Carl's JR's Double Bacon Western Cheeseburger Recipe

If you're reading this, then it's quite likely that you already know what Carl's JR is, and what the Double Bacon Western Cheeseburger is (also known in its smaller version as the Junior Bacon Western Cheeseburger). For those not in the know, it's a cult sandwich served on the West Coast by a fast-food restaurant called Carl's JR. Carl's JR who purchased the east-coast chain Hardees several years attempted to make their own iteration of the Western Cheeseburger when thousands of displaced Californians demanded they did so.

There was a couple of problems however. One it wasn't produced verbatim. Apparently suppliers on the east-coast couldn't produce the same meat or onion rings for the sandwich, so they renamed it the Western Thickburger and topped it with French's fried onions. While it did fill the gap, it arguably wasn't the famous Western burger of Carl's JR. Furthermore it never caught on in the south which has a much different image of BBQ (shredded pork) and was poorly marketed. To make matters worse, several times during the "limited time only promotion", I found personally that our local Hardees never placed the sandwich on their menus and several employees said they didn't even make the sandwich. On one attempt I accidentally asked for the west coast version: "Double Bacon Western Cheeseburger", and they had no idea what I was talking about until I said "Western Thickburger."

While I do like Hardees, until they bring the Western back to the East-Coast, the restaurant will never be a "special" to me. With the nearest location some 1200 miles away in Dallas, it makes it a taunting tease for us stuck in a land void of the Double Bacon Western Cheeseburgers. A couple weeks ago I made the trip to Texas, and found our nostalgia for this amazing sandwich was not without warrant. The smokey sweet bbq sauce, salty bacon, and for me I add lettuce and tomato to round out one of the best fast food burgers I ever had, and which always leaves me with a smile on my face.

When I can't get to Carl's JR, I make my own. The same problems Hardee's had will likely be your difficulty too. Frozen onion rings just don't do it for me, so I'll either hand-batter some home-made onion rings, or use the canned French's Fried Onions too. The rest is just baking bacon, cooking a burger, and enjoying this wonderful combination of flavors at home in your kitchen.

Since Hardees has all the ingredients to make a Western BBQ Thickburger on hand as a part of other food products, the question is why don't they offer it? I'd be a fan.

Carl's JR Double Bacon Western Cheeseburger Recipe

  • 2 Hamburger patties (preferably charcoal grilled)
  • Hamburger buns
  • Center-cut bacon
  • 2 slices of American cheese
  • Cattlemen's Kentucky Sweet and Bold BBQ sauce (or alternative [**see below]) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • French's fried onion crisps (or alternative onion rings).
  • Lettuce and tomato (This is the way I like it!)
  1. I'm not sure that I need to dumb down the burger assembly process, but if you manage to get the above toppings in any sort of order between two buns, you'll be just fine! 
**Obviously the secret to this sandwich is the BBQ Sauce. Kraft foods (French's) and their corporate subsidiary Cattlemen is generally the distributor of most fast-food BBQ sauces. The closest formula is their Kentucky Sweet and Bold formula, though I do believe Carl's JR version is a slightly altered (proprietary) variation of this recipe. While Kraft does offer consumer size versions of there BBQ sauces under the brand-name Bulls-Eye, they do not offer this version (they did at one time, but no longer). You can either buy the commercial version on the Internet, or look for an alternative in your supermarket. Look for a Sweet and Bold style sauce, and look for the ingredients of either liquid smoke or natural smoke flavor (most important) and (prepared) mustard. Good Luck!

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