Within the past week or so I saw an ad for Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Pub Burger during a televised sporting event and thought it looked interesting enough to go out and give it a shot. This decision led to my first trip to Wendy’s for sandwich research. The more I thought about the components of this sandwich, the more I realized that if Wendy’s were to release an Oktoberfest-themed burger or sandwich, this would be it.
The current version of the Pretzel Bacon Pub burger and/or chicken sandwich debuted in the Fall of 2020 and is now available again for a limited time. #notsponsored #paymedavethomas
What is a Pretzel Bacon Pub?
It isn’t mentioned on the official marketing materials created by the ghost of Dave Thomas and/or his team of marketers as an Oktoberfest sandwich, but when I read these ingredients, I start to think the Pretzel Bacon Pub certainly feels like one.
Wendy’s blog post about the Pretzel Bacon Pub burger says, “… between a soft pretzel bun lies a quarter pound of fresh, never frozen beef topped with Muenster cheese, three strips of Applewood smoked bacon, smoky honey mustard, warm beer cheese sauce, crispy fried onions, and pickles.”
The Pretzel Bacon Pub appears on Wendy’s menu in five different varieties. There are the single, double and triple burger patty versions as well as a fried chicken, spicy fried chicken and grilled chicken option. They have really gone all in on this limited time item.
Why would this be an Oktoberfest or German-focused sandwich?
- Muenster cheese
- Pork bacon
- Mustard (honey)
- Beer cheese sauce
- Pretzel bun
What are we missing? A bratwurst? Burger schnitzel? A beer server carrying 12 huge steins of beer at once? That’s about it.
After I had this revelation, I did a tiny bit more googling and found that in 2020, Wendy’s VP of culinary innovation, John Li, confirmed that this is an Oktoberfest kitchen sink sandwich. Li went on to say, “…we brainstormed all of the ingredients we could think of that related to Oktoberfest. Pretzels, beer, and cheese rose to the top.”
Since we’re right smack dab in the middle of the first official Oktoberfest in Germany since 2019, and since we’ve learned that the Pretzel Bacon Pub is Wendy’s Oktoberfest sandwich, I’m going to try an official one and make our own. Read on and see how we can Oktoberfest at home.
Oktoberfest in Munich 2022
Started: Saturday, September 17th
This blog post: September 26th
Ends: Monday, October 3rd
Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Pub Burger taste test
My experience with the Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Pub Burger was fine. Not great, but it was just fine. If you’ve had a Wendy’s burger before, the burger patty was exactly as you’d expect. Muenster cheese slices didn’t do much by themselves, but I do think the sliced cheese combined well with the beer cheese sauce. I didn’t notice any beer flavor, but the cheeses were one of the stronger components in this burger adding a lot of creaminess. Since huge burger chains are often stingy with ingredients, the two kinds of cheese blended to make it seem like there was more beer cheese sauce on the sandwich.
One of the more interesting parts of this burger experience was the honey mustard and how its flavor would poke through with a hit of sweetness in one bite but maybe not the next bite. The bun was ok, but it was a bit too firm and probably too much bread ratio for just one burger patty. I feel this sandwich would be better balanced if you ordered a double – which is an option (there’s also a triple patty option).
Overall, I think there’s a lot going on here and since we’re talking about fast food products, there were probably some corners cut to save cost and we can do a hell of a lot better making these components from scratch.
Sketchy fast-food photos
Here we go. Get ready.
Review: I’m not going to give this burger experience a score, but I will say that if I end up back at Wendy’s I probably will not order this one again. I think the pickles could be removed since they are a competing and contrasting flavor in the sandwich. If I was to order another Pretzel Bacon Pub item, I would try the spicy chicken filet option instead of the burger.
Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Pub Burger was an ok experience, but we can make a much better sandwich on our own. Let’s get started.
First, we need a bun.
I’ve shared this pretzel sandwich bun recipe in another blog post about black bean burgers. These buns turn out chewy on the outside and soft on the inside, much like you’d expect from a freshly baked soft pretzel.
In that black bean burger blog post, I wrote about salting options for these buns, but I would suggest you don’t even try to top them with salt. The salt eventually just dissolves into the top of the bun and ruins its appearance.
If you simply must put salt on, you can take an unsalted pretzel bun that you baked earlier, paint a tiny bit of water to the top with your finger and then sprinkle on pretzel salt. Bake the now-salted bun at 425 F for 5 minutes, the water will dissolve and leave you with a warm, salted pretzel bun.
If you’ve never made pretzels or bagels before, the boiling step might be a bit of an intimidating process. At that point, you’ve spent at least a couple of hours with dough rising and shaping, and now you must pick up your dough, deflate some of the gas you built up (hehe), and then put that dough into boiling baking soda water.
But the truth of the matter is that this process is not difficult. You will turn your dough balls into ugly, wet, wrinkly blobs, but the heated air in the oven will make the dough rise more to fill out those wrinkles. The boiling process will make a mess of your stovetop due to the baking soda in the water though, but that’s easy enough to clean up.
