Shake Shack is no stranger to foods that are full of flavor. From the chain's eponymous shakes, which include flavors like the Apple Cider Donut Shake and the Choco Salted Toffee Shake, to their Bacon Cheese Fries to the Shack Stack, this restaurant has gone big before. But they've never gone this big on the spice before. On September 16 the chain is rolling out "the spiciest item to date for Shake Shack," said the restaurant's culinary director, Mark Rosati, in a video posted on the YouTube channel of First We Feast.
Why was it posted there? Because the four new fall menu items just added to the Shake Shack lineup were developed in tandem with the minds behind First We Feast's wildly popular "Hot Ones" videos. And as you'll soon learn based on our firsthand experience, yeah, these are spicy eats.
The heat of these items can be taken up to 11 with the addition of "The Last Dab: Apollo" sauce. This sauce was made with a new pepper developed by Smokin' Ed Currie, a professional pepper breeder who is the man behind the colorfully named PuckerButt Pepper Company.
But note that most of these new menu items are spicy enough as is—in fact, we only added Last Dab to one, as you'll see. While we love spice, we also like taste buds that remain functional.
Plus, don't miss 4 Items McDonald's Just Added to the Menu.
Hot Ones Burger
This is a satisfying burger all around. It's not so big that you face any existential crises while eating it nor is it small enough that many diners will be left hungry, especially if fries were also ordered. The Hot Ones Burger is made with an Angus beef patty that's topped with applewood smoked bacon and Monterey Jack cheese, and of course, with plenty of Hot Ones™ Spicy ShackSauce slathered on there.
The cheese balances out the heat of the sauce and the smoky flavor of the bacon finds its way through the heat, too. It's a lot like the chain's Bacon Cheeseburger, albeit with a single patty and lots more heat. The burger is priced at $8.29 at most locations, which is on the upper end of a good price, but it's still very much worth it.
Sign up for our newsletter!
Hot Ones Chicken
The Hot Ones Chicken Sandwich was the real standout of the four new Shake Shack menu items for us. It's made with a crispy, fried white-meat chicken patty that is topped with Hot Ones Spicy ShackSauce, crisp applewood smoked bacon, and a slab of Monterey Jack cheese. All of that is tucked between a toasted potato bun. The bun, cheese, and chicken all work together to create a pleasant backdrop for the hot sauce, so it was to this sandwich that we added some extra heat in the form of "Last Dab: Apollo" hot sauce.
"Per Shake Shack's blog: Those looking to turn the heat up a notch can purchase a packet of 'The Last Dab: Apollo', made from the Apollo Pepper that was developed by legendary chili breeder, Smokin' Ed Currie. The Last Dab: Apollo, Hot Ones™ most unique and hottest sauce to date, will be available in Shacks for a limited time."
And per our experience, this added hot sauce took things into the sweating and regretting zone, so spread it on carefully and in small quantities.
Hot Ones Cheese Fries
The Hot Ones Cheese Fries are, to be candid, the least exciting of the four new menu items. Sure, they look great thanks to a dusting of vibrant red Aleppo pepper (milder than cayenne pepper, though comparable), but they're just not that special.
Rather, they're really just classic Shake Shack crinkle-cut cheese fries with a hot sauce slathered over the top, and that's that. While they're still quite tasty and all, these fries didn't stand out as anything new or all that interesting. After all, you can just add hot sauce on top of your fries yourself any time, no need for these to really be treated as anything all that new.
That said, if you like spicy foods and you like big, crinkly French fries, you might as well order these as your side. But a better idea? Get the Hot Ones Bacon Cheese Fries.
Hot Ones Bacon Cheese Fries
Why are the Hot Ones Bacon Cheese Fries so much more appealing than the regular Hot Ones Cheese Fries? Because by some sort of strange sorcery, the bits of applewood bacon adhere to these fries better than we've ever seen with other bacon-topped fries. There's clearly some perfect edible adhesive created by the blending of the hot sauce and the cheese that helps veritably glue bits of bacon to each fry, so each bite is just sublime.
OK, to be fair, by the time you have eaten half of the fries, most of the bacon will be gone, as it was applied to the top of the fries, but then at least you can finish off your side enjoying the spice.