Fast Food Review: New! Charbroiled Turkey Burger from Carl’s Jr.
Turkey or Beef?
For many Americans, it’s almost not even a question when it comes to burgers. Sure, roast turkey goes great with some cranberry sauce the week after Thanksgiving, but when it comes to burgers, anything but a good old fashioned grain-fed bovine slaughtered in the US of A (and/or Canada or South America) will not suffice. I don’t need to tell you that turkey just can’t match the fatty juicy-awesomeness of beef, nor do I have to tell you that many turkey burgers resemble meatloaf more than they do burgers – especially when it comes to a deliciously smoky charbroiled burger at Carl’s Jr.
I did a double-take when I first heard that Carl’s Jr. was rolling out Charbroiled Turkey Burgers to the fast food scene. Not to mince words here, but, uh, why? This, after all, is the chain which caters to a young adult population that neither doesn’t, nor necessarily should, embrace the idea of calorie counting. Once more, this is the chain which shows just how great a charbroiled beef patty can be, even in a fast food setting. So why make the move to introduce three new turkey burger concepts? Health, apparently, with each one of the three new Turkey Burgers (Charbroiled, Teriyaki, Guacamole) coming in at under 500 calories, and earning the Men’s Health sticker of approval. But are they worth it for your taste buds? For your wallet? And, dare I say, for your waistline? After having the Charbroiled Turkey Burger the other day, I’m convinced the answer is “no.”
That”s not to say that this is a bad burger or that I didn’t like it, but I guess we should start with the details. The Charbroiled Turkey Burger, which is offered at both Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, comes with a charbroiled turkey patty, mayonnaise, lettuce,
red onion, tomato, and dill pickle chips. At Carl’s Jr. it also comes with “special sauce” – basically a mixture of ketchup and sweet relish. I bought my sandwich for $2.99 and was also offered a coupon for a free medium Coke Zero with the purchase. Extra points for the coupon, and double extra points for Coke Zero (the second single greatest soda behind Coke Zero Vanilla).
Now, onto the burger itself. It comes wrapped in a sweet little number and is wedged in a whole grain bun that’s pretty solid. It’s dense, but not overly wheaty, and has a nice sweet background and even some oats on top. Iceberg and veggies come under the patty, mayo and special sauce on top, with more mayo on the bottom. First thought is what the heck, that is a lot of lettuce, and if I had wanted a nutrient-less salad I wouldn’t paid for one. Second thought is what the heck again. Last I checked I wasn’t color blind, but my onions weren’t red. The tomato was also lacking. Thin sliced, pale, and singular, it does a disservice to trying to appear healthy.
Now, onto the meat. The patty had some crusty marks on one side but not the other, and some funky tenderizing “holes” on the bottom. Still, it was far from hockey puck-like. I grew up on turkey burgers and actually enjoy them for what they are (not beef), and in this regard I give Carl’s credit. The burger wasn’t oozing juices, but did retain moisture. Yet instead of the sweet, fatty juice we all know and love from a beef burger from Carl’s, this was more on the savory-salty side. Black pepper and garlic were definitely at play in the flavoring of the patty, which had a grill flavor, yet a very, very modest “charbroil” smoke flavor that I usually get in the Big Hamburger or Famous Star. And despite the blackened crust, there was no sear, and no caramelization of the external proteins to yield the sweet and smoky crust of a fully cooked Angus burger. The “Special Sauce” and bun add a foiling sweetness, but what you’re tasting will be very much like a grilled Jennie-O Turkey Burger.
This turkey burger is not really bad. It may be salty, but it has a certain degree of flavor as well, and isn’t as bland as I thought it would be, and isn’t as dry either. Yet it’s not what I come to Carl’s Jr. for, and at $2.99, it’s more than double the price Carl’s Jr.’s classic and timeless Big Hamburger. It also has more calories (490 to 470) because of the mayo, and even more fat. That’s great that the Turkey Burger “only” has 4.5 grams of saturated fat, yet if any publication can talk of the benefits of the saturated fat in beef – stearic acid - it’s Men’s Health, which, oh-by-the-way, does so right hyah. I guess what I’m saying is I just don’t “get” the Turkey Burger in this context. Carl’s Jr. has never made a point of trying to persuade the dieting female and “mom” crowd, and even if they were, do you think they’d spring for a 490 calorie burger? Heck no. I like the Charbroiled Turkey Burger, but I don’t love it, and I just don’t see the marginal benefit of it over any of Carl’s Jr’s more restrained burger options. I give the chain a lot of credit for the concept, and love it’s use of coupons and even it’s relatively fair price, but with a great thing going in it’s beef hamburgers, you’d be better to stick to the familiar on your next trip to Happy Star.
Pros: Innovative menu concept. Respectable moisture level for a turkey burger. Decent grill flavoring and black pepper taste. Special Sauce adds good sweetness, while bun is top of the line. Free Coke Zero. Free Coke Zero with refills.
Cons: Different flavor profile from beef. Doesn't do justice to charbroil method of cooking. Crust isn't the same as a beef burger. I'm guessing this was frozen based on the construction and uniformity of the patty. No fatty-juicy-sweet goodness of Big Hamburger. Veggies fail to deliver in every way possible. Not the best choice for your wallet. More calories than a Big Hamburger. Too much Coke Zero has me bouncing off walls late at night.
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.00/10
Overall GrubGrade: 6.25 (Average)
Charbroiled Turkey Burger from Carl's Jr.
Calories – 490
Total Fat – 23 grams
Saturated Fat – 4.5 grams
Cholesterol – 80 milligrams
Sodium – 1010 milligrams
Carbs – 45 grams
Dietary Fiber – 3 gram
Sugars – 10 grams
Protein – 29 grams