Is Applebees doing all you can eat riblets?

Applebee’s is a popular chain restaurant known for its varied menu including burgers, steaks, ribs, pasta, and more. One of their most popular menu items is the Half Rack of Signature Riblets, Applebee’s take on baby back ribs coated in a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. Many customers wonder if Applebee’s offers an all-you-can-eat option for riblets given their popularity. Unfortunately at this time, Applebee’s does not offer unlimited riblets or an all-you-can-eat riblet promotion. The riblets are only available as a standard menu item in a half rack serving. However, here is an overview of Applebee’s riblet options and some tips for getting more riblet value during your visit:

Applebee’s Riblet Options

The primary way to order riblets at Applebee’s is as a Half Rack of Signature Riblets entree. This provides a half rack of their baby back-style riblets coated in Applebee’s Signature barbecue sauce. The riblets are tender and fall-off-the-bone, making them a popular choice. The half rack serving provides a decent amount of riblets, around 9-12 bones depending on the size. However, for riblet fans this often leaves you wanting more.

You can add additional riblets to any entree order for an upcharge. The menu lists these as “Additional Signature Riblets” and lets you add a quarter rack or half rack to any meal. Adding a half rack doubles your riblet order to approximately 18-24 riblet bones. This is the easiest way to get more riblets if the half rack alone wasn’t enough.

Making the Most of Riblet Value

If you really love Applebee’s riblets, there are some tips and tricks to maximize your riblet value when dining at Applebee’s:

– Order the Half Rack of Riblets as an entree, then add a Half Rack of Additional Signature Riblets. This gets you close to a “full” rack of 18-24 ribs.

– Check for Applebee’s specials or coupons offering discounted riblets or “2 for $20” riblet deals. These promotions can help you score extra ribs for less.

– Dine during Applebee’s Happy Hour when they offer half price appetizers. You may be able to get riblets at a discount this way.

– Join the Applebee’s E-Club to receive special insider offers and discounts on riblets.

– Order riblets for the table to share. Riblets often come out faster than entrees, so you can nibble on them while waiting for your main meal.

– Get a gift card and splurge on extra riblets. Treat yourself to Applebee’s more often if you have a gift card taking care of part of the bill.

Hack the Menu for More Riblets

You can also try “hacking” the Applebee’s menu to piece together more ribs for your dollar. Some ideas include:

– Order the Appetizer Sampler which includes an order of riblets. Then also order riblets as your entree.

– Order multiple appetizers that come with riblets like the Riblets ‘N’ Fries Basket and Boneless Wings ‘N’ Riblets.

– Substitute riblets instead of fries or another side with certain entrees. Some locations may allow this upon request.

– Order the Triple Dipper appetizer and ask for all 3 dips to be riblets instead of chicken strips or mozzarella sticks.

– For takeout, order additional side orders of riblets apart from your entree order.

Riblet Alternatives at Applebee’s

If you simply need more food or want ribs beyond the riblet option, Applebee’s does offer some alternatives:

– Order the full Rack of Baby Back Ribs instead of the riblets. This provides a larger full rack of traditional baby back pork ribs.

– Try the Riblet & Chicken Tenders Combo which pairs riblets with chicken tenders and fries.

– Consider the Ribeye Steak which provides a hearty 12 oz ribeye filet.

– Opt for the Three-Cheese Chicken Penne with grilled chicken and a creamy cheese sauce over pasta.

– Go for the Fiesta Lime Chicken meal offering seasoned grilled chicken breasts.

– Enjoy one of Applebee’s signature burgers like the Whisky Bacon Burger or Quesadilla Burger.

Are Riblet Deals Coming Soon?

Unfortunately, Applebee’s has not indicated that an all-you-can-eat riblet special is coming any time soon. The riblets remain a popular standard menu item but are not being promoted as an unlimited option. Applebee’s focus has been on new protein-packed meals for fitness-focused diners. New promotions have highlighted dishes like the Weight Watchers Chicken Fresco and Quinoa Power Bowl. Health-conscious options show no signs of ribs becoming an all-you-can-eat item.

Customers who really want an all-you-can-eat rib experience may have to explore other restaurants known for these types of promotions. Places like Tony Roma’s, Famous Dave’s, and various barbecue joints offer specials allowing unlimited ribs for a set price. But for now Applebee’s fans will have to make do with the standard half rack or piece together more ribs through ordering tricks. Riblet lovers shouldn’t get their hopes up for unlimited riblets arriving any time soon and should take advantage of current menu options if ribs are what they crave during a visit to their local Applebee’s.

