Linked Review: The Big Carl from Carl’s Jr.

If you’ve been on GrubGrade in the past 24 hours or so you’ve probably noticed that The Big Carl from Carl’s Jr. is on our minds.  Well big thanks to Drake from Eat Your Nom Noms! for sending over some pics for us to use.  I’ve also attached some of his thoughts which seem to be primarily positive.  Looks like the McDonald’s Big Mac has some big competition.  As a growing food blog without a fast food grubber for spots primarily in the West, GrubGrade thanks you Drake! Please check out his site.

Here’s a shot of the new Big Carl, fresh outta the wrapper. Each burger comes with “two charbroiled beef patties, Carl’s classic sauce, two slices of American cheese and lettuce all on a toasted sesame seed bun.” That setup cost me $2.49.

The Big Carl from Carl's Jr.
The first impression I got was that it’s a pretty fatty burger. According to the Carl’s website, a Big Carl should weigh in at 315 grams. A Big Mac is 214 grams. Yeah I busted out my calculator and did the math for you: that’s an easy 45% upgrade as far as serving size is concerned.

The Big Carl from Carl's Jr. (open)

First Bite: Lots of big meaty flavor. This is a straight-up old school cheeseburger, and the flavor of the charbroiled beef patties and American cheese hit you big time.

Pros: Lots of meat, lots of cheese. Size, it's much bigger than a Big Mac (cheaper too!) Good value. Charbroiled flavor stands out.

Cons: If you like your special burger sauce, this taste isn't too noticeable. No extra greens other than lettuce...some eaters fancy some tomatoes, onions, pickles, etc. Damn near 1000 calories, but it's a fast food double cheeseburger...duh. You can eat a salad the day after.

Price: $2.49 Nutrition Facts:
Calories: 920
Fat - 59 grams
Carbs - 51 grams
Protein - 46 grams

17 comments on “Linked Review: The Big Carl from Carl’s Jr.

  1. It looks pretty good and I like Big Macs. What’s the diff between this and the Big Shef from Hardee’s? Maybe an extra slice of cheese?

    • Ryan says:

      Big Shef is only 207grams so it’s def smaller than the Big Carl (315grams) and slightly smaller than the Big Mac (214grams)…yeah also seems to be lacking an extra slice of cheese and the bun is different too. I wonder how the special sauce is in relation to Big Carl and Big Mac. Other than that, it seems pretty similar. The Big Mac is still the only one with the extra bread in the middle.

  2. Adam Bomb says:

    I like Big Macs, but I’d definitely give this a fair shot. We used to have 2 Hardee’s stores in my town, but they left years ago 🙁 Do you know if Hardee’s does the Big Carl too?

  3. Ryan says:

    No Big Carl at Hardee’s Adam Bomb. I say they should bring it over and give it a fancy new name…The Big Hardee? I don’t know.

  4. Damn! This may honestly be the Mac that brings the burger back….I haven’t had a burger in many many years but I’ve been craving one so bad lately. I may just have to try one…seeing that I am on the West Coast 😛

  5. GrubDude says:

    I liked this burger a lot. A lot of meat. The fat content is so high I would only eat it on occasion. If you eat this everyday say hello to a coronary bypass!

  6. Marr3wk says:

    This Big Carl looks great! Fortunately we have Big King (especially Big King XXL) in Europe so we also have an alternative for this not-so-Big Mac.

  7. maxchain says:

    Y’know, I didn’t think this one would be able to walk the walk for some reason! I’m sold–I’ll pick one up next time I find a location.

  8. Jonah says:

    I’m not the biggest fan of McDonald’s. Sure, it’s a fast food institution but I usually leave thinking, “never again!”. In contrast, truly fresh burgers like those from In N Out have always been favorites of mine.

    Anyway, I had high hopes for the Big Carl. Sounded like a Big Mac, only better, right? After all, you get superior meat, more cheese, and a larger size….for less money! So you fix the flaws of the Big Mac (such as awfully thin patties and low-grade quality) while preserving the Big Mac’s strengths (such as a distinctive & familiar taste).

