Wendy’s is gearing up to break through the plant-based fast food market with the company’s new Spicy Black Bean Burger. The fast-food giant will be debuting its vegan burger option today, June 28th, giving its customers a long-awaited plant-based patty. The Spicy Black Bean Burger is a full plant-based burger patty topped with tomatoes, onion slices, romaine lettuce, chipotle jalapenos, and optional pepper jack cheese and spicy chipotle sauce. Although the black bean patty is completely vegan, Wendy’s will not market the burger as plant-based due to a risk of cross-contamination on the grill. Currently, the ingredients used in the spicy chipotle sauce are unknown.

“Demand for plant-based proteins has exploded during the past 10 years,” A Wendy’s spokesperson told VegNews. “As a company striving to meet our fans where they are and deliver incredible taste and flavor, we identified a culinary opportunity to craft a plant-based protein in a uniquely Wendy’s way. Guided by our food vision, Fast Food Done Right, we’ve been carefully tracking the plant-based trend and exploring the best, most crave-able way to introduce it to Wendy’s fans.”

The Spicy Black Bean Burger will join the Wendy’s “Made to Crave” menu at three locations across the United States for a limited time. The special offer can be found in Columbus, Ohio, Jacksonville, Florida, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the beginning of the offer, Wendy’s will provide customers with a free order of French fries and free delivery when they order the new Spicy Black Bean Burger through the Wendy’s app until July 1st.

Wendy’s first black bean burger hit stores in 2015 when MTV star Steve-O called for Wendy’s to work on its plant-based burger options. The original black bean burger used a mixture of vegetables and grains to craft the plant-based patty and then was topped with tomato, spring mix, pepper jack cheese, and a parmesan ranch sauce. The burger could be ordered completely vegan by removing the cheese and sauce. The company also ensured that the plant-based burger would be prepared on a separate surface from the beef patties.

The black bean patties will propel Wendy’s into an existing and growing plant-based burger market. Fast food companies such as Burger King, Fatburger, Carl’s Jr., and White Castle have released plant-based burgers by partnering with meat alternative companies including Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. These meat alternatives have experienced significant success over the last several years, encouraging other companies like Wendy’s to evaluate the menu’s plant-based offerings.

“Following previous tests of the Black Bean Burger, Wendy’s used insights gathered from team members and customers to innovate on the sandwich build and bring forward a craveable, mouth-watering bite with mind-blowing flavors,” a Wendy’s spokesperson said. “Wendy’s will take time to evaluate both consumer and operational metrics from this test of the Spicy Black Bean Burger to ensure it delivers on what customers are seeking in a plant-based offering.”

The fast-food company announced that it’s making strides to develop plant-based menu items for its growing vegan consumer base. The Spicy Black Bean Burger is the first rollout since the company’s 2019 earnings call where the CEO addressed Wendy’s plan forward with meat alternative proteins. As other company’s rush into the plant-based market, Wendy’s hopes to join those companies that have pioneered a vegan fast-food movement.

“Clearly there is growth out there in plant-based proteins and we believe that it is a trend that will be here to stay,” CEO Todd Penegor said in 2019. “We’re taking a hard look at what the options would be for us at the restaurant. We want to do it the Wendy’s way. Something that is unique to Wendy’s. Our culinary team continues to look at various options. [Plant-based protein] is probably something we need to look at, and will look at, into the future.”


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