My Meal of the Week feature examines an airline meal from my travels over the years. This may be a meal from earlier in the week or it may be a meal served over a decade ago.
Burgers are the sort of crowd-pleasing comfort food that have mass appeal. Thus, it is no surprise that United Airlines has consistently kept some kind of burger on its buy-on-board menu. This month’s flavor is particularly satisfying; a pretzel burger with plenty of cheese and bacon.
Perfect Airline Meal: United Airlines Pretzel Burger With Bacon
While traveling last week from Newark to Denver, the choices were either “Japanese style” curry chicken or a cauliflower lime rice bowl. Since I had recently tried both dishes, I asked if I could have a hamburger from economy class instead. The flight attendant was happy to oblige my request.
My meal tray arrived with the hamburger wrapped. I had not even bothered to check what kind of burger was on the menu this month (United typically will make slight variations every month or two, like changing the bun or type of cheese).
This month, the burger was on a pretzel roll with cheddar cheese, bacon, and chipotle beer cheese. Beer cheese is a cheese spread most commonly found in Kentucky.
First, I unwrapped it and put it on the bread plate…the visual appearance of food is an important element of taste.
Then I dug in.
Wow…so, so good.
The bun was perfectly toasted and I love the pretzel flavor. The bacon was salty and distinctly complemented the hamburger patty and cheddar cheese. I did not taste the “beer cheese.”
What a nice lunch…and it again underscores that simple is best. For years, the burger has been the most popular menu on United’s Bistro On Board menu. I understand why…it’s satisfying and delicious. I’d love to see this as a “real” first class meal with soup and salad on the side.
Well done, United. This burger is available for purchase on U.S. flights over 1,500 miles departing between 9:45 am and 8:00 pm.
Looks awesome. Out of curiosity, why do you link beer cheese with Kentucky? I’d always thought of it as being typical of Wisconsin since they’re big on making and consuming beer and cheese.
Just from google. Honestly, I had never heard of beer cheese before in my life.
Thank you for posting this. I have been flying that route for almost two years now, and if I eat Zaatar chicken one more time I might scream. It never occurred to me to ask for a coach meal. Next week I will be eating a bacon burger, or whatever burger they are offering.
Looks guiltily satisfying, but for 1500 miles? :<
Matthew, I trust your judgment on burgers, and have no doubt it was delicious. The part that I find funny is the irregular shaped patty, which various outlets have used to make their burgers look homemade/handmade, even though it’s obviously made by a stamping machine. I remember a decade ago, Burger King offering “back porch grillers” with that “homemade” shape that just looked weird and ridiculous. 🙂
Thanks for including the ingredients list, but surprised to see potato flakes in the patty. Beer cheese must be a spread. What was in the bowl. All in all it looks pretty good!
Matthew, I love your food photos and that looks like a heart attack on a plate. I’m impressed that you seem to stay in good shape while eating “junk” here and there 🙂
It’s a struggle, but I only eat crap like this on the road. At home I am much more disciplined.
Why? Why does this actually look better than the intl J pre landing burger they serve? It’s baffling to me.
Wanted to try this burger on a recent transcon flight, but sitting in an exit row had resigned myself to the fact they’d be out of them by the time they got to me. (I can’t begin to understand United’s catering process). So I was shocked when they got to my row and still had some left!
Totally agree with you that it’s great, in fact it is probably the best burger I’ve had on United, and I tend to enjoy their burgers in general. I hope they’ll keep it around. I had been CPU’d to F on the outbound flight and while the service on that flight was excellent, I enjoyed this burger more than I did that meal in F.
@ Matthew — That looks disgusting.
Disgusting is a bit strong. Unless you’re vegan/vegetarian, I think most people would enjoy the taste of that burger. The problem I have is that as much as I may enjoy a greasy burger every now and then, it’s low hanging fruit for a first class meal. But as was indicated, it wasn’t actually the first class meal, so it makes sense.
I’ve had the beer cheeseburger and it’s excellent. They got rid of the pickles, which made it an option for me (I’m allergic to pickle brine). Perfect sit-in-your-stomach-for-a-bit option for a reasonably long flight (my flight in this case was three and a half hours). And beer cheese is a thing all over the Midwest, definitely in Wisconsin, where they take cheese as seriously as the Germans take beer. However, you can find it in airports all over the country, usually as a dip for Bavarian pretzels. You people on the coasts don’t know what you’re missing sometimes.
The bigger issue here is what dipwad millennials are running — or, rather, ruining — UA’s F catering? Pre-pandemic, they kept pushing this horrid Indian food. It got to the point that when I first boarded, I told the FA to please save one of the other meals for me. Every flight I was on, the alternate option was always gone well before the entire cabin’s orders were taken. Do they even bother to poll their pax to see what they would like?
How about expanding preflight ordering, so everyone gets what they want? if nothing else, for the love of God, stop the exotic dreck and just serve beef, chicken & pasta (vegeterian option), but do them well!
Agreed there is no excuse there is not pre-ordering yet on widebody jets or longhaul flights.
I agree. (1) I have been on too many flights where the meal options are exactly the same, a very spicy chicken concoction and a meatless meatballs sandwich. (2) The one flight where I was offered pre-selection, I chose something mild, a charcuterie plate. Boarding, I was informed the selection would not be available, but I could choose another entre…. Which turned out to be that spicy chicken dish in another form. I am disgusted with United offerings and non-existent pre-flight get my ck.
You were very lucky. The burger was supposed to be on the menu on my recent flight, where I was fortunate to have a first class seat. But the burgers were never loaded on, even for economy. As the curry bowl and cauliflower thing sounded unappealing, I chose the charcuterie plate… which had 4 pieces of cheese, 2 pieces of salami and 4 teeny figs.
I had this pre-ordered [in domestic F] IAD to IAH last week and it was surprising edible, and I will order it again.
Paid 10 bucks for it in coach – worth it