10 Dishes You Should Avoid Ordering At Outback Steakhouse

G'day mate! Actually, you probably won't be greeted with this jolly Australian expression when you walk through the doors of an Outback Steakhouse. The popular chain, which has over 650 locations across the United States, isn't as Australian as you might think. The restaurant claims to be "Australian-inspired," although the disappointing, untold truth of Outback is that its American founders had never stepped foot on the continent. Rather, the chain centers around the brackish ideas that Americans have of Australia — which are fun and entertaining to some and mildly offensive and bromidic to others. But despite its corniness, Outback is home to some famous dishes that make the chain a worthwhile visit — like the legendary Bloomin' Onion.

Among delicious, crispy onion straws, molasses-infused brown bread, and juicy, flavorful steaks, destructive entrées, sides, and apps linger in the shadows at Outback Steakhouse. I've indulged in some surprisingly delicious meals at the chain, but peppered among them were egregious dishes that nearly had me heading for the hills (though, the allure of the Bloomin' Onion kept me coming back). Just like the terrifying wildlife Down Under, the stuff of nightmares seems to lurk around every corner of Outback's menu. I used personal experience, as well as insight from social media, to shed some light on dishes that are better left untouched, while also exploring some distinguished alternatives — because when the Outback beckons, you simply must heed the call.

Grilled shrimp on the barbie

It's safe to say that when Americans envision Australian cuisine, "shrimp on the barbie" is likely the first dish that comes to mind. Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad food news, but Australians have never and will never use this term, which became associated with Australia in the States thanks only to the popularity of "Crocodile Dundee." Aussies typically refer to shrimp as "prawns," and are quick to dismiss the kitsch ideas that Americans have about their country. But despite this awkward, pop culture-fueled cliché, there's another reason why this Outback Steakhouse dish landed on this list.

This grilled shrimp appetizer might seem like the perfect way to start off an Aussie-inspired meal, but it hardly piques the appetite. It's served with about eight lightly-grilled shrimp on top of a piece of garlic toast. The toast is smashed into oblivion and is incredibly greasy, and the shrimp doesn't offer any redeeming qualities. Instead of a light char and slightly crispy outside that one would hope for in barbie-qued shrimp, Outback's shrimp appear as though they've been boiled or microwaved and then dyed yellow. They are indeed garlicky, but their mushy texture ruins any potential pleasant taste. If you're on the hunt for an iconic seafood app at Outback, opt for the seared pepper ahi. As one of the healthiest (and least greasy) options at Outback, you can feel good about indulging in this tender fish dish with a light, peppery crust.

Tasmanian chili

Nothing fills you up and warms the cockles quite like a steaming bowl of chili. But if you're looking for the perfect, hearty side dish on a chilly winter evening, steer clear of Outback. Outback Steakhouse's Tasmanian chili easily ranks as one worst menu items at the chain. Though the restaurant describes the dish as "spicy, all steak, no beans," which appeals to our inner carnivore, it is one of the most disappointing options that you can order. 

First off, I'm not entirely sure what makes this chili Tasmanian, but I suppose that's neither here nor there. While the chili is undoubtedly spicy, this may be its only appealing quality. Although its description implies a substantial, meaty side dish, it quite thin, watery, and in serious need of more beef or some beans to add thickness and flavor. A lackluster chili is a serious crime among chefs, and Outback Steakhouse has certainly committed a felony.

If you absolutely must have something hot at Outback, choose the chain's acclaimed French onion soup instead. This soup is one of the most underrated options at Outback Steakhouse, overshadowed by its much more coveted onion-centric appetizer. Thick chunks of bread and gooey cheese make this soup significantly heartier than the restaurant's disappointing chili.

Grilled chicken on the barbie

Even restaurants known for their fried appetizers or greasy entrées tend to offer something on the lighter side. Grilled chicken is a go-to choice for those looking to fill up on protein without being weighed down with excess oil and heavy batter. At Outback, grilled chicken on the barbie is served with a choice of two sides, which include options like veggies, rice, and mac and cheese. Choosing the right sides may be the only thing that makes the dish worthwhile, because the main feature is lackluster at best.

Outback's grilled chicken is dry and bland, and the signature barbecue sauce served alongside it does little to mask its tough texture or add any much-needed flavor. Although the barbecue sauce is a slight saving grace, a buttermilk brine could have elevated this health-conscious option in the flavor and moisture department.

For a much more enticing, albeit heavier, chicken-based entrée, look no further than Outback's acclaimed Bloomin' fried chicken. If you love the Bloomin' Onion — and honestly, why wouldn't you? — Bloomin' fried chicken is an ideal choice. This dish, which is coated in the same batter as the renowned appetizer before being fried, retains all the signature flavor of the Bloomin' Onion, complete with a drizzle of the same dipping sauce. 

