Steak 'N Shake Menu Items The Staff Avoid At All Costs

Steak 'N Shake, a quick-stop restaurant founded in 1934 that focuses on the ever-popular combination of burgers and milkshakes, is often considered to be the greatest in fast food by its large fan base of consumers. In fact, the chain's steakburgers were recently named the best quick-stop beef patties in the country by chef, author, and food critic Joshua Weissman — a testament to its overall deliciousness.

But, of course, eating customers never see the whole picture. It is those making the operation go 'round — the employees in the backs of our favorite kitchens — who see the ins and outs of the day-to-day. They know exactly how each coveted food creation is prepared, which food products are genuinely special, as well as those that — whether due to a price that's too high or to ingredients that are subpar — are maybe not-so-special. That being said, we did a little digging into those less celebrated picks ... at least, by the workers of the chain. Here are some Steak 'N Shake menu items the staff avoid at all costs.

The Frisco sauce

Without a doubt, Steak 'N Shake's Frisco Melt is the most consumer-celebrated bite on the menu. But what makes this particular sandwich stand out from all the other fast food variants of patty melts out there? That would be the Frisco Sauce drizzled within, the taste of which has enticed customers for years. "What's in the Frisco sauce?" asked a consumer on Reddit, joining in with the myriad of voices wanting to know the same. But according to the responding employee, the dazzling sauce that makes the Frisco Melt unique is really nothing more than Thousand Island dressing.

"Also worked at a steak n shake," confessed a corroborating employee on a separate Reddit thread discussing the same topic. "The **** came out of a bag with the label "1k island dres". It tastes like any other thousand island I've had. They call it Frisco sauce on the menu but it's the same dressing servers give out for salad." Some customers went on to debate this, insisting that there must be some additional, zesty ingredient mixed in — and an employee on another thread claimed that extra kick was a hint of french dressing in the Thousand Island Frisco Sauce. Whether or not this is true, it would seem that all (or at least the vast majority) of the sauce we have romanticized is nothing more than a dressing you could buy at the store ... and we aren't sure we like the feeling that gives us inside.

The chicken

"Raw chicken tenders from steak and shake," reads the title of a horrifying Reddit thread in which a consumer posts a picture of breaded, pink, and slimy chicken which is without a doubt unsafe to eat. "I've gotten chicken sandwiches like this before, too," echoed another customer below the photo. Unfortunately, this non-cooked poultry incident involving the burger chain is far from being an isolated one. Chicken has repeatedly been a problem for the fast food restaurant — and one incident was so damaging, it resulted in the closing of a location in Ohio in 2019.

In this particular chicken fiasco, the health department was led to the front doors of its local Steak 'N Shake after a string of customers reported being served raw poultry orders. The report detailed that, among other health code violations, an employee had, in fact, served completely raw chicken tenders from the freezer as opposed to the cooked ones in the fryer basket. Given this mishap (and the many others that exist out there on online forums containing furious and freaked-out consumers), we think it perfectly understandable if staff and everyday customers alike choose to avoid chicken orders from Steak 'N Shake for the time being.

The 7x7

In-N-Out is often recognized for its 4x4, a monster-sized burger with four patties shoved between a single bun. But have you heard of Steak 'N Shake's 7x7? As the name suggests, a whopping seven cheesy steakburger patties are stacked together and housed in bread. Originally introduced as part of a specialized late-night menu, the (literally) jaw-dropping burger became a staple — and as you would expect, plenty of consumers were daring one another to order and finish it.

But employees have a bit of a queasy feeling regarding the gargantuan burger. "Oh man, I used to work here [at Steak 'N Shake] as a server," said one former employee on a Reddit post featuring a photo of the culinary monster masterpiece. "And every time someone ordered one of these things, our cooks would get so pissed and the customer never felt very good afterwards. Hope you felt okay!" Another alleged employee piggybacked off this comment, adding that customers at their location were prohibited from ordering the beast-like sandwich in the drive-through due to impossibilities with wrapping. So if you do ignore the original employee's advice and head to your nearest Steak 'N Shake to take on the challenge that is the 7x7, be prepared to sit in the dine-in section to do so — and to take in over 1600 calories of pure grease, according to FatSecret. Your taste buds may be happy, but your stomach will likely not. The choice is yours.

