We Ranked 11 Shake Shack Sandwiches, With One Option As The Clear Winner

For a restaurant that started out as a hot dog cart in the middle of Manhattan, Shake Shack has grown into something of a behemoth. With hundreds of locations worldwide and no signs of slowing down, Shake Shack manages still to offer a bite for every taste bud. Want something more invigorating than a classic cheeseburger? Order a chicken sandwich or a veggie burger instead. Are you both a vegetarian and a cheese lover? The 'Shroom Burger is right up your alley.

As a lover of burgers and fries that don't cost a fortune or require a long wait, Shake Shack is a frequent go-to meal spot for me, so I was excited to be able to taste each burger and sandwich on its menu for this ranking. I tried every item at Shake Shack's innovation kitchen in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan. The methodology included judging each burger and sandwich based on flavor, uniqueness, and innovation of burger toppings, as well as a cohesive, balanced bite that made me want to return for more.

To be completely candid, I don't think anything on the Shake Shack menu is bad, so using the word "worst" feels harsh. That said, there is undoubtedly a hierarchy of Shake Shack items. If your burger craving is strong and you're fortunate enough to live near a Shake Shack, consider this list of burgers and sandwiches, ranked least to most favorite, to help you decide what to nosh on next.

11. Grilled cheese

While Shake Shack is a burger restaurant in every sense, it still offers various options that don't feature burger patties. In fact, Shake Shack's first offering, when it was just a humble hot dog cart in Madison Square Park, was precisely that: a hot dog. In addition to the flat-top hot dogs that still grace the menu today, Shake Shack has a few more sandwiches to appeal to those who simply don't want to partake in a burger. 

The grilled cheese sandwich at Shake Shack is an option for non-burger eaters and vegetarians, and it is a great kids' meal option if a burger is simply too much for a child. The grilled cheese is made using a potato bun that has been flipped inside out, getting that crucial toasty char; were it not there, this would be nothing more than a hot cheese sandwich. Loaded with plenty of melty American cheese, this is a tasty grilled cheese, to be sure, but it is not one of the secrets of Shake Shack that got this chain where it is today. Shake Shack is, at its core, a burger restaurant, not a diner or a sandwich shop, and for these reasons, the grilled cheese is ranked last.

10. BLT

Another non-burger sandwich is Shake Shack's BLT. This bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich is made with the same potato roll as the grilled cheese, and again the bun is flipped inside out to show off the properly toasted bread. This is an integral part of how to build a better BLT sandwich, which is both underrated and necessary for a perfectly crisp bite. Instead of regular mayonnaise, your BLT comes with a schmear of ShackSauce for some added kick, making this a more elevated version of the traditional sandwich.

For those who want meat but not in the form of a burger patty, the BLT is a good alternative — but with so many great meat options on the Shake Shack menu, the BLT is simply less impressive than the rest. The bacon is crispy, and the lettuce and tomatoes are fresh, but compared to the rest of Shake Shack's offerings, this just doesn't stack up with them, giving this humble sandwich a ranking just above the grilled cheese.

9. Avocado bacon burger

Over the last few years, avocado has received much media attention in various ways, whether seen as an expensive toast topper that millennials should do without or as a shockingly expensive add-on for a fast-casual burrito bowl. In its simplest form, an avocado can boost healthy fat and flavor to any number of dishes. The spreadability of a perfectly ripe avocado makes it a more nutritious sandwich spread alternative to mayonnaise, and it really is the perfect topping for eggs on toast, no matter what the critics say.

The avocado bacon burger at Shake Shack is essentially an elevated Shack Burger, adding smoky bacon strips and plenty of avocado, neatly sliced, on top of a beef patty with American cheese. While the bacon shines here, the avocado doesn't add much to the burger in terms of adding a unique flavor component. It provides good textural contrast with a softer element while the bacon adds crispiness, but if the avocado just happened to be left off this burger, I wouldn't mind.

