REVIEW: McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

Written by | May 29, 2013

Topics: 9 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder

Anyone think today’s habanero is yesterday’s jalapeño?

Let me explain. Remember back when people started to accept spicy food as the norm instead of food you dared other men to eat to prove who had the bigger wang?

That’s when manufacturers started to use jalapeño on everything as a spicy alternative instead of just “bbq hot.” Compulsive in our nature, we just kept wanting more and more. As hot and spicy began to register on palettes, we wanted something higher on the arbitrary Scoville scale. “Give us more heat,” we cried.

I guess it’s comforting the habanero pepper is becoming ubiquitous. It demonstrates how as a society we’ve become accepting of heat. However, the savvy are looking for the next thrill (I see you becoming yesterday’s news soon, ghost peppers). And you know… part of me is sad because the mystique, if there was one, is eroding. I can’t think of a better example than Sriracha. Now, even talentless hacks at restaurants use it, and incorrectly a great deal of the time.

When you ask someone what a jalapeño taste likes, you’re more likely to get a response describing those cheap pickled jalapeños since most fast food/bad Tex-Mex places will use them. I don’t really want that for the habanero I love.

Yet, if others follow McDonald’s suit, I have nothing to worry about. In the spirit (or curse) of competition, all the fast food chains are going through something of a renaissance. McDonald’s is not immune to change and facing another shaky quarter, it’s probably in their best interest to do something to turn around the profits.

McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Top

In response, McDonald’s recently introduced the new Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder. Oh yes, the habanero’s presence is felt, unlike the actress who plays Melisandre from Game of Thrones. Harsh as it is, I’ve seen discarded toenails that express emotion better than her.

Anyhow, the habanero is the star (and rightfully so) in this sandwich. I’m partial to Quarter Pounders over Big Macs because I do love that “meaty” taste and heft of a Quarter Pounder. Plus, I find that some places put too much Big Mac special sauce and my face ends up looking like someone forgot to tell me they were going to “release.”

McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Parts

This variant is made with white cheddar, thick (and it is thick) Applewood-smoked bacon, tomato, lettuce, and a habanero ranch sauce encased in a “bakery-style” bun. I wish it came with the American cheese because the white cheddar was kind of tasteless. What was not tasteless was the orange-colored habanero-ranch sauce.

On the first bite, that beefy taste and crispy slabs of bacon complimented the cold crunchy lettuce and surprisingly thick slice of tomato. The bacon deserves a special mention; it truly was thick and tasted of a bacon slice fresh out of a hot pan, incredible! Again, the cheese was like a wallflower at a party or the stupid black olive on top of a deviled egg, pointless and forgettable. The smokiness of that beef melded well with the salty bacon and of course, there was that tang from the habanero ranch sauce that held the sandwich together.

McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Sauce

However, the payoff wasn’t how good the burger first tasted, it’s what came after.

I love habanero. It’s like the quiet friend we all have that has a really dry sense of humor and when they eventually say something, it’s a gem. The habanero’s heat has that pulsating ache that lingers on your tongue. I couldn’t believe it; McDonald’s captured the essence of a habanero.

The habanero ranch sauce itself at first tasted of a roasted pepper that was slightly sweet and playfully bitter. Then there was a hint of that milky ranch until the prevalent heat crashed in Kool-Aid man-style and instead of shouting “Oh Yeahhhh!”, it screamed something unintelligible and then smashed itself into pieces as the kids lapped up the pools of artificial sweetener.

McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder Innards

Impressive of all, the heat didn’t invade and takeover the taste with each bite even though the spiciness grew exponentially in my mouth. This was a well thought-out burger, except for the cheese. It was so good, it had me wanting another.

I guess the only other critique is the bun, I love that non-fancy iconic McDonald’s bun and this “bakery-style” bun felt wrong. It tasted fine, but I hated it for some reason. Although, it’s a minor quibble.

Now please don’t believe that you will be wiping beads of sweat from your forehead or that your tongue will be crying for a milkshake to relieve the pain as you sniff the snot from your running nose. This is McDonald’s after all and not some Szechuan house that Adam Richman would visit to eat the hottest and largest dreck it offers. However, the level of heat coming from this fast food burger is impressive and it is totally discernible that you are eating a habanero and not some diluted “peppery” blend.