Riblet Cooking and Preparation

To understand why Applebee’s has not yet offered all-you-can-eat riblet promotions, it is helpful to understand how the riblets are prepared:

The Riblets Cut

Applebee’s Signature Riblets utilize a meat cut called rib tips taken from the lower portion of the spare ribs. They are cut into smaller individual riblets before being cooked. This gives them a higher surface area resulting in more caramelization when cooked for increased flavor. It also allows a larger quantity to be cooked at once compared to traditional ribs.

Seasoning and Sauce

The riblets are seasoned then brushed with Applebee’s Signature sweet and tangy barbecue sauce. The sauce helps keep the riblets moist while adding flavor.

Cooking Process

Applebee’s riblets are smoked slowly over a low heat. The extended smoking time tenderizes the meat while infusing smoky barbecue flavor.

Holding and Serving

Once smoked, the riblets are held in a heated cabinet at the restaurant. Individual orders are portioned out and quickly microwaved to heat through before serving. Riblets not used in a timely manner are discarded.

Why This Limits All-You-Can-Eat

The multi-step cooking process makes it impractical to offer unlimited riblets. The smoking and holding steps make it tricky to quickly replenish riblet supplies as they run out. And riblets not eaten quickly are wasted. So Applebee’s format of made-to-order batches better fits their preparation method, unlike self-serve buffets with hot pans keeping large quantities of food warm and fresh.

Other Chains With All-You-Can-Eat Riblets

While Applebee’s has not provided unlimited riblets, some other casual dining chains do offer specials allowing guests to enjoy endless ribs:

Tony Roma’s

Tony Roma’s “All You Can Eat Ribs” promotion lets guests indulge in unlimited Signature Baby Back Ribs soaked in barbecue sauce. This special is offered for a limited time throughout the year at participating locations.

Famous Dave’s

Famous Dave’s has an All-You-Can-Eat Ribs deal every Wednesday (some exclusions apply). Guests can continually order full racks of Signature or House Smoked Rib Tips until they are satisfied.

Smokey Bones

Smokey Bones offers an All-You-Can-Eat deal allowing unlimited orders of their signature BBQ Baby Back Ribs every day after 4 pm.

Sugarfire Smoke House

Select Sugarfire Smoke House locations offer weekend specials like “All You Can Eat Ribs Saturday” allowing unlimited half racks of ribs all day Saturday.

Chain Promotion
Tony Roma’s All You Can Eat Ribs (for limited time)
Famous Dave’s All-You-Can-Eat Ribs Wednesdays
Smokey Bones All-You-Can-Eat Ribs Daily after 4pm
Sugarfire Smoke House All You Can Eat Ribs Saturdays

Customer Sentiment on Lack of All-You-Can-Eat Riblets at Applebee’s

Based on customer comments on sites like Reddit and YouTube, there appears to be demand for an all-you-can-eat riblet promotion at Applebee’s:

Positive Sentiment

– “I’d love if Applebee’s did unlimited riblets! I could eat those things all day.”

– “Riblets are my go-to order at Applebee’s. Being able to get unlimited would be a dream.”

– “I wish they’d bring back the all you can eat riblets, those were the best!”

Negative Sentiment

– “Applebee’s should really jump on the all you can eat riblet train that other restaurants are doing. Missed opportunity.”

– “I’m disappointed Applebee’s got rid of their all you can eat riblet specials. Those were the best deals.”

– “With so many places now doing unlimited ribs, Applebee’s is behind the times not having an all you can eat riblet promotion.”

Opinions on Likelihood

– “I don’t see Applebee’s ever bringing back the endless riblet specials. Their menu keeps moving away from that type of heavy indulgent dining.”

– “With their focus on adding healthier options, I doubt Applebee’s will do all you can eat riblets again even though customers want it.”

– “Maybe if enough people requested it, Applebee’s would consider an all you can eat rib deal. But seems unlikely given their current direction.”

The Costs of All-You-Can-Eat Riblets for Applebee’s

While customers would enjoy unlimited riblet specials, offering these types of endless appetizer promotions does impose costs on restaurants:

Food Costs

Allowing free refills of riblets leads to much higher food usage. Customers can eat 3-4 times as many ribs compared to a single order. This increases costs for the raw ribs themselves plus the sauces and seasonings used in preparation.

