Review: Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder from McDonald’s

The McDonald’s Quarter Pounder has been going strong for over 40 years and it’s a favorite for many.  With the recent departure of the Angus Third Pounders, some room has opened up on the McDonald’s menu and a new trio of Quarter Pounders have taken the spot.  For those of you familiar with the Angus Deluxe and the Angus Bacon & Cheese, you’ll be happy to know they are back in their new quarter pound burger form.  Those of you chile-heads looking for some peppery heat from a McDonald’s burger, you’re in luck because there’s a new Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder option.Quarter Pounder BoxI wasn’t overly amped to get my spicy fix from a burger, but I’m usually excited when a new burger from McDonald’s enters the picture so I had to give it a shot.Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter PounderThe Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder is described by McDonald’s like this:

A quarter pound of 100% beef topped by smooth white cheddar, thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon, tomato and leaf lettuce, and a spicy-cool habanero ranch sauce, all on a toasted, bakery-style bun.

Spicy-cool eh?  Maybe this is a way to attract the frightened customers who can’t handle the heat (ahem, me).  Well, I can handle it to some extent, but I’m usually afraid that spicy will outperform the taste.  If the habanero ranch sauce can have enough heat and still retain a balanced flavor, this burger will have better mass appeal than just an option for the spicy lovers.

The habanero ranch sauce has a big kick of peppery heat when sampled alone.  With all of the other ingredients coming in to play, the heat is tolerable and tasty.  I like to avoid any pain when I’m grubbing and perhaps my pain will come later, but in the case of the habanero ranch sauce I handled it well.  The ranch aspect of the sauce is what gives it the creamy texture and that’s where the ranch ends.  I was hoping for a ranch sauce with a hint of habanero and I got a habanero sauce with a hint of ranch.Habanero Ranch Sauce McDonald'sWith the new Quarter Pounders at McDonald’s, we’re also being introduced to new bacon… FINALLY!!!  I’ve never liked McDonald’s bacon very much and this thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon is long overdue.  Up to this point it’s been all about Wendy’s for fast food bacon supremacy and they’ve had little competition from the national quick-service chains.  In our bacon poll from last year, McDonald’s only received 21 votes for best fast food bacon with over 900 votes cast.  So how’s this new McDonald’s bacon?  It came across a little undercooked (which I like), and taste-wise is a big improvement over the old bacon for me.  This new bacon has more of a real salty pork quality and thankfully wasn’t and flat pressed chewy dog treat like it was in the past.McDonald's New Applewood Smoked BaconThe cheese.  The big difference here is the use of white cheddar which has been making a appearances in some of the latest featured products at McDonald’s such as the excellent Grilled Onion Cheddar Burger from the Dollar menu and the recently released Egg White Delight McMuffin.  There’s only one slice of white cheddar as opposed to the two slices of American cheese in the original Quarter Pounder with Cheese.  As a matter of fact, all of the new Quarter Pounders only have one slice of cheese.  I was surprised with how much an extra slice of cheese means to a cheeseburger.  The McDouble and the Double Cheeseburger are separated by just one slice of American cheese and its a pretty noticeable difference to me.  Maybe if the Chipotle BBQ Bacon style returns in Quarter Pounder form, we’ll see the return of that extra slice of cheese.  The toasted bakery-style bun was dense and sturdy.  By feel alone the bun came across as stale, but taste and texture after my first bite proved otherwise.  It’s a decent bun for the burger.  McDonald's Bakery BunThe quarter pound beef patty felt reminiscent to the Angus line where it didn’t come across overly greasy.  The slice of tomato was fresh and juicy and it helped give some moisture to the slight burn of the habanero sauce.  The leaf lettuce was on the limp and wilted side… it’s normally hit or miss.McDonald's Leaf LettuceThe new Quarter Pounders are $3.99 and this price point is the new high standard “premium” burger price at McDonald’s.  With changes in the economy and the rising costs of ingredients, I wasn’t too shocked to see the Angus Third Pounders go.  The business strategy to re-brand the Quarter Pounder was made in order to avoid keeping the Angus Third Pounders and drastically increase the price.  The Angus Third Pounders were holding on to that $3.99 spot and that just wasn’t making sense anymore from a business perspective.  I’d imagine the appeal of an Angus Third Pounder at close to 5 bucks is something that McDonald’s needed to avoid, and for fast food, I like the decision to go with updating the Quarter Pounder instead.   The introduction of new bacon and habanero ranch sauce gave me enough to not be too concerned over getting a smaller burger for the same price.  As far as premium priced fast food burgers go, the Bacon Habanero Ranch is in the ballpark of what I expect these days.

Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder McDonald'sIn closing, the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder is a great spicy option at McDonald’s where the spicy options are few and far between.  I found it surprising that the Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder has 10 fewer calories than the Crispy Chicken & Bacon McWrap.  The burger is a nice change of pace from the standard ingredients.  The habanero ranch sauce and bacon stand out and that’s just about all I can ask for when going in to a choice like this.

Pros: New bacon. A spicy burger option.

Cons: Rising costs equal less bang for your buck. Leaf lettuce. Habanero ranch sauce wasn't very ranch-like.

Taste: 7.50/10
Value: 6.50/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 6.50/10
Price: $3.99

Overall GrubGrade: 7.50/10

More Info: http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food/product_nutrition.sandwiches.1161.quarter-pounder-bacon-habanero-ranch.html
Nutrition Facts:
610 calories
Total Fat - 31 grams
Saturated Fat - 13 grams
Cholesterol - 105 milligrams
Carbs - 46 grams
Sodium - 1180 milligrams
Sugars - 10 grams
Dietary Fiber - 3 grams
Protein - 37 grams

49 comments on “Review: Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder from McDonald’s

  1. Dave says:

    Without the usual quarter-pounder bun, this doesn’t look at all like it should be called a “quarter-pounder”-type burger at all. It seems to look much more like just a smaller Angus burger. Sad thing is, when the Angus 1/3-pounder line was first introduced, they were priced at $3.99 (at least where I live). Now, you get a smaller burger for same price?… If that’s the case, I will probably not bother much with them aside from a “taste test”, then will likely stick with Culver’s.

    • Lancaster says:

      As Ryan mentioned, they’ve also omitted one of the Quarter Pounder’s defining characteristics: the second slice of cheese. I can understand classing up the bun a bit, but there’s only so much you can change before it ceases to be any sort of Quarter Pounder, other than the patty. Check out the blurb on the packaging: “Exciting tastes combine with our Quarter Pounder with Cheese…” But this isn’t a combination, it’s just a whole different product altogether.

      McDonald’s has built a whole reputation on named products – Big Mac, Quarter Pounder, Filet-O-Fish, McMuffin, McGriddle, McWrap, McNuggets, etc. These new “Quarter Pounders” would have been more distinctive if McD’s had actually drawn from that heritage and lived up to the name they chose to use here. As they are, they’re just humdrum replacements for the Angus line.

      Think of it this way: what if they’d come out with a Bacon Habanero Ranch Big Mac? What changes to the Big Mac would have been tolerated before the name was no longer applicable?

      • Chad says:

        I disagre, the quarter pounder simply refers to the size of the patty. It makes sence from a food cost standpoint that McDonalds did away with the poor performing Agnes line and will now get creative the Quarter pounder line. Otherwise you will be paying 3 bucks for a soda.

    • THK711 says:

      I wouldnt complain about the new bun too much. Eventually the regular quarter pounder is switching to this as well.

  2. Andre says:

    With the bun bigger and burger smaller, relatively speaking, I usually go for an extra patty. I used to do that with the angus burgers – now that was a meal. It’s about $1 or $1.50 extra at my local stores… not too bad.

    • Robert says:

      A 2/3 lb McD burger? Seriously? Yikes.

      Anyway, yeah, I’m torn on this one. I do think it makes sense to expand the quarter pounder line, but $3.99? The Angus burgers by me were still $4.29, so the price difference is negligible. But there’s less beef and less cheese. Isn’t one of the defining characteristics of a quarter pounder the fact that you get two pieces of cheese?

