Freddy's Vs Steak 'N Shake: Which Is Better?

Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and Steak 'n Shake are two very popular steakburger joints, but rest assured, these restaurants aren't the same. And while we'd agree that the two share relatively similar menus, there are enough differences between them that we think it might be helpful to break down exactly what makes them distinct and unique.

Is one technically better than the other? You'll have to wait until the end of the post to get the answer to that one. In the meantime, we'll hone in on several menu categories at the two steakburger chains to compare them. We'll also consider other factors before delivering our final verdict on which chain we ultimately believe is the best pick. From customer reviews to our personal experience eating at both restaurants, we're ready to fill you in on all you need to know to discover which of these steakburger chains is truly best. We hope you've come hungry — we've got the sizzling details coming up next!


Before we delve into offerings, we want to clear the air concerning each restaurant's definition of a "steakburger." According to Steak' n Shake, the original owner of the company would grind T-bone, sirloin, and round steaks together before serving them up as burgers for customers to enjoy. Whether or not Steak 'n Shake still uses these cuts of meat is unclear, as neither the website nor the ingredients list gives us insight into the matter. At Freddy's, we find no such tradition, instead, the company simply identifies the burgers as 100% beef smashed thin and grilled until the edges are crispy on the side.

As far as the taste of the steakburgers from each company, know that the two are quite similar. Both feature a thin patty, raw onion, pickle, and cheese, and both restaurants allow customers to customize the burger to their liking. Note that while Steak 'n Shake may often ask you to pick your condiments, Freddy's will do the task for you unless you ask otherwise.

Honestly, the steakburgers from both restaurants are delicious, though they veer on the salty side at times. We think this may be because the meat patties are so thin it's easy to overdo the seasoning. Either way, each burger chain dishes up solid steak burger options that taste relatively similar, so it really comes down to a matter of personal preference.


Both Freddy's and Steak 'n Shake sell shoestring fries, which may not be everyone's jam. We'll be candid and say we've got a strong preference here as to which establishment has the better fry, but let's get into the details before delving into our opinion.

As far as fry options at Steak 'n Shake go, expect to get your standard order along with an option for cheese fries. Freddy's is a bit more generous and presents guests not only with regular and cheese fries but chili cheese fries as well. This prevents having to go through the hassle of creating a special order and undoubtedly suffering an upcharge due to asking for something that is not technically featured on the menu.

As for the taste of the fries at each joint, we have to say, we're quite biased. Freddy's fries are way too thin and crispy for us, leaving behind virtually no potato for a chip-like texture and oversalted taste. Steak 'n Shake fries, though still thin, hit the palate much better and, as a result, are our go-to when we have a hankering for great shoestring fries.


Milkshakes lend themselves naturally to steakburgers and fries, and we instantly get a craving for one whenever we frequent these joints. Still, there's one steakburger chain that provides infinitely more milkshake options than the other, and based on the name of each restaurant, you can probably already guess which.

Indeed, Steak 'n Shake has the most plentiful options when it comes to milkshakes, doling out multiple seasonal flavors and getting so creative with its offerings you might need to take 10 minutes or more just to figure out which shake to cop. At the time of publication, one Steak 'n Shake in central Ohio featured over 18 different flavors, which gets our mouth salivating every time we think of it.

You won't find such a selection at Freddy's, which we think is a true shame. Since Freddy's prides itself on frozen custard rather than shakes, you can at least expect the custard selection to be better. But don't worry; we'll fill you in more on that later. For now, know that Freddy's offers your basic chocolate and vanilla flavors, along with a couple of seasonal options to satisfy your craving for a milkshake while you're there. Still, Steak 'n Shake blows Freddy's out of the water in terms of options, so if you want plenty to choose from, Steak 'n Shake is still your best bet.

Onion rings

There's not much to say when it comes to comparing onion rings at Freddy's and Steak 'n Shake; both are pretty stellar bites. At Steak' n Shake, expect onion rings to come in medium and large sizes, with prices differing by about a dollar between the two. Steak 'n Shake also serves its onion rings with an optional side of the sauce of your choice, though it'll cost you around $0.40 extra to do so. As far as customer reviews go, patrons love the onion rings at Steak 'n Shake, as do we. They're perfectly cooked and go well with the steakburgers — it's truly hard not to trade traditional fries in with onion rings this good.

As for Freddy's, you can choose between a regular order and a large order, and the price difference between the two is less than a dollar. There also doesn't appear to be any special upcharge for adding a sauce on the side. In general, customers think these onion rings are amazing. Even so, if you're into "crumbly" onion rings, these will likely kill your vibe — but if you like the smooth, firm onion ring variety, Freddy's has you covered.