Gold Coast coconut shrimp

Ahh, sweet, sweet coconut shrimp. This classic app — found on many steakhouse or seafood restaurant menus — is loaded with tropical flavors to transport you to the shores of paradise. Coconut-encrusted, tender shrimp wakes up your taste buds with natural sweetness to prime your appetite for a savory main course to come. But, I regret to inform you that Outback took the sweetness to a whole different level.

The subtle, tropical sweetness of coconut flakes should be enough to accentuate shrimp's natural flavor, but it seems Outback doesn't think so. The chain's Gold Coast coconut shrimp are absolutely loaded with sugar, so much so that biting into each little morsel feels like sampling snacks from a candy shop. Usually, your taste buds aren't prepared to chow down on a dessert-like treat before dinner has even started, making this sugar-laden appetizer feel like an assault on the senses. Granted, the coconut shrimp's coating is flaky and toasted well, but this does nothing to overshadow the tumultuous tidal wave of syrupy sweetness.

Instead, try another shrimp-centered app: the Bloomin' fried shrimp. Like the classic appetizer and Bloomin' fried chicken, this starter is brimming with all the flavors that make Outback's Bloomin' Onion one of the most legendary appetizers in all of American chain restaurant history.

Aussie Cobb salad

It appears that Outback throws the label "Aussie" around willy-nilly and attempts to claim that a dish has Australian origins despite the obvious falsehood. This discrepancy is most apparent in the Aussie Cobb salad. The Cobb salad originated in the United States and has no history in Australia — but it's not like we all aren't aware of Outback's misnomers and attempts to mislead its customers into thinking that its food is authentically Australian. Not only is there no such dish as an Australian Cobb salad, but the version of the dish served at Outback is nowhere near its traditional form.

A classic Cobb salad involves chicken, bacon, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, blue cheese, and avocado served over romaine lettuce. Outback's version lacks chicken, avocado, and blue cheese, and the chain substitutes these essential elements with shredded Monterey jack and cheddar cheese and croutons. Blue cheese is supposed to add tang to tender chicken, while the avocado incorporates an additional layer of creaminess to complement the blue cheese. Without these crucial ingredients, Outback's version is merely a side salad with a little bit of egg and puny bacon bits.

For a salad that may not have originated in Australia, but still hits the spot, opt for Outback's Brisbane Caesar salad. The chain's regular patrons swear by the tasty Caesar dressing, and a generous portion of chicken on top certainly makes this salad dinner-worthy.

Salted caramel cookie skillet

An eclectic caramel treat can really satisfy your taste buds when you're tired of classic chocolate or standard fruit-flavored desserts. Plus, sweet desserts with a noticeable salty addition bring otherwise nuanced flavors to life. Outback's salted caramel cookie skillet consists of a caramel-flavored cookie with chunks of white chocolate, nutty toffee, and pretzels. It's served piping hot in a cast iron skillet topped with vanilla ice cream, which adds cooling creaminess to this crunchy sweet treat. This dessert sounds nearly too good to be true, and much to the dismay of Outback's caramel-loving patrons, it is.

Although this cookie-centric treat certainly sounds delicious, it doesn't stand up to higher-quality dessert offerings at the chain. The cookie is smaller than it appears to be in the photo on the menu — which is disappointing. And after your first bite, you'll realize that more cookie won't save this dessert. The cookie is greasy and practically tastes like the pan it was cooked in. We can only hope that Outback's cookware is cleaner than the taste of this cookie implies.

Rather, a formidable contender for dessert after a satisfying steak dinner at Outback is the Chocolate Thunder from Down Under. This treat involves a brownie loaded with pecans, made extra decadent with ice cream and whipped cream. Its whimsical name is aptly suited for this fun and delicious way to end a meal.

13-ounce ribeye

Like any respectable steakhouse, Outback offers a classic ribeye on its menu as a standard, yet delectable option for steak fans. The ribeye is known for its high intramuscular fat content, resulting in a juicy cut. But despite the ribeye's reputation for optimal juiciness, Outback's steaks aren't handled with the care they deserve, resulting in a dry mess of meat on your plate. Even though overcooking a ribeye is unlikely to ruin it, thanks to its fattiness, and I won't go as far as to say that a boneless ribeye from Outback is flat-out inedible, Outback's lack of seasoning and tendency to overcook its meats renders some cuts significantly less flavorful and juicy than they ought to be. As one of the most coveted cuts of steak available, the ribeye deserves more respect than Outback is willing to give it, and I believe that's a breach of beef boundaries.