  3. Chris says:

    Just had it tonight.

    Got it with no lettuce or tomato and I added extra cheese, extra sauce, and grilled onions. Combo with all the add ons was over $8… yikes

    Flavor was great. Burger patty had likely been in a warmer as it was dry in texture.

    Love the thicker bacon. Definitely a smokiness to it as well.

    Factoring in the price and what you get, I’d say a 7.5/10. Good effort in adding variety but as the original review said, a lot less bang for the buck. If you have to be at McDonald’s then go for it, but otherwise hit up Five Guys, In-N-Out, or Wendy’s.

    I might be alone, but I thought McDonald’s third pounders were decent and at least kept McD’s in the conversation.

  4. rondoman says:

    The Angus 1/3lb burgers were the only burgers I got at McD’s so I am disappointed they are gone.

    So basically we are getting less meat and less cheese for the same price?

  5. Michael says:

    I have always preferred the 1/4 to the 1/3. I tried the 1/3 multiple times but it just was never as good. But I am one of those people who doubts himself, so now I want a 1/3 pounder…

  6. JF says:

    I had about 3 or 4 Angus burgers when they were available (regionally) and they never really impressed me. The last time was at an airport and that seemed to be the best option. It seemed to be too salty (maybe because I always got the Bacon & Cheese version).

    While it’s nice they are keeping them, to a degree, with a quarter pounder. But I agree about the pricing point that I used to get a bigger, higher quality burger for the same price, so now I seem to getting less for the same price. Sure costs, inflation, etc. affect prices, but this really doesn’t sell me on wanting to try one.

    The other piece is that I do not think I ever had a quarter pounder. It was always the Big Mac, a McDouble (Value Menu) or one of their chicken sandwiches. I might try one, but certainly not compelled to do so.

    Thanks for the review, as always. I am pretty sure I will pass on this line, but who knows.

    And not that a Big Mac is a great sandwich, more nostalgia at this point, and the last time I saw how they prepped it, it wasn’t all that pleasant (pulling the patty’s from a heated water bin, slapping it together and nuking it for a bit. But be damned, sometimes it does hit the spot!

  7. Jonathan Wayne says:

    What a joke and a ripoff, McDonald’s just does not get it. I’ll just keep on driving past them to Five Guys and other options.

    • PeterM says:

      I think they get a LOT of things right, including some that 5 Guys does not, for example – seasoning the burger patty. Tried them three times and it appears their intentions are good, but still a big 5 Guys failure on that score. Their fries are interesting and a real challenge to McD’s – those I DO buy at 5 Guys.

    • AZdesertdog says:

      “ripoff”?

      let’s see; I decided to go to Five Guys in Phoenix to see what the hype was all about.

      first, the place was empty. I would soon find out why.

      a double burger, fries, hot dog, and a large drink.

      cost: $18.82.

  8. Josh says:

    Funny how everyone says they loved the angus 1/3 pound burgers and are pissed they are gone. Well if that’s the case why didn’t anyone order them? Had people bought them regularly then they’d still have them. I’ve come to the conclusion that most people just like to piss and moan any chance they get about McD.

    • Chris says:

      My friend is a franchise owner for McD’s. He said outside of the dollar menu items and the Happy Meals, the Angus line were lunch/dinner best-sellers. Sometimes it’s not just how many you sell but also the invoice cost of the product. With beef prices rising, I’m sure there wasn’t as much “take home” as some of their other menu items.

      • Scrape says:

        I think it was also the added cost of the “Angus” designation, as well as keeping and cooking the 1/3 lb. patties in the supply chain. It added to storage, distribution, and labor overhead costs. Now, they can use the cheaper beef and use the underutilized 1/4 lb. patty already in the restaurant for the same type of thing. It is kind of the Taco Bell philosophy…creatively use what you already have in the store to create a new menu item. I really liked the Angus burgers and would rarely order anything else besides the occasional BigMac or McDoubles. I also find the quarter pounder to be excessively greasy, so I don’t know if I will try these now.

