Review: Three Cheese ButterBurger from Culver’s

As a Junior in High School, I scored a perfect 16 out of 16 on the analogy section of the PSAT, so when it comes to the topic of comparative literature I feel that I speak with some authority.  Therefore, in an effort to set the stage for this review and disclose my bias, I present this – Minnesota : Wisconsin :: Springfield : Shelbyville.  Loyal GrubGraders will know that I am a native Minnesotan, meaning that just as Homer encouraged his boy to shake his fist at all things Shelbyville, my dad taught me to do the same to anything with origins in the dairyland to our east, most notably, the Packers.

With this history as a backdrop, you can imagine my skepticism when the Culver’s franchise first dared set up shop in the Twin Cities a few years ago. Initially, of course, I figured they would all fail within months, you know, because they were from Wisconsin and any self respecting Minnesotan would not set foot in one.  Well, as it turns out, they, like the internet, were more than just a passing fad.  Several years later there are countless Culver’s in the metro and across our great state.  As a bit of irony, my first trip into a Culver’s was actually with the man who taught me to keep an eye on Bucky Badger, but don’t worry, he wasn’t going to let these two bit Wisconsinite’s off the hook.  He was going to do the only logical thing he could think of to put them in their place.   He would correct their grammar.

The sign outside of every Culver’s has two tag lines below the name.  The first reads:  “Frozen Custard”.  The second line, appearing directly below the first reads:  “Butter Burgers”.  To a simpleton Cheezehead, this indicates that there are two primary offerings inside; Frozen Custard and Butter Burgers. But, of course, to any well educated person like my dad, the sign clearly lacked the necessary comma to indicate that they were not actually offering “Frozen Custard Butter Burgers”.  So, ready to teach these intruders about the linguistic standards we expect of our immigrants, he proceeded to tell the 16-year-old girl behind the counter that he would like a Frozen Custard Butter Burger.  Without flinching, the cashier asked:  “What flavor custard would you like? Do you want your burger in a combo meal with fries? Clearly, the message had been sent.  Years later now, I have dialed back my disdain for Culver’s (but not for the Packers).  However, I still associate the Culver’s brand with Wisconsin, which makes it a little strange to see them around here.  Thus, in order to give a proper review of the new Three Cheese ButterBurger, I thought it best to go into the belly of the beast.  So, on a recent road trip to Milwaukee (Algonquin for “The Good Land”), I made a stop at a genuine Wisconsin Culver’s.  I chose the Three Cheese ButterBurger since it was the new featured item on their menu and we here at GrubGrade strive to keep things fresh.

Culver’s shares this philosophy.  As noted in this press release, they do not freeze their beef and always cook your burger to order.

“The ButterBurger, a guest favorite, is amplified with three varieties of cheese, all crafted in Culver’s home state of Wisconsin. Cheddar (Kiel, Wis.), Swiss (New Berlin, Wis.) and American (Manitowoc County) bloom with flavor on the fresh, never frozen Midwest-raised beef seared on a grill. The lightly buttered, toasted bun gives a ButterBurger its signature name.”

Some places will say they cook your burger to order, but I never really believe them when it’s on my tray before I can leave the counter.  Culver’s gives you one of those plastic numbers to put on your table and then they bring your food out to you, which lends credence to their claim.  If you go through their drive through, expect to have to pull forward once you pay and wait for them to bring your order out curbside.

If you’ve never had a ButterBurger before, it’s something to put on your “bucket list” (shout out to commenter Keith).  It’s not something so totally new that you should pack up the kids and head to the Midwest, just to try, but there’s a particular taste-texture combination that sets it apart from its fast food burger cousins.  To be clear, the burger is not fried in butter.  Only the bun is coated in butter and then toasted on the grill.  There’s nothing too groundbreaking about the Three Cheese ButterBurger.  It’s just a double with three cheeses in an alternating, cheese-patty-cheese-patty-cheese roll call.  However, it sets up nicely as a simple, but solid burger. The cheeses being separated by patties and not stacked on top of each other allows your taste buds room to maneuver and pick out the quality Wisconsin dairy products (There, I said it.  I used Wisconsin and quality in the same sentence).  After all, Wisconsin : Cheese :: J-Lo : Junk-in-the-Trunk.

The double is a manageable size and doesn’t leave you feeling like a gluttonous American; more like a hearty Midwesterner. However, if you’re looking to try out Culver’s other specialty, the Frozen Custard, I’d opt for the fries instead of the Cheese Curds as the compliment to your combo.  With the standard fries as a side, the meal will will set you back $6.79; not unreasonable given the quality of the food. As you can see from my pictures, the Culver’s staff didn’t exactly construct me a perfect burger, but then again, this isn’t New York, and I’m not expecting to eat this thing with a knife and fork, so the poor presentation didn’t really bother me.  Culvers has a number of unique choices on their menu, including a Beef Pot Roast (can be ordered as a dinner or as a sandwich) and a Swiss Patty Melt (my favorite). In summary, Culvers : Fast Food :: GrubGrade : Food Blogs.

Pros: Classic Midwest experience, good solid cheeseburger, lots of menu choices for sides and other sandwiches if someone in your party is not in the mood for a burger.

Cons: For Bears and Vikings fans, you may have to admit you like something from Wisconsin; They don't actually make Frozen Custard ButterBurgers.

