Photo: Allison Robicelli (The Takeout)

In preparation for the release of McDonald’s newest burger, some of us at The Takeout were being responsible adults, reporting on its horrific nutritional facts, while I was tearing through the streets of Baltimore, ready to get my hands on the new Bacon BBQ Burger. Somehow I’ve survived to tell you all about it.

Though I’ve been particularly brutal in my previous McDonald’s reviews, I am not biased. Owing to the fact that I have children, I eat at McDonald’s quite regularly, and have had a love affair with McNuggets for years. My intense feelings about the McRib are well documented, and, now that the beef patty has been switched from frozen to fresh, I consider the Quarter Pounder With Cheese among the best, if not the best, fast food burger on the market. I come to the Bacon BBQ Burger with an open mind and an open heart, and can tell you that it is... not bad.

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The beef patty itself is dry and nearly flavorless. Though McDonald’s website claims that the burger is made with the same fresh beef used in the Quarter Pounders, it did not taste like it in the slightest. Its pink interior showed no sign of overcooking, leading me to believe that I was either given a previously frozen burger patty, or that the ground beef used was excessively lean. Perhaps cutting down on the beef fat was a strategic choice so that McDonald’s could go buck wild with the unhealthy accoutrements, which we all know is what specialty burgers are really about. The chain hasn’t always been successful with this tactic (again may I direct you to the abomination that was this fall’s Spicy BBQ Chicken Sandwich), but this time, McDonald’s nailed it.

Image: Allison Robicelli (The Takeout)

The top bun was dolloped with the perfect amount of bourbon barbecue sauce—just enough to make its presence known without being cloyingly sweet and overpowering. There were faint notes of bourbon, which is something that cannot be said for all barbecue sauces of this ilk.

While I normally find bacon on burgers unnecessary, it was a welcome addition here, compensating for the underwhelming beef patty. In fact, bacon was the dominant meat flavor; you could probably remove the burger entirely and the sandwich would taste the same. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a barbecue bacon, fried onion, and cheese sandwich, but I suppose that, because this is McDonald’s, the burger itself is essential, if not for flavor then certainly for identity.

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Using two slices of American cheese was the correct choice, because American cheese is the best cheese for burgers and I am happy to debate anyone who says otherwise.

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Finally, the pièce de résistance: the fried onions. There is no such thing as an “okay” fried onion. They’re either gloriously crisp and flavorful, inspiring feelings that are borderline lustful, or they’re limp, greasy atrocities that make you feel like you’ve ingested a pint of frying oil. When it comes to fast food, I’ve come to expect the latter. Incredibly, the onions on the Bacon BBQ Burger were not just crisp but seriously crunchy, coated with a thick seasoned panko crust and fried to a deep shade of amber. I let half my burger sit for 15 minutes to see how they would hold up during a takeout or delivery situation, and am pleased to report that they stayed just as crispy as they were when my burger was first handed to me in its sturdy cardboard box.

Is this the best burger on McDonald’s menu? No—that title still belongs to the Quarter Pounder Deluxe. Is it a pleasant addition? Quite. If the beef patty could be improved, I would argue that McDonald’s should find a place for the Bacon BBQ Burger on its permanent menu.

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Allison Robicelli is The Takeout staff writer, a former professional chef, the author of three books, and a swan meat influencer. Questions about recipes or need cooking advice? Tweet @Robicellis.

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