Fast Food Review: “Sidekickers” Jalapeno Bites with Bronco Berry Sauce from Arby’s

Have you ever been to a really mediocre New Year’s Eve party where the alcohol flows OK but there are some gnarly appetizers going around?  I have, and with Arby’s line of side items dubbed “Sidekickers”, I feel like I’m waiting for the ball to drop so that I can just go home.  While not the worst thing in the world, the Jalapeno Bites at Arby’s left me once again yearning for something that is no longer on the menu.

Jalapeno Bites from Arby's

Arby’s describes their Jalapeno Bites like this:

Spicy jalapeno halves with melted cream cheese, battered and fried for a fiery treat.  Served with our delicious Bronco Berry Sauce.

While I would describe them like this:

Barely spicy super deep-fried morsels of pasty goo with a sliver of weak jalapeno inside.  Served with an oddly named, sweet reddish slime.

Jalapeno Bites from Arby's 2

Maybe I’m being a little harsh but what an odd little side item.  The melted cream cheese filling is a tongue-coating mess of paste.  The heat is laughably mild.  The texture is pretty strange too.  Imagine something like a Fruit Gusher.  But thickly breaded and fried, with a gush of warm cream cheese filling.  The Bronco Berry sauce is sort of reminiscent of the brightly colored sweet and sour sauce you’d find with your take-out Chinese food. It’s a color that no human should ingest.  On a positive, I can see it being a decent cooling agent to the jalapeno, but the ones I had were so mild that I don’t think it really matters.  It’s a fruity, funky berry sauce that probably glows in the dark.  I’ll give credit to Arby’s for making an effort to expand their side item menu line, but at the same time, with these poor newer offerings, my old faves get pushed away. Case and point, Arby’s Onion Petals with Tangy Southwest Sauce.  I can’t find you.  Just another to add to the list of missing favorites.

Jalapeno Bites with Bronco Berry Sauce from Arby's

At a price of $2.99 for a 5count and $4.29 for an 8count, these “sides” seem to be priced in sandwich territory.  They do seem to have some popularity though.  While waiting for my order, two separate people upgraded their curly fries to Jalapeno Bites.  I didn’t have the best experience with them.  They really aren’t anything you wouldn’t find in your grocer’s freezer.  I bet some sort of variant of “Jalapeno Bite” is waiting in a freezer right now just waiting to make it’s appearance at a mediocre get-together.

Arby's Jalapeno Bites Split

Pros: Arby's is trying. Bronco Berry Sauce is weird/funky but surprisingly not horrible.

Cons: Pasty, mouth/tongue coating goo of cream cheese. Not much heat. Super breaded/fried. Not a great value.

Taste: 4.25/10
Value: 5.25/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 7.25/10
Price: $2.99 for 5, $4.29 for 8

Overall GrubGrade: 4.50/10

More Info: Arbys.com
Nutrition Facts:
5 count Jalapeno Bites sans sauce
Calories - 305
Fat - 21 grams
Saturated Fat - 9 grams
Carbs - 29 grams
Cholesterol - 28 milligrams
Sodium - 526 milligrams
Sugars - 3 grams
Dietary Fiber - 2 grams
Protein - 5 grams

36 comments on “Fast Food Review: “Sidekickers” Jalapeno Bites with Bronco Berry Sauce from Arby’s

  1. Marianne says:

    There definitely are Jalepeno Bites waiting in the grocery freezer, I’ve been thinking about trying them. The Frozen Food Master gave them 4 stars. Thanks to your review, I’ll pass on the Arby’s version.

    http://www.freezerburns.com/wordpress/2009/05/20/episode-101-poppers-cheddar-cheese-jalapenos/

  2. Bear Silber says:

    Oh man, if I “upgraded” to these bites from curly fries I be PISSED!

    “Barely spicy super deep-fried morsels of pasty goo with a sliver of weak jalapeno inside. Served with an oddly named, sweet reddish slime.” – Hahahahaha, too funny. Great reveiw!

    @Marianne – I serve those in my shop.

  3. I’m not much for jalapeno, but I will make sure I tell my husband to stay away from these. Thanks for the great review Ryan!

