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Carl's Jr. Does Handmade Biscuits. Really?

carlsjrjambiscuit.jpg
Dave Lieberman
It's a rare occasion when we link to Fast Food Maven around here, but I was intrigued by the recent article post handmade biscuits at Carl's Jr.

After all, everything in a fast-food chain comes preportioned and pre-dumbed-down so that anyone can do it, right? Creativity and individuality are swear words in the modern American fast-food parlance, so what the hell is Carl's Jr. playing at with this business of making biscuits in-store every day?


I arrived at my local Carl's Jr. shortly after 6 a.m. and asked the person behind the counter if the biscuits were really handmade. Maybe it was because it had been open for exactly seven minutes and no one had gotten a chance to crack into the (terrible) coffee yet, but it took a few tries to ask a couple of basic questions. Yes, they're made in the store. He wasn't sure he could tell me how often, or whether it starts from whole ingredients, or what fat was used. (It's partially hydrogenated soybean oil--in other words, shortening.)

The ingredients list published by Hardee's is actually relatively innocuous, and the biscuits are surprisingly good. Fluffy, hot, nice crust on the outside, not too baking powdery. If you've ever had a biscuit that tasted slightly metallic, that's what it's from. By themselves, they were a little bland, but for fast food, they were very good.

Biscuits aren't complicated things to make--really, it's flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt with fat (shortening, butter or lard) rubbed into it, then mixed with buttermilk. It's unusual, though, to see a fast-food restaurant following a recipe that millions of Southerners know and actually succeed with it.

You can't get the biscuits by themselves, though--they come as sandwiches or as a side with jam. I bought one of each and took them to the early risers in my office for their judgment.

The sausage biscuit was awful. I mean, awful. Even the best homemade Southern biscuit couldn't redeem that saline, bone-dry hockey puck. Worse, the biscuit somehow amplified the saltiness and the overwhelming sourness of the sausage. Nobody in the group liked it.

carlsjrhambiscuit.jpg
Dave Lieberman
The ham was far, far better, with a little hint of porky salt accentuating the egg, cheese and biscuit. The same went, though less so, for the bacon, which was flimsy and gossamer-thin, yet still flaccid and without any structure at all.

Finally, there was the jam biscuit, which had a dollop of strawberry jam in a divot in the top and stripes of white icing slashed across it. The jam was cloying, and the icing didn't help--for Pete's sake, Carl's Jr., you've got a pretty good thing here. Just sell the damn thing plain and offer butter (real butter, thank you, none of that Country Crock garbage) and honey.

And thus concludes one of the only positive stories I've ever written about fast food. I'd actually go out of my way to eat one of those ham biscuits over, say, an Egg McMuffin, and that's saying a lot.

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23 comments
blaser1454
blaser1454

Honestly,  back in 87 we lived in Snead's Ferry N.C. there was a place called Skat's. It primarily sold chicken and Bisquits. Both were awesome but in the mornings they sold a blueberry bisquit with berries mixed in drizzled with icing. OMG, being in the Marines I had to exercise a hole hell of a lot more because of those yummy cakes. Anyways they were owned by Hardee's which  owns K-Jr. There is no longer a Skats but the chain should make those again. Almost a real piece of heaven on earth for any type of foody.

ServentSeaSlug
ServentSeaSlug

I just got a job there as the person who makes the biscuits. It's only going to be my 3rd and last day of training but I think I can hack it. =b

chrisnishti
chrisnishti

I have to say.... Best biscuits EVER.

Darkkitty
Darkkitty

Yes, the biscuits are hand made every single morning and the person making them continuously makes them throughout the breakfast time. They usually look like a powdered donut by the time they are done because the flour gets everywhere. 

Carrion Fairy
Carrion Fairy

Carls Jr is easily the best burger fast food restaurant so I'm not too surprised. A couple days ago I had their new burger (real name escapes me) that had bleu cheese, fried onions, and A1 sauce on it and it was actually very enjoyable.

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

Tried it as biscuits and gravy a couple months ago. It was decent.

909Jeff
909Jeff

What do they say about trying the same thing over and over again expecting different results?  

JB
JB

But I agree with Claudia Koerner...

I visited the Carl's on Bristol Street near Weekly World Headquarters yesterday morning,

and when I removed my free sausage biscuit from the bag while still inside the restaurant,

the wrapper was already drenched in grease.  

Don't get me wrong...the biscuit was good, and I like grease...but I could have wrung the thing out like a sponge. 

JB
JB

Shockingly, Nancy Luna liked the biscuits she made. 

 

DanGarion
DanGarion

The new Carl's Jr. biscuit reminds me of how the old McDonald's biscuits tasted about 20 years ago.

Claudia Koerner
Claudia Koerner

I tried one of the sausage biscuits when they were giving them away for free yesterday, and I was surprised how greasy the biscuit was. Props for the fluffy interior -- it tasted like real food -- but with that greasy crust, it was almost like they dropped the whole thing in the deep fryer before serving.

todd534
todd534

It's odd that you can't just buy a biscuit. You can at Hardee's. 

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

Did Carl's also steal some of the oddball biscuit sandwiches from sister Hardee's closet? Like the fried bologna biscuit, or the fried pork chop biscuit?

Carrion Fairy
Carrion Fairy

And by "fast food restaurant" I meant to see giant chain corporation.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Hi Julie,

It might have been a miscommunication from the staff; in any case, are bitter and honey available? Because that'd be awesome.

Darkkitty
Darkkitty

@todd534 I work at Carl's Jr in Oklahoma...Yes, you can buy a plan biscuit there. 

Darkkitty
Darkkitty

@Shuji Sakai Most carl's jr. breakfast is Hardees. If you ever purchase the cinnamon raison biscuit, you will see the Hardee's logo on the box. Same thing on the biscuits and gravy.

H. Dumpty-Wahl
H. Dumpty-Wahl

I grew up on fried baloney -- ugh -- but the fried pork-chop biscuit sounds elevating, especially if decent gravy is available.

The only thing you Weekly people who hate fast food and never talk about it talk about more is Yelp, which, as I understand it, you also hate and never talk about. I may put somebody on that.

Carrion Fairy
Carrion Fairy

*SAY

GOD DAMN YOU YOU FAT LITTLE STUBBY FINGERS! MAYBE IF I ATE LESS FAST FOOD I COULD USE A NORMAL KEYBOARD!

Darkkitty
Darkkitty

@Dave Lieberman I work at carls jr. in oklahoma. Yes, you can buy just a plane biscuit at carls jr. Yes, butter and honey is also available. :)

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