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May 20, 2010

Review: Burger King - BK Fire-Grilled Ribs

BK Fire-Grilled Ribs poster
Burger King's BK Fire-Grilled Ribs recently made their debut to major markets, including my very own Los Angeles.  Made possible by the new batch ovens that replaced the old conveyor belt flame broilers of old, the new BK Fire-Grilled Ribs are a limited-time item and advertised as "smokey and slow cooked" and "authentic bone-in pork ribs."  Around the web, they are also known for hitting a fairly high price and as a potential face plant for Burger King.

Prior to its recent entry to major markets, the ribs were tested for the better part of a year in Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Greensboro, and Orlando.  They were developed for over a year in cooperation with the National Pork Board, whose logo features on some of the advertisements.
BK Fire-Grilled Ribs in a Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich bag
I went for an order of three pieces, which curiously came in a taped-shut Tendercrisp Chicken Sandwich bag.

BK Fire-Grilled Ribs are made from "full-muscle" ribs (I have no idea what that means), cut into short sections.  This means the the pieces are smaller than the pork ribs you are used to.  I would say they are roughly 2.5 to 3 inches in length at most.
BK Fire-Grilled Ribs, they didn't taste burnt at all despite the look
The price on these babies are $2.99 for three or about $1 a rib in the Los Angeles area (prices vary around that range in other markets).  They're available in three-, six-, and eight-piece orders and come with BBQ sauce on the side.  (Update: the suggested price for the ribs is $2.99, $5.69, and $7.19 for the three-, six-, and eight piece orders respectively.  The suggested retail price to add three ribs to a combo is $1.99)

A combo of six-pieces, a small order of fries, and a small drink comes out to $7.69 in my area.  An additional two ribs can be added for $1.30 more.
BK Fire-Grilled Ribs - it didn't take any effort to clean the bone
So how were they?  Beyond the fairly small size, the were actually nicely charred with a nice, smokey flavor, without tasting burnt.  The meat was pretty tender and pretty much fell off the bone.  I would guess that the ribs are pre-cooked, shipped to each BK restaurant, and are then finished in the batch broiler ovens when they are ordered.  On the downside, they were just a tad too salty and each piece probably had about as much meat as a chicken nugget or two, meaning you probably want to order at least six ribs for a meal.  Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the execution, but put off by the miniscule size for the price.

Ultimately, I think this is a gamble that won't pay off for Burger King.  The premium price puts the BK Fire-Grilled Ribs squarely in the range of fast casual restaurants and at the low end of casual dine-in restaurants, both of which offer a better dining environment and a more upscale dining experience.  What you get from Burger King is speed and convenience, but you can't sell a $6-plus premium item in a $1 value restaurant.  It would be a little easier to sell if Burger King restaurants looked a bit more upscale.
Also, considering that you can get a half slab of ribs at Tony Roma's for about $15 or a full slab (roughly 12-16 ribs) for $20 with two sides, and the BK Fire-Grilled Ribs end up costing around the same.  And, if you live in a barbecue-rich place like Memphis or Texas, I definitely don't see you forgoing your local favorites to get some ribs at Burger King.

The sister-in-law did ask me if I would get them again if they were full-sized ribs for the same price, and honestly, I would, but they're not.

Burger King Restaurant Locator

Nutritional Info - 3-piece 
Calories - 220 (from Fat - 144)
Fat - 16g (Saturated Fat - 6g)
Sodium - 640mg
Carbs - 2g (Sugar - 0g)
Protein - 17g


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17 comments :

  1. What was the fat to meat ratio like?

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  2. Very good actually. They trimmed it well, there weren't any bits of fat to chew on. There was one piece of cartilage though.

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  3. Looking @ the calorie count: the ratio is about 1:1...
    Decent meal if you order 6 on a low-carb diet

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  4. what kind of meat? pork or beef used here?

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  5. i had them for lunch and i thought they were great i will be getting them again

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  6. @Jerzey: bone-in pork ribs

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  7. I can't believe how big a ripoff these ribs are. I ordered the 6 pc for $5.69 and got a nearly empty 'BK Shots' box. The commercial mentioned sauce. Is it supposed to be on the ribs or separate? There was no trace of sauce anywhere, and they really could have used some sauce. The ribs were tiny and flavorless- 2" to 2 3/8" long. This isn't just a bad deal. This is purposely taking advantage of the good faith of BK's customers. I can't believe BK would knowingly alienate their customers this way. If I hadn't gotten them to go or if BK was reasonably nearby, I would have returned them. As my wife put it, "I think this is the worst we've ever been ripped-off." BK has lost at least these two customers for life.

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  8. The worst!!!They were burnt...and slow cooked my foot!!They are fried...boiled and fried or broiled!!!You can tell!Not worth the money!!!Don't buy them!!!They taste nasty and they are expensive!!!Yuky!!!

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  9. In Maryland, the 6-piece combo costs $8 and change after tax. The best way I know to describe this experience is like it's eating teriyaki beef jerky. Way too expensive and saltier than heck. This is a major fail.

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  10. well.. bk ribs have come to wnc. and they were pretty horible. been reading about it. but the price point is way to high in fact, you would have had to pay me to eat a second one. and I like bk. but not this. each one not much bigger than a chicken wing 4.95 for 3.this was a bad idea from the get go. and I live in the south, nc in fact. there are questions about eastern or western sytle, and I have lived in tx ( good beef) and ky ( goat or sheep) chicken is ok. but some person got paid a lot of money to dream this up. and it is pretty bad. it reminds me of a mcrib, except... well at least they were only 2 bucks. pretty awful though. I can only imagine the franchiess ire at being stuck with this turkey of an idea.. they had to put in new eqipment, when anybody could have told them.. ugh uh.

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  11. this is to the guy that wrote the review. why not check your grammar and spelling next time? try including the cholesterol with the nutrition too.

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  12. I thought they were delicious...and I am rib expert. Don't get me wrong, they are no where close to the best rib I 've ever had; but, for a fast food place they are pretty good. They are better than Applebee's cold, rubbery riblets, that's for sure.

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  13. Sooooooooo Nasty and not worth the price...supposed to come with BBQ sauce on the side and when i asked for some they didn't have anymore..WTH??? Never gonna buy it again..HORRIBLE!!!

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  14. Had these today.. Tasted like ASS!!!!

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  15. SOOOOO deliscious but SOOOOO expensive for 3 tiny pieces $2.99. i'm not rich but if the ribs were larger it would be worth it.

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  16. These were my least favorite BK item.  I had some for the first AND last time.  They were kinda bland and didn't even begin to satisfy me.

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