You Need 2 Spices To Make Copycat Shake Shack Sauce

Shake Shack may have near-cult status in some quarters, but it's not nearly as ubiquitous as McDonald's or even Carl's Jr. It's also pretty pricey as fast food goes. Whether due to lack of proximity or lack of funds, you may find yourself in need of a good Shake Shack copycat recipe if you're a convert to the chain's cult (or simply want to see what all the fuss is about). Recipe Mashed developer Jake Vigliotti, our resident specialist in ridiculously detailed fast food replicas, here turns his attention to Shake Shack's signature Shackburger. Spoiler: There's nothing particularly groundbreaking about the burger itself; it's just your standard beef patties and American cheese on a bun with lettuce and tomatoes. The sauce, however, is what differentiates these burgers from the ones dished up at just about every other fast food chain out there.

So what's so special about Shack Sauce? It's basically just a kicked-up fry sauce made with ketchup and mayonnaise, which Vigliotti calls "the base ingredients for many a sauce." (If there was an American version of the French five mother sauces, these two would rank right at the top.) This basic recipe is jazzed up with two spices, though, since he says of the chain's condiment, "Garlic powder and paprika are in there for sure." While the garlic may be invisible, he tells us, "If you look pretty hard at a Shack sauce, you can actually see little red dots; that's the paprika."

There are a few more secret ingredients in Shake Shack's burger sauce

Vigliotti detects a few other ingredients besides the aforementioned ketchup, mayo, and spices in Shake Shack's burger sauce. In his analysis of the original, he says "You should be able to pull out some mustard going on," so in his copycat recipe he stirs a smidgen of the stuff into his sauce. While he doesn't specify any particular type of mustard, the photo appears to be the standard yellow kind.

One thing that Shake Shack uses that Vigliotti leaves out of his burger sauce is chopped pickles. He admits the chain makes use of finely minced pickles in its signature condiment, but they're apparently chopped so fine that they're barely detectable. In his opinion, "Taking a pickle and smashing it to smithereens and then getting it into the sauce seems ... well, insane, even for this version." That's why he feels "pickle juice will do just fine," but he adds the caveat that it has to be from dill pickles, not bread and butter, sweet, sour, garlic, or any other variety. Still, as you'll need a jar of pickles to get this sauce, you can stir in a spoonful or add some slices to your copycat Shackburger if you please. Sure, it might not be an exact clone of Shake Shack's, but the beauty of copycat recipes is that you can make any tweaks you like in the privacy of your own kitchen and no one will call you out.