Fast Food Review: Roast Beef ‘n Cheddar Melt from Arby’s

I’ve been going to Arby’s a lot recently, I know. Trust me, there are reasons for this, and they don’t exactly involve the constant stares I get from the old folks there who are probably thinking “who the heck is this young whipper snapper taking pictures of the food. Back in my day, we just ate the dang sammich” It also has nothing to do with my affinity for hearing said old folks complain about the “tough” onion rings. As a matter of fact, I’ve been checking in at Arby’s 2-3 times a week mostly because they have a new Three Cheese and Angus Sub slated to come out later this month, and I’ve been trying to get the dope on when it will come out (I’ve heard Feb. 21, so stay tuned).

I’ve also been visiting Arby’s because they have the most flavors on their drink machine. This comes in handy on afternoons in which I’m required to mine large sections of Cicero or Plutarch for school. That’s right, thanks to Arby’s, I now instantly associate classical Roman texts with having to run to the bathroom.  Thankfully for my wallet, my stomach, and yes, my bladder, sucking down all that Diet Dr. Pepper does have its rewards. I am, of course, talking about the lovely survey on Arby’s receipts. If you fill them out, you get a code for a free Roast Beef Sandwich or Roast Beef and Cheddar melt . At $3.29 for the Beef n’ Cheddar (not and, mind you), that’s a whole lot of savings when you think about it. Which is why I’m wondering why it ever took me so long to give the longtime Arby’s staple a try.

The Beef ‘n Cheddar features Arby’s oven roasted roast beef, “piled high” on an onion bun and smothered in a “creamy cheddar cheese sauce.”It also comes with one of Arby’s lesser known sauces, the Red Ranch Sauce, which adorns the bottom of the toasted bun.

Overall, this is a pretty decent sized sandwich. According to the website, you’re getting about 3.35 oz. of roast beef, and from the looks of my sandwich, that seemed to be about right. They don’t skimp on the cheese sauce either, but do a good job of keeping it under control and under the bun. The bun itself is toasted, and the onion pieces on top have a slightly charred look. It’s moist and a bit soggy though, probably due to the moisture and heat of the ingredients. I give Arby’s credit here. This thing isn’t sitting on a heat lamp all afternoon – it’s made to order, and it’s still steaming when I open up the wrapper.

The first bite is almost completely dominated by the cheese sauce. A complex, aged cheddar this is not. I’m expecting super salty processed goo, but it’s not terribly salty, and while it has a funky viscosity, it’s got a cheap and appealing quality about it. I’d describe the flavor as slightly meaty and musky, but I can’t put my finger on it exactly. I just know that it’s made with canola oil, which means it’s not nearly as bad for me as the stuff most places put in their fake cheese sauce. Either way, it blends in with the roast beef, which is surprisingly moist and beefy. Salty, yes, but it’s also beefy, and doesn’t come off as overly processed even though it’s far from the stuff you’d want to buy in the deli section of your grocery store.

I thought this would have been just an average sandwich had it not been for the Red Ranch Sauce and the bun, which save the otherwise bland and savory beef and cheese flavor. The Red Ranch Sauce has a glaze like texture that looks sorta like McDonald’s Chipotle BBQ Sauce, and like McDonald’s sauce the predominant flavor is sweet. But unlike McDonald’s sauce, there a real tang to this sauce, which balances the meaty and salty nature of the beef and cheese sauce. There’s also a bit of a cayenne flavor, but it’s muted.  The bun, while failing to provide much texture, is just what you want. It’s moist and super-chewy, and it has that malted sweetness which make biting through the whole sandwich a multi-level flavor experience. The toasted onions certainly don’t hurt.

Arby’s Beef and Cheddar isn’t going to blow anyone away, but it’s a good alternative to a typical fast food cheeseburger and a tasty upgrade to Arby’s regular roast beef sandwich. I do think the addition of Arby’s BBQ sauce would make the sandwich stronger, and would work well to foil the overpowering flavors of the meat and cheese sauce. I also wonder if any kind of veggies (onions, pickles?) would give a needed acidity. Nutritionally, it actually beats a lot of cheeseburgers, and it’s definitely filling (if you’re wondering, the 0.5 g of trans fat are naturally occurring.) At $3.39 for just the sandwich, it’s a fair value, but considering you can get it free for just taking a survey, I’ll definitely be redeeming future Arby’s coupons for this. Take that Cicero!

Pros: A different take and a nice change-up from regular fast food cheeseburgers. Cheese sauce has oddly addicting quality about it. Roast beef is moist and has good flavor. Red Ranch Sauce is tangy and sweet, while onion bun is a nice change of pace from standard sesame seed.

Cons: Messy once you start eating it. Beef and cheese sauce dominate, and can feel a little heavy. Needs elements of sweetness and acidity. Involves reading Cicero. Old people staring at me.

