What You Should Absolutely Never Order At Steak 'N Shake

Despite the name, you won't be chowing down on delicious steaks alongside your shakes when you dine at Steak 'n Shake. Instead, the nearly century-old American fast-food restaurant is known for its menu filled with "steak" burgers and sugar-laden milkshakes, extremely affordable prices, and late-night dining.

While popular with those looking for cheap (and pretty good, if you're not watching your health) meals at any hour, Steak 'n Shake has had a rough last few years. In summer 2020, the restaurant closed more than 50 of its locations, citing financial problems related to the coronavirus pandemic, with parent company Biglari Holdings reporting a $7.9 million loss during Q1 2020. However, even before the pandemic hit, Steak 'n Shake was facing monumental problems, and in summer 2019, Steak 'n Shake closed 44 restaurants, with customer traffic falling 7.7 percent in Q1 2019.

So, if you hold a special place in your heart for your local Steak 'n Shake, you may want to pay it a visit soon — you never know when you might lose it, as the restaurant seems to be doing little to nothing to win its years-long battle to remain relevant, despite its one major promotion in 2020 giving free fries away with every order. When you're there, be sure to enjoy those (sometimes) free fries as well as the classic steak burgers that have made Steak 'n Shake famous, but steer clear from these ten items you should absolutely never order at Steak 'n Shake.

The Steak 'n Shake Frisco Melt makes you pay

The Frisco Melt is arguably one of Steak 'n Shake's most popular menu items. These famous Steak 'n Shake steak patties are sandwiched between two buttery slices of grilled sourdough toast and layered with melty, gooey American and Swiss cheese along with a healthy helping of Steak 'n Shake's original Frisco sauce (which, when broken down and copied, is really just a mix of thousand island and French dressings, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce).

But for all that melty goodness, you'll pay. If you're watching your health in any way — calories, fat, sodium, sugar — you'll want to stay away from the Frisco Melt. Here's why. In the sandwich alone, not including fries, there are 960 calories, plus 21 grams of saturated fat, 1,440 milligrams of sodium, and 12 grams of sugar. Comparatively, for fewer calories, you could order a Bacon Lovers Steakburger or even two Original Double Steakburgers. If you're watching your saturated fat, you'd be better off with the majority of other sandwiches and burgers on the menu — the same goes for the sodium.

When you should really only have around 16 to 22 grams of saturated fat per day (for a 2,000-calorie diet), and no more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day, the Frisco Melt just really isn't worth it — unless that's all you're planning to eat in a day.

The Steak 'n Shake Chili Mac boasts a surprising ingredient

Steak 'n Shake's chili has a large following, as attested by the large amount of copycat recipes you can find via Google. Maybe it's the perfect blend of steak and beans, maybe it's the little oyster crackers that come on the side — or maybe it's the whopping pile of grease that the cooks add to the chili before it makes its way to your table.

According to Reddit user socolover14, who replied to a thread on restaurant workers revealing what they'd never order from their restaurant, "Currently employed at Steak 'n Shake. In my opinion, you should never order any kind of mac, chili mac, or mac supreme. We are told to put in more grease than beef. So if you are really craving it, specifically ask for it dry. You will get less grease and more beef."

A look at Steak 'n Shake's ingredients lists shows that the "grease" socolover14 refers to is likely beef fat, which, if you were making chili at home, you'd likely drain off before adding the beef to your chili mixture. However, even if you're fine with the idea of the grease to beef ratio in your chili being a little skewed, the chili mac is pretty high up there when it comes to calories, saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. One serving of the chili mac comes with 1,200 calories, 16 grams of saturated fat, 2,710 milligrams of sodium, and 16 grams of sugar.

The Steak 'n Shake Chili Cheese Fries are a sneaky side dish

When you're out at a restaurant, you usually assume that your calories are all going to be wrapped up in your entree. After all, that's where you're getting the most food, so doesn't it make sense?

