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.

REVIEW: Arby’s Spicy Fish Sandwich

Arby s Spicy Fish Sandwich Whole

I am not a super-regular consumer of fast food fish sandwiches. That’s not to suggest that I never have them, though. The ratio is probably just something along the lines of, for every fish sandwich I have, I probably eat ten non-fish sandwiches (aka a chicken sandwich or a hamburger). That number may be off a bit, I don’t know. I mean really, who charts what sort of animal their fast food meal came from? (As I typed this out, I realized that I actually kind of like this idea. So, I mean, I guess I might start.)

Anyway, it’s prime fish sandwich season, what with the Lent and so forth, and so all of your favorite purveyors of drive-thru delectables are either offering deals on their existing pescatarian products or coming up with new ones. Like this — the new Arby’s Spicy Fish Sandwich.

What you’ve got here is the standard Arby’s fish sandwich base— crispy fish fillet, shredded lettuce, and tartar sauce on a sesame seed bun — but you’re adding a tomato slice, fiery seasoning, and diced jalapeños to the mix. And the result? I cod eat this every time I order Arby’s. (Get it? Cod is a type of fish. We like to have a good time here at The Impulsive Buy, right?)

Arby s Spicy Fish Sandwich Split

The sesame seed bun was pretty standard and bland, but it was soft and held up well. The lettuce was crunchy and fresh, but the tomato was a bit mealy. It still served its greater purpose, I believe, which was to help cut down some of the fieriness of this sandwich. And was this thing fiery? Boy howdy.

Arby s Spicy Fish Sandwich Top

There is a duality to the heat here that stems from the “fiery seasoning” as well as the diced jalapeños. It’s hard to say which packs more of a punch because your mouth is pretty much engulfed after the first bite. I will say, though, that isolating the two gives two distinct heats; the jalapeño (the fresh, bright green kind, not pickled) is an instant tongue-punch while the seasoning on the fillet — which contains chili powder and cayenne amongst other things — is a slow burn.

It’s hard to know if this heat is too much for an average pallet. I feel like my receptors are abnormal and therefore unreliable; I can have Thai-hot and be fine, but other times an unassuming “spicy mayo” will be almost too much. I found this to be a perfectly acceptable level of hot, but I’m not going to refund your money if you get it and can’t take more than a bite or two. (Nor will I be shocked if you get it and you tell me that, I don’t know, your two-year-old tried it and loved it.)

What WILL surprise me, however, is if you get this sandwich and don’t enjoy it. Arby’s crispy, crunchy, light and tasty fish fillet is elevated by the spice, but it’s never too much; the tangy tartar sauce and cool veggies counterbalance the heat in a delightfully pleasant way. It’s a shame that this won’t become a regular menu item, because I cod order it ever … wait, did I already do the cod joke? Hang on, where are you going?

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 580 calories, 25 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 1200 milligrams of sodium, 68 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 21 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Arby’s Real Country Style Rib Sandwich

Arby s Real Country Style Rib Sandwich

No one will ever be able to accuse Arby’s of not trying. While other fast food companies are content with slapping an extra slice of cheese on an existing product and calling it The Cheesasaurus Rex, or maybe “smoking” their bacon with some new exotic wood, Arby’s is out here swinging for the fences.

In 2016, it gave people the (extremely) limited edition venison sandwich with juniper berry sauce. The year after that, it offered an elk sandwich with blackberry port sauce. Or take, for instance, The Meat Mountain, a veritable Noah’s Ark of the drive-thru that features chicken tenders, ham, turkey, pastrami, roast beef, and bacon. (Oh, and some cheese, too.)

This brings us to the present day and Arby’s new Real Country Style Rib Sandwich. Is this offering a direct competitor to McDonald’s cult-favorite McRib, which also, incidentally, has its (mostly) annual re-release in the Fall? Did we exit the dark days of the Chicken Sandwich Wars only to find ourselves immediately entrenched in a Rib Sandwich Skirmish? A Rib Conflict? A Ribflict?

Well, not exactly.

See, Arby’s approach is a little more highbrow. Instead of processed pig parts of mysterious origin, its “real” ribs are sourced from Sadler’s, a Texas-based smokehouse. The ribs are smoked for eight hours “over real hickory wood.” The sandwich is then topped with melted Gouda, crispy onions, BBQ sauce, and mayo. Ooh-la-la, right? And so how is it?