The fries

French fries are the classic accompaniment to a burger ... and when in the drive-thru, are way more accessible than the meaty main course. Therefore, we usually reach for them first — and there's nothing like pulling out a hot-out-of-the-fryer fry when you pull away from the pick-up window of your favorite fast food restaurant. But if that restaurant happens to be Steak 'N Shake, employees surprisingly warn against the chain's potato side. This is because there is reportedly a chance they may sit out for a while before being scooped into your bag ... decidedly not giving you that moment of perfect, crispy, salt-induced bliss when you take your first bite.

"How long do those fries sit before you serve them?" asked a consumer on a Reddit thread. "Every time I've been [...] my fries have been luke-warm and floppy. What's up with that?" A worker responded: "If it's third shift, they're almost always dropped fresh [...] Second shift (if it's a slow day, depending on who is working, among other circumstances) ranges anywhere from 5 minutes- and I kid you not, I have seen fries sit there for this long- up to an hour. If it's first, the chances are higher they're fresher than in second, but it could range anywhere from 5min to 20min. Always ALWAYS ask for fresh fries." Though the idea of soggy old fries is less than appealing, knowing you can request fresh on your next order is, at least, encouraging. 

The chili

The Steak 'N Shake Chili is one that has inspired countless copycat recipes online — a testament to its popularity. But while consumers may find it delicious, hearty, and flavorful, employees are reportedly singing a different tune. Many, upon being let in on the secret of its preparation, feel nothing but ... well, grossed out by the popular dish.

"Don't get me started on their chili and how it's prepped," said one employee on Reddit under r/StLouis. "Worked there when I was 16 and it took several years for me to even think about eating their food again." On a separate thread, another alleged worker divulged: "The only thing that ever grossed me out was how they used to make chili. We actually used burger meat for it. It was good, but I just did not want to see it made." A third former employee claimed they had ruined Steak 'N Shake chili for their spouse, too, after giving full details as to its preparation. Interestingly, none of these employees actually went on to describe via these platforms what it was that was so grotesque about this mysterious process ... leaving us both unfulfilled and untrusting when it comes to ordering the item again.

The Royale Burger

The Royale Burger can be a bit of a controversial menu pick for one reason, and one reason alone ... the fried egg sitting atop the double burger patties. "Eggs have their place," reads a user comment on Steak 'N Shake's official Facebook page. "And it's not on a steak burger." Some, however, can't get enough of the combination, and many fast food and sit-down restaurants alike have their own takes on a royal burger available. When it comes to Steak 'N Shake's take, which includes bacon, tomato, and lettuce alongside meat patties and a cooked egg round, some employees surprisingly seem to side with that original Facebook commenter.

"Do you like the Royale burger?" asks a curious customer to an employee on Reddit, who had vowed to answer any Steak 'N Shake-related question. "No," they answered without hesitation, "the egg on it is a turnoff, I LOVE the Wisconsin though." Interesting; this one, at least, inspires a bit of curiosity in our minds. We find ourselves wanting to order just to see which side we'll fall on in the egg-burger debate.

The grilled cheese

"Anybody have/know what's used in Steak 'n Shake grilled cheese? Wanna recreate it," reads the title of a Reddit thread. At-home copycats of a favorite restaurant product can be notoriously tricky, and so gaining insider knowledge on tips, tricks, and secrets can be paramount to getting the taste right. However, when a Steak 'N Shake employee answered the original poster's question regarding its coveted grilled cheese, the answer was surprisingly void of grand secrets ... and, as a result, a little underwhelming.

"I was once an employee there. It was pretty simple," the alleged former worker began. "Heavily grease both sides of two pieces of Wonder Texas Toast with hot ~200F melted margarine [...] Throw both pieces on the 450 F flat top. Flip when browned and slap a slice of American cheese on each. When browned on the second side slap together and plate. The key features are heavy application of margarine, and the use of actual yellow American processed cheese." The implication here, of course, is that the grilled cheese is really nothing all that special ... and quite easy to recreate in one's own space at a much lower price point. This fact leaves us feeling strangely conflicted.

The Garlic Burger

Garlic is one of those flavors people either love or hate — but Steak 'N Shake certainly catered to those who love it when it began offering up its Garlic Burger. Simple in its makeup (the components of which include basic steak burgers topped with melted cheese), the differentiating factor is the delectable layer of garlic butter spread. Topped off with a sprinkle of garlic salt on the bun itself, the burger is set up to be a favorite product of garlic lovers everywhere.

