The Cheesecake Factory Menu Items Staff Avoid

With over 250 items on its menu, The Cheesecake Factory sure doesn't make it easy to decide what to order. You can go for something indulgent like pasta or a burger, try a Mexican or Thai-inspired creation, or skim the Skinnylicious section for healthier low-calorie dishes. The company claims to make everything in-house from scratch, and by many accounts that's true for most of the menu items. However, what The Cheesecake Factory doesn't want you to know is that making everything from scratch leaves a lot of room for errors. Plus, with so many menu items that are all over the map, there are bound to be some duds.

To help you narrow down what not to order from The Cheesecake Factory's massive menu, we compiled a list of menu items that staff members typically avoid. We went straight to the source, asking people who currently work at the chain which menu items they dislike and which dishes are sent back most often. We also delved into employee food reviews to uncover which dishes the staff say are bland, misguided, or downright disgusting. These are the menu items that many staff say they won't order at The Cheesecake Factory.


Like many mid-range restaurants that aim to appeal to a wide range of tastes, The Cheesecake Factory offers alcoholic beverages. Each restaurant has a full-service bar that offers a selection of cocktails, including margaritas, martinis, and mojitos. Just be warned though — The Cheesecake Factory's cocktails may not be as strong as you like. A former employee told Business Insider, "The restaurant puts exactly the required amount of alcohol in each drink and no more. The rest of the drink is ice, mixer, and fluff."

To be fair, The Cheesecake Factory is not the only place you'll find more juice or soda in your cocktails than alcohol. A standard liquor pour at most restaurants and bars in the United States is just 1 to 2 ounces of alcohol. For cocktails, the rest will be ice and mixers. For example, the Cheesecake Factory's recipe for a Pineapple Moscow Mule calls for 2 ounces of vodka versus 6 ounces of juice, simple syrup, and ginger beer. If you want a stiff drink where you can really taste the booze, our sources tell us that the best cocktails to get at The Cheesecake Factory are the martinis because they typically contain less mixers and no ice.

Crispy Fried Cheese

Crispy fried cheese sounds like the ultimate appetizer for when you just don't care how many calories you're consuming. It's cheese. It's deep-fried. How could you go wrong? The Cheesecake Factory's version includes a mix of mozzarella and fontina cheeses that are breaded, fried until crispy on the outside, and served with marinara sauce on the side. They're pretty ample, which many might think is a good thing. However, some employees think that's part of the problem with them. That and the lack of flavor.

Benny Priedkalns is an employee at The Cheesecake Factory who has posted several YouTube videos where he ranks dishes from the chain. He placed the Crispy Fried Cheese at the bottom of his ranking in one YouTube video, saying, "I had a pretty bad encounter with this one. I'm not going to lie. It's like a mozzarella stick essentially, but bigger and probably a lot fattier ... This was not great. I would much rather just get a mozzarella stick from Olive Garden. It's just pretty flavorless honestly." Food reviewer and former Cheesecake Factory employee Erin Robinson didn't have much to say about the dish except, "It needs marinara."

Fettuccine Alfredo

Pastas make up a pretty substantial portion of The Cheesecake Factory menu with 17 different dishes to choose from. Three of those pastas are Fettuccini Alfredo. You can have it plain, with chicken, or with shrimp. You would think that this classic pasta dish would be a pretty solid choice. After all, the menu describes it as having "a rich Parmesan cream sauce," which sounds pretty darn delicious. However, servers say that's not really the case. More than a few say it's bland and not worth the 1,450 calories it packs.

One Cheesecake Factory server we interviewed, who asked to remain anonymous, said, "The Fettucine Alfredo has no flavor and gets sent back all the time. Our managers even tell us to 'tour guide' guests away from ordering it." A former Cheesecake Factory server told Refinery29, that she would also warn people about how bad the Fettuccine Alfredo is. Yet another employee on Reddit said, "Weirdly enough, I am not a fan. I like my Alfredo sauce cheesier rather than creamier." It's not surprising then that the dish made our list of The Cheesecake Factory menu items with the worst reviews.

French Fries

Like any all-American restaurant chain worth its salt, The Cheesecake Factory offers french fries alongside its burgers and sandwiches and as a standalone side dish that you can add to any meal. Seeing as how The Cheesecake Factory is a full-service restaurant with prices to match, you would expect the fries to be better than run-of-the-mill fast food french fries. Unfortunately, some employees say you shouldn't get your hopes up. For one, the fries are one of the only things on the menu that's not made fresh in-house. As one former employee said on Reddit, "Out of the tomb-like menu, the only things that came pre-made were the fries and the sweet plantains."

