KANSAS CITY — Chicken is the choice protein in recent menu innovation. Restaurants are boosting it with barbecue, heating it up with jalapeños and stacking it sky-high on sandwiches with double portions.

Barbecue glaze is pumping up the poultry at McDonald’s. The chain’s new Sweet N’ Spicy Honey BBQ Glazed Tenders feature McDonald’s all white meat crispy buttermilk chicken tenders tossed and glazed in a new sweet and spicy barbecue glaze made with brown sugar, chili pepper, garlic powder and paprika.

“We share our customers’ love of chicken,” said Linda VanGosen, vice-president of menu and brand strategy for McDonald’s USA. “A better McDonald’s means more chicken options and delicious new tastes. We are building on the success of our Buttermilk Crispy Tenders by offering a new craveable sweet and spicy taste we know our guests will love.”

Your Pie BBQ pizzaAlso betting on barbecue, Your Pie is introducing the BBQ Mac N’ Cheese Pie. The pizza features a base of white barbecue sauce and is topped with chicken, three-cheese macaroni, bacon, garlic, black pepper and a barbecue sauce drizzle.

Burger King is hiking up the heat in its chicken choices with the new Spicy Crispy Jalapeño Chicken Sandwich. The sandwich features a spicy crispy-fried chicken filet topped with thick-cut bacon, pepper jack cheese, jalapeños and green chili aioli on a toasted potato bun.

Also serving a spicy new offering, Torchy’s Tacos is turning up the heat with its new taco, The Creeper. The spicy dish features habanero battered fried chicken, chorizo, chopped bacon, grilled jalapeños, cotija cheese, pickled onions, cilantro and a creamy ghost pepper sauce in a flour tortilla.

KFC is doubling down on crispy chicken with its new Double Crispy Colonel Sandwich. The hefty handheld features two crispy battered and fried chicken filets with mayonnaise and pickles.

“We launched the Crispy Colonel Sandwich a few months ago, and we believe it is the best chicken sandwich in the market,” said Andrea Zahumensky, chief marketing officer for KFC U.S. “Burger places have been selling double burgers for years, but nobody has really had a chicken sandwich like this — worthy of doubling up on — so we decided to change the extra crispy fried chicken game by creating the Double Crispy Colonel.”

 View a slideshow of new menu items.