REVIEW: Arby’s Big Cheesy Bacon Burger

My post-race routine is fairly simple: shower, stretch, and stuff a burger in my face. I recently completed a half marathon and, due to a series of events after that race, I had to postpone the burger part of my routine. Two weeks later, I was craving the thing I never got. Right on cue, Arby’s sent an email advertising its new Big Cheesy Bacon Burger.

It’s one of the two limited edition burgers currently being offered at Arby’s. The Deluxe Wagyu Steakhouse Burger is the base version (a wagyu blended beef patty, burger sauce, American cheese, tomatoes, red onions, lettuce, and garlic & dill pickles on a toasted brioche bun) with the Big Cheesy Bacon Burger having all the same ingredients but with the addition of Swiss cheese and bacon.

It had some heft when I pulled it out of the bag, but didn’t seem very big. Like a mattress in a box, after I took it out of its wrapper, it seemed to expand. Size-wise, it was reasonably comparable to what I’ve gotten from Red Robin. Taking a peek under the bun, I was surprised at the produce’s freshness. I wasn’t expecting rotten tomatoes or anything, but the two vibrant red tomato slices took me off guard. I’m used to fast food tomatoes looking half the time like someone took a red Sharpie to styrofoam.

Even though it looked good, I was ready to find out if it tasted good. In my first bite, I got a bit of every component. All I could think as I took my time taking it all in was, “Wow, this is a really balanced burger.”

Too often, when fast food sandwiches have a laundry list of toppings, they become a mess of competing flavors. In this case, everything was working together to create something extremely delicious. The balance of the sweet burger sauce, hickory bacon, juicy tomatoes, crisp pickles, salty cheeses, and savory meat created a flavor that I could only describe as the most perfect “burger” flavor.

The meat on its own was a bit dry, but the dryness wasn’t noticeable when eaten with the other components. Multiple times (I assume for legal reasons), Arby’s reminds us that the patty is 51% American Wagyu and 49% ground beef. I can’t speak on the American Wagyu being anything special, but the meat quality was above any other fast food offering I’ve had.

Overall, I was extremely satisfied with Arby’s Big Cheesy Bacon Burger. It was delicious and filling and exceeded my expectations from a fast food restaurant. The high quality of the ingredients is what made it stand out. It’s only around for a limited time, so if you’re thinking about trying it, I’d go sooner rather than later.

Purchased Price: $7.99
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 824 calories, 51 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 118 milligrams of cholesterol, 2085 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 48 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Arby’s Fried Mac ‘N Cheese Bites

Arby’s new Fried Mac ‘N Cheese Bites fail to deliver on one crucial promise. They are indeed fried, filled with cheese, and bite-sized, so the false advertising lies in promoting the presence of macaroni.

When my first bite of my Bite revealed an oozing cheese-filled center with nary a noodle in sight, I wanted to give Arby’s the benefit of the doubt. It seemed plausible that the cheese was just so abundant that it was obscuring the noodles beneath it, and in what world is cheese that’s too abundant a bad thing? But then the next bite also didn’t show off any hidden macaroni, and I realized I couldn’t taste or even feel any in my mouth, either. All my senses were telling me that underneath the fried coating was nothing but soft, creamy cheese. When I went so far as to tear my next Fried Mac ‘n Cheese Bite apart, I did finally find a single morsel that appeared to be a noodle, but I know I would not have noticed it if I hadn’t gone very far out of my way to look for it.

According to Arby’s online Ingredients Guide, the pasta that these allegedly contain is ditalini, which, being shaped like tiny tubes, is consistent with the small piece I was able to unearth. But it’s not possible to overstate how little ditalini appeared to be used in these, and how little the ditalini subsequently impacted my eating experience.

Now, let’s back up a bit. One order of what I would more accurately call “Fried Cheese Bites” comes with four piping hot pieces, which, with their diminutive size, perfect roundness, and brown exterior, look a bit like Swedish meatballs. The fried coating is made from panko breadcrumbs and applied thickly and consistently, providing a robust crisp that is a nice contrast to the gooeyness inside.

The immediate flavor profile the cheese gave me was sharpness: taking into account its bright color as well, it was easy to guess that cheddar was involved. It was also no surprise to find out from the aforementioned Ingredients Guide that another key component is cream cheese, which definitely made itself known in the silky, spreadable texture and notes of tanginess in the filling (not to mention the whiter patches among the sea of yellowy-orange). I must admit though, I would not have guessed that two other cheeses were even involved, much less realized that they were parmesan and fontina.

