Wendy’s begins testing a new plant-based burger this week in three U.S. markets. But unlike other fast food joints, Wendy’s is using a good old whole food — black beans — rather than ultra-processed pea proteins used in more realistic faux meats.
The Spicy Black Bean Burger costs $5.79 and is available in Pittsburgh, PA; Columbus, OH; and Jacksonville, FL. The chain is emphasizing the spiciness of its bean burger, which features paprika, chipotle and a slice of pepper jack cheese. Wendy’s also dissed McDonald’s in a statement, saying “certain plant-based creations have spawned a bland reputation for the category — looking at you McImpossible — but luckily, Wendy’s has spice in her DNA.”
“Consumers are looking for flavor, and unfortunately there’s boring and bland options out there from our competition,” Wendy’s Chief Marketing Officer Carl Loredo said in February, as reported by CNN Business. “They are hyper-focused on flavor and it’s something they want and need right now.”
In addition to the bean patty, the new burger includes tomatoes, romaine lettuce, onion slices, crunchy chipotle jalapeños, spicy chipotle sauce and pepper jack cheese. Wendy’s is not offering a vegan version, as sandwiches can easily get cross-contaminated on the prep line.
The Spicy Black Bean Burger is on Wendy’s special “Made to Crave” menu. “Demand for plant-based proteins has exploded during the past 10 years,” said a Wendy’s spokesperson, as reported by VegNews. “As a company striving to meet our fans where they are and deliver incredible taste and flavor, we identified a culinary opportunity to craft a plant-based protein in a uniquely Wendy’s way. Guided by our food vision, Fast Food Done Right, we’ve been carefully tracking the plant-based trend and exploring the best, most craveable way to introduce it to Wendy’s fans.”
Act fast if you want to try this burger because, as of now, it’s available for a limited time only. Depending on the burger’s performance, it may be here to stay. Or it could go the way of past Wendy’s meatless efforts, such as an earlier incarnation of a black bean burger introduced in 2015, or the pea protein-based Plantiful Burger, which made a brief appearance in Canadian Wendy’s restaurants circa 2019.
Images courtesy of The Wendy’s Company