We Tried The Lowest Rated Sandwich At Culver's. Here's How It Went

Culver's is a beloved regional fast food chain that's a favorite in the Midwest for its hearty, dairy-heavy fare. The chain's ButterBurgers are made with fresh beef that's cooked Smashburger style to get beautiful crispy edges and then served, as the name would suggest, on buns spread with a generous amount of butter. In addition to the burgers, Culver's also serves many different permutations of frozen custard, as well as the quintessential Midwestern state fair treat, fried cheese curds. This restaurant isn't necessarily the best place for those looking to shed pounds, nor for the lactose-intolerant, but it delivers well-executed comfort food classics that put it in the top tier of fast food joints.

That doesn't mean that every single thing the restaurant serves is a winner, of course. Mashed surveyed Culver's fans to find out what the public thought the worst item at Culver's was. One item was the clear winner (loser?), with over one-third of the vote: the Harvest Veggie Burger. This vegetarian option earned around twice as many votes as the second-worst finisher. But we couldn't just take your word on it — no, we had to head over to our local Culver's to taste this reviled meat-free option for ourselves. Is it truly as bad as people say, or is this vegetarian sandwich a victim of defamation? Read on to find out what we thought.

Culver's Harvest Veggie Burger overview

If you think you can escape dairy by ordering this veggie burger, you are sorely mistaken. This is Culver's we're talking about. Per the Culver's menu, not only is there cheese incorporated into the patty itself, but there's also butter on the bun. We're kind of surprised you don't get a slice of cheese on top of the patty to complete a dairy trio, but we're sure you could add one if you really wanted to.

In addition to real Wisconsin cheese, the patty also contains corn, peppers, mushrooms, and fire-roasted chickpeas. It sits on top of a bed of lettuce, red onion, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise.

We paid $6.10 for our Harvest Veggie Burger, including tax. By comparison, a single ButterBurger with cheese costs $4.39 before tax. The prices may be slightly different in your area. The patty of the Harvest Veggie Burger is a fair bit larger than Culver's beef patties, however, so you do get a bit more food for the extra cash.

How does the Harvest Veggie Burger taste?

Veggie burger technology has advanced considerably in recent years, with products like the Impossible Burger mimicking meat well enough to potentially fool carnivores. The Harvest Veggie Burger is not that kind of plant-based patty. It belongs to an earlier generation of veggie burgers that didn't really attempt to replicate the beef experience, instead trying to make tasty vegetable-based sandwiches that don't hide their plant-based roots. This really isn't a bad example of that type of veggie burger.

The patty has a good flavor, with many of the ingredients adding pleasant tastes and textures. The corn contributes chewiness and a little sweetness, as do the peppers, while the mushrooms and cheese lend a distinct savoriness. You can see visible chunks of veggies scattered throughout the patty. Its main failing is its texture; it was a little mushier than we would have liked, and it had a tendency to try to escape out the back of the bun when we took bites.

As with all Culver's sandwiches, the fixings are on point. The onions, lettuce, and tomato all seem freshly cut and actually taste like themselves. The bun is fresh, hot, soft, and fluffy, and a little bit of melted butter makes anything taste better.

Were the survey results right?

This may be the worst menu item at Culver's, but if it is, that's more a reflection of Culver's overall excellence than any particular weaknesses of this sandwich. There's a reason that this brand rated as America's favorite burger chain in 2021, per Eat This, Not That!: Its ButterBurgers are superb, as are its sides. Culver's frozen custard, shakes, and concretes could give Dairy Queen a run for its money any day, as well.

It just doesn't seem fair for the Harvest Veggie Burger to compete with such strong items on the rest of Culver's menu. Sure, it's not as good as a ButterBurger, but we still enjoyed eating it. If you served Culver's veggie burger at most national fast food chains, it wouldn't even be close to the worst thing on the menu (we're looking at you, Burger King chicken nuggets). If we rolled up to a Culver's and didn't feel like eating meat, we'd happily order this again.

How could it be improved?

Just because we defended this burger doesn't mean we think it couldn't be better. As we mentioned above, the texture of the Harvest Veggie Burger is its biggest weakness. The little pieces of veggies are held together with some kind of paste that seems like it's made from ground-up chickpeas. This paste is softer than we would like in a burger patty.

To improve the texture, Culver's could work on making the exterior of the patty crispier. The one we ate was lightly griddled on the outside, but it could have used a harder sear on it. A stint in the deep fryer would probably have made it even better. Deep-frying might seem contrary to the ethos of a veggie burger, which some people might perceive as a healthier option, but this thing already clocks in at 590 calories and 25 grams of fat, so it doesn't seem like some frying would really make it all that much worse for you.

Alternatively, Culver's could scrap the Harvest Veggie Burger altogether and replace it with an Impossible or Beyond Burger, but we really think the existing concept could be great as long as the texture is fixed.

This is the best item at Culver's according to our survey

The menu item that got the fewest votes in our worst of Culver's survey was the Crispy Chicken Sandwich. Culver's isn't even particularly known as a chicken chain, but considering the quality of everything it puts out, it makes sense that the company would make a delicious chicken sandwich.

The chain's Crispy Chicken Sandwich is an exercise in refined simplicity. It's made with a real chicken breast that's dredged in seasoned breading, fried to perfection, and perched atop lettuce, tomato, and pickles inside a Kaiser roll. If that sounds a little bit basic for you, you can also get a spicy version that incorporates four different types of peppers into the breading.

If you're more into beef, try ordering Andrew Zimmern's favorite meal at Culver's: a double ButterBurger, plain, with a side of coleslaw and a Concrete Mixer for dessert. The man has traveled all over the world eating countless delicacies, so we'd bet you can trust his Culver's ordering instincts.