Fast Food Review: Jr. Ham & Cheddar Sandwich from Arby’s

“Value Menu” and “variety” don’t often go along so well in the same sentence. Sure, you’ve got Taco Bell’s “Why Pay More” options offering something a bit more “ethnic” (hat tip to my man Jaz) and you can always customize value menu options at an additional charge, but more often than not fast food value menus revolve around the staples. You know what I’m talking about; a small burger, a chicken sandwich, fries and a small drink. There just aren’t a ton of variety or choices outside of the usual offerings. That is, unless your talking about Arby’s.

Arby’s $1 Menu isn’t extensive, but it does offer something a little different than the proverbial small burger and fries. True, traditional value menu items like a Jr. Chicken Sandwich are spotlighted on the menu, but you can also get a small Jamocha  shake, curly fries, and of course a Jr. Roast Beef Sandwich. But of all the options on the Arby’s Value Menu, the most interesting might be the Jr. Ham and Cheddar Sandwich.

Oven roasted ham piled on a toasted sesame seed bun and topped with creamy cheddar cheese sauce.

I’m kind of amazed more fast food places don’t take advantage of ham. It’s lean, flavorful, and usually works well with cheese, and given that it can be propped up with a crapload of solution, it’s not all that expensive to serve either. While I wasn’t expecting my order to look exactly like the website picture, even I was a bit disparaged at how small the wrapper containing it was. My fears only grew when I opened the paper to find a rather squished looking bun spilling over with a liquidy yellow substance.

There was too much cheddar sauce to be sure, so much so that I ended up scraping some of it off. The sauce itself is more liquid goo than “cream,” and seemed to have texture reminiscent of cheese whiz. It was salty and a little oily, and the flavor came off as highly artificial. Still, it had a curiously addictive taste of fake cheddar, and was nice and warm on the ham. As for the ham, it didn’t seem nearly as enhanced as I thought it would be. The four slices were cut thin and didn’t reveal any large strains of fat, while they also displayed the subtle taste of a smoke flavor. They were somewhat crispy and looked like they had been through the microwave, which actually played well considering how gooey the cheese was. Again, the flavor came off as artificial , but not necessarily bad. That being said, the sweetness of the ham was tough to notice. Deeper and almost hickory like, it wasn’t the honey roasted or black forest type sweetness you sometimes get from processed ham, and it only hits you after you’ve had a moment to chew on it.

Unfortunately, the bun was pretty depressing. While it tasted fresh and was moist on top, it soon gave way to the moisture in the ham and the cheese sauce, becoming soggy despite its toasted bottom. Overall, the predominant flavor of the sandwich was salty, while the texture and mouth-feel was chewy and gooey. I also thought that the sandwich seemed very small, although it was moderately filling for it’s tiny size.

Sounds disgusting, right? Oddly enough, I really liked this sandwich, and found it to be kind of a guilty pleasure. I do think it has some serious structural and execution flaws, and obviously it needs more sweetness and acid to counteract the salty taste. Fortunately most Arby’s have more than enough BBQ sauce to help you out there, I and would advise trying out your favorite sauce (personally, I like mustard with ham) on this. The sandwich’s structural and taste issues aside, it’s a novel menu item, and a nice change of pace at a really good value. Likewise, the nutrition numbers (200 calories, 5 grams fat, 1.5 grams saturated fat) are impressive, even if the sauce you get on the sandwich pushes it beyond the website numbers. Is it worth buying? At a buck I think so, especially if your suffering from value menu burnout and are looking to try something new. Pair it with a small shake or small curly fries and you’ll have yourself a nice little guilty pleasure of a meal that won’t kill your wallet or your belt.

Pros: Lean and smoky ham has good flavor. Nice and warm. Cheap eats. Cheddar sauce is curiously addictive. Only 200 calories. Goes well with BBQ sauce. Nice change of pace if you're looking for an alternative to a burger or chicken sandwich. Relatively filling.

Cons: Messy. Lack of balance. Needs element of sweetness. Way too much cheddar sauce. Tastes too salty, even for salt fanatics. Bun could use some help with moisture element. A bit on the tiny side.

Taste: 7.00/10
Value: 8.75/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 5.00/10
Price: $1.00 More Info: Arbys.com
Nutrition Facts:
Arby's Jr. Ham and Cheddar Melt
Calories: 200
Calories from Fat: 45
Total Fat: 5 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 25 mg
Sodium: 890 mg
Total Carbs: 26 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 5 g
Protein: 13 g

28 comments on “Fast Food Review: Jr. Ham & Cheddar Sandwich from Arby’s

  1. Mike N says:

    That does look tiny! A little ham-n-cheese like that is just one of those things that seem far too easy to just throw together at home… I couldn’t say that about a beef-n-cheddar or a chicken sandwich (incidently, I had a $1 chicken sandwich from Jack In The Box for lunch and it was pretty darn tasty :) )

  2. Tony jaguar says:

    200 calories? Calling B.S.

    • Ryan says:

      Yeah I agree. The bun itself probably has 120. Ham is usually pretty low cal right? But all that cheese sauce too…hmmm. I’d still house about 3 of them. :)

  3. Adam says:

    Well, it IS tiny. I don’t think 200 seems unreasonable — maybe closer to 250 with the amount of cheese sauce, but really, I ain’t complaining. It’s pretty heathy given most value meal options (outside of the buttload of salt).

