McDonald’s has made some fairly large (for them) changes to their menu recently. Last spring they introduced several new Signature Crafted burgers in an attempt to offer fresher and more varied choices to diners as they face competition from fast casual burgers chains in all markets. This follows a failed attempt to induce customers to customize their burgers via kiosk, which never was fully implemented nationwide. The Signature Crafted burgers have some customization options (as I’ll detail below), but they’re primarily offered as set sandwiches, with your choice between Sweet BBQ Bacon and Pico Guacamole, with usually a third option that varies locally. It took me some time to make it to a McDonald’s to give the new selections a taste, but I’m sucker for a guacamole burger, so I always knew I’d make it in eventually.

McDonald’s Pico Guacamole Burger contains “freshly prepared Pico de Gallo, creamy guacamole, real buttermilk ranch, white cheddar, and lettuce … served with a fresh lime wedge.” I ordered it as a meal with a large fries and soda, which was $8.79 before tax.

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Before I go into how the food actually tasted, I think it makes sense to review the ordering procedure because it was confusing. As someone who used to work at a McDonald’s and has been eating there pretty much my whole life, the ordering process for the Signature Crafted sandwiches was unclear.

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For these sandwiches, there’s a three-step map which is laid out on a mat by the counter. It makes sense in hindsight, but confused me as a first time consumer. The first step is to choose your protein: a burger or piece of crispy/grilled chicken. Second step: choose your toppings (i.e. Pico Guacamole). Lastly, you must select your bun, which can be an artisan roll or sesame bun. Seems straightforward, right? However, I couldn’t just go up and order a Pico Guac burger. Their register is set up to do it step by step, and I got tripped up when I made my order, the needed to retrace my steps so the cashier could input all of the information.  I also was trying to order the Buttermilk Crispy Tenders, and the worker at the register misheard my order and almost gave me a different burger. It took us a minute to sort out what I actually wanted.

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Now that I’ve done the blogging equivalent of yelling at clouds for a few paragraphs, how about I discuss the burger?! The Pico Guacamole burger came boxed, wrapped in paper and served with a lime on the side. The box is standard now for “fancy” burgers, but I have never been served a piece of fruit with my order at any fast food restaurant. And in an industry which sometimes struggles to give good, fresh produce as sandwich toppings, the lime looked surprisingly healthy. I don’t think the burger necessarily needed the lime, but as a courtesy, I gave the inside of the burger a squirt before starting to eat.

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The paper worked to keep the burger in one piece. My first bite wasn’t too special; just like a regular cheeseburger. The toppings were inconsistently applied and I was eating on the barer side. While this is a general strategy of mine so the last bites are always the best, perhaps I should start giving myself better first impressions.

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When I got to taste everything together, I enjoyed the burger. This is a classic fancy burger combination, so the flavors combine well and my overall enjoyment came down to the individual components, which were fine to quote good. The pico de gallo and guacamole were the standouts, as they should have been considering the name of the burger.

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Tasting some of the pico alone, I was pleasantly surprised by how fresh it tasted, unlike most fast food vegetables. I also detected some salt and other seasoning (may have been the lime). While I’m not 100% certain I’d want to eat a whole bowl of this with some chips, I’d definitely champion it over the soupy flavorless concoctions most fast casual chains call salsa. Plus, as someone who despises raw onions, keeping the tomato:onion ratio tilted heavily in favor of tomatoes is a major plus for me. While not every burger can have pico, maybe this is a solution around mealy/limp fast food chain tomatoes. Just chop them up and season them to hide them!

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I also want to compliment the guacamole. It had chunks of actual avocado and some spice, maybe from some jalapeños. This was another quality condiment, and as someone who’s a sucker for guacamole burgers the toppings here are really top notch. Because it was actual guacamole and not too soupy or dense, the guacamole generally stayed in its place on the bun.

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Running through the other toppings here, the white cheddar was not good. Somehow it didn’t melt, which was off-putting. It was sandwiched between room temperature to slightly cool pico and guacamole on one side and adhered to what should have been a hot burger on the other side, yet it never melted into meat.

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The lettuce was also not really needed. The burger already had a veggie component and the pico de gallo added some crunch, so the lettuce was literally just filler. Lastly, the burger patty was typical McDonald’s. It served as a vehicle for everything else without detracting too much from the proceedings. The meat is always going to be on the dry side, but I like their burger seasoning.

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There was a buttermilk ranch added to the sandwich. I can’t say that it stood out in any way, but there’s always the chance that it provided some tang to the other ingredients and elevated their flavors. Or it added unnecessary calories.

The paper wrapper kept the burger together and generally in one piece until the very end, making it easier to eat (and take notes) without using 50 napkins. Not every chain can pull that off so it should be noted when it occurs.

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Overall, the burger is a solid win for McDonald’s. I can’t speak for the other new topping combinations, but I would 100% consider ordering the Pico Guacamole Burger again if it stays on the menu. The flavor profile was quite good. There was a lingering spice, I think from the guacamole, that was pleasant and not overpowering. The fresh vegetable toppings lifted the burger beyond a normal fast food experience, which is what McDonald’s was aiming for. I think if you’re a fan of guacamole burgers, this one is worth your time. Or, if you find yourself at a McDonald’s and want something that strays beyond their normal comfort zone, then this is also worth a shot.

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