Taste: 7.;00
Value: 7.50/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.75/10
Price: $3.99

Overall GrubGrade: 7.25 (Decent)

More Info: Arbys.com
Nutrition Facts:
Regular Roast Beef 'n Cheddar from Arby's
Calories: 420
Total Fat: 18 g
Saturated Fat: 5 g
Trans Fat: 0.5 g
Cholesterol: 50 mg
Sodium: 1260 mg
Carbs: 43 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sugars: 10 g
Protein: 23 g

22 comments on “Fast Food Review: Roast Beef ‘n Cheddar Melt from Arby’s

  1. Graham says:

    I’m almost completely off fast food these days, but the Arby’s beef and cheddar is one of my weakest points. It’s an expensive sandwich, especially if you go for DOUBLE beef (recommended), but since I generally try to prepare all food at home or eat healthy if I eat out these days, it’s a worthy splurge.

  2. Heidi says:

    I love Arby’s Roast Beef ‘n Cheddar…I haven’t had Arby’s in so long…it’s totally much lunch tomorrow 🙂

  3. Robert says:

    I love the Beef and Cheddar with curly fries and a Cherry Coke, to bad I when I do get fast food I always seem to forget about Arbys. Must try and remember next time.

  4. Helldog says:

    Are you sure you’re not Arby’s jock since they mentioned you in a national add campaign? I rarely hang out somewhere a couple times a week waiting for new stuff. I just wait for the sign to say it is available. Not accusing you of anything untoward, just asking.

  5. rob says:

    I’m going to be a jerk and point out that Canola oil is made from rapeseed, which is actually toxic to humans.

  6. Astrid says:

    Wish I had an Arby nearby – onion rings, RB sandwiches, Jamocha shakes….it’s been too long! Thanks for the great reviews.

  7. Adam Bomb says:

    I wouldn’t ever get this sandwich if it didn’t have the red ranch sauce on it. That really completes the package for me. I love that stuff!

    • j says:

      Next time you’re there, get a side of red ranch to dip your curly fries in. So, so good.

    • Michael says:

      That’s funny, I’m the complete opposite. Whenever I get this sandwich, I ask for it without the red ranch sauce. I find that it completely overpowers the sandwich, with the meat and cheese essentially becoming a condiment for the sweet sauce.

  8. Amy says:

    This has always been my favorite and pretty much the only sandwich I get at Arby’s. I don’t like when it has too much of the cheese stuff and I usually ask for extra red sauce (they always skimped on it at the one I used to live near). I wish I lived within at least a hundred miles of one now!

  9. Brent says:

    Had no idea that stuff was called red ranch sauce until just now. I just figured it was the regular Arby’s sauce. I don’t eat at Arby’s much.

  10. Kat says:

    Can someone pleae pinpoint the real difference between Arby’s Sauce and the Red Ranch sauce? I’ve had the Red Ranch on the “Super Roast Beef” and just thought the color was more of a zest orange, but the flavor was the same.

  11. Chefprotoss or dan says:

    Awww, come on Adam? Only a 7.25 for this legendary fast food masterpeice? =P

    Maybe I rate it higher because I add horsey sauce. You really should try that.

    Maaaan… Now I want a beef n’ cheddar and I’m trying to diet. Thanks grubgrade. =/

  12. Nick says:

    I don’t know why people rag on Arby’s. Most of their stuff is good, just pricey for fast food. I don’t care if it’s not actual roast beef like they used to have (it was good), but it still beats Wendy’s, McDonalds, and such.

    Oh yeah. In the mid 90’s, they had this roasted chicken with bacon sammich with barbecue sauce and ranch and served it in a clear plastic container. I emailed them to ask the name, and they actually replied back. I need to find that email, and they need to make that again.

  13. Mikey says:

    I’d never tried one until reading this a few days ago. Since then I’ve been to Arby’s 4 times (about as many times as the last 10 years). I’m loving the sandwich, and I even asked for a side of the red ranch sauce as suggested above.

    Unfortuntely, they’ve successfully forgotten the red ranch sauce 50% of the time and been out of curly fries (I know!) 25% of the time. Not sure I’ll be able to go back on a regular basis.

  14. Merlin of today says:

    Arbys sauce and the red ranch sauce are completely different. Arbys sauce is a type of bbq tasting sauce (for dipping), but the red ranch is more of a sweet dressing enhancer (small amount).

    I have tried for years to copy their Arbys sauce. It is very difficult. Took me a long long loooong time. But a recent visit after a three year stint without eating any Arbys… I have finally cracked it. The magic ingredient/s were revealed to me in an instant by my sensitive taste buds while enjoying a beef & cheddar. When I was home I mixed up a batch, cooked, then let it sit for a week for the flavors to meld. And I can say it is spot on! Phew what a relief! No more trying and failing.
    I also managed to figure out the proprietary red ranch sauce Arbys uses on the beef & cheddar and another roast beef sandwich item. It was actually easier because of a hint I received that it is not spicy, but more of a sweet and sour…..Now with this, I can now make my own roast beef and beef & cheddar’s at home for much less $. I know the cheese sauce that is used as well. I’m hungry……..

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