But that's not the case with this sneaky side dish on Steak 'n Shake's menu. A large serving of chili cheese fries comes with an additional side of 2,990 milligrams of sodium. Yes, that's nearly double the American Heart Association's recommended ideal sodium intake for one day. That's also more sodium than what you'll find in all of the burgers on Steak 'n Shake's regular menu, excepting the mammoth 7x7 burger. So, when it comes to picking your side at Steak 'n Shake and you're craving some fries, go with the regular fries or even the cheese fries for a healthier alternative. Even downgrading to a small fry will save you some calories and sodium.

Steak 'n Shake's breakfast seems more than sus

Some Steak 'n Shake locations offer a breakfast menu, on which you'll find diner-style classics, like a homestyle breakfast with eggs any style, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and your choice of bread, as well as all-you-can-eat pancakes. The breakfast menu also features some "skillets" and "scramblers," which are basically all a mixture of scrambled eggs with a range of ingredients thrown in, like cheese, sausage crumbles, onions, mushrooms, etc.

But when you take a closer look at the ingredients, things get a bit sus — and by "a bit," it's more like "a lot." For the plain scrambled eggs (which, if you're making plain scrambled eggs at home, requires about two or three ingredients, max), the Steak 'n Shake ingredients and allergen list documents almost 15 ingredients. Just for the scrambled eggs. No mix-ins, no add-ons. Just eggs. Except, it's not just eggs. It's eggs plus a range of artificial flavors, colors, and oils, that put together, produces something resembling a normal scrambled egg. It's all completely unnecessary. Just use a normal egg.

To be frank, this wiener is one salty dog

What's a hot dog without chili? Steak N' Shake asked and definitely answered that question with its Chili Cheese Steak Frank. To offer such a menu item was a foregone conclusion. Not only are chili dogs almost universally popular, but Steak N' Shake already had all the necessary components on its menu and in the kitchen — the chain serves chili, they've got onions and cheese, and very large hot dogs in the form of its all-beef Steak Franks, are at the ready. 

But this all might be too much of a good thing. There are plenty of calories in a big bowl of chili (topped with onions and cheese), and plenty in a hot dog. Both make a fine and filling meal on their own, but most nutritionists would argue that they should be a sometimes-only food, what with their high sodium count. Put them together, and that makes for a chili dog that is certainly hearty and delicious but which also contains a wallop of dietary sodium. The Steak N' Shake Chili Cheese Steak Frank packs a substantial 710 calories and 44 grams of fat, as well as a heart-clutching 1,620 milligrams of sodium. According to the FDA, that's like eating almost an entire spoonful of table salt.

The Jalapeño Crunch Steakburger has lots of toppings (and fat and sodium)

The trend in fast food burgers over the past decade or so has been to pile delectable toppings of various complementary tastes and textures atop meat patties until the sandwich can no longer maintain structural integrity. For example, there's Carl's Jr.'s Pastrami Thickburger (with pastrami on top of various usual burger accouterments) and Steak N' Shake's Jalapeño Crunch Steakburger. It's so much sandwich there's little chance the average person can eat this handheld, without a knife, and without making a mess. Steak N' Shake's burger tacticians start with two big beef patties and then add a slice of spicy pepper jack cheese and spread chipotle-infused mayo on both buns along with a hefty portion of salsa, jalapeños, and breaded and crispy fried onions. (It's that last ingredient that gives the sandwich its titular "Crunch.")

While that's a lot of vegetables, with a volume and variety generally not seen at meat-and-cheese-oriented national fast food franchises, the Jalapeño Crunch Steakburger remains a less than healthy choice for Steak N' Shake diners. The federal government's dietary guidelines (via Michigan State University) recommend adults consume about 2,000 calories and 65 grams of total fat a day. The Jalapeño Crunch Steakburger contains almost half of those daily calorie needs (790) and almost all of the fat (53). It's also one of the saltiest items on Steak N' Shake's menu, with 1,590 milligrams of sodium.