Hot dogs

When it comes to hot dogs, your best bet is to stick to Freddy's over Steak 'n Shake. Just looking at the menu alone tells us it's probably the safest choice, given that Freddy's dogs are made of Vienna beef, and you're given at least two options compared to Steak' n Shake's singular choice. At Freddy's, expect to be able to order your hot dog plain or to have it done up chili dog style. You've also got the option to add sauerkraut, jalapeños, grilled onions, and a variety of other toppings to dress your dog — just know that each topping may come with a slight upcharge.

At Steak 'n Shake, you'll get one dog selection with the option of topping it with chili, cheese, grilled onions, and other toppings — but for a price. Each extra comes with a cost that varies depending on the ingredient you choose. With the hot dog already costing close to five bucks as is, that could get pricey, but again, that'll depend on what you get.

Specialty sauces

We love it when a restaurant features its own line of yummy sauces, and Freddy's and Steak 'n Shake give customers the option of enjoying just that with their signature sauces.

Starting with Freddy's, expect to be given a packet or two of Freddy's Famous Fry Sauce with your meal. It comes in normal and jalapeño versions, with the pepper one being the spiciest. To us, this sauce tastes very similar to nacho cheese and is rather enjoyable on the fries — even though we detest them. We'd imagine the sauce tastes great on sammies as well, and we honestly wouldn't mind pouring a bit on the original Freddy's burger to find out!

As for Steak 'n Shake, the chain offers customers its Frisco sauce, which guests describe as tasting very similar to Thousand Island dressing. This sauce typically comes on the Frisco Melt, but can also be ordered on its own to be slathered over the menu item of your choosing. Ultimately, both Freddy's and Steak 'n Shake have delicious house sauces that we think complement the menu items of each chain well.

Chicken tenders

We haven't yet gotten a chance to sample the chicken tenders at either restaurant, but other customers sure have. The good news is that both restaurants have a reputation for tasty chicken tenders, which is a relief, especially when you're in the mood for something other than a traditional steakburger or other type of sammie.

Freddy's offers a 3-piece tender option with your choice of BBQ, honey mustard, ketchup, or ranch sauce. It also offers patrons a chicken tender choice with five pieces per order, so you can level up if you're feeling particularly hungry. Sadly, Steak 'n Shake does not have a larger portion available, but instead offers customers only three tenders per order. The nice thing is that you can douse your Steak 'n Shake chicken tenders in the Frisco sauce, or dip them in buffalo, honey mustard, BBQ, or ranch sauce instead.

Oh, and let's not forget customer reviews. As mentioned, both Freddy's and Steak' n Shake tend to have customers salivating over their chicken, so we think ordering tenders at either joint is sure to be satisfying. 

Kid's meals

When it comes to kid's meals, anticipate that your kiddo will receive the star treatment at Steak 'n Shake. There are plenty of options for little ones to enjoy, including steakburgers, chicken tenders, hot dogs, and grilled cheese. The meal will typically come with milk, fries, or applesauce, but you can also order it with any specialty shake for a small fee.

Freddy's isn't half bad when it comes to kid's menus either, but it has slightly fewer options. It gives kids the choice of tenders, a burger, or a hot dog, along with the option of chips or applesauce instead of fries. The kid's menu here is also slightly more expensive by about 50 cents at the time of publication, but we don't think this is much of a deal breaker as far as comparisons go.

Remember also that while Freddy's doesn't offer as many milkshake options as Steak 'n Shake (nor do these options come with the meal), you can still get access to some of the chain's frozen custard options specifically marketed for kids. Creations like the Dirt 'n Worms sundae are great ways to lure kiddos into eating all of their food, so be sure to keep this in mind the next time you order at Freddy's.

Chicken sandwiches

Though we would love to break down the pros and cons of ordering a chicken sammie from both Steak 'n Shake and Freddy's, Steak' n Shake, unfortunately, does not have any chicken sandwich offerings — at least not at the time of publication. With that said, we can tell you that Freddy's has several options for chicken-lovin' fans, ranging from plain to spicy fried chicken, and even grilled chicken. 

The original fried chicken sandwich is topped with pickles; the spicy chicken sandwich comes with jalapeño fry sauce and pickles; and the grilled chicken sandwich comes with lettuce and tomato. As usual, you can customize your sandwich to your liking, especially since these toppings don't sound particularly thrilling — at least, not to us.