The server we interviewed told us, "The Cheesecake Factory's fries are basically the same fries as McDonald's. They're good right out of the fryer, but a few minutes later they're gross and soggy. They have to be basically from the fryer directly into your mouth to be good." She explained that The Cheesecake Factory is constantly pumping out fries, but to coordinate a table that has several different dishes coming out of several different windows and then pair those dishes with sides of fries, there's a good chance your fries are not going to be straight out of the fryer.

Celebration Cheesecake

The Cheesecake Factory owes its success to a cheesecake recipe that was published in a Detroit newspaper in the 1940s. Evelyn Overton used that recipe to make her own version of a cheesecake that would go on to be a top seller in restaurants around town and at her own bakery. When her son David decided to open a restaurant dedicated to her cakes in 1978, The Cheesecake Factory was born. Today, the chain offers over 30 varieties of cheesecakes and is consistently adding new flavors. Not all are a hit with the staff though.

When it comes to ranking the Cheesecake Factory's cheesecakes, some employees say the Celebration Cheesecake should be at the bottom of the list. The cake features layers of vanilla cake and cheesecake sandwiched between strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla mousse. The cake is frosted with cream cheese icing. It sounds good in theory, but according to Benny Priedkalns, the texture is what makes this cake a huge fail. He said on YouTube, "It's literally birthday cake, but imagine instead of cake in the middle it's just a bunch of mush." Food reviewers tend to agree. As the hosts of Good Mythical Morning said when they tried the cake, "So basically their version of birthday cake. If you want birthday cake, get birthday cake."

Cheeseburger Spring Rolls

Some of the dishes at The Cheesecake Factory are nothing if not creative. The chain is known for coming up with innovative dishes that fuse flavors and culinary traditions. The chain was definitely thinking outside the box when it came up with the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls. This mash-up of Asian and American comfort foods features ground beef, cheese, and onions rolled in egg roll wrappers and deep fried. Unfortunately, when it comes to ranking The Cheesecake Factory appetizers, many employees say it's one of the worst.

The Cheesecake Factory server we spoke to told us that one of her main issues with the chain's menu is that so many of the dishes are extremely high in calories. The Cheeseburger Spring Rolls absolutely fall in that camp. The dish clocks in at 850 calories, which is pretty excessive considering it's meant to be a small plate or snack. In addition, some say the flavor is not great. As a former employee told Business Insider, "I'm usually a fan of cheeseburgers, but for some reason, this meal doesn't do it for me. It's not as flavorful as the other meals on the menu." 

Roadside Sliders

With over 20 appetizers listed on The Cheesecake Factory's menu, plus a slew of small plates and snacks on offer, it can be difficult to decide how to kick your meal off on the right note. The Roadside Sliders look like they'd be a pretty safe bet. After all, they're just hamburgers in mini form. But are they as good as or better than other chain restaurant sliders? Some staff say you might be better off getting your slider fix elsewhere.

According to Benny Priedkalns, the dish is lacking in several areas. He said on YouTube that, "It wasn't that good. It's very greasy ... just kind of flavorless." He ranks the Roadside Sliders only slightly ahead of the Cheeseburger Spring Rolls. Erin Robinson said on YouTube, "I do think it's missing something. I do think they need to put a special sauce or a special topping on it." She revealed that she prefers the chicken sliders over the burger sliders. Overall, many Cheesecake Factory employees seem to think you could do a whole lot better than the Roadside Sliders for a starter.

Cajun Jambalaya Pasta

The Cajun Jambalaya Pasta is another one of the Cheesecake Factory's creations that you won't find in too many other restaurants. Jambalaya is a rice dish from Louisiana that typically includes proteins like crawfish and sausage, veggies like celery and green peppers, and plenty of spices. The Cheesecake Factory's version features chicken, shrimp, green peppers, and what the chain calls "a very spicy Cajun sauce." It's also served on pasta instead of with rice. It's a dish that has many people divided. Some say it's great, while others say there's just too much going on in the dish. Others say it's not spicy at all.

The discrepancies in opinions on the Cajun Jambalaya Pasta could come down to the fact that taste is, of course, subjective. However, the Cheesecake Factory server we interviewed had a different theory. She said, "The Jambalaya Pasta is good when it's executed correctly, but that's not always the case. The linguine is weird and can easily get lumped together and the sauce can be bland sometimes. It's really subject to the chef who's cooking because there's so much wiggle room in a scratch kitchen."

