All 5 of Dairy Queen’s Burgers Have the Same Problem

All 5 of Dairy Queen’s Burgers Have the Same Problem

These new Stackburgers could be good, but one element throws everything off.

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DQ Stackburgers: Loaded A.1., FlameThrower, Two Cheese Deluxe, Bacon Two Cheese Deluxe, and Original Cheeseburger
Photo: Dennis Lee

For the first time in 20 years, Dairy Queen has made an expansion to its hot food menu by releasing a new line of so-called Stackburgers. CNBC reports that the release comes shortly after the company announced record sales in 2021. Just like most companies, Dairy Queen took a hit at the beginning of the pandemic, but eventually, sales outpaced 2019 levels by 17%, and now the chain, which has thousands of locations worldwide, has hit its stride. So, naturally, it’s ready to experiment with the menu a bit.

Undertaking a fast food menu overhaul is never done quickly, nor considered lightly. Research and development takes a few years to happen, and the Stackburger line began development back in 2019 as Dairy Queen formulated a new bun that could stand up to the weight of up to three burger patties. Next, the company decided to change up its cheese options, switching to a sharper American cheese than its predecessor, along with a white cheddar option.

dairy queen burger boxes
Photo: Dennis Lee

Eventually, Dairy Queen settled on five new burgers for its lineup, available in two- or three-patty sizes. Two patties amounts to 1/3 pound of beef, while three comes out to 1/2 pound. Here’s what’s on offer:

  • Original Cheeseburger: American cheese, pickles, ketchup, and mustard
  • Two Cheese Deluxe: American cheese, white cheddar, tomato, onion, lettuce, pickles, mayo, ketchup
  • Bacon Two Cheese Deluxe: The same as the Two Cheese Deluxe, plus applewood smoked bacon
  • Loaded A.1.: American cheese, onion rings, bacon, A.1. Thick and Hearty Sauce, and creamy peppercorn sauce
  • FlameThrower: Pepper Jack cheese, jalapeno bacon, tomato, lettuce, and FlameThrower sauce

On paper, these burgers sound pretty straightforward and serviceable. There’s nothing among that list of descriptions that I wouldn’t happily order in some fashion, at any restaurant.

I visited my local Dairy Queen to see how the burgers stacked up (sorry). A whole revamped burger lineup deserves careful consideration, so I’ve ranked the burgers from worst to best below. Little did I know how difficult that would be.

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2 / 7

5. Two Cheese Deluxe

5. Two Cheese Deluxe

double cheeseburger with lettuce tomatoes
This is the bottom of the bunch
Photo: Dennis Lee

Before I launch into my rankings, I must say, right off the bat, that these burgers all shared a critical problem: the beef itself. I hate being so straightforward—I always dive into new menu items with optimism—but I’ve just got to say it. The beef is terrible.

All of Dairy Queen’s Stackburgers feature pale beef with a strange, slightly springy texture that reminds me somewhat of breakfast sausage. There’s no flavor to the meat itself; it contains hardly any of the savory qualities I normally crave from a beef burger. I’m struggling to figure out why. The menu describes these as 100% seasoned real beef patties, but somehow, they’re devoid of beef’s typical personality.

The Two Cheese Deluxe features American cheese, white cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, ketchup, and mayo. You can see how sad that white cheddar got, quickly, and I’d just received the order. It turned into a sweaty, chewy slice of dairy that dragged the whole thing down.

This was my least favorite Stackburger. Beyond the lackluster cheese, the rest of the toppings struggle to give the burger any distinguishing qualities.

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3 / 7

4. Bacon Two Cheese Deluxe

4. Bacon Two Cheese Deluxe

bacon double cheese burger
Things aren’t so good from here
Photo: Dennis Lee

Here’s where stuff gets kind of dismal. See that beef? You can see just how dry it is in that picture. I promise I’m not exaggerating. It’s even curled up around the edges.

If American cheese, white cheddar, bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, ketchup, and mayo can’t rescue a burger, you’re in a world of trouble. Just as we saw with the Two Cheese Deluxe, the white cheddar in this burger has issues. I don’t know what its deal is, but it’s so mild I mistook it as Swiss until I reread the description. Cheddar isn’t a good melting cheese, which means when this burger cooled off, the cheese was immediately rubbery and almost flavorless. Bacon didn’t salvage the combination here.

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4 / 7

3. FlameThrower

3. FlameThrower

flamethrower burger
The FlameThrower sauce thankfully has kick
Photo: Dennis Lee

Chalk this one up to personal preference, but spicy burgers are hit or miss for me. The FlameThrower Stackburger features Pepper Jack, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, and an orange-colored spicy FlameThrower sauce. Considering this beef needs all the help it can get, even the bold FlameThrower sauce didn’t quite do the job.

It has an admirable kick to it, but a slightly acrid manufactured aftertaste that I can’t say I enjoyed very much. For what it’s worth, one of the DQ employees said that the FlameThrower was her favorite out of all five Stackburgers.

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5 / 7

2. Original Cheeseburger

2. Original Cheeseburger

double cheeseburger
The simple Double Cheeseburger came in a close 2nd
Photo: Dennis Lee

The simple Original Cheeseburger is a double cheeseburger with American cheese, pickles, ketchup, and mustard. That’s it. Knowing my own preferences, I’m actually kind of shocked that a standard burger build was among my favorites, since it has no bells and whistles on it. But then again, nothing about the DQ Stackburger experience was what I expected it to be.

If there’s any plus side with these Stackburgers, it’s the sharp American cheese. It has some pretty great flavor, and does a ton of heavy lifting for every Stackburger that includes it. Consequently, you really don’t need many condiments. The Original Cheeseburger comes in second for me, but it’s a close second.

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6 / 7

1. Loaded A.1.

1. Loaded A.1.

Loaded A1 Stackburger
This one’s about the sauce
Photo: Dennis Lee

The Loaded A.1. Stackburger was by far my favorite of DQ’s new burgers, mostly because the toppings make up for the lack of beefiness at its core. I really love A.1. steak sauce for its complex tart, savory, flavor, which can turn a cheap cut of steak into a five-star one, and it handily pole-vaults this Stackburger into first place.

The onion rings add a touch of crunch and complementary allium flavor, and the sharp American cheese packs a good tangy punch. I can usually take or leave bacon on a burger, but considering it adds another layer of flavor here, it’s pretty welcome. The peppercorn sauce was mysteriously missing from this one, but if it had been there, I’m sure it would have helped out quite a bit as well. I like this overall flavor combination enough that when grilling season comes around, I might even make my own homemade version.

Without a decent burger patty as a foundation, no matter how nice the toppings are, you can’t really do much to make a bad burger good. I realize that a lot of people think the bar is low for fast food beef, but chains like Culver’s make a pretty compelling argument that it doesn’t have to be that way. I firmly believe there can be great burgers even from massive chains like McDonald’s, where fresh beef in the Quarter Pounders makes a world of difference. I’m holding out hope that the Stackburger gets the beef upgrade it deserves.

So, with all of this in mind, you might still want to stick to chicken tenders on your next DQ run. And treat yourself to some soft serve or a Blizzard, too, because that’s probably what drew you to Dairy Queen in the first place.

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7 / 7