When it comes to customer reviews, people seem pretty pleased with these grabs. Most people aren't saying it's the best chicken sandwich they've ever tasted, but they do seem to deem it average or above-average, which we think is pretty fair.


Freddy's might dish up the goods as far as chicken sandwiches are concerned, but if you love chili, Steak 'n Shake is the place to get your fix. Steak 'n Shake offers several chili types, including "true" traditional chili along with chili mac and Cincinnati-famous 5-way chili. And while Steak 'n Shake may be known for dishing up different versions of chili, whether or not customers are receptive to them is a different topic for sure. Some fans seem to really love the chili at Steak 'n Shake, while other patrons simply can't stand it.

Also, in case you're curious, Steak 'n Shake also sells its chili in a can online and in stores, and overall it garners positive reviews. Whether or not you'll dig Steak 'n Shake's chili will be a matter of personal preference, as the stuff it's selling in restaurants has mixed reviews from customers, leaving us confused as to whether or not it's actually worth your time.

Frozen custard

Sadly, frozen custard isn't offered at Steak 'n Shake the way it is at Freddy's. Though the two restaurants are very similar, Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers and Steak' n Shake differ in their specialty dessert offerings, as can be noted in their names. With that said, expect Freddy's to have delicious frozen custard menu options, with treats that work to satisfy the taste buds of adults and children alike.

Keep a look out for the Dirt 'n Worms sundae along with the Oreo Custard Sandwiches, Chocolate Brownie Delight, and PBC & B (banana and peanut butter — delicious, we know). There's also the Signature Turtle, root beer, and create your own sundae or concrete mixer to savor, both of which can be customized to include five mix-ins to your liking.

Freddy's may not be the ultimate when it comes to milkshake flavors, but it does well when it comes to custard. It's not quite the next Culver's, but the quality and flavor are there, and hey, we can't knock the chain for that!


Though both Steak 'n Shake and Freddy's have decent prices, one tends to outperform the other in terms of protecting your pocketbook. In general, we've noticed that Steak 'n Shake has the most inexpensive menu, with a steakburger, fries, and drink costing somewhere around $7 as of December 2023. In contrast, you'll easily spend close to $10 or more on a meal at Freddy's, despite the two chains having reasonably similar food offerings.

One category in which this might not be true is the standard milkshake. At Steak' n Shake, you'll pay around $5 for a regular-sized shake option, while Freddy's dishes up large milkshakes for around the same price. Still, let us not forget that Steak 'n Shake specializes in milkshakes (and a yummy variety of them at that), so paying a little extra is kind of expected. Not only that, but the difference in pricing between Freddy's regular milkshake and a Steak 'n Shake regular shake is only 20 cents or so, and barely worth getting in a tizzy about. 

All in all, Steak' n Shake is where it's at as far as quality and budget-friendliness, so go ahead and splurge! You just might be able to order a little more than expected, all without breaking the bank.

Hours and availabilty

When it comes to hours and availability, this is where things get a little interesting. While we'd love to have a Freddy's and Steak' n Shake within 5 miles of our vicinity, we've noticed that these restaurants can sometimes be spaced out; so you can consider yourself very lucky if you happen to find these two delicious steakburger joints close by.

Starting with Freddy's, expect to find the chain all over, with a specific concentration in the Midwest and a good amount of Southern states (especially Texas). The chain stays open from 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. in most states, though hours and availability of each location are subject to change.

Steak 'n Shake seems to follow a similar trend with very high concentrations in both the Midwest and South, along with a few other locations splattered sporadically across the nation. As far as hours go, you'll want to call and verify each location you plan to visit before stopping in late; some stay open 24 hours while others close at night.

The verdict

So, which of these two restaurants fares best? You'll hate us for this, but both have their strengths, making it hard to pick just one. When it comes to Freddy's the taste and quality reign supreme, and its frozen custard is unbelievably delicious. With that said, you can cop a comparable meal at Steak 'n Shake, usually for cheaper, and still get access to umpteen different milkshake options to pair with your steakburger, making it exceedingly tough to pick which of the two is truly better.

If we were forced to choose, we'd go with Steak 'n Shake simply because of its milkshake offerings, comparable menu items, and overall pricing. Still, this is by no means meant to throw shade at Freddy's; you'll still find us there on the weekends stuffing our faces with deliciously good steakburger fare despite the slightly higher prices. They're both awesome!


To compose this article, we took customer reviews, menu options, pricing, and our own experience into account. By comparing menu items, exclusive offerings, price points, and customer opinions, we were able to come up with a general consensus as to how these two steakburger chains compare to one another.