DIY Takeout: Skip the Shake Shack Line and Make Your Own Shack Burger

My cheeseburger is nearly as pretty as Shake Shack's.
My cheeseburger is nearly as pretty as Shake Shack's. Nick Evans

Shack Shake recently opened in Denver, so I ventured over to brave the line and try a burger. The line was out the door and almost around the corner on a brisk Tuesday during lunch, but the company runs a tight ship there and I was surprised how fast I was able to order and eat.

The burger itself is great; they are griddle-cooked and have a nice crust on them. The care that goes into assembling each burger is evident as well; each one looks just like the photo — which is abnormal for a burger joint.

But this isn't a Shake Shack ad. I'm here to help you skip the line and get reallllly close to Shake Shack's standard cheeseburger at home. While the company uses a special blend of beef for its burgers, I found that a good Angus ground beef which a high fat content will get the job done just fine.

The trick, of course, is in the searing of the patty. Don't pack the patty too tight; that way it will spread out evenly when you press it. Then smother it with cheese and a quick version of  ShackSauce and you're in business.

This is the kind of cheeseburger that any budding home cook should learn how to whip up. It's a winner — and you can find my recipe below.

click to enlarge My cheeseburger is nearly as pretty as Shake Shack's. - NICK EVANS
My cheeseburger is nearly as pretty as Shake Shack's.
Nick Evans
Shake Shack Style Cheeseburgers
Makes 4 single stack cheeseburgers
Total Time: 20 minutes

1 pound ground beef (15-20 percent fat content)
4 potato buns (Shake Shack uses Martin's Potato Rolls), lightly buttered
2 tablespoons canola oil, for cooking
American cheese slices
Ripe tomato, sliced thin
Green leaf or Boston lettuce

Shake Shack Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon pickle juice
Pinch of cayenne pepper


1. For the ShackSauce sauce, stir together all ingredients and adjust flavors to your liking. I like a little fresh ground pepper in mind as well.

2) Preheat a griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly butter your potato buns and sear them on the griddle until they are toasted. Remove and set aside.

3) If your ground beef is packed tight in whatever container you purchased it in, break it up a bit with a fork. You want it loose. Measure out four four-ounce portions.

4) Add a drizzle of canola oil to your preheated grill. Add the ground beef and cover it immediately with a piece of clean foil. Then add something heavy on top (like a cast iron skillet) and press it down firmly for 20 seconds. Let the burger continue to cook for another minute on that side.

5) Remove heavy thing and foil and season the burger well with salt and pepper. Flip burger. Cook burger for 30-45 seconds on the second side and then add cheese. Cook until cheese is melted, another 30-45 seconds. (For faster melting, you can cover the burgers with a pot and they will steam for super-melty cheese).

6) Assemble the burgers by smearing ShackSauce on each bun. Top with the patty, followed by tomato slices, fresh lettuce, and the top bun. Serve immediately!

This sauce recipe is also listed in the official Shake Shack Cookbook.

Have an idea for a dish to re-create for DIY Takeout? Leave a comment or email [email protected]
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