  9. Dustin says:

    Really like the review. Well thought and phrased writeup that I wish some of the other reviewers could follow instead of going on about the companies involved or comparing the item to places that aren’t generally labeled fast food. Just a good review on the item in question, 10/10.

  10. IowaGal82 says:

    Does it have that “McDonald’s burger” taste? It’s a taste unique to them. I don’t mind it with my Big Macs and double cheeseburgers, but I absolutely hate that flavor on the quarter pounder and their other premium burgers.

  11. Bethany says:

    I ordered this yesterday at the drive-thru…when I opened it up at my desk they had made it with a fried chicken patty…no idea what happened but wow was it good. Reminded me of a Wendy’s spicy chicken sandwich with that sauce. I was pleasantly surprised with the heat, I love spicy things. I’ll have to go back to try the REAL sandwich soon I guess…

    • Joshua says:

      I think you’re on to something!

      The best fast food is the stuff you make up yourself!

      I’d try it sub chix with Xtra Hob sauce, xtra cheese and add red onion. Of course, ld wait the X amount of minutes for “fresh” chix to be dropped so its hot and melts the cheese.

  12. Lannister says:

    Since when do we compare McDonald’s to places like Culver’s, Five Guys or In-n-Out? Of course people would choose one of those if everything else (cost, locations, service speed) was the same.

    I’m definitely excited to try the new quarter pounders. Ok, so it’s only 30 cents or so cheaper than an Angus and has less meat and cheese. But I’ll gladly trade that 1/12 pound of beef and slice of cheese for better bacon (that has flavor!), heartier bun and lower cost. Not to mention a spicy option.

    • rondoman says:

      Really?

      Comparing Mcdonalds to Culvers and In and Out which are also fast food places isn’t reasonable? That’s a completely asinine statement. Culvers is right around the same price point as this Quarter Pounder meal. They also have locations all around where I live and they are just as fast if not faster.

      When fast food burgers are starting to hit the price points of places that are fast casual you dang well can compare them. Would I rather spend $8 at Five Guys or $7 at Mcdonalds. Hmmm.

      • Lannister says:

        Yes, really! It’s ridiculous to compare Culvers or In n Out to McDonalds since those are located in only 21 and 5 states, respectively… 5 states! Not enough to be an alternative for most people in the US. It’s ridiculous to compare Five Guys to McDonalds since it’s a different price category. Over $9 to get the smallest cheeseburger, fries and drink ($9.37 to be exact not including tax)… significantly lower than a Quarter Pounder combo. So please review the merits your own statements before calling someone else’s asinine next time.

        • Doug says:

          You get what you pay for at five guys or culvers compared to the garbage at a McDonald’s or any other dollar value place. I’d happily pay the extra money for something better.

        • rondoman says:

          Significantly lower? Less than $1.50 between Five Guys Burger, Fries and drink compared to Mcds Quarter Pounder meal large sized with fries and a drink. Woah.

          • PeterM says:

            At the Santa Rosa 5 Guys, a cheeseburger is $6.59, a small fry is $2.59 and a medium soda is $2.29, for a total of $11.47. Yes, that’s right – just under $11 and and half bucks. For a burger, fries and coke.

            My recent recollection of the same combo from McD’s (including a quarter pounder with cheese) was less than $7. So, yes, 5 Guys is at a different category and price point as McD’s. They compete on quality(5 Guys wins, except for the fries IMHO)but lose on price.

        • Not a burger snob says:

          I agree, given that there are NO Culvers or In and Outs in my neck of the woods AT ALL. Even Five Guys is a rarity around here. There’s not even a Checkers or a Hardees or whatever their alternates are, so I’m happy to see an affordable fast food place offer something more than the usual.

      • JF says:

        I think I understand the point he was trying to make. I only had In and Out once or twice (which was well over 10 years ago, so I don’t really recall their service model, etc) and I have had Culver’s a few times as well.

        McDonalds is a QSR. I am not entirely sure where In and Out and Culver’s stand between QSR and Fast Casual, but I know Culver’s always cooks to order (like Fast Casual). My average wait time is about 7 to 8 minutes, regardless of how many people may (or may not) be there.