However, it appears that Steak 'N Shake employees are not among the Garlic Burger's biggest fans. "How can i make that garlic burger? because man is it delicious," asked a consumer on Reddit under r/fastfood. A professed long-term employee answered with: "Literally make some homemade garlic aioli (it'll be better than our "garlic spread") and use some garlic salt on top of your bun. if you can generally cook, i'm sure what you make will probably be better." All this, of course, implies that the Garlic Burger is really nothing to shake a stick at ... and at $7.65 a pop (a price on the higher end for a fast food burger, to be sure), it may not be so stellar as to be worth it. 

The milkshakes

As fun as the Steak 'N Shake milkshakes may be to eat, they are apparently not so fun to make. According to employees, being on ice cream duty is a bit of a dirty job. "Tbh I hated the shakes there," said one under the subreddit r/fastfood. "Not necessarily because of the product itself but I got tired of getting covered in Ice cream all the time. I never got shakes." And aside from this overall sticky assembly, employees also repeatedly bring up issues with the quality of the ice cream product ... which many describe as being a little subpar.

"The shakes are made from a mixture of 'low butterfat ice cream,' or shake base," claimed an employee on a separate thread, speaking to the dullness of the recipe. "2oz or so of milk, and whatever flavor syrup you ordered." This air of overestimation is corroborated by many consumers, too. On one Reddit post, one customer questioned whether or not Steak 'N Shake's milkshakes were overrated, and one user responded with: "They used to be made with real ice cream. Now... Blech!!!!" All this being said, you'll have to decide for yourself whether or not the messy treat is worth the price tag.

The burger buns ... on account of grease

The famous Steak 'N Shake steakburgers are sometimes called out for having a little too much grease. And what happens when a slab of greasy cooked beef is slapped up against a soft, bready bun? That's right; the wetness soaks right in. Most of us would probably agree a sopping bun is not particularly appetizing, so thankfully there's a way to cut down on the risk of soggy bread by toasting it.

Toasting creates a crispness that serves as a protective barrier against wetness, and while workers at Steak 'N Shake are technically supposed to toast each and every burger that goes out to customers ... it doesn't always happen. "Why are the burgers so greasy?" asked a Reddit user. "Can't you drain them or something before you slap it on the bun?" A worker went on to divulge that the greasiness of the steakburgers can be attributed to the flat grill used in the Steak 'N Shake kitchens, as opposed to a tilted one, which might promote better draining. Additionally, the buns — which are meant to be thrown on these grills before assembly to prevent them from absorbing so much liquid — very scarcely find themselves heated. This is not lost on consumers, either; one user on a Facebook post on Steak 'N Shake's official page said: "Start making your stores toast their buns. It's nasty without the buns being toasted." 

Anything from the drive-thru

The drive-thru and the dine-in; we know we can't be the only ones who have ever wondered how some restaurants so expertly manage both at the same time. With orders coming from two different places, there must be some level of organization — and prioritization — that occurs among employees working their fastest to get things put out as quickly as possible. And, according to workers at Steak 'N Shake, products coming out of the drive-thru window may be lower quality than those brought to the tables of in-house, seated consumers.

"You just have to get it [Steak 'N Shake] dine-in," said an alleged employee on Reddit. "If you get the drive-thru version it is very hastily assembled, cheese unmelted, bread barely toasted at all." And another worker's quote on a separate thread seems to corroborate this. "We're 'primarily a restaurant first with a drive-thru second,' according to my GM," they said. They also confessed that while their instructed goal time for getting food out to customers in the drive-thru was a measly two minutes, the ideal waiting time for seated customers was closer to eight minutes — and one can easily imagine the difference in food quality those six extra minutes might make.

The cherries on top of the shakes

The cherry on top is the finishing touch of any well-crafted ice cream creation ... including all Steak 'N Shake milkshakes. Whether you order vanilla, strawberry, or chocolate, your creamy frozen treat will be served with a bright red maraschino cherry on top. While that burst of color is certainly a welcome sight, it seems that it may not be the most hygienic one, according to employees.

"One [thing] that always went on is cherry tossing," admitted a former worker on Reddit. "The cherries on top of milkshakes, we just put in a mixing tin to store, simple. Sometimes, we'd get bored and toss the cherries to each other down the line and catch them in our mouths. All sorts of tricks were done, like off the wall bounces, through the legs, handstands, you name it. The only thing to take from this is that the fountainhead usually never wears gloves, and they're always sticking their hand into the cherries." Yikes. While you may decide to peel the cherry off of the top of your next milkshake, will it be enough to stop you from ordering the popular dessert during your next trip to Steak 'N Shake? Only you can decide.