Skip navigation
NRA Show

Culver’s wins MenuMasters award for highlighting its home state

Pretzel Haus Pub Burger uses Wisconsin cheese and buns

It’s tough to improve upon a classic food pairing like pretzels with cheese sauce. So when Culver’s set out to create a burger inspired by this Oktoberfest staple, the quick-service chain wanted to respect its source material, searching for a pretzel bread that actually tasted like a pretzel instead of just a shiny bun, to creating a cheese sauce from it home state of Wisconsin without using artificial ingredients.

The result was the Pretzel Haus Pub Burger: Two burger patties topped with pickled red onions, two slices of bacon, Wisconsin cheddar, Wisconsin cheddar cheese and the Prairie du Sac, Wis.-based chain’s bistro sauce made of mayonnaise, horse radish, and mustard. This limited time offer was first made available in spring 2018 for about eight weeks before disappearing and then returning in the fall for Oktoberfest season.

Culver’s menu development team is being honored this year along with other MenuMasters award winners at a celebration at the Drake Hotel in Chicago on May 18.

The team had to get the timing right in developing the burger: Pretzel bun popularity hit its peak in 2014 and 2015 and the chain did not want to ride on the coattails of a waning trend, so they waited.

“We started with this kernel of an idea: What would an Oktoberfest burger be like?” Culver’s menu development director Quinn Adkins said. “One of my menu philosophies is that every ingredient has to stand on its own merits and contribute to the overall symphony of the menu item. For example, I’m a pretzel bun guy, but I find that the vast majority of pretzel buns are pretzels in name only; they’re very dense and heavy.”

Adkins tasted his way across Wisconsin until he found a particular pretzel bun made by a Milwaukee bakery — “the best I had ever tasted.”

The second key ingredient atop this MenuMasters-winning burger is the cheese sauce. It had been in the works at Culver’s for 18 months before the menu development team felt it lived up to the standards of their Wisconsin cheese heritage. The result is a cheesy sauce that acts more like a Mornay sauce than the typical yellow, plasticky cheese topping.

“This burger — with the balance of fat and acid, the visual dynamic of the ooey-gooey sauce, the smokiness from the bacon —is a real dynamic eating experience,” Adkins said. “Then when you think about all the classic fall flavors with the pretzels and mustard and horseradish, the flavors work so well together that no further adjustment was ever needed.”  

Culver’s plans to bring the Pretzel Haus Pub Burger back for a limited time this fall. 

MenuMasters is an invitation only event for foodservice executives. Join Follow #MenuMasters on social media to join the excitement, and get more information On the website you can also submit a form to Request an Invitation. You will receive notification of your invitation status by email within two business days. Only current restaurant and non-commercial operators will be considered for an invitation. 

Contact Joanna Fantozzi at [email protected] 

Follow her on Twitter: @JoannaFantozzi 

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.