        McDonald’s is not cooked to order, you are in and out (no pun intended) in minutes, even when they are busy, thus the quality and attention to detail (my opinion) is lower than fast casual places.

        So I think the point was based on time/quality vs. pricing. And I agree, comparing a QSR to FC isn’t really appropriate and the overall experience/quality should not be expected to be the same.

        You can call it unfair, that’s your opinion, but the reality of it is McDonald’s operated more like an In and Out, Five Guys, Culver’s, etc it would be a totally different experience and (in my opinion) a higher quality product.

        So I agree in principal it is not a far comparison. It’s like comparing a steak house like Ruth Chris, Palm, Luger, etc. to the steaks you get at Chili’s, Outback, Applebees, etc. There really is no comparison, and again (in my opinion) there really shouldn’t be since they play in different areas.

    • Chris says:

      Culver’s, In-N-Out, and Five Guys come into play when McD’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s are now all in the $8 combo range. Hardee’s has been there for awhile already.

    • Jonathan Wayne says:

      Hmm, I don’t know, when you start charging the same amount of money…

      How completely ludicrous, comparing a burger place to another burger place that charges the same money for their product. What will we crazy people do next?

  13. rightclue says:

    I wonder if they still have the Angus Snack Wraps?

    ON a side note, do NOT listen to government reports regarding inflation. They claim it is steady… but when they calculated CPI, they used different baskets of goods to make their calculations… they used to use steak to calculate prices, now they use hamburger meat to calculate prices and claim there is no inflation.

    End The Fed!

    • Ryan says:

      Angus wraps are gone too.

    • JF says:

      Didn’t think they would as that might almost defeat the purpose, but checked their site and the only burger wrap they still have is the big mac wrap. Not much of a surprise here. As it was the same burger patty, so didn’t seem logical to get rid of the burgers (Angus burgers) but keep the patty’s for a wrap since this decision seems to be more around cost/profit vs. customer demand.

  14. Raphael says:

    Huh. I had Bacon Habanero Ranch Quarter Pounder and was most surprised by something that didn’t even make your review. I thought the patty was far less salty than the old Quarter Pounder and it made for a much improved burger. The old Quarter Pounder had a salt level that turned me off but the new sandwich fixed the issue and I really enjoyed it.

    • Ryan says:

      I agree. The overly greasy mention was kind of leaning toward the same impression.

    • Michael says:

      I completely agree and I think it’s because it DOESN’T have that extra cheese the normal QP has. I personally prefer less cheese in my burgers now because I want to taste the meat and other flavors. Wendy’s for example forced cheese on us and i still request it removed because that salty American cheese over powers the burgers IMO. I had the Habanero QP the other night and thought it was solid but with all the stuff on it the patty felt small.

  15. Josh says:

    Some of you are nuts. Culvers, in and out, and 5 guys? Their burgers suck!! They are thin, greasy and burnt and the fries are horrible. I’ve eaten at them a total of two times each and will never go back. McDonald’s food is high quality and good flavor. These new Quarter pounder products are awesome and the price is good as well. The McD in our town is promoting to double up the beef for a $1.

    • rondoman says:

      Everyone is entitled to their opinion but you will be hard pressed to find many people agree with you and think that McDonalds burgers are better than In and Out, Five Guys, or Culvers.

      Never said those three places were the best burgers in the world, but compared to McDonalds, they are a clear step above in my opinion.

      And sorry but McDonalds food is not high quality. They are fast food, you get what you pay for, which is a fast quick meal that is not high quality but cheap and relatively filling.

  16. Dave says:

    Price-wise, last I checked, a “Culver’s Deluxe Single” (with all the fixins) was $3 & change where I live, probably a bit more with bacon. Somebody put one of those up against one of the new McD’s Quarter Pounders and get back with me. Culver’s wins in my book. Sure, they’re not in every state (yet), but they are getting there. They also offer “snack pak” meals (premium sandwich, fries, drink) in the +/-$5 range, which isn’t bad.