  4. Adam Bomb says:

    I’d rather get jalapeno poppers from the freezer than these, too. Every once in a while, I’ll be hard-up for some poppers and I’ll forget how bland these are. So I make the mistake of buying them, and immediately regret it. It’s crap that you get half of a jalapeno in each “bite”. And the heat is definitely not present at all. I will admit that I don’t mind the bronco berry sauce. I’d like to see the tree that these bronco berries come from though…. 😉

    Good review, and good for you on steering people away from these poor exuses for jalapeno poppers.

    p.s. I, too, miss the onion petals. And the chicken fingers. And the homestyle fries. Damn you, Arby’s. Damn you to hell. >:(

  5. Why does Arby’s feel the need to get creative with the sauce names? It looked like sweet and sour and it may have tasted like it. Why not call it Sweet and Sour and have people say, “Hmmm, I never thought to dip jalapeno poppers in sweet and sour but why the hell not?” Instead one is left wondering what type of Bronco gives off berries and if “berry” is just a fancy word for nuts? (Because thats where my mind went)

  6. @Greg – Totally! That’s exactly what I was thinking…WTF Arby’s…speak up.

  7. Evan says:

    Eh, these are just as good as any poppers I’ve had in any other restaurant. Although I prefer chedder cheese filled. They are a terrible value, however.

    P.S. I work @ Arby’s and we still have chicken salad.

  8. Ryan says:

    @ Evan … What state are you in? The MarketFresh sandwiches at Arby’s are great….and the Chicken Salad Sandwich MKT Fresh must make a nationwide return.

  9. Jon says:

    These things are so gross. I managed to eat 1 and a half.

  10. And I miss the Big Montana sandwich from Arby’s. Mmmmm.

  11. Evan says:

    @Ryan . Indiana. It’s a pain because you gotta make it yourself and cut all the grapes and crap by hand.

  12. Marianne says:

    What! The Big Montana is gone?

  13. Keith says:

    I’m sad that your reviews don’t show up in my Google Reader anymore 🙁

    • Ryan says:

      @ Keith … Maybe it has something to do with me changing the rss to summary. I just did that as a test to see if the blog scrapers would stop getting our full articles. I’ll look into it.

  14. Jon says:

    @Keith. Is this the only blog you subscribe to that doesn’t show up correctly any more? I’m not sure what’s going on.

  15. Adam Bomb says:

    I’m not sure I’d liken the bronco berry sauce to sweet and sour sauce… It is ultra-sweet, but it’s different. I think it’s the only thing that makes the bites tolerable.

    • Ryan says:

      @ Adam Bomb … Agreed… the Bronco Berry sauce is definitely different than Sweet and Sour but it does share some texture similarities. The BB is much sweeter with a slightly fruity taste and sort of magenta colored. Sweet and Sour is more orange.

  16. RTT says:

    A dish with cream cheese and a side of “bronco berries” dip/sauce… sounds like some jay cutler would eat, if you catch my drift-o.

  17. awesome1 says:

    WTF dude no offense, but maybe your local Arbys is bad. Thos things are the BEST things at Abrys. then again thats not saying much.

    • Ryan says:

      @ awesome1 … I’m actually glad someone had something good to say about these. I usually have people disagree with me and today there were a bunch who felt the way I do. I thought there was a joke being played on me. Finally someone loves these! This just shows that my opinion doesn’t matter really. We are all critics. I love things people hate and people love things I can’t stand. We’ll agree on something in due time…I promise. The fun part is leaving feedback to the posts. I’m just here to start the banter. 😀

  18. Raiders757 says:

    $2.99 for five!!! You have got to be kidding me! I don’t care if they were the best item on the menu, I would never pay that much for so little. What, is Arby’s getting like chains, trying to overprice appetizers? I guess I’m just a cheap bastard. I forgot where I was at, but one night I ordered fried cheese sticks, and all I got for $5.99, was five sticks and sauce. What a rip off. I might as well have ordered another full meal for $2 more.

    I wish Arby’s would stick to what they do best. They try too hard these days, and every one in the area are the slowest places in town.

  19. Adam Bomb says:

    @Raiders757: I like Arby’s mozarella sticks, but they are expensive. But you’re saying you paid $5.99 for 5 sticks and sauce? That doesn’t sound right at all…I think you got ripped off! I don’t remember them being anywhere near that expensive at the Arby’s in my town.