I’m enjoying the many menu-shifts and risks these chains are taking. I know it won’t last forever so we should enjoy it for as long as we can or at least until our arteries can hold out.

(Nutrition Facts – 610 calories, 31 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 105 milligrams of cholesterol, 1180 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, 3 grams of fiber, and 37 grams of protein.)

Other McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder reviews:
Grub Grade
Man Reviews Food
Brand Eating

Item: McDonald’s Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder
Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: The habanero’s heat is just spectacular. The smokiness of the beef, the crisp and fatty saltiness of the bacon and the roasted flavor of the habanero ranch sauce. The renaissance of fast food menu items circa 2012-2013. The roasted taste of the habanero combined with the milky ranch. Quarter Pounders rule.
Cons: The white cheddar cheese did absolutely nothing for the burger. That stupid actress that plays the fire priestess in Game of Thrones. Bakery-fresh-style-bun-stinks. The whoring out of Sriracha sauce. Discarded toenails…yuck.






20 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Manavee says:

    I agree with much of this review, but I wouldn’t give it a 9.

    The issue is that I felt the same way about this burger as I felt about the Angus line. Namely, the toppings were really good, sometimes shockingly good. However, the beef patty was terrible. I always felt that if you could do a transplant and put a Five Guys patty or a Wendys patty on the Angus line toppings, it would make for an amazing burger experience.

    I loved the Habanero sauce on this burger. It’s not the hottest burger I have ever eaten, but it is shockingly hot for a fast food place like McDonalds. The bacon was also awesome. Agreed that the cheese was lacking. The anemic and bland 1/4 pounder beef patty though brings the whole burger down, though.

    • Stina says:

      I so agree, had one for lunch an was thinking how could this burger be spicy, yet kind of boring… It was the meat.

  2. JJ says:

    I agree manavee. Beef patty does not taste fresh and dry at times. Wendys is the only fast food I go to. Great value and great taste. I wish wendys would offer a spicy option for their burgers.

  3. Mike N. says:

    Did you really pay $4.99? Isn’t it supposed to be $3.99? (unless you live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.)

    • Jeff says:

      Affluent area…I have no proof that is why, but the McDonalds and BK prices are higher where I’m at when compared to my old neighborhood.

  4. Julie T says:

    I tried just the habanero sauce today, not the fancy quarter pounder sandwich (too pricey for my tastes). I went about this “poor man’s Big Mac” style and ordered both the Spicy McChicken and the McDouble sandwiches with this sauce added (in addition to the regular condiments). I am a lover of spicy food so I may be a little biased, but I didn’t think this was very hot at all. In fact, upon tasting the sauce on the sandwiches and then trying it just by itself, I thought and thought and thought about what it reminded me of (has a very pronounced unique flavor) and then it came to me! It tastes like Cholula sauce mixed with mayo. Enjoyable sauce and I do love bacon but I would never pay over $2.00 for a sandwich at McDs unless it was some sort of 5,000 calories custom job, especially since I’d make them keep their funky lettuce!

  5. Adam says:

    So can you get the new bacon on anything? My local McD’s runs a nice special for any chicken sandwich for 2.49 on Saturday’s, and bacon like that would totally kick the crap out of any comparable grilled chicken club in the fast food world.

  6. Ben says:

    Maybe it’s because I prefer a lot of spicy foods but I found the habanero sauce lacking a little bit in the spice department. Other reviews seem to be saying otherwise so maybe I’ll have to try again. The new bacon really helps this sandwich as well.

  7. Subjunctive says:

    Shouldn’t it have two slices of cheese, in order to actually merit the “Quarter Pounder” name?

  8. Will says:

    This review was absolutely incorrect. The sandwich was totally weak. There is a burger joint near where I live called Brickwall Burger that makes a burger which has 3 Grilled Habanero peppers on it. Now that is a real habanero burger. The McDonalds burger was a joke there wasn’t even as much heat as a yellow chili pepper from Big Y.