  17. Julie T. says:

    I tried just the habanero sauce today, not the fancy quarter pounder sandwich (too pricey for my tastes). I went about this “poor man’s Big Mac” style and ordered both the Spicy McChicken and the McDouble sandwiches with this sauce added (in addition to the regular condiments). I am a lover of spicy food so I may be a little biased, but I didn’t think this was very hot at all. In fact, upon tasting the sauce on the sandwiches and then trying it just by itself, I thought and thought and thought about what it reminded me of (has a very pronounced unique flavor) and then it came to me! It tastes like Cholula sauce mixed with mayo. Enjoyable sauce and I do love bacon but I would never pay over $2.00 for a sandwich at McDs unless it was some sort of 5,000 calories custom job, especially since I’d make them keep their funky lettuce! I suggest just getting the McDouble with bacon and this sauce on it.

  18. maxchain says:

    It’s decent! The habanero doesn’t really take the offensive until you get a bite of just bun. $4′s a bit much for Decent, though; I feel like Hardee’s Thickburgers completely decimate it for that much or less.

  19. Mike says:

    Looks to me like you got ripped off. The BHRQ comes with 3 half strips of applewood smoked bacon and as for the bun, it’s the same bun they use for the premium crispy and grilled chicken sandwiches.

  20. LanceBass says:

    You haters complain about everything, jeez. I just found and tried this burger today and while its not shake shack, its a really really tasty burger. I will definitely be getting another, love the sauce and they definitely got the bacon right. nice and crispy. throw in some hot salty fries and a dollar nugget and i was….lovin it??

  21. Wayners says:

    I tried one for the first time today (6 June 13) in Washington, D.C. downtown. No more thick sliced applewood bacon. It was the usual ultra-thin beef jerky dog treat bacon that was overcooked to a crisp. The sauce is very spicy but ok with all the other ingredients. Decent burger but disappointed with the bacon. My lettuce was nice and fresh unlike the pic above. I think it was either green leaf or Boston lettuce. Tomato was nice and fresh. Bun was fresh. I’d get it again.

  22. BigBelly says:

    I had one of these last week, and I am sorry to say, I was really disappointed. The first couple bites seamed horribly dry, it was at this point I noticed it was cold. In the process of nuking the patty, and bottom bun, I had the opportunity to stick my finger into the orange sauce…. Where’s the spice? admittedly I am a chilli head, but I got nothing from this stuff. After reassembling the burger with a heated patty, it tasted better, (the new bacon is good!) but not worth the price for me

  23. Dave says:

    Tried two of them today thanks to the B1G1 offer. That is the ONLY way they will ever convince me of trying them. Normal price of $4 & change is way too much per burger for what I got. Bun was very DRY, meat was DRY, and the veggies were limp and lifeless. In fact, I think this may be the driest McDonalds burger I have ever had. In addition to the shake I ordered, when I got home, I had to consume the better part of a pitcher of Minute Maid lemonade, just to get that dryness out of my throat. I really had it bad. My throat and insides were dry from the burger, my brain was froze from the shake, and the habanero sauce was so hot, it gave me the hiccups… It’s not the first burger from McD’s to be overly dry to me, however. For a long time now, I have avoided McD’s altogether because of the dryness factor of several of their burgers. Guess that’s why I like Culver’s so much better. Juicy burgers, crisp veggies, great bun. McDonalds, get a friggin clue, please. This is not the 1960′s anymore. People expect better quality these days, and don’t want to pay top dollar unless the quality is in line, which in my opinion, it isn’t. The best burgers they once had on the menu (aside from the current McDouble and Big Mac), were the McDLT, Arch Deluxe, and Cheddar Melt. All were delicious, and not anywhere near as dry. Bring them back please, and you may regain me as a customer by doing so. That is all.

  24. Colin says:

    I tried them today and was NOT impressed. Waste of my money. My location was $4.59 per burger even with the BOGO so it was still major ripoff.

  25. Craig Byl says:

    BEACH BREAKS BURGERS AND SHAKES!!! VIRGINIA BEACH BY LYNNHAVEN MALL BLOOOOOWSSSS FIIIIVEE GUUUYS AWWAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!

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