Wendy’s launched the new Loaded Nacho Cheeseburger and Queso Fries on Tuesday, both created with nacho-loving football fans in mind.
The cheeseburger, a new addition to Wendy’s Made to Crave lineup, features a quarter-pound beef patty topped with poblano queso, crispy corn and tortilla chips, chipotle sauce, a slice of American cheese, lettuce and tomato on a jalapeno cheddar bun. Corn, jalapenos and cheese are baked right into the bun, elevating the flavor profile and texture beyond the standard burger bun.
“It’s a nacho platter in one burger bite,” said John Li, Wendy’s VP of culinary innovation, during a virtual demo of the two new items. The poblano queso provides a spicy kick that’s not too hot and the chips are added for crunch.
The Loaded Nacho Cheeseburger took a good deal of trial and error to get where it is, added Jay Drumm, manager of culinary innovation at Wendy’s, during the demo. “We’ve spent over two years perfecting this sandwich because we wanted to deliver that nacho platter experience that you get when you’re watching a big game, but all in one bite,” he said.
The Queso Fries weren’t an instant win either, taking 20 iterations to get right.
The two chefs wanted to cross-utilize the poblano queso by loading it onto Wendy’s Hot & Crispy Fries, but working out the exact recipe took some time. “In the end, a simple solution worked well,” said Li. “We added a little cheddar along with the queso for some more cheesy pull.”
The Queso Fries are the first time Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy’s is introducing a complementary side along with a new burger or sandwich. “With every Made to Crave sandwich we build, we’re thinking about the complement to that product, and it’s typically loaded fries. We’ll be doing more of these,” said Li.
Guests can also swap in chicken in the new burger build; a Loaded Nacho Chicken Sandwich is another option. And those who can’t get enough poblano queso can “hack the menu” and order it up with chicken nuggets or another chicken sandwich, said Drumm.
Wendy’s is adding to its breakfast menu, too—a daypart the chain entered in 2020 and has since generated strong morning sales. Also on Tuesday, two hot English Muffin Sandwiches joined the breakfast lineup.
The sandwiches are layered with eggs, applewood-smoked bacon or a grilled sausage patty, and melted American cheese. But the English muffins are differentiated with a touch of honey and slathered with a signature savory butter spread.
“We took the standard breakfast sandwich and ‘Wendyized’ it to get the right texture and taste,” said Li. “The savory butter spread pools in the crevices of the toasted English muffin. It’s our secret weapon.”
Expect to see more “secret weapons” as Li, Drumm and the Wendy’s culinary team continue to innovate the menu.
“We’re developing all products with an eye toward craveability, with flavors that are slightly off center and unique to Wendy’s,” said Li.
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