In another matchup of East vs. West, New York’s Shake Shake takes on California’s In-N-Out to determine who’s the real top burger. Along the way, let’s break down the other staples of a great burger joint to see which chain can really handle the heat.
Photo: Joe Handelman and Boston Eater
In-N-Out: Imagine a 1950s diner had a baby with a modern McDonald’s and you’ll understand the vibe at any In-N-Out. There’s an old-timey charm to each location, but the customer turnover is impressively fast.
Shake Shack: A much more modern take on what a burger joint could be, Shake Shacks could easily feel at home in an interior design magazine. Abstract and sleek lines mingle in their decor, but are often softened by wood accents and plants.
Treatment Of Employees
Photo: Jennie DeMarco and My Central Jersey
In-N-Out: According to Glassdoor, 91% of In-N-Out employees would recommend working at the company, probably because they’re some of the best paid workers in fast food. Employees can also receive health benefits, vacation days, and 401(k)s.
Shake Shack: A publicly traded company, Shake Shack also offers their employees salaries above minimum wage and provides the same benefits as In-N-Out. On top of that, through a program called Shack Bucks, every employee receives a cut of the company’s monthly sales, which can raise base salaries as much as a dollar per hour.
Burgers (Double Cheeseburgers)
Photo: Fast Food in USA and All Sandwich
In-N-Out: (670 calories) The Double Double is grilled with consistent finesse. The special sauce will turn you into an animal, if you let it, but the veggies are fairly lackluster.
Shake Shack: (770 calories) In the other corner, the Double ShackBurger impresses with its potato bun and fresh vegetables. The patties themselves are noticeably seasoned, but the sauce tastes like a rookie.
Photo: Fast Food in USA and Popsugar
In-N-Out: (395 calories) Hand-cut and deep fried on the premises, In-N-Out fries rarely need the salt packets that come with them. They’re living proof that food can be fast and fresh.
Shake Shack: (470 calories) Crinkle-cut just like the frozen food aisle used to make, Shake Shake’s Yukon potato fries hit a nostalgia point, but don’t always remember to bring the flavor.
Photo: Spoon University and Smilingrid
In-N-Out: (~590 calories) The Neapolitan shake isn’t officially on the menu, but we needed a heavy hitter to go up against Shack’s Black and White shake. A delightful blend of real ice cream, this milkshake brings all the industrial strength straws to the yard.
Shake Shack: (760 calories) Made with hand-spun custard, the Black and White shake hits a sweet middle ground between vanilla and chocolate… maybe too sweet. Its consistency ranges from Goldilocks’ thickness perfection to forgotten, melted ice cream.
Photo: The Hale Telescope
In-N-Out barely ekes out in front to claim victory. Based on this information alone, it’s clear that In-N-Out has the fundamentals nailed down at lower prices and calorie points. Sure, you can get beer and bacon at Shake Shack (and a lot of other things that aren’t shakes or burgers), but you don’t need all the bells and whistles to crank out consistently delicious food.