The American Burger Battle: Shake Shack vs. In-N-Out

In the United States, burgers are king. According to an article by the Huffington Post in 2013, Americans eat 50 billion hamburgers a year. That equates to eating three burgers per week; so as you can imagine, that’s a heck of a lot of meat! Fast food places were once the go-to place to get a burger, especially if you’re visiting the US for the first time, but over the past several years, fast casual places have overtaken the ranks. Two of those powerhouses are Shake Shack and In-N-Out Burger. Contrasting styles and origins on the opposite end of the country only fueled the American burger battle between these restaurants over the past few years. But which one really has a better burger? Let’s take a more in-depth look, shall we?

The American Burger Battle: Shake Shack vs. In-N-Out Burger

It’s All in the Bun

American Burger Battle. Shake Shack at Madison Square Park
Shake Shack at Madison Square Park

Most chefs will tell you that the key to a perfect burger is the bun. It doesn’t matter how flavorful the beef patty is if the bread isn’t proportioned to the meat. Shake Shack uses a potato bun while In-N-Out uses a white roll. The former do not toast its bread while the latter does. It’s a matter of preference of course, but most critics will agree that the burger battle win for this ingredient goes to the New York-based Shake Shack. Next time you find yourself staying in New York, head over to Madison Square Park and try a burger from the first Shake Shack store.

Veggies and Condiments

American Burger Battle. Double Double
Double Double

For me personally, nothing beats fresh veggies on my burger, but even I will concede that having the option to get grilled onions in addition to raw onions puts In-N-Out slightly on top on this section of the American burger battle. The secret spread that remains a guarded secret from the California-based chain is also better than the so-called Shack Sauce.

The Burger Patty

American Burger Battle. Shack Burger
Shack Burger

The American burger battle between Shake Shack and In-N-Out Burger is ultimately decided by the burger patty. Both claim to use 100% ground beef that’s never frozen. Shake Shack’s own special burger blend packs in so much flavor that it hardly needs anything more than salt and pepper after. The same can also be said about In-N-Out’s, though some might say that the patty itself can be a bit bland to the taste. Perhaps it’s my preference for plain goodness that puts Shake Shack ahead in this category. In-N-Out’s patty works very well with entire burger concoction but for the sheer taste of burger alone, the Shack gets the nod.

Have you tried both and if so, which of the two burgers do you like better?

About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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