Taste: 8.50/10
Value: 7.00/10
Grubbing on-the-go: 5.00
Price: 6.79 combo meal

Overall GrubGrade: 8.00/10

Nutrition Facts:
Burger Only
701 cal
42 g fat
175 mg cholesterol
1015 mg sodium

20 comments on “Review: Three Cheese ButterBurger from Culver’s

  1. SkippyMom says:

    Now I really want a rootbeer float.

  2. Adam says:

    How was that bun Murray? It looks quite good – squishy and sweet I hope, yet firm enough to soak up those juices and butter. I’ve heard of some midwestern places that absolutely drown their burgers in butter – wonder how those taste…

    Anyways, I’m kinda bummed to see the not so melted cheese. I’ve made some griddle steamed cheeseburgers in the past and they’ve been dang good.

    • Murray says:

      Their buns are good. Nothing too special, but I don’t get a burger for the bun. It’s really more of a conveyor of butter than anything else.

  3. Cowangel says:

    Their rootbeer is great, as is all things Wisconsin. Go Badgers!!
    Not the best cheese curds around the state, so I agree, go with the fries instead at Culver’s.

  4. carmen says:

    After talking about bad grammar, you said there beef instead of their, LOL! 🙂

  5. Bob says:

    They have one of the best prime rib/roast beef sandwiches you can get too.

  6. Zachary Jacob Zblewski says:

    First off, if you’ve never had deep-fried Wisconsin cheese curds before, go ahead and try them at your local Culver’s. Just know they are not a true representation of everything a Wisconsin cheese curd can be. That being said…

    I’ve had the Wisconsin 3-Cheese a few times, and it’s pretty good. Its not my favorite Culver’s burger ever, as that distinction is split between last year’s LTO Pepper Grinder Bacon ButterBurger and LTO 3 Pepper Chipotle ButterBurger. I wish they would bring both of those back as a full-time menu item. Another excellent offering from Culver’s is the fried chicken. Try that out when you get a chance. It’s available as a basket, a dinner, or in buckets.

    In other news, I just found out a 20-piece bucket of chicken has 6550 calories, 360g fat, 2125mg cholesterol, 14300mg sodium, 245g carbs, and 570g protein!

    Go Pack Go!

  7. Crystal says:

    Mmmm…sooo love Culvers!!! I always have to upgrade my drink to a shake or a concrete mixer with that delicious frozen custard. Now I’m craving a butterburger, but just ate lunch…tomorrow then!

  8. Cow Doc says:

    Culver’s is a weak spin-off of the restaurant who started the idea of “Good food fast”. Happy’s Drive-In located in Onamia, MN, had the idea of cooking your food to order and bringing it out to your table more than 20 years ago. Their food is much better also. Only thing Culver’s has on them is the frozen custard!!

    • Bubbs says:

      I don’t really think that Culver’s is a weak spin-off of the concept of cooking food to order in a fast casual environment, or of Happy’s.

      That concept of cooking food and bringing it to your table started long before 20 years ago. A&W, for one huge example, has been doing that well before “20 years ago”.

      What you’re saying would be the same as saying: Panda Express is a weak spin-off of Chin Chang’s restaurant in Yaksqueeze, AK… they’ve been providing a fortune cookie with their take-out for 5 years! That does not make Panda Express a weak spin-off of Chin Chang’s.

  9. J.A. says:

    I am confused by two things in the post…

    1. Why is the pickle on top of the bun?
    2. Are cheese curds really offered as a choice of side in the midwest?

    I guess being in the south shields me from things like those previously mentioned…

    • Murray says:

      Not sure what the pickle on top of the bun thing is all about, but I’ve seen it at other places too; mostly at mom and pop joints. There were more pickles inside.

      I think Culvers and A&W are the only two places I’ve seen cheese curds offered as a side. Also, there’s an upcharge of, I think, a buck to get them instead of fries.

      • Aimee says:

        Next time you’re here go to KOPP’S, ya filthy Gopher!!!!

        (Kopp’s puts a pickle on top of the bun, too. I don’t know why.)

        And yes, J.A., this is Wisconsin, where we love our cheese and put cheese on everything: Burgers, tuna sandwiches, sloppy joes, tacos, etc. The best Curds are at State Fair, though.

  10. Mr. M says:

    This post definitely made my mouth water. I recently moved south, and Culver’s is definitely one of the restaurants I miss from the north! I love their burgers and frozen custard. I was never a big fan of their fries… I always thought they were a little on the bland side.

  11. Justin ST says:

    Culver’s is terrible.

    • Aimee says:

      I can’t eat their burgers ever since I had my gallbladder out. Not a good situation. Their walleye is outstanding, though.

  12. jesi says:

    totally hear ya as a minnesotan, although its not like wisconsin and minnesota have incredibly different cuisines. we like a lot of cheese on things. we like a good slab of meat.
    i feel like culvers’ portions have gotten smaller in the last few years. i get the mushroom swiss burger and it used to be GARGANTUAN, now its like regular fast food burger size. still frigging delicious though. their onion rings are the shit, with a side of ranch! and mmmm if you have never had the frozen custard, its a MUST TRY! get a menu of their flavor-of-the-days and go when they have a flavor you like.

  13. joe says:

    well minnesota is like a cheap rip off of wisconsin…less lakes..less beauty..and crappy football…that’s where the inferiority complex filled undertones of this article come from.