My preference for mac and cheese bites is to be more mac-forward, with the cheese present as a thick sauce coating the noodles rather than its own entity running the show. So, while these were decently tasty, they weren’t really what I was hoping for. And honestly, the small portion size (and comparatively large price) makes them seem even less worthwhile. They wouldn’t be a filling snack on their own, and even eaten as a side, they seem much less satisfying than their closest cousin on the Arby’s menu, mozzarella sticks. Maybe they’d be more exciting if you slid them into your burger or sandwich to add some extra zing? In any case, if you’re a mac and cheese devotee like me, I can see why you’d like to give these a try. I’m just not sure why you would order them a second time.

Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: 4 pieces
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 280 calories, 18 grams of fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 620 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 8 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Arby’s Americana Roast Beef Sandwich

I don’t eat at Arby’s often, but I have to admit there’s a reason it’s known for its Classic Roast Beef Sandwiches. The texture and flavor of the beef are so perfect that I will joyfully eat the sandwiches plain, and I always loved it when my parents would bring home a bag of them. And I say that as someone who generally goes for meatless or poultry options.

For the summer, Arby’s has brought us the Americana Roast Beef Sandwich, which includes seven elements: roast beef, red onion, sesame seed bun, American cheese, tomato, shredded lettuce, and burger sauce. I assume they call it “Americana” because those are classic toppings for an all-American cheeseburger.

I shouldn’t need to explain the vegetables to you (although if you’re a regular reader of a junk-food site, maybe I do). No one eats American cheese expecting it to be a gourmet experience, and this cheese was no different.

As for the burger sauce, if you had offered me a sample of it on its own and asked me if I wanted it on my sandwich, I probably would have said no. It has a tanginess, probably from mayo and mustard, that wasn’t that appealing to me by itself.

Although I was underwhelmed by the cheese and the sauce on their own, I quite enjoyed the sandwich as a whole. The cheese and the sauce provide the right texture and keep the sandwich from getting too dry, and the flavors work well with each other. The vegetables bring a welcome freshness. You’re probably not going to Arby’s if you’re looking for something that tastes and feels fresh, but I appreciated the veggies here. And the roast beef is exactly what you would hope and expect from Arby’s. The bun, as usual, is a benign but passable vehicle for the other elements.

I actually had one of these before I committed to reviewing it, so I went back for another one. And after I ordered my sandwich, the cashier told me there was a deal for two for seven dollars. I might have to go back and get that deal for lunch and dinner one day. So it’s good enough for me to want to eat it more than once!

Is the Americana sandwich better than the Classic? I wouldn’t say so, but it is a refreshing variation.

Purchased Price: $5.19
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 493 calories, 221 calories from fat, 25 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1459 grams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 27 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Arby’s Cinnamon Roll Fried Pie

Rule #1 of being a junk food fan: when you hear that a test product is available in your area, you give it a try. Further down on the list of rules: enjoy that product while it’s hot, especially if you are cold. Both tenets recently led me to Arby’s to check out its Cinnamon Roll Fried Pie. The test product, a fried pastry with cinnamon filling, is available at select locations for a limited time. (The chain released a similar offering — a Strawberries and Cream variety — last year.)

It feels appropriate that Arby’s would test this new dessert in my region because March marks the longest stage of my city’s annual Seemingly Endless Winter. As spring eludes us, we layer our socks, aggressively moisturize, and steel ourselves for the inevitable spring snowstorm that, like a horror movie villain, pops up for one last scare just as you think the worst is over. To survive, we need comfort food, and with this new test product, Arby’s has aimed to create a glorious trifecta of warmth and coziness: pie, fried food, and cinnamon.

Ultimately, Arby’s Cinnamon Roll Fried Pie does justice to each component of the trifecta. The fried turnover-style pastry is the crispy, crunchy star of the dessert. It is golden brown, rife with tiny air bubbles that come from the high frying temperature, and practically shatters with crispiness at the surface. Beneath the initial crunch, the dough is thin, tender, and soft, without a hint of sogginess or oily residue.

The cinnamon roll filling is flavorful and generous. I tasted a good amount of the sweetly spiced stuff in every bite. The texture surprised and mystified me. I was expecting some amount of gooey drippage, which I admit sounds more like a symptom of the cold you catch during Seemingly Endless Winter. But any cinnamon roll fan knows the stuff: the sugary, melted butter that gets absorbed within the roll’s thick, spiraling dough. The filling in this fried pie, however, reminds me of the filling before it gets baked: thick and moist, but still closer to a soft, shaggy paste in texture.