Your boiled but unbaked dough will look terrible, and you’ll feel as deflated as the dough, but trust in the process, the dough will bounce back in the hot oven and stretch out those wrinkles while it darkens to a pretzel-ly brown.
Here’s my pretzel bun recipe.
Crispy fried onion strings
Crunchy onions are a great addition to almost any sandwich. The homemade kind has a lot more oniony flavor and you can also adjust the flavors, adding heat or extra seasonings by adding different spices to your dredging flour.
This crispy onion string recipe is great, but if you really want crunchy onion flavor, buying the French’s brand fried onions from the store is also a very convenient option. I almost always have a can of French’s onions in my pantry because they have a long shelf life, they’re always crispy and so convenient.
Here’s my new recipe for crispy fried onion strings. They’re great for sandwiches or even just snacking (which is what I did with most of the onions during the recipe testing phase…).
Crispy fried onion strings are a fantastic addition to almost any sandwich. Be very careful though because you may end up eating them all as snacks. This recipe is using a quarter of an onion which is enough for 3 to 4 sandwiches, but double or quadruple the recipe for more.Get Recipe
Honey mustard sauce
Here’s my favorite honey mustard sauce recipe. The Wendy’s version claimed their honey mustard was smoky, but I didn’t discern any smoke in the sandwich I tried. I guess if you wanted to add smoke here, you could go with some smoked paprika or if you wanted to get really wild, a couple of drops of liquid smoke might help, but I’m not a fan of that stuff.
The cheese options
Oktoberfest beer cheese sauce
Wendy’s claims they tried 10 different beers in tests for their beer cheese sauce. I tried one. I leaned hard into the reason for the season and selected Half Acre’s Oktoberfest as my choice.
If you’ve never had an Oktoberfest style beer (hi mom!) you should know that it’s not very bitter, instead, it has a lot of caramel sweetness that works great in a cheese sauce.
You don’t have to use an Oktoberfest if you don’t want to, I would suggest that you should try to use a lager that isn’t too bitter. In my experience, hoppy bitterness can be difficult to balance in the cheese sauces I’ve tried before.
This sauce probably isn’t for children either because it doesn’t cook for long enough to truly boil off the alcohol. I doubt anyone will eat enough to feel any alcohol effects from a thick, cheesy sauce though, but I won’t judge if you do.
Here’s the recipe for my beer cheese sauce, but it’s also in the main Pretzel Bacon Pub Burger recipe below as well.
Also sliced Muenster cheese
Yep, put the slices on the meat. Do it when the meat is warm or hot and that will kickstart the melting process. You’re going to scoop some hot cheese sauce on top so it should melt a bit more after that.
This is my favorite sandwich pickle recipe. It’s quick, the pickles last a long while and they taste great. You can just buy pickles if you want, but if you’re even the least bit curious about making your own quick pickles at home, try this recipe.
I’ll be straight with you and tell you that I think the pickles are the weakest link in this sandwich. I put them on there because they were in the original sandwich, but I think they might be better on the side. There are too many components on this burger and the pickles just happen to be the one accessory that you might want to remove.
Wendy’s says they’re using applewood smoked bacon so that’s what I bought as well. I cooked mine using the oven baked bacon recipe I typically use and have shared a few times here. It’s a fairly hands off bacon making process, which makes it super easy to make a bunch of bacon at once and then reheat briefly on the same surface where you are cooking your burger patty.
While the burger is the default, as I wrote above, Wendy’s menu appears with five different options on the menu. Three of them are the beef burger options and the other three are chicken based. You can get fried chicken, with a regular and a spicy fried option and you can get grilled chicken.
The main recipe in this blog post is for the beef patty, but it is super easy to use either the fried or the grilled chicken recipes below to substitute for the beef patty.
Buttermilk fried chicken thighs
I did not make a Pretzel Bacon Pub option with a piece of fried chicken, but it is an option that Wendy’s offers. I think it would be pretty good though and figured I’d at least offer the option and put my favorite spicy buttermilk fried chicken recipe in this post.
Spicy grilled chicken thighs
I did make a Pretzel Bacon Pub option with a grilled chicken thigh. I did not write up a full recipe for the Pretzel Bacon Pub Grilled Chicken Sandwich, but you can easily just grill a chicken thigh instead of cooking a burger patty using this recipe below. In case you want a grilled chicken version you can use this easy recipe for spicy grilled chicken thighs instead of a burger.
Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Pub Burger takes a quarter pound of ground beef, forms a square patty and griddles it. This isn’t Burger King, there are no grill marks and liquid smoke here.
There are options for double and triple meat on the menu. For this sandwich I tried both single and double patties and I definitely think a double patty leads to a better balance between bun and meat, but both single and double both work well. The triple option is out there if you want to try, but I still have a few years left and don’t want to squander them with even more poor choices.
I weighed out quarter pound balls of meat and shaped those into square patties and got to burgering.
Burger tip: if you’re not making smash burgers, I suggest you form your patties on parchment paper and leave them on the paper. Cut around the patties with a knife or scissors if you want to trim it up a little and then you can just stack up all parchment-lined patties in one stack if you want.
