit different here, the breading is tossed in Carolina Gold sauce, but you get a lot more chicken per bite than all the other form factors allowing you to actually taste some of the meat rather than this brown-sugar heavy honey barbecue sauce. This makes the mustard notes take a bit of a backseat, but thanks to the inclusion of pickles, you still get a nice earthy tang.

My only big complaint about this sandwich is the bun. It’s way too dense and bready, masking a bit of the flavor. I think Wing Stop would have a real contender on their hands for fast food’s best chicken sandwich if they’d just swap out the bun for something softer and butterier like a brioche or potato bun.

The Bottom Line:

If you’re going to try Wing Stop’s Carolina Gold sauce, the best way to enjoy it is hands-down on the chicken sandwich. It doesn’t have that distinct mustard tang that Carolina BBQ sauce fans crave, but the balance of sweet brown sugar and honey makes it incredibly addictive.

Find your nearest Wing Stop here.