8. Shack Stack

Sometimes, a food item sounds excellent in theory, but in execution, it leaves something to be desired. If you didn't know that the Shack Stack — comprised of a beef patty topped with the cheese-filled 'Shroom Burger patty — was one of Shake Shack's core menu items, you might assume it was something that an eager burger lover just dreamed up.  

The Shack Stack, while ambitious in its execution, is better in theory. This burger creation is more of a mind meld than anything else, combining the simple perfection of the ShackBurger with the equally impressive crispy, ooey-gooeyness of the 'Shroom Burger in one bite. However, when that bulbous, cheesy mushroom is piled on top of the beef patty, it makes for a big, messy, spill-out-the-sides bite, resulting in more cheese and toppings on the plate than in your mouth. Separately, these burgers are superb, but when stacked one on the other, too much happens to get that perfect mouthful.

7. 'Shroom Burger

The 'Shroom Burger, in its original form, is where the Shake Shack menu starts to get more interesting. Burger restaurants that specialize in burgers tend to focus solely on the meat, leaving vegetarians or anyone who wants a beef alternative ultimately burger-less. That's where the 'Shroom Burger comes in to blow minds.

The 'Shroom Burger is one of a few meatless options on the Shake Shack menu, proving that burger restaurants can be inclusive institutions, not just created for carnivores. It is made with portobello mushroom cups stuffed with cheddar cheese, then breaded and fried into a crispy, cheesy, orb-like patty. As a complete bite, the crunch from the mushroom breading is a nice textural contrast to the soft mushroom within, and the extra cheesy goodness adds a thick layer of decadence. To best enjoy the whole 'Shroom Burger experience, cut it in half before you take that first bite, and let the melty cheese slowly ooze out to avoid a cheese explosion (and a burned mouth).

6. Chicken Shack

The chicken sandwich wars began in 2019 when Popeyes pioneered the craze, launching its crispy chicken sandwich to mass hype and hysteria. This prompted Chick-fil-A to fire back with its claim of being an earlier trailblazer of the chicken sandwich. From there, many other fast food chicken sandwiches entered the fray, and so it began. Meanwhile, the Chicken Shack has been on Shake Shack's core menu since 2016, and it remains a fan favorite among the fried chicken sandwich constituency.

The Chicken Shack is a classic fried chicken sandwich with a few noticeable upgrades from its competitors. The 100% breast meat chicken is marinated in buttermilk and slow cooked to ensure every piece is tender and delicious. It is then breaded and deep-fried, and accompanied by shredded lettuce, pickles, and buttermilk herb mayonnaise. 

Many elements of the Chicken Shack are more or less standard practice; the fried chicken is juicy and tender, and the pickles are a welcome acidic crunch, but the buttermilk herb mayo is what sets this sandwich apart. It's creamy and herbaceous, with just the right tang to balance the savory fried chicken. In the battle for the best chicken sandwich, the Chicken Shack is a heavyweight contender. 

5. Korean Style Fried Chicken sandwich

The menu at Shake Shack changes every few months as the minds working in the innovation kitchen dream up idea after idea for just about any season, food trend, or ingredient you can think of. As of this article's publication, the chain's limited-time offers comprise the new Swicy menu at Shake Shack, a Korean-inspired sweet and spicy menu that includes the Korean Style Fried Chicken sandwich.

This sandwich takes the juicy fried chicken from the Chicken Shack sandwich, covers it in a sweet and spicy gochujang glaze, then adds a white kimchi slaw on top for added crunch. The gochujang glazed chicken is hot and crispy, with just the right kick to make it far more exciting than the average chicken sandwich, and the kimchi slaw is tangy and acidic, bringing brightness and balance to each bite. The Korean fried chicken sandwich is an impressive and noteworthy specialty item for any heat enthusiast who also wants some deep, complex flavor in addition to spice.

4. Veggie Shack

Let's be honest: Veggie burgers typically don't spark the same joy as a juicy beef burger. The veggie burgers of our ancestors, which have always found a home in the frozen food aisle, were mushy and unappealing. Even if you could find a fresh veggie burger from a restaurant, it was never quite right. That is, however, until the chefs at Shake Shack decided to apply their love for beef burgers to a veggie-friendly option, and so the Veggie Shack was born.