Labor Costs

Kitchen staff must work harder to keep up with replenishing riblet orders. More cooks may be needed on staff during the specials, increasing labor costs.


All-you-can-eat specials often lead to food waste as customers’ eyes are bigger than their stomachs. Buffet-style service can result in large amounts of uneaten food being discarded at end of day.

Lower Check Averages

guests flocking for the riblet specials tend to order less expensive side items and beverages compared to regular entrees. Unlimited appetizer promotions reduce overall check sizes.

Profit Loss

Due to increased costs and lower check averages, many restaurants lose money by offering all-you-can-eat specials. Profit margins are slim or negative compared to regular menu prices.

Is Applebee’s Positioned to Offer This Promotion?

Considering the high costs associated with all-you-can-eat riblet specials, Applebee’s may not be well-positioned to roll out this type of promotion currently:

FY2022 Performance and Profit Focus

In 2022 annual reports, Applebee’s highlighted a focus on profitability after sales declines during pandemic struggles. All-you-can-eat promotions may undermine profit goals.

New Leadership Philosophy

Under CEO John Cywinski since 2021, Applebee’s seeks to be a “trade-up” brand with innovative premium-priced items rather than discounts.

Emphasis on Healthy Options

Adding lighter menu items with grilled proteins and fresh vegetables makes indulgent riblet specials less aligned with Applebee’s repositioning.

Use of Technology

Applebee’s is rolling out tablets and other technology to boost convenience and accuracy. This investment may take priority over labor-heavy all-you-can-eat specials.

Franchisee Buy-In

Getting 1,600+ franchise owners on board with losing money on riblet promotions could prove challenging. Their profit interests may not align with the request.

Alternative Ways to Promote Riblets

Instead of high-cost all-you-can-eat specials, Applebee’s has other ways to highlight their riblets for customers:

Limited Time Offers

Run riblet discounts or 2 for $20 deals for short 1-2 week promotions around key events or holidays. Lower costs by limiting duration.

Late Night Specials

Offer riblet special prices only during less busy late night hours to fill excess capacity when restaurants are underutilized.

Catering Bundles

Create riblet party packages for takeout or delivery to serve larger groups. Drives larger orders without in-store all-you-can-eat losses.

Social Media Showcases

Leverage Twitter and Instagram to highlight riblet menu items. Perhaps announce a special “Riblet Tuesday” series with weekly riblet focus.

In-Store Marketing

Use posters, table tents, and menus to call attention to riblets. Staff can be trained to suggest add-on riblet orders.

Loyalty Program Perks

Provide bonus points or free riblets for loyalty members. Make joining the E-Club rewarding for riblet enthusiasts.

Potential Future for All-You-Can-Eat Riblets

While unlikely in the near term, Applebee’s could potentially add all-you-can-eat riblet specials down the road when conditions align better:

When Growth Stalls

If Applebee’s annual sales flatten after the 2022 recovery period, unlimited riblets may help drive traffic and revenue.

If Labor Costs Decline

In a tighter labor market with lower wages, the cost impact of additional staffing for riblet specials is reduced.

When Competitors Offer Similar

If rivals like Chili’s or Buffalo Wild Wings offer unlimited rib deals, Applebee’s may add their own version to stay competitive.

As Part of Broader Value Menu

Unlimited riblets could return as an option on a new value menu if Applebee’s pursues an affordable family dining approach again.

With Improved Cooking Methods

New preparation techniques allowing riblets to hold better after smoking could enable Applebee’s to practically offer all-you-can-eat.

With Franchisee Support

Franchise owners lobbying for riblet specials to drive customer traffic could convince corporate to test the promotion.


Applebee’s delicious riblets remain popular with many guests wishing they could be enjoyed as an all-you-can-eat special. However, unlimited riblet promotions come at a high cost with lower profit margins that may not align with Applebee’s current strategy focused on premium items rather than discounts. The chain shows no signs of introducing unending riblet specials in the near future. Customers wanting unlimited ribs will likely need to visit other barbecue-centric chains running these types of ongoing or limited-time deals. But Applebee’s still provides opportunities to enjoy extra riblets through ordering hacks or rotating promotions. Riblet enthusiasts should follow the chain closely for any signs of tests or announcements that may indicate all-you-can-eat riblets joining the menu at their local Applebee’s one day when the timing is right.

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