The Pretzel Bun Trend: Like or Dislike?

In fast food and casual chain dining we come across a new trend every couple of years that might have us thinking that original ideas don’t exist and copycats are everywhere.  Following trends is just jumping on a sure thing and riding out the flavor of the month as a solid business strategy.  It seems like sliders were springing up everywhere a few years back and I kind of liked that.  A trending idea on the rise lately has come in the form of the pretzel bun.  I just tried the latest Bacon Cheese Pretzel Burger from Ruby Tuesday and found myself getting caught up in the trend myself.

Ruby Tuesday Pretzel BurgerI remember when I first started seeing the pretzel bun getting some buzz back when Red Robin introduced the Oktoberfest Burger back in 2011…  then I saw Steak ‘n Shake with a version of their own a year later.

Oktoberfest Burger Red RobinWienerschnitzel started using pretzel buns with their hot dogs in late 2012.  In 2013, the pretzel bun looks to have officially become the trendy new ingredient in chain restaurants. Pretzel Dogs were spotted at Sonic in June and went nationwide soon after.

Sonic Pretzel Hot DogsWhen fast food giant Wendy’s jumped on board this summer with their Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger, I knew we really had something that has entered the mainstream.

Pretzel Bacon CheeseburgerI’ve recently noticed the pretzel bun make its appearance at Chili’s… and Ruby Tuesday of course has a new selection of four Pretzel Burgers.  So my question to you to get a discussion going is this: Is the pretzel bun trend a draw for you or is this just another food fad?

27 comments on “The Pretzel Bun Trend: Like or Dislike?

  1. Cj says:

    Only problem I see with this trend is that a lot of these pretzel buns are mediocre at best.

    I haven’t tried Ruby Tuesdays yet, which looks very good by the way, but the ones I have tried tasted more like chewy thick buns and had no authentic pretzel flavor.

    As more and more people realize that a lot of these so called pretzel buns taste nothing like pretzels they’ll stop buying and this trend will die just as fast.

    • Ryan says:

      The Ruby Tuesday pretzel bun burger was good, yet the bottom was a little too greasy. Not sure if that was intentional or not in the burger construction process. I liked the mustard with bits of bacon mixed in too.

  2. vp says:

    I love it! First one I had was at Kuma’s Korner- a legit amazing burger joint in Chicago. I can’t find preztel buns anywhere on the east coast so I like that it’s hitting fast food and Wendy’s does a solid one. Now I just need poppy seed hot dog buns out here for purchase!

  3. Neil says:

    Going to school in Philly in the early 90s (yes I’m old) this was used mainly on dogs but in cones (Dubba plug) etc. I loved a dog wrapped in soft pretzel myself dipped in spicy mustard. I just think that the trend puts too much junk with the pretzel bun and doesn’t highlight it enough. Any good sandwich is made or broken by its bread. The Philly cheesesteak and roast pork are legendary because of the awesome Amoroso roll and not necessarily the meat. The ability to hold the juices of both sandwiches helps it retain its best flavors. Ryan is spot on that the soggy bread hurts almost all the pretzel bread genre. Highlight the pretzel don’t drown it!

  4. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Just a fad for me. I don’t hate them, but I don’t go out of my way to regularly get pretzel bun burgers for the sole sake of the bun. Good old potato bread is my go to.

  5. Mark says:

    Food fad totally. Couldn’t taste a difference with Wendy’s.

  6. Dana B says:

    It’s just a trend like any other gimmick. I tried the Wendy’s pretzel burger just to try it and it really didn’t knock me out. I was kinda pissed about it since the thing had a ton of sodium and fat and it came off as uninteresting in taste. I could’ve had a plain cheeseburger from there with onions, pickles, and ketchup and feel more satisfied with half the calories. What a waste…

    Besides, it’s bad enough a normal pretzel has a lot of salt, but to add a greasy cheeseburger to the mix? This fad has come and it’ll go soon enough.

    Here’s a next fad idea, hummus! On a burger, in a wrap, on a hotdog. That might be good…

  7. veronica gilbert says:

    Very disappointed in the new pretzel bacon cheeseburger. Bun was dry and tasteless, bacon was rock hard, high price for a simple cheeseburger.

  8. MP says:

    Meh. While I appreciate the effort, the bun does nothing for me. They tend to be bland & really chewy. The higher cost is a big turn off, too. Personally I really enjoy an onion bun & a potato bun.
    I also agree that too many ingredients the pretzel bun will get lost. It needs to be something simple like a pattie & extra sharp cheddar cheese.
    I think a reason why we don’t see very many pretzel rolls salted on top is because buns already have a high amount sodium. I had a Classic Smash Burger yesterday which was greasy, awesome & a sodium bomb at 1910mg. The bun was over 1/4th of the total sodium at 510mg, the pattie + cheese were 1000mg & the condiments filled out the rest.