Arby s Real Country Style Rib Sandwich  2

Well, let’s start with the ribs. Look, I live in Kansas City, so, you know, BBQ and so forth. And here’s the deal with these ribs: they are shockingly not bad. I was surprised at how tender and flavorful the meat was; they even had a distinctly authentic smoke flavor. It was a sizable serving as well. Simply put, the ribs were easily the highlight of the sandwich.

But what about the other components?

The Gouda was creamy and melty, and added its own bit of welcomed smokiness. Sadly, the rest of the sandwich fell sort of flat. The mayo was… there? For some reason? And, while the idea of fried onion pieces was a good one, the execution was lacking; drowning in a sea of BBQ sauce and mayo, they had no chance at staying crunchy. Instead, they became soft globules of chewy onion.

Arby s Real Country Style Rib Sandwich  1

And then you’ve got this BBQ sauce. Oy. This stuff.

It tasted like expired Bull’s-Eye brand sauce, or off-kilter ketchup, or maybe like aliens descended to Earth, and you explained what BBQ sauce is, and they tried to make it from scratch using ingredients foraged from a dumpster behind The Dollar Tree. It was awful, and there was a LAKE of the stuff on this sandwich, making the whole thing a gigantic, sloppy mess.

But, okay, awfulsauce aside, this thing is worth an order, at least to experience the ribs. But my suggestion would be to tell them to hold the BBQ sauce and then apply your own at home. Otherwise, you’ll be sorry.

Purchased Price: $5.99
Rating: 6 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 500 calories, 23 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 1450 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of carbohydrates, 3 gram of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 28 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Arby’s Premium Chicken Nuggets

Arby s Premium Chicken Nuggets Spill

Until I sat down to write this and started Googling for background info, I had absolutely no idea that Arby’s — noted proprietor of meat — didn’t have chicken nuggets on its menu. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the chicken tenders and just assumed it also served poultry in a more nuggeted form; maybe it’s because when traveling to the land of curly fries and Beef’n Cheddar, who feels it necessary to order nuggets?

I never had before, and, in case you don’t feel like reading a full review of Arby’s new Premium Chicken Nuggets, I probably won’t again. That isn’t to say they are appalling or abhorrently bad; they’re just… boring.

Arby’s touts its new offering as having “100% chicken breast,” which seems legit and is pretty par for the course, I guess. It’s offering them in Arby’s kids’ meals (as a 4 or a 6 piece) and as a 9-piece solo meal or as part of its “2 for $6” promotion, which also includes the Classic Roast Beef and the Classic Beef’n Cheddar. And while $3 for 9 nuggs is a reasonable deal in today’s market (Maybe? To be fair, I haven’t comparative nugget priced in a while.), you’d be better served doubling up on the B&C, honestly.

Arby s Premium Chicken Nuggets Innards

The thing about these is that there is nothing special about them. The seasoning is bland (and by “bland,” I mean “non-existent”) and the nuggets themselves are drier than a mummy’s tongue. These things are no different than frozen nuggets that come from a truck that maybe you’d find at a neighborhood swimming pool or waterpark snack bar. Fresh from the fryer (and these were), they are hot and salty.

Arby s Premium Chicken Nuggets Shapes

Additionally, they are decently sized. Unlike McDonald’s or Wendy’s uniformly sized nuggets, these are all like snowflakes, like the kind you’d get at, oh, say, Chick-fil-A. The smallest piece was the size of two Hershey’s Kisses mushed-up together, and the biggest was the size and shape of an obese walnut. If you’re getting them for $3 as part of the promotion, it’s a reasonable deal; if, however, you’re getting them in the meal or as a solo item ($3.99), you’re moving out of the “good deal” territory.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a perfectly acceptable sauce delivery vehicle, these will do. You know, like almost any other nugget. If, however, you want a nugget that can headline based on the strength of its own merit, this isn’t the one for you. Arby’s would do well to stick with the RB and leave the chicken to those who typically traffic in bird.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 9-pieces
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (9 nuggets) 470 calories, 23 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat,75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1360 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 38 grams of protein.