The parchment paper makes it easier to move your patties around without getting your hands into the raw meat. When your pan or griddle is ripping hot, you can easily flip the parchment over with a flick of the wrist and get the burger flat on the hot surface quickly and easily.
Pretzel Bacon Pub Burger copycat recipe
Here’s my Oktoberfast-food sandwich recipe for you to try at home. Let me know if you have tried Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Pub Burger or Sandwich and what you thought about it down in the comments below.
Scroll past the recipe for a ton more photos of Pretzel Bacon Pub Burgers and one grilled chicken version as well.
Here's an extra cheesy burger that will make you long for Oktoberfest celebrations.
- 1⁄2 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1⁄2 cup buttermilk (or whole milk - enough to cover the onions)
- 3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- oil for frying, at least 1 inch deep in your pan
- 1⁄2 cup Oktoberfest beer (or another non-hoppy lager)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
- 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (or cheddar or pepper jack cheese)
- 1 Pretzel sandwich bun
- 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 pound ground beef
- 1 to 2 Muenster cheese slices
- Oktoberfest beer cheese sauce (from above)
- 2 slices bacon, cooked
- crispy onions (from above)
- honey mustard dressing
Crispy fried onions: cut an onion into 4 quarters and slice thin slices off of two of the quarter pieces, making thin strips of onion.
Add those thin strips of onion to a medium-sized bowl along with the buttermilk. You just need enough buttermilk so that the onion is submerged. Mix both together and add to the fridge to let the onion soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
In another medium bowl add your all-purpose flour, salt, garlic powder, and ground black pepper. Mix thoroughly.
After 30 minutes or so, remove the bowl with your onions and buttermilk from the fridge and place it beside the bowl with the flour.
Add at least 1 inch of vegetable, peanut, or canola oil to a large pan or pot and place it over medium-high heat. While your oil is heating you can start dredging your onion pieces. grab a handful of onions in the buttermilk and shake off most of the liquid. Add to the bowl with the flour mixture and coat the onions well. Leave the onion pieces in the bowl with the flour until the oil is hot enough.
When the oil has risen to 350 degrees F (176 C) or when tiny pieces of flour sprinkled over the oil start to sizzle upon entry, you are ready to start frying.
Carefully remove some onions from the flour mixture and shake off excess flour. Add to the hot oil carefully and fry in batches for 2 to 3 minutes or until the onions turn a nice golden brown color.
Once any onions are cooked, move them carefully to a cooling rack or paper towels to rest while you fry the rest of your onions.
Beer cheese sauce: in a medium pot over medium heat add 3 tablespoons of butter and allow it to melt. Once the butter is melted, add 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and stir to ensure all of the flour is mixed in with the melted butter.
Cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. This gloopy, and pasty mixture of butter and flour that you've made is called a roux.
Add beer to the flour and butter roux and whisk everything thoroughly until there are no lumps.
Add milk and bring the entire mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow the liquid to simmer.
Add the salt, black pepper, and paprika to the mixture, stir and then slowly add shredded cheese, a handful at a time. Keep stirring to make sure everything gets combined and the cheese melts. Whisk often during this process.
Once all the cheese is added, reduce the burner heat to low and keep the cheese sauce warm until you are ready to serve. This beer cheese sauce will start to thicken as it cools, so keep it on low heat or move it to a warm crock pot if you want to keep it smooth and dippable for a long time.
Burger cooking and assembly: Slice your bun and toast the inside. You can either do this under a broiler or you can spread a tiny bit of butter on the bun and place it face down in the pan where you plan to cook your burger patties.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat for at least 5 minutes. Shape your ground beef into 1 or 2 thin patties depending on whether you want a double or a single burger. Add your shaped patties to the hot skillet and season the patties with lots of salt and pepper. Cook the patties for 3 minutes on the first side and then flip. After one minute add the slices of Muenster cheese and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes on the second side. These patties should be thin, so they will cook quickly.
When the patties are fully cooked and the Muenster has started to melt slightly, remove the patties to a plate to rest. If you are making a double burger, you can go ahead and stack the patties. Add your slices of bacon to the hot skillet to warm through. They should be cooked already so they just need 30 or 45 seconds on each side to warm through.
Add your burger patties with cheese to the bottom bun. Top the patty/patties with a couple of tablespoons of beer cheese sauce. Top the cheese sauce with bacon slices.
Sprinkle some crispy fried onion strings on top of the bacon and add 2 to 4 slices of pickles.
Add and spread honey mustard onto the top bun and place the top bun on top of the burger, completing the sandwich.
Serve and enjoy.
And here’s a Pretzel Bacon Pub Chicken sandwich
This is the grilled chicken version. I also kicked the pickles to the curb on this one. This was just as good as the burger versions. It’s obviously a whole different sandwich, but it’s still good. I think a pretzel bun is better for a chicken sandwich as well.
And back to one last burger
Enjoy Oktoberfast-food sandwiches!
I will be back next week with a pork-filled, soft white bread sandwich and two different ways to cook them.