The vegetables and grains in each patty comprise the key ingredients that elevate Shake Shack's veggie burgers, including mushrooms, carrots, leeks, sweet potatoes, farro, quinoa, and herbs. The patty is then topped with ShackSauce, American cheese, pickles, and crispy onions. 

The veggie patty has loads of earthy, umami flavor from the mushrooms. The use of sweet potato and quinoa provides a tremendous meaty consistency that is hard to come by in the veggie burger sphere. The crispy onions add a great salty crunch, and the pickles are an excellent acidic addition for a balanced bite. Vegetarians rejoice: This is one of the most impressive veggie burgers we've seen on any menu, fast-casual or otherwise. 

3. ShackBurger

Fancy burgers come and go, but a classic cheeseburger will always remain. When even the simplest of foods is done really well, it can be more impressive than any of over-the-top, Instagram-star dishes that tend to flood our feeds repeatedly. The ShackBurger prevails as Shake Shack's classic cheeseburger.

The ShackBurger is what pays the bills, according to the Shake Shack innovation kitchen team, and after that first bite, it's clear why that is. The ShackBurger is a single beef patty with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a schmear of ShackSauce. You can add other toppings or more beef patties if you desire, but the traditional, single-patty ShackBurger doesn't need any modifications. The patty is smashed on the flat-top grill to get those crispy, latticed edges; the toppings are fresh and crisp; and the ShackSauce ties everything together. If you're craving a classic cheeseburger and find yourself near a Shake Shack, this is the one to get.

2. Korean BBQ Burger

When the Swicy menu was introduced in early 2024, it allowed the Shake Shack innovation team to show off their culinary know-how while demonstrating that Korean flavors can be enjoyed in multiple ways. The gochujang-glazed fried chicken sandwich is joined on the Swicy menu by the Korean BBQ Burger.

This burger is a single beef patty topped with cheese, Korean BBQ sauce, crispy sweet onions, and fresh scallions. This takes the ShackBurger and turns it on its head, infusing deeply savory and well-spiced flavor into every element. The crispy onions add a satisfying crunch, but the star of this burger is the sauce. 

This sauce is rich and deeply savory, paying homage to traditional Korean BBQ and giving ShackSauce a real run for its money. The Korean BBQ burger will only be around for a limited time, like the rest of the Swicy menu, but we hope the sauce finds a way to stick around for a little longer.

1. SmokeShack

To decide which Shake Shack burger reigned supreme on this list, it took a lot of eating (obviously), but it also took a lot of considering how different elements of each burger or sandwich worked together for one cohesive bite. Balance is what we, as food lovers, ultimately strive for when we eat, so to crown our favorite Shake Shack sandwich, I had to determine which one had the best balance of flavors and textures in each bite and, ultimately, which was the best bite pound-for-pound. That, for me, was the SmokeShack.

The SmokeShack is a single beef patty with smoked bacon strips, cheese, diced cherry peppers, and ShackSauce. The combination of salty, fatty smokiness from the bacon and the wisp of heat from the peppers is such a unique and flavorful bite that it's hard to stop going back for more, even as the heat level slowly rises. The peppers are also just a bit sweet, providing a kick of acid and sweetness for a well-rounded burger-eating experience that ticks all the right boxes.


I tried and tasted every burger and sandwich on the menu of New York's West Village Shake Shack location at the time of writing, and these rankings are based solely on my opinions. To judge each burger and sandwich, I considered taste, ingredient quality, and innovation. I also ranked each sandwich based on the ease of each bite — a good burger shouldn't fall apart or spill out the sides the moment it's bitten into. The tasting occurred at Shake Shack's innovation kitchen at the West Village location, and each burger and sandwich was prepared fresh. Because each item was prepared for this taste test free of charge, cost was not a factor in this ranking.