For a similar dish that's bigger, badder, and just flat-out better, try Outback's bone-in ribeye. One of the reasons Outback's fried fare and steaks are so flavorful is because of its use of beef tallow for frying and seasoning. The flavor from beef tallow is more apparent in the bone-in cut, making it a better, more flavorful option for steak lovers visiting the chain. 

Aussie cheese fries

As we've learned is the case with many Outback Steakhouse menu options, the "Aussie" designation bears no actual Australian origins. But, it does add a touch of whimsy to dishes that are otherwise, well, pretty boring. In the case of Outback's Aussie cheese fries, this couldn't be more accurate. This appetizer consists of standard french fries — not hand-cut, but from frozen — with melted Monterey jack and cheddar cheese sprinkled with bacon bits.

All told, the Aussie cheese fries are unimpressive; the soggy, mushy french fries, mere dash of cheese, and low-quality bacon bits don't offer anything particularly delectable. The cheese itself is mild in flavor, so if you're at Outback and are craving gooey, cheesy fries, make sure you order the Aussie fries with extra cheese; Outback will happily oblige. This starter's only consolation is the ranch sauce served on the side for drizzling or dunking. Outback's house made ranch dressing knocks any store-bought ranch dressing out of the park any day.

If you're looking for a savory fried app from Outback, gloss over the Aussie fries and head straight for the pièce de résistance: the Bloomin' Onion. If you've got cheese on the brain, simply ask for a side of cheese sauce for dipping your crispy onion straws into, and don't forget a side of ranch to use alongside the famed Bloomin' sauce.

Kingsland pasta

Surf and turf is one of the most appealing options at any steak house — and it's especially tempting if pasta is thrown in. At Outback, this dish is known as the Kingsland pasta:a blend of fettuccine noodles, steak medallions, shrimp, and Alfredo sauce. The Kingsland pasta is one of the house specialities, but in truth, it's special for all the wrong reasons.

It appears that Outback uses its pasta and steak dishes as an excuse to overcook meat into oblivion. In the case of this dish, you'll find charred little beef coins embedded into fettuccine. The meat provides a stark and jarring textural contrast to the soft, delicate noodles. But, remarkably, the chewy meat isn't the worst aspect of this dish. The Kingsland pasta's Alfredo sauce, which Outback brazenly claims is "bold," is anything but. Watery sauce and overcooked pasta lead to a mushy, flavorless, and watery mess.

If you're craving a little surf and turf action at Outback — and let's be real, of course you are — skip over the shrimp and steak pasta and go big with the Victoria's filet mignon and lobster tail. It doesn't get more classic than this dish, served with juicy, tender steak, buttery lobster, and two sides.

Steakhouse mac and cheese

It's not often you order up a bowl of mac and cheese that puts a huge scowl on your face after the first bite. That bowl of cheese-covered pasta is supposed to lather your palate with rich flavors and send a comforting warmth down into your stomach. Mac and cheese is comfort food, after all. However, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything comfortable or desirable about the steakhouse mac and cheese at Outback.

Don't let yourself fall victim to the gorgeous photo of the pasta dish on the menu page. When the actual dish arrives at your table, you'll immediately feel like you've fallen for a bait-and-switch. Instead of rich and creamy, you'll be greeted with a watery and runny cheese sauce. Should you decide to look beyond these red flags and take a bite, you immediately realize the ratio of cheese sauce to pasta is totally off. A little more cheese variety in this dish would do wonders for the flavor and the consistency of the sauce. And, to put a metaphorical cherry on top of this Outback blunder, many of the noodles are overcooked, leaving your mouth to work overtime for a dish that ultimately offers no bang for your buck.

Do your appetite a solid and order Outback's mashed potatoes instead. This ultra-creamy plate of spuds comes with an extra dose of coat-your-mouth excellence. It's a sure-fire way to kick your whole meal off in a successful direction.


When I'm in the mood for chain restaurant fare, Outback is my go-to choice — especially when I'm craving a Bloomin' Onion or a Caesar salad. Despite the menu blunders I've outlined in this list, the restaurant, as a whole, offers many tasty and satisfying menu items. That being said, there are always outliers on any restaurant menu, so knowing which dishes to avoid is key to guaranteeing a memorable night out.

I relied heavily on my experiences exploring the menu at Outback to construct this list. I made note of dishes that I'd never order again and made an effort to highlight some standout favorites to act as excellent substitutions for less-than-satisfactory items. For dishes that I haven't personally experienced, I utilized information from social media, including reviews and anecdotes from the chain's employees and customers. Taste reigned as the sole factor for designating whether or not a dish should be avoided and which dishes are superior, while nutrition and ingredient sourcing practices were not factored in. Ultimately, I set aside personal bias to construct a list of what I believe are — as objectively as possible — the worst-tasting items at Outback Steakhouse.