I wish I knew the recipe for the filling, but like a proud grandmother protecting her culinary secrets, Arby’s has not released that information. I’m curious as to how the filling maintains its body without feeling heavy. Ingredients I’d expect to find in a cinnamon roll, like the usual butter or cream cheese frosting suspects, don’t seem to contribute to the filling’s taste or texture. While it does taste like a cinnamon roll’s coveted center, the filling’s flavor is also a little one-note. A streak of icing might have added an extra dimension to the not-too-sweet pie.

Arby’s Cinnamon Roll Fried Pie is an inexpensive, pocket-sized treat that hits the spot, especially if you gobble it down for a warming treat at the end of a long, frigid day. Its appeal certainly extends into warmer months because, as yet another junk food rule dictates, fried stuff is comforting year-round. If this Fried Pie makes Arby’s official menu, it may become a new favorite.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to reader Dorothy for letting us know about this test item in the Erie, PA area and for the signage photo at the beginning of the review.)

Purchased Price: $1.79
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: Unavailable at time of publishing.

REVIEW: Arby’s Wagyu Steakhouse Burger

Arby s Wagyu Steakhouse Burger Whole

It’s no secret people have strong opinions about Arby’s. You’re probably a fervent supporter or you wouldn’t touch (or eat) their roast beef sandwich with a ten-foot pole. I fall in the former camp. The chain proudly announces “We Have the Meats,” but never before in 58 years has that included a hamburger. I’ve always taken a strange pride in this absence (because in my mind, I operate a profitable Arby’s franchise, and yes, we still serve potato cakes). I’m pleased by the fact that Arby’s succeeds by doing something different and doesn’t feel the need to sling an average burger. So while Arby’s doesn’t NEED to offer a burger, what happens when it wants to? Perhaps it realized it had already served most legal meat products and decided it was time to beat all the other joints at their own game – ground beef.

The Deluxe Wagyu Steakhouse Burger offers up a 6.4-ounce patty that’s a blend of 52% American Wagyu and 48% ground beef. It’s topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, red onion, and burger sauce on a toasted brioche bun. Since Arby’s restaurants don’t have grills, they’ve decided the best cooking route is sous vide, claiming this results in a medium-well burger, something you rarely see in fast food.

Arby s Wagyu Steakhouse Burger Patty

This looks like a classic burger with just a handful of ingredients done right. At first glance, it didn’t appear that hefty, but upon closer examination and consumption, it’s a weighty patty. Many times in the world of fast food, I don’t want this much ground beef. I avoid items like the Quarter Pounder or anything double beef at Taco Bell because it’s more mediocre meat than I want to eat. I didn’t feel this way about the Arby’s burger at all. It tastes meaty in a good way, and the interior of the patty matches the advertised pictures: pinkish, juicy, and not the gray throughout that I’ve come to expect from most hamburgers that are handed to me within three minutes of my ordering.

Arby s Wagyu Steakhouse Burger Half

The cheese was perfectly melted, and the vegetables were fresh and actually contributed something to the eating experience. The pickles are thicker cut and tasty, and the red onion is crunchy with a not-too aggressive bite. The sauce is your standard mixture of condiments. I enjoyed it, maybe more than Big Mac sauce, but there’s too much. It’s applied to both the top and bottom bun and should be contained to just one. I liked its thinner consistency and it had a good flavor balance, the only issue being the ratio of sauce to every other part of the burger is off. It makes for a sloppy situation and because the meat here genuinely does seem to be of a better quality, they could have showcased the wagyu more by saucing less.

Arby s Wagyu Steakhouse Burger Split

Since it lacks a grilled element, you won’t be getting any char on the patty’s exterior, but the texture and quality of the meat and toppings exceed the expectations I have for burgers of this size in a drive-thru setting. If hamburgers are part of your fast food repertoire I’d encourage you to grab this one while you have the chance. It’s available through July 31st, and after that, Arby’s will hang up its ten-gallon hat from the burger game, and both fans and (fake) franchise owners like me will rest assured that they don’t have to serve burgers, but if they want to, damn it, they can.

Purchased Price: $6.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 715 calories, 43 grams of fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 97 milligrams of cholesterol, 1567 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 14 grams of sugars, and 39 grams of protein.