    Anybody ever had Culver’s fried cheese curds? They’re pretty tasty when they’re fresh.

    • Ryan says:

      @ Adam Bomb and Raiders757 … I actually bought all 3 of the available “Sidekickers” to do reviews on…the Jalapeno Bites, Loaded Potato Bites and the Mozzarella Sticks. All the small portions were $2.99 and all the larger sizes were $4.29. All I can say is that the Sidekickers do get a slightly better after the Jalapeno Bites let down.

  20. Evan says:

    Arby’s IS getting a value menu soon. It will be more like what Dairy Queen has now. Remember the ‘Pick 5’ promotion? Like that but expanded.

  21. Adam Bomb says:

    I loved the “pick 5” promotion. It used to be 5 items for 5 bucks waaaay back in the day, and then it was 5 for $5.95. I hope their upcoming value menu will be similar in value. Arby’s was actually a budget-friendly choice when that promotion was around.

    Ryan, I look forward to your reviews on the other Sidekickers.

  22. The sauce looks gross and I have little hope that these are better than any popper out of the freezer case. “A” for effort… Btw, love the Indiana representation on the comments Evan & Adam! Arby’s needs a value menu and pick 5 was great, but 5 things are Arby’s is a lot so I rarely did it. Nice work on the review though.

  23. orb205 says:

    HA! “Arby’s is trying.” Amazing. But seriously, a deep fried fruit gusher does seem like a good description, and I have never and will never try these.

  24. Bear Silber says:

    Am I the only one that doesn’t order the 5 for $5 promotions because it just feels wrong getting that much food for that cheap? It makes me squeamish that I may be putting scrapple in my body.

  25. Adam Bomb says:

    Bear, you’re putting entirely too much thought into it 😉 I’m pretty sure we’re all ruining our bodies with this fast food, regardless of what we pay for it, lol.

  26. Raiders757 says:

    @Adam Bomb

    Sorry for the misunderstanding. I was referring to the price I paid at a sit down chain( like Applebee’s or the likes of). Either way, it was still a rip off. I remember when Bennigan’s would at least give you ten, and they had the best of any of those sort of places. Of course, way back in the day, they were the only place that sold them. Fried Cheese is so damn good, but everyone wants to rip you off these days. Even worse, is most places get them frozen, yet still charge us as if they made them by hand, Rather pathetic. Appetizers are noting more than a way to gouge people. I kind of look at these Side Kickers the same way. $3 for what amounts to squat, on top of a $7 combo, is just out of line. Might as well order curbside from a decent place.

  27. Adam Bomb says:

    No prob, Raiders. Appetizers are definitely a ripoff anymore. I know I “upgraded” to cheese sticks instead of curly fries at Arby’s a while back, and my combo suddenly became nearly 10 bucks. That’s just ridiculous for a fast food joint, even if it is Arby’s.

  28. N. says:

    These Jalapeno bites are not as bad as you say they are. This is personally my favorite item on their menu. The Bronco Berry Sauce is not “weird”. It actually is a perfect pair with the bites. It’s just the right combo of sweet and savory. You give everyone the impression that they taste bad when actually, they are absolutely delicious! I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so this is mine.

    • Tb says:

      my fave on the menu too- has been for years. Not a new item here in nc. Just went to arby’s a few minutes ago and they are not a menu item any lnoger 🙁

  29. Andi says:

    I use to work at Arby’s and tried almost everything and Bronco Berry Sauce was gross with the side kickers they have the best ranch that goes on their side kickers. there onion pedals are the best they are like onion rings just no ring lol Most of their food is expensive and they finally have a $1 menu which is awesome they needed a very long time ago.

  30. Tricia says:

    I didnt take the time to research who wrote this review, but whoever you are, youre insane! These are the best little treats arbys had to offer! The cream cheese is perfect in the popper. And there is always a whole jalapeno wrapped around the cream cheese! And the banco berry sauce is amazing! Such a refreshing neat little idea, that had no comparison to sweet and sour at a chinese restaurant! Lets hope this ”food critic” doesn’t quit their day job!!!