Food & Drink

Our Fast Food Experts Argue Over Which Layer of Wendy’s New Pretzel Burger Is the Best


While many things about 2020 look different than five years ago, now, one thing is the same: Wendy’s® pretzel bun has returned to the menu after a half-decade hiatus -- this time with a gastropub-inspired glow up. Their new Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger starts with a quarter-pound of fresh beef*, adds Applewood smoked bacon, Muenster cheese & beer cheese sauce, tops it with pickles and crispy fried onions, then covers it in smoky honey mustard. All of this is nuzzled between two halves of a perfectly toasted pretzel bun and paired with a refreshing Dr Pepper.

With so many mouth-watering ingredients wrapped into one burger, which layer ranks supreme? Your Thrillist editors came together to debate. 

Pretzel bun

I’ll never get over how long it took us, a race that went to the moon, to create the pretzel bun. It’s the ultimate canvas: A near-perfect snack on its own, but turned into a meat-and-cheese vessel that’s greater than the sum of its parts. If it’s on a menu, all other breads are dead to me. It’s the ballpark soft pretzel grown up. It’s taste bud teamwork. It is the only logical choice when your criteria for mealtime is, “The best possible version of a burger.” Do not tell me there is a better bun. You’re wrong. I will die on this golden brown hill. -- Max Plenke

Beef patty

The only square I keep in my circle is the Wendy’s patty. For over two decades, that patty has been a presence in my life. Sometimes draped in bacon, sometimes rocking cheese, but always stepping out of that bun a bit to show off its juiciness. And no matter how the bun’s dressed -- whether with mayo, lettuce, or tomato, I can always count on Wendy’s patty to bring that never-frozen freshness. Now that I’ve experienced a quarter-pound of that precious patty topped with smoky honey mustard, beer cheese sauce, and Applewood smoked bacon, the JBC may have to be on pause for a little while. Just a little. -- Sarah Michel

Muenster cheese & beer cheese sauce

My relationship with cheese has no boundaries. A beautifully arranged grazing board? I’m in. Eating a handful of shredded cheddar directly out of the bag in the fridge? Also in. So when it comes to my burger order, extra cheese is the way to go. Thankfully, Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger delivers on the cheese front. There’s a sharp slice of Muenster atop the patty, plus a slathering of beer cheese sauce on top of that. This beer cheese is basically fondue, but a version that’s perfectly acceptable to eat in my car. It’s gooey and tangy thanks to the addition of craft beer, which also adds to the fondue vibes. Pair this with a pretzel bun and it’s like I’ve been transported to my local brewery for Oktoberfest, even if it’s just a Tuesday. -- Christie Rotondo

Applewood smoked bacon  

Everyone knows that the best part of any meal -- breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner -- is the bacon, and that goes for the Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger. It’s an ingredient so powerful, so iconic, it holds a space in the burger’s official name. What other food caters to every sense so perfectly? The sight of those reddish-brown strips, the enticing smell hitting my nostrils, the melodic sound of every bite, the soft touch against the roof of my mouth, and the savory taste that settles my craving is the moment my mouth has prepared its entire life for.    -- Thelma Annan

Dr Pepper

OK, yes, technically Dr Pepper is not a layer of Wendy’s new Pretzel Bacon Pub Cheeseburger. But that’s like serving a cheese board and not including a bottle of wine -- really, it’s incomplete without it. In the pantheon of pop (sorry, I’m from the Midwest), there truly is no equal in terms of taste, and here its signature blend of 23 flavors makes Dr Pepper the perfect complement to the burger’s multi-layered ingredients. Plus, its sweetness acts as a palate cleanser to all that smoky, cheesy, bacon-y goodness. Could you eat the pub cheeseburger without chasing it with a Dr Pepper? Sure. But really, why would you want to? -- Andrea Morabito

While each editor has made their case, one thing is certain: They may be delicious on their own, but all these ingredients taste better together -- especially washed down with something just as satisfying.

*Approximate weight before cooking. Fresh beef available in the contiguous U.S., Alaska, and Canada.