  9. JF says:

    I happen to like Pretzel Buns when the buns themselves are worth eating by themselves and there is a great burger or turkey/bacon/cheddar stuffed between. No surprise a lot of FF places are jumping on the trend, but I suspect most won’t last simply because their buns aren’t that great or the product they shove between the bun isn’t all that great.

    Smashburger had a great Pretzel Bun burger (I know they offer the Pretzel Bun as an option in Chicago, was an LTO when they had the Chicago burger nationwide). Also a local place does a great turkey sandwich on a Pretzel Bun.

    The only thing I dislike about some Pretzel Buns is the added salt. Great on a regular Pretzel, but when you take into consideration the salt content in the rest of the sandwich, it can be too much.

    I did finally try the Wendy’s burger and thought it was ok, but doubt I’d get it again. The bun really wasn’t that good.

    I may just need to find a local retailer that sells good buns and make my own sandwiches with them.

    I do expect to see more places offering these, BK for sure, maybe Arby’s? And wouldn’t be surprised to see a pulled pork sandwich on a Pretzel Bun (although I’m not sure that combination would work).

    I am surprised the Luther hasn’t hit FF places and with the Cronut, I would expect (I know someplace in Canada is already doing them) places to start offer Cronut burgers.

  10. ktkof08 says:

    I’m not even that big of a fan of pretzels, so I suppose it isn’t surprising that I don’t get too jazzed up about pretzel buns. However, I honestly think a pretzel bun with sausage of some sort would be a good pairing. At leas more so than a burger.

  11. Robert says:

    I agree that too often the pretzel bun itself is overshadowed by too many other toppings. But my main issue is that a pretzel bun needs SALT crystals on top, and very few of the offerings are salted. When they are, I love ‘em.

  12. Rick says:

    I tried ordering a pretzel bacon cheeseburger at the Ruby Tuesday next to topgolf down here in VA, and they were out. I didn’t ask if that was due to its popularity or poor food management, but I usually get sandwiches on pretzel bread at sheetz, and have been for some time. Trend or not, I hope they stick around at a few restaurants.

  13. Eagles409 says:

    Pretzel buns are great when done right and used in the right circumstances. You need a really big, thick juicy burger to use a pretzel bun because the bread is so dense. If you try to use one with a thinner patty, you’ll just taste pretzel bread and nothing else. It seems like they are getting a little over used at this point, but with the right beef patty, there is nothing better.

  14. Matt says:

    My first experience with a pretzel bun was always at Bennigan’s, they had the Turkey O’Toole sandwich that came on the pretzel bun but you could also substitute it for their burgers. Ever since then I’ve been in love with pretzel bread and I’m very happy to see it catching on recently.

    The Red Robin Facebook says the Oktoberfest Burger will be back in just a few weeks time…perfect!

  15. BigBelly says:

    it’s just a fad, CJ nailed it, in that none of them really have a pretzel taste, they’re just chewier. I revisited Wendy’s Friday night, and had a baconator with a pretzel bun… it was ok, but not really worth the extra .30 cents, doubt if I’d upgrade again

  16. CulinaryZerg says:

    Don’t like – and I enjoy pretzels. Bun is usually too dense and chewy. It makes an already heavy burger that much worse.

    Yeah, if the bun were truly, legit, authentic and delicious on it’s own, and toppings aren’t heavy, then alright. But virtually no one succeeds here.

  17. Marie says:

    Personally, the best part of a pretzel bun/roll to me is the addition of big flakes of pretzel salt on top. The majority of these fast food sandwiches (by their picture) do not appear to have the salt flakes on top. The only one that has salt on top of the pretzel bun pictured is Dunkin Donuts pretzel roll sandwiches – I wonder if their pretzel roll delivers the salt in reality or that is just for show in the pics.

  18. Daveo says:

    Weinerschnitzel has been offering them as a 35 cent (may be 50 now) upgrade for as long as I can remember. I came to love them when I was living in Germany and now that the local grocery store bakery areas are selling them too I’m very pleased about that. Had the Wendy’s one a few weeks ago and found it to be really well done, when others I’ve had in the past have been too bulky and chewy for a burger.

  19. Jonathan Wayne says:

    As someone who loves pretzel buns, I would have to say their overall implementation has been a failure. As others have said, they tend to be nothing more than chewy and lacking in flavor. The Sonic hot dogs were the worst for me, the regular hot dog bun is far superior to their pretzel one.

  20. Nick says:

    Wendy’s had it best, in my opinion. That was a lye roll. It has the dark outside and pretzel-bread taste, without the shape gimmicks. Ruby Tuesday’s works the least. That seemed to me like a regular (buttery) roll with pretzel shapes, but none of the flavor.

  21. Justin H says:

    That pretzel bun at the top of the page makes my skin crawl.

  22. […] topped with Swiss cheese, onions sautéed in tangy mustard, and Black Forest ham on a toasted pretzel bun.  Priced at $5.49 and served with […]

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