Double up on heart-stopping ingredients with the Double Garlic Steakburger

When a cooking meal smells wonderful, it's likely that garlic is doing a lot of the olfactory work. The fragrant, flavorful, mildly spicy plant is essential to numerous global cuisines and it's healthy, too. According to Healthline, it's low in calories, contains numerous essential nutrients and vitamins, and may help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Steak N' Shake's Double Garlic Steakburger sandwich obviously contains garlic, but its benefits may be canceled out entirely by the mountain of more actively harmful ingredients necessary to make this fast food sandwich.

Steak N' Shake isn't shy with any element of the Double Garlic Steakburger. It starts with two beef patties on a fluffy bun, plus melted cheese and a garlic butter spread, along with some more garlic butter and garlic salt on top. The butter gets that healthy garlic to go where it needs to go, but the fatty dairy product isn't the most heart-healthy delivery device. When all is said and done, the Double Garlic Steakburger contains a massive 750 calories and 51 grams of fat.

The Royale rules over the Steak N' Shake list of items to avoid

Steak N' Shake's Royale is simply and elegantly named, carrying a grand title that downplays the caloric and nutritional chaos within. On that note, it's probably never a good idea, in the name of personal health, to consume a food that seems to be inspired by something that made Homer Simpson, a proud glutton with little concern for his own well-being, aggressively salivate. In the 1992 "The Simpsons" episode "Bart's Friend Falls in Love," Homer sees a commercial for "The Good Morning Burger," a fast food behemoth consisting of 18 ounces of beef soaked in "rich creamery butter" and topped with bacon, ham, and a fried egg. 

It's so extreme that it couldn't possibly be real, but about three decades later, The Good Morning Burger is available at many Steak N' Shake outlets — because it's essentially The Royale. The only major difference is that Steak N' Shake doesn't douse it in butter, but they top it with cheese; the bacon and egg remain. Altogether, this beast is anything but modest, containing 800 calories, 56 grams of fat, and nearly 1,400 milligrams of sodium.

The Oreo Cookie Red Velvet Shake boasts three desserts' worth of sugar

There's just a lot going on with Steak N' Shake's Oreo Cookie Red Velvet milkshake. First of all, it starts with a standard milkshake base of milk and velvety vanilla ice cream. Then the kitchen wizards at the burger-and-dessert chain add not just cookies to the mix, but the enormously and widely popular Oreo chocolate-and-creme sandwich cookies, in addition to hunks of red velvet style cake. 

In other words, this is a Frankenstein-like concoction consisting of three very sugary desserts, any of which on their own would be a nice treat to celebrate a special occasion, or enough to satisfy even the feistiest of sweet tooths. Few people would ever consume a milkshake, slice of cake, and a handful of Oreos in one sitting, but Steak N' Shake makes this unlikelihood a reality. And diners who choose this option should probably be aware just how much sugar they're putting into their bodies. With a count of 940 calories, the Oreo Cookie Red Velvet trumps the energy load of all other Steak N' Shake shakes. It also contains 128 grams of sugar, which is the most of all Steak N' Shake drinks by a long shot.

Steak N' Shake added candy and chocolate to ice cream for a too-sweet treat

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, one of the most popular and widely available candies, are actually two treats in one. In its original form, it consists of sweetened, crumbly peanut butter encased in a scalloped shell of creamy milk chocolate. It's a decadent dessert unto itself, but it's merely an ingredient in a couple of Steak N' Shake's many milkshake offerings. Guests can go with the standard Reese's Peanut Butter Cup shake, which combines milk, vanilla ice cream, and crumbled Reese's Peanut Butter Cups into a powerfully sweet and also somewhat savory drinkable dessert. That one is one of the most calorically dense items on the entire Steak N' Shake menu, containing 840 calories and 82 grams of sugar. That's more calories than two Steak N' Shake Steak Franks and about as much sugar as two 32 ounce servings of Coca-Cola Classic from the chain's soda fountain.

But patrons can somehow put even more body-taxing sugar into their bodies with a variation on the Reese's-branded shake. It's also available in the Reese's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup variety, which adds a hefty portion of chocolate syrup to the milk, ice cream, and candy chunks. That one adds 920 calories and 94 grams of sugar to a customer's daily tally.