    Also, don’t yall like it how I opted not to take pictures of the half-eaten mess that ensued? Haha

  4. Jessica Leigh says:

    I agree that the cheese is too thin – that is really the only drawback to this sandwich, well, besides the small size. I do prefer Hardee’s ham and cheese, but only when cooked correctly. My Hardee’s still has a $1 hot ham and cheese, but it too often comes out cold in the middle.

  5. I picked up a couple of these the other day, too, by coincidence. I went to the Arby’s in search of their new o rings, which are superb. But I passed them up for two Jr Ham and Cheese, don’t understand why they don’t have a big one on the menu, didn’t they use to? I had the same experience as you, with the same conclusion. Messy, messy, microwave frenzy, but oh such gooey goodness with a hint of ham flavor….. I’ll get ‘em again, for sure. Who else still has a ham sammich on the menu? Hardees? Or?

    • Larry says:

      @BurgerDogBoy

      They used to have this fabulous ham and swiss on toasted thick-cut sourdough. I miss those dearly. They were a regular-price/sized item but I remember they ran a $0.99 sale on them for such a long time that it practically made it a value menu item (this was back before they even had a value menu).

      I have been trying for years to recreate these without luck. The Texas Toast-sized sourdough is just not available.

      As for the Jr. Ham…. I liked it better when it had the swiss cheese. The cheese goop is pretty good with curly fries but otherwise I don’t like it. Same with Taco Bell, on their cheaper items they use the sauce instead of real cheese, and not liking it, I never order any item that uses it. Its getting harder to find items that don’t have it though.

      This is defintely something you can make at home that will be just as soon. Smoked ham, some good quality Pepperidge Farms hamburger buns, and cheese whiz (or swiss).

  6. Noodlez says:

    My local (Tulsa, OK) Arbys’s do a Jr Ham and Swiss instead on the dollar menu. Would rather have the cheddar.

  7. Heather says:

    I’ve had this sandwich several times and I really like it. It is just the right size and goes perfectly with the $1.00 Jamocha shake. I do agree that they put way too much cheese on it, but I have never had a soggy bun. Good review, Adam.

  8. Adam says:

    Burger Dog Boy,

    New onion rings, really? Sounds pretty sweet!

  9. Yum Yucky says:

    That looks like high school cafeteria food. I’d eat it.

  10. Adam says:

    Ryan,
    I don’t think we’re in one of their test markets, although I know I will be when I get back to school. I’ve always thought it funny how so many FF places consider Utah a test market when our population is so much different than most of the country lol :)

  11. Rachel says:

    I don’t like any type of cheese “sauce.” Give me a melted slice of the real deal any day. Looking at that just gives me the lump in my throat feeling. Yuck. At least their curly fries and horsey sauce are good.

    • Raiders757 says:

      I agree. That cheese sauce at Arby’s is nasty. Reminds of that goo that pass off as cheese at 7-Eleven when you see people buy their nachos. I’ll take a slice of real cheese over some sort of melted cheese food that comes in a giant pouch.

  12. Keith says:

    Nice review Adam, it’s good to see some fast food showing up here again…

    Arby’s is notorious for having items that don’t look like their picture, and if you think about it, it’s not unreasonable. Piles of ham and roast beef on a bun aren’t going to maintain the same structural integrity of a burger.

    Their cheese sauce has always been curiously disgusting yet strangely delicious. I can’t quite put my finger on that, but a beef and cheddar from Arby’s never disappointed me – but that might be because of my love for onion rolls.

    You just can’t expect much from dollar menu food – and as far as spending a buck is concerned, this doesn’t seem like such a bad option.

    • Adam says:

      Wow Keith, I actually wrote something you enjoyed?!? Haha, just messing with you dude. But yea, I’ve always been the snack food guy, so I guess I shouldn’t tell you it’s bag to the snack reviews later this week…

      • Keith says:

        Hey man, you win some, you lose some. I personally prefer fast food reviews, but I guess that’s just me.

        No need to take it personal :)

  13. that really doesn’t look all that appealing, that cheese sauce looks beyond processed even too much for my liking. At one point my city had 4 Arbys, now there is only one left in a mall food court.

  14. GrubGFan says:

    Does anybody know if all the rumors about how Arbys makes their roast beef are true? Im sure many of you have heard that the roast beef is derived from a liquid/gel state which turns into meet; is this laughable or legitimate?

    I looooove Arbys, but this has stopped me cold in my tracks. Pyschologicaly there is no way I can allow the taste to trump this rumor.

    Any answers?

    thanks

    • Adam says:

      It’s not true, and between you and me, don’t let food and or nutrition ‘rumors’ ruin your life. Remember, even the hippie companies have vested financial interests too :)

      • MeefiTheMudskipper says:

        Adam’s right, not a gel or liquid or powder. The beef “loaf” is packaged in a solution (to ensure beef loaf stays moist during roasting) that may appear gelatinous. But the loaf, although heavily processed, is just beef and arrives in the form similar to any processed lunchmeat loaf. It is then cooked in an oven and sliced-to-order.

        No it’s not a substitute for an actual roast cut from a cow, but as fast food it’s tasty in its own right.

  15. TheWarden says:

    I love these.

    That is all.

    Actually, no that’s not all… do you all have any love / reviews for the “Double Cheeser” from Arby’s? Yeah, yeah, it’s their version of the dollar double cheeseburger from every other chain, but I like them too. Value menu at like a buck and a quarter I think.

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