Spicy Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Spicy chicken sandwiches have surged in popularity over the past few years, so it should come as no surprise that The Cheesecake Factory offers a version of the sandwich as well. But can it hold a candle to the fast-food spicy chicken sandwiches that sparked the infamous chicken sandwich wars? It seems like it should have a good shot. The menu describes it as a crispy chicken breast topped with melted cheese and your choice of chipotle mayo or spicy buffalo sauce. It all comes on a brioche bun. Despite the enticing description, some staff say it's not going to win a place in the list of the best chicken sandwiches in the U.S. anytime soon.

When you order a spicy crispy chicken sandwich, you probably expect to experience the crunch first, followed by a mouth-tingling burn that lingers long after the sandwich is done. Sadly, that spice element seems to be missing from The Cheesecake Factory's version. Benny Priedkalns said on YouTube that he tried the sandwich because he wanted to be adventurous, but regretted it. He called the sandwich bland and "nothing really special." If you're craving a chicken sandwich, he recommends the Skinnylicious Chicken Sandwich with Sriracha Mayo. "This is the flavor the regular chicken sandwich is lacking," he said.

Bistro Shrimp Pasta

If you like seafood, you may be tempted to order The Cheesecake Factory's Bistro Shrimp Pasta. The dish features battered shrimp fried until crispy and tossed with mushrooms, tomatoes, arugula, spaghettini noodles, and a creamy sauce featuring lemon, basil, and garlic. Sounds like it has potential, right? Well, there are a few things staff think you should know about this dish before you commit to ordering it.

With so much going on in the dish ingredient-wise, you might expect the Bistro Shrimp Pasta to be packed with delicious flavors. However, Erin Robinson found it to be a bit lackluster. In her ranking of every pasta from the Cheesecake Factory on her YouTube channel, she said, "It's ok. It tastes a little fishy." Her husband chimed in saying, "There's not so much flavor to it ... there's a lot of different things in there, but the seasoning isn't quite as good." The other issue with the dish is that it's a calorie bomb. The pasta clocks in at a whopping 2,170 calories. For that reason alone, you probably won't find too many staff packing this dish away in between their shifts. 

Kid's Macaroni & Cheese

Being the family-friendly restaurant that it is, The Cheesecake Factory has a pretty large kid's menu with plenty of dishes that are designed to appeal to little ones. There are a few healthy dishes in there like grilled chicken or grilled salmon with mashed potatoes and veggies. However, the majority of the kid's menu items are pretty low in nutritional value. According to some staff, one of the kid's menu items you should never order for your child is the Kid's Macaroni and Cheese. The Daily Meal listed it as one of the unhealthiest pasta dishes at the Cheesecake Factory, which is pretty bad considering it's meant to be consumed by children.

While the Cheesecake Factory server we spoke to tells us she's never had any complaints about the Kid's Macaroni and Cheese, she said she's blown away by how many calories the Macaroni and Cheese contains. At 1,160 calories, it's pretty full-on for a child. According to the American Heart Association, the recommended caloric intake for children between the ages of two and eight years old is between 1,000 to 1,400 calories a day. Then there's the fact that the dish doesn't contain any vegetables or protein from meat. It may appeal to younger palates, but it's not exactly a balanced meal. 

Buffalo Wings

When you're craving Buffalo wings, The Cheesecake Factory may not be the first place you think of. In fact, many people are not even aware that the chain has Buffalo wings on the menu. But as CEO David Overton told Nation's Restaurant News, "There's nothing that America wants to eat that can't go on the Cheesecake Factory menu." Just because you can put something on the menu doesn't necessarily mean you should though. According to the server we interviewed, that rings true for the wings. As she succinctly put it, "The chicken wings at The Cheesecake Factory suck."

The problem with the Buffalo wings is not necessarily quality or flavor. They're pretty standard wings that are slathered in hot sauce and served with blue cheese sauce on the side. Our source said, "The taste is fine, but they're pre-baked and then flash-fried to order, so they're dry and just not good." She's not the only one who feels that way. A TikTokker posted a video of wings she purportedly bought from the chain and said, "For $17.95, I didn't expect hard, overcooked wings from The Cheesecake Factory." If you're craving something with Buffalo sauce flavor, Erin Robinson highly recommends the Buffalo Blasts on YouTube, which are essentially fried wontons stuffed with buffalo chicken. "So, many people love this one," she said.