  9. Robert says:

    I prefer to go to Culvers (Wisconsin thing) get a double butter cheeseburger race home and put slices of fresh jalapeno slices on it.Cheese is great and real,,,another wi. thing.

  10. Mike says:

    I agree with the score and about the cheese, did nothing for me either.

    I’m crazy about this burger, the sauce is just awesome.

  11. Mike says:

    Gotta remember this is mcdonalds, where they gotta try to go a little more mainstream. Sure, I could walk out to my garden and cut a few habs for a better burger but not when I’m 600 miles from home. I’m just happy mcdonalds has something habanero on the menu.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Are you really going to knock people for using habanero and ghost peppers and in the came article support a trash filled burger from McD’s?
    A little ridiculous

  13. NolaMike says:

    I have to say that for the last few years, I buy more chicken sandwiches at McD’s than I do burgers. From my perspective, fast food chain burger quality, from highest to lowest has been Wendy’s, Burger King, McDonalds, and that rating has held fast for 30 years in my experience.

    I grew up in a time when ordering off-menu at McDonalds meant you were rewarded with extreme wait times, and totally fouled up orders; do you not remember “Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us…”, a Burger King taunting of McD’s? To this day, I still will not attempt off menu orders at McDonalds.

    Over the years, McD’s has occasionally come up with burgers I prefer to Big Macs. The main reason being that I don’t care for yellow mustard or ketchup on my burgers. I like mayo on my burger as it is the perfect food lube without an overpowering taste. Where mustard is concerned, I prefer Brown and spicy, Dijon, or creole. Yellow must is like the worst mustard you can choose. As such, combining no special orders with my dislike for ketchup and yellow mustard, McD burgers were largely unappealing to me. And even the Big Mac, with the best condiments, still had beef patties that where only one step removed from cardboard. It came to the point that I could go years between buying a meal from McD’s, breakfast, French fries, and coffee excluded.

    Now I have two things on the menu I really like, the Hot and Spicy McChicken, and now the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder. The Bacon Habanero Ranch QP is the most flavorable burger ever offered to the public. The beef pattie is still,the QP pattie, which is better than other McD patties, but not as good as BK or Wendy’s. The Habanero-Ranch sauce, and the new thick-cut crispy applewood Bacon, along with the fresh leaf lettuce and tomatoe make the sandwich quite good. All in all, it might be the best and most flavorful burger ever offered by McDonalds. I hope it sticks around longer than the summer months.

  14. Chuck says:

    I liked this one quite well myself, and I hardly ever eat McD’s burgers.

  15. CLOWNBIKE says:

    I am a regular patron at McDonald’s and this was their worst offering ever. I didn’t even realize there was cheddar on the sandwich and that was probably due to the over abundance of “Habanero” sauce. It ruined the burger. Heat w/out flavor is a waste of time, and the goo-like consistency and excessive qty did not add to the experience. Grilled peppers would have been nice. Sorry McD, this one was an epic fail.

  16. Hannah says:

    Try a side of sauce for your fries….well worth the 20 cents. Leftover sauce for my homemade breakfast burrito in the morning!

  17. Mike says:

    They now have the Habanero Ranch available for dipping with the chicken nuggets. I was amazed by the level of heat, McDonalds need something like this for a number of their items. 8/10

  18. Dustin says:

    This thing has me going back to McDonald’s again. The burgers are still weak, but the bacon and Habanero go a long way to make up for it.

    The sauce isn’t really hot per se. But it is warm enough to begin to clear my sinuses(that is what spicy food is for right? Clearing out your sinuses when you are sick?). It is also decent tasting. Could be better, but for a fast food attempt this thing is pretty spicy.

    I do have to disagree on the cheese though. My Local McD apparently can’t afford to pay people that can actually make the sandwiches properly. As such I have had it given to me with no bacon, with extra bacon, with no tomato, with no lettuce, with nearly no sauce, with so much sauce you could bath it it, with no cheese, with white cheese, and even once with the orange cheese. Of all the mix ups the orange cheese one probably tasted the worst. It just didn’t mesh well with the habanero sauce.

    Of course I could also have gotten a slice of bad cheese or something. I probably shouldn’t trust my McD’s. If they can’t make the sandwiches right who knows what else they are getting wrong.



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