The Smoky Shake Shack Sandwich Every Burger Lover Should Try At Least Once

If you're in need of a sandwich and spot a Shake Shack nearby, boy are you in luck. The burger spot has made the full transformation from 2000s New York hotspot to international chain while preserving what was great about the original in ways few chains have. No restaurant is able to scale to that degree without losing a little of its charm and quality, so the fact that Shake Shack's standards have stayed high while the company tops 500 locations in 18 countries is undoubtedly impressive. So if you are a burger lover, you already know Shake Shack is a must-try at least once, but if you can only grab one sandwich while you're there, what should it be? We ranked 11 sandwiches currently available at Shake Shack, and while a lot of them are great, there is one clear standout that manages to be both well-constructed and unique: The SmokeShack.

The SmokeShack topped Tasting Table's list for a couple reasons, but the clearest one is balance. The burger comes topped with cheese, Applewood smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers, and the chain's signature ShackSauce, and beyond being flavorful, this combination hits every tasting note you want from a burger bite in ways nothing else on the menu quite does. All of Shake Shack's best options have the salty, rich flavor you want from a burger, but the SmokeShack gets an umami boost from the smoke and sweet vinegary tang that really elevates it.

The SmokeShack is a must-try sandwich at Shake Shack

While every part of the SmokeShack is bringing something good, the cherry peppers are really the key to the burger. Without them you still have a very strong sandwich — the smoke flavor from the abundant bacon really shines through in particular — but the bacon-cheese-burger combo would be overwhelmingly salty by itself. The cherry peppers are mildly spicy, sweet, and have the acidic bite of pickles all in one, bringing three different tunes that the burger is lacking, all of which help cut against the fat and tone down tastes that could be overwhelming otherwise. The heat is just enough that you feel it, but it never gets you sweating, and their chopped form helps them act almost as a relish, with nice, even distribution in every bite.

As a complete experience, the SmokeShack just highlights what the company does well. It's not overly complex — it's just bacon and peppers on a cheeseburger — but the quality of the ingredients shines through, with each component both standing out for its flavor and melding seamlessly into the whole. Shake Shack's burger sauce is mayo-adjacent, with a sweetness and tang of its own so it's contributing more than just fat. The Shake Shack burger meat is good enough to eat by itself, and the unshowy, soft bun doesn't get in the way of the stars. There are a lot of good options at Shake Shack, but the SmokeShack is the most essential.