Consumers ordered more burgers last year, as restaurant chains introduced new twists on the traditional dish.
Limited-time launches at Wendy's last year included the BBQ Pulled Pork Cheeseburger, featuring a beef patty topped with hickory-smoked pulled pork, crunchy slaw and cheddar cheese on a brioche bun; the Ciabatta Bacon Cheeseburger, with rosemary garlic aioli, asiago cheese, a nine-green springy mix and roasted chopped tomatoes; and the Bacon Portabella Melt on Brioche, topped with mushrooms and cheddar sauce on a toasted brioche bun.
Among several new burger offerings, Burger King debuted the Extra Long BBQ Cheeseburger, including two patties layered side by side with American cheese, onion rings and barbecue sauce on a sesame seed hoagie bun.
The new Jalapeno Double from McDonald's features two beef patties topped with crispy and sliced jalapenos, white cheddar and ranch sauce.
In December, Carl’s Jr. claimed to be the first fast-food chain to offer a natural beef patty with the introduction of the All-Natural Burger, made with a grass-fed, free-range beef patty that has no added hormones, antibiotics or steroids. The sandwich features the charbroiled patty topped with cheddar cheese, tomatoes, red onion, lettuce, bread-and-butter pickles, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise on the chain’s signature fresh-baked bun.
At the end of August, Applebee's introduced its new All In Burger platform, featuring burgers that are made with the toppings pressed into the patty during grilling. Four varieties include Triple Bacon, with bacon inside and outside, plus bacon barbecue ranch sauce and cheddar cheese; Sweet Asian Pineapple, with pineapple, spicy sweet Asian chile sauce and jack cheese; Mushroom Swiss, with Portobello and button mushrooms, smoky mayonnaise and Swiss cheese; and the American Standard, featuring pickles, bacon, onion, signature sauce and American cheese.
Fast-casual chain Smashburger recently added organic ingredients to the menu, including arugula and mushrooms, and introduced the Organic Arugula and Truffle Mushroom and Swiss Burger, including truffle oil, garlic grilled mushrooms and mayo. Earlier in the year the company introduced a gluten-free bun option made by Udi's Gluten Free and reformulated its burger seasoning to be gluten-free.
For a limited time, Jack in the Box introduced the Bacon Insider, which placed bacon on top, inside and below the beef patty, which was drizzled with bacon mayonnaise sauce, lettuce, tomato and American cheese on a brioche bun.
New to Chili's craft burger menu is the Sweet & Smoky Burger, topped with pepper jack cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, spiced panko onion rings, lettuce, tomato and a new mango-infused smoky barbecue sauce plus Chili's new signature sauce.
A gourmet offering on Red Robin's menu last year called The Big Sky featured a blackened beef patty topped with bacon, creamy goat cheese crumbles, an onion ring and a sriracha drizzle.