Tomorrow, October 15, is National Cheese Curd Day, and Midwestern burger chain Culver’s is taking full advantage of the occasion. How? By turning a curd-centric April Fools’ joke into a full-blown entree in celebration of our beloved fried cheese nuggets. If you recall, Culver’s cheekily tweeted a photoshopped picture of a giant cheese curd on a bun as an April Fools’ prank—but Culver’s fans responded so strongly that the chain is bringing it to life. Behold: the CurderBurger.
The chain is releasing the CurderBurger for one day only in honor of National Cheese Curd Day. The burgers are extremely limited, but we were lucky enough to snag two for a media preview. The Takeout was also able to see how the CurderBurgers are assembled in the Culver’s kitchen.
Franchisee Danny Ehle was kind enough to show Takeout staff writer Dennis Lee around the kitchen of his Culver’s location in the Portage Park neighborhood of Chicago. The CurderBurger starts with a giant, breaded cheese puck, which is dropped in the deep fryer for two minutes. The pucks are the same diameter as a burger patty, and about the same thickness, too.
As the curds fry off, the ButterBurger buns are toasted (using the nifty vertical toaster pictured above, which is complete with a wheel that applies melted butter to the bread). Only the top bun gets a dose of melted butter, but both top and bottom come out golden brown.
The fresh beef patties are smashed and griddled until they form that satisfying flavorful crust that’s coveted on a smash burger. It only takes a few minutes.
Then, the assembly. The CurderBurger comes with what Culver’s calls “Deluxe” toppings (placed on the bottom bun): mayo, shredded lettuce, red onions, and pickles. The burger is topped with the fried cheese curd and is now ready to go.
[A note from Dennis: I got to witness employees’ first impressions of the CurderBurgers as well. (After all, you’ve got to know what you’re selling.) We huddled around and all tried the piping-hot creation together. I watched as people took their first bites and saw a lot of nodding across the kitchen.
“You hear that silence?” one employee said, to Ehle.
He laughed and said, “That’s a good sign.”]
Below, both Takeout staffers sound off on their CurderBurger experiences.
When it comes down to it, you’re really here for the novelty of the giant cheese curd. You’ve got to have this thing straight from the fryer though, as one of the best parts of a cheese curd is its melty, stretchy, interior. And if you try one that way, the CurderBurger is a lot of fun. So make sure you eat this thing as fast as possible.
The interior doesn’t come off as an overly gooey ultra-processed cheese product, but what that does mean is that if you wait for too long, the puck’ll harden back up into chewy cheese. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, it just affects the texture of each bite because your jaws have to work harder.
In terms of flavor, I do think it needs some more acid because the cheese is so damn rich. I might recommend you order it with extra pickles, or even with ketchup, for that reason. But overall, this is definitely something I’d say is worth going out of your way to try. Seeing Culver’s approach its tried-and-true recipes with a sense of humor is pretty refreshing. That’s a B+ from Dennis.
I’m a lifelong Culver’s fan, largely because of my long-held belief that pretty much everything is better with stretchy, gooey cheese on top. I’ll eat a curd any ol’ day of the week, and I also think the Deluxe ButterBurger is one of the best—if not the best—fast food burgers on today’s market. With that in mind, I was stoked to try the CurderBurger, which I’ve unofficially dubbed “Big Daddy Cheese.”
Like Dennis said, your cheese puck will harden if you don’t eat it fairly quickly. I was lucky enough to sample the burger at my nearest Culver’s, so I got it right out of the fryer. (Hat tip to the Chicago Montrose Culver’s location. They’re doing it right over there.) The location’s manager topped my burger with a fancy little pickle and actually cut the burger for me, executing a cheese pull of truly epic proportions. Aesthetically, it’s a yes.
I also agree with my colleague’s assessment that the burger could benefit from some acid to cut the richness of the cheese. The burger could also use a bit more crunch, like that of a cold pickle or a red onion. (I will say: the cheese puck is nicely breaded and almost hashbrown-like in texture, but the toasty warm burger softens it immediately.) But ultimately, I’d love to see this become a legacy item on the Culver’s menu. It’s nothing short of Midwest Nice. That’s a B+ from Lillian as well.
Readers, let us know if you snag a CurderBurger for yourselves!