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McDonald’s Smokehouse Deluxe Tops $5 Price Ceiling

Filed under Angus, LTO, Marketing, Menu, Pricing, Test Market

McDonald’s today introduced a new premium-price burger at its restaurants in Ontario, Canada, and in so doing redefined quick-service restaurants’ definition of “premium.”

The new Smokehouse Deluxe burger tops the $5 price ceiling above which QSRs previously have feared to venture. Pricing varies but a check of outlets around Ontario found the sandwich à la carte priced from $5.19 (Canadian or $5.05 U.S.) to as much as $5.98 ($5.82 U.S.) in one Toronto McDonald’s, where the combo meal with tax is a whopping $7.90 ($7.69 U.S.). By comparison, McDonald’s Angus Third Pounder combo meal here is about $5.79, and $3.99 for the sandwich alone.

That pricing puts the Smokehouse Deluxe—a quarter-pound beef patty topped with crispy onions, barbecue sauce, bacon, lettuce and mayo—close to the “Six Dollar Burger” that Carl’s Jr. mocks as inflated casual-dining price for burgers. Carl’s Jr. only went as high as $4.49 for the “Six Dollar Burger” version of the Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger it promoted in January.

Fast-casual chains have shown that consumers will pay more than $5 for a quality burger. At Smashburger, for example, burgers begin at $4.99 and range up to $6.99.


Quarter Pounder Deluxe is an LTO in Western Canada

As with some Burger Kings’ decision to charge as much as $8.99 for 8-piece BK Fire-Grilled Ribs combo meals this spring, McDonald’s may be exploring pricing opportunities resulting from casual-dining chains’ retreat from discounting. Eager to keep customers from trading down to QSRs, casual dining offered more deals a year ago. That hurt margins, and casual dining has now moved marketing focus away from deep discounts. Ruby Tuesday’s own Smokehouse Burger (topped with aged New York Cheddar, applewood-smoked bacon, barbecue sauce, and onion straws) is priced at $9.49. Applebee’s Steakhouse Burger with A.1. Steak Sauce also is $9.49. That tier leaves a lot of burger-pricing room between $5 and $9 for QSRs and fast-casual chains to explore.

The Smokehouse Deluxe is available only in Ontario at present, and Canada doesn’t always export its menu items to U.S. McDonald’s menus. The$1.99 McMini chicken/baguette sandwich introduced in Canada in March hasn’t moved south yet, for example. But the Mac Snack Wrap did well enough in Canada that it was imported here last year, spawning the $1.99 Angus Snack Wrap that will be available nationally this week.

Meanwhile, in Western Canada, McDonald’s is selling a bacon-topped  Quarter Pounder Deluxe. Details on pricing were not immediately available, but a reader says it is priced at $4.99 before tax.

9 Responses to McDonald’s Smokehouse Deluxe Tops $5 Price Ceiling

  1. spartie

    The Quarter-Pounder Deluxe is listed at C$4.99 for the sandwich, not sure on the combo price.

  2. justin

    it’s worth it… mmm just had one!

  3. quazy

    This is the same price category as the Angus in Toronto. It’s the same cost or .50 more. Angus for less than the cost of quarter pounder as spartie noticed would be ridiculous.

  4. susan

    This was the worst hamburger we have had in a long time. There was a thick layer of seeds and pepper all over the tomato and no mention of this on the ad. As an older person who can’t eat seeds and doesn’t like pepper, I think someone should mention this is part of what you are getting. My husband couldn’t even eat it and he doesn’t mind pepper, but this was like having a layer of dirt on your food.

  5. Amanda

    The Smokehouse Deluxe was arguably one of the *worst* burgers I have ever eaten. I am normally a mac girl whenever I get a chance to go to McD’s. The bbq sauce was gross. The “crispy onions” were more like potato chips, and just give an overall feel of not belonging on a burger. Having mayo AND bbq sauce just made it too saucy.

    I am very much a meat-lover, and this burger was an over-priced disappointment.

  6. Britt


  7. blindboygrunt

    susan…tomatoes have seeds. Do you really think it’s vital that McDonald’s tell you that? You say you’re an older person, surely you’ve come across seeds in tomatoes before? It’s attitudes like yours that have led us into the ‘nanny state’ nightmare world of today. Take some responsibility. BTW, check out the top of the bun, it’s covered in sesame seeds. Was your husband OK with those?

    The Smokehouse is freaking awesome! Best McDonald’s burger ever!

  8. bobby

    mmmmm smokehouse deluxe! so good it should be illegal

  9. Rob

    The Smokehouse deluxe is the best burger McDonalds has ever put out.
    Unfortunately, I fear it will be short lived, as it is not original, and is more of a “We can do it too!” stab at Burger King.
    Before I even took a bite, I knew what it was going to taste like.
    The Big Xtra is the same thing, an imitation whopper that tasted awesome, about as good as a whopper. For someone like me who loves Burger King for it’s realistic burger taste, and who lives over a hundred kms from a burger king, this WAS as good as it gets.
    Then McDonalds copied the variation of the whopper burger king put out, the BK Smokehouse.
    McDonalds, don’t be ashamed that your own ideas suck! Admitting you are wrong is the first step.
    The smokehouse deluxe is awesome!
    I encourage you to copy other people as much as you can, because your burgers, even the ones you are so proud of suck big time. I do have my preferences when I show up at Raunchy Rons, the big xtra, or qp is my favorite, but only for lack of a better burger, and the smokehouse is it.
    Keep it or lose it, but I’ll say this, if there was a Burger King here, and you no longer offered the smokehouse, you wouldn’t see me come through the door.