    I’m sad to report the Big Carl is a dud. It’s not awful or anything, but it totally lacks any BigMac-ness, if you will. There is almost zero resemblance. Problems:

    1) The #1 problem is the sauce. Big Mac sauce has a very distinctive flavor that defines the burger. It’s what makes it work. The Big Carl sauce may as well be mayonnaise. You can’t really taste it. Maybe they’re not using enough, but it definitely doesn’t have the same tang and flavor of the Big Mac. It’s weak as hell.

    2) The lettuce. Big Mac lettuce comes in little strips and somehow preserves its crunchiness….again, you can taste it. The Big Carl had a hot & soggy layer of lettuce below. Again, because it was hot and droopy, you couldn’t really even taste it. For example, In N Out Burger, which uses layers of lettuce, usually presevres the crunch and flavor.

    3) The meat tastes exactly like Burger King meat. Which is not necessarily a bad thing, but makes it feel like you’re eating a Whopper (minus the tomato). Again, this detracts from the BigMac-ness of the burger. I never realized that the piece-of-crap patties that McDonald’s uses may, in some strange way, actually be a strength. Maybe it helps you taste other ingredients, like the sauce and the lettuce, more precisely because the meat is so bland and nondescript. Weird. However, I can’t really blame them for this, so this isn’t really a huge negative for the Carl.

    The verdict is that the Big Carl makes an implicit promise to be, “like the Big Mac, only better”. It promises the best of both worlds:

    A) Big Mac style flavor
    B) Improvements on McD’s weak points (eg, cheap meat, size)

    The problem is that the Carl totally delivers on point B, but fails miserably on point A. It improves on Big Mac’s weaknesses, but fails to duplicate Big Mac’s strengths (such as the great sauce). It’s strongest attributes are that it’s more filling and the price point, but I prefer to focus on taste.

    Overall, I was very disappointed and don’t recommend it if you’re expecting anything resembling the Big Mac. The Big Carl is a fantastic idea that was poorly executed. Can’t believe I’m siding with McDonald’s on this one. HOWEVER…the 6 dollar burgers stomp all over the Big Mac, though (as does the double double from In N Out). The Big Carl should have come with the angus patties from its 6-dollar brethren and a MUCH better sauce.

  9. Neil says:

    Jonah could not have said it any better. Every point he made was true especially that the burger really reminded him of on from burger king. I was truly disappointed by the burgers promise to compare to the big mac. It was by no means a bad burger, just one that was not very similar at all to the big mac. Maybe a third bun would have changed things.

  10. Mark says:

    Jonah nailed it–the sauce is all wrong, and the wet, wimpy lettuce (at least on mine) made the whole burger a slip-and-slide experience. It’s reminiscent of BK’s Big Mac clone (the Big King?) years ago.

    McD’s should offer what a couple of locations near me used to: the MegaMac (made w./ 2 QP patties.) Good stuff!

    I’m one-and-done with this one; there are much better things on their menu.

  11. Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

    I’ve never had a Big Shef. At all of the Hardees around here, we have the Big Twin. It’s pretty much a Big Mac clone, except they are 2 for $3.33 everyday! A Big Twin consists of:

    2 beef patties
    cheese
    lettuce
    special sauce
    on a bun.

    So think Big Mac minus the pickles, onions, “club” middle bun, and sesame seeds. Is that the same as a Big Shef?

    Does anyone know if Burger King still makes the Big King? That was my FAVORITE burger growing up.

  12. Peter says:

    The Big Carl is a sure-fire ticket to that big body you’ve always coveted — 59 grams of fat, or 62% of the daily fat calories needed by a moderately active 190 lb. male. Way to go America, the chubbiest nation on Earth!

  13. cress says:

    Thanks Peter. Like we here don’t already know what a burger with cheese already contains. Until you posted your comment, I thought I was actually going to LOSE weight by eating this sandwich. Thanks for the life-saving info. Hey everybody, NEWSALERT-burgers MAY be bad for you! Don’t believe me? Go ask Peter!

  14. Mark in Modesto says:

    If I’d been blindfolded, and someone made me eat a Big Carl, I’d have sworn it was a Whopper. No resemblence whatsoever to a Big Mac.

  15. Aarron says:

    i just had it today and it was one of the best fast food burgers i have ever tried.

  16. nahtsch says:

    yo this burger is dank!