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Shake Shack Hot Menu Review: The New Spicy ShackMeister Burger And Cheese Fries Are Fire

burger and fries
burger and fries - Michael Palan / Static Media

When it comes to experimenting with new menu items, Shake Shack has proven that its test kitchen instincts translate into real world deliciousness. When bringing back its Hot Chicken sandwich item for a fourth run, Shake Shack looked to spice things up even further, sprinkling some of that magic onto its hamburgers and fries, which seems like next step in hot-stepping. This September sees the launch of a Hot Menu, where the temperature rises with the introduction of the Spicy ShackMeister burger, Spicy Fries with Ranch Sauce, and Spicy Cheese Fries, also with Ranch Sauce.

Shake Shack's Executive Chef and VP of Culinary Innovation John Karangis said in a statement, "We love crafting fun, delicious menu items, and our new Hot Menu puts a fiery twist on the Shack classics. Whether you're watching football or just enjoying the fall season, this menu will bring the heat that we know our guests are going to enjoy."

Summer has yet to simmer down, but with things heating up at Shake Shack, we couldn't resist seeing if the Hot Menu was pure fire or just a lot of smoke in need of water. Off we went to the original Shake Shack location in New York's Madison Square Park, fighting off birds and squirrels who also wanted a taste, and we survived to bring you our chew and review...

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Read more: Why You Need To Seek Out These Food Experiences Before You Die

What Does Shake Shack's Spicy ShackMeister Taste Like?

bite out of burger
bite out of burger - cccc

In a pocket of wax paper, with its soft potato roll grocery store bun tipped open to reveal its contents, the Spicy ShackMeister looks like a devil of a good time. The usual salty-good Shake Shack cheeseburger has some new red friends on board, which appear to be diced red peppers and a few dashes of paprika-like flakes, but are in fact chopped cherry peppers and an unspecified hot pepper blend.

Fully splitting the bun reveals what appears to be a broken jar of chopped cherry peppers dominating both the burger patty and the top of the bun. Somehow oddly absent are the promised crispy onions as seen on the app and signage in stores. Oh well, we'll have to dream about how they taste.

With so many cherry peppers in tow, it's not surprising that the entire burger tastes mainly like them. They have a nod of sweetness, with a nice level of heat, but the addition of the hot pepper blend seasoning really makes this too much of a hot-to-trot affair in its current state. Maybe this was all intended, to keep up with the Joneses and all their hot sandwiches, but lost in the shuffle is the burger itself.

What Does Shake Shack's Spicy Cheese Fries With Ranch Taste Like?

fries dipped
fries dipped - Michael Palan / Static Media

Shake Shack's Fries come in two hot iterations: Spicy Fries and Spicy Cheese Fries, both of which are accompanied by a cup of its own branded ranch sauce. The spicy pepper blend that dusts the Spicy ShackMeister and the Hot Chicken is also present here, and with the pale yellow complexion of the fries themselves, appears more present than on any item on Shake Shack's Hot Menu.

The Spicy Fries not blessed with Shake Shack's peachy-hued, softly melted cheese are left with nowhere to hide from the spice, and are almost too much heat to handle. Luckily the off-white creamy ranch sauce is the perfect partner and antidote to dip the fries in, saving the day.

When the fries have the cheese encased on them, the spicy pepper blend works way better as a compliment and can be enjoyed without further ado. The zesty ranch sauce then becomes a big bonus, really tying it all together, where hot meets cold in harmony, just like what happened with the polar opposite protagonists in Pixar's "Elemental." While cheese usually spells soggy doom to fries, Shake Shack's crispy crinkle fries hang tough, and still hold up their consistency, as much as they possibly can.

What Are Shake Shack's Hot Menu Items Made Of?

open hamburger
open hamburger - Michael Palan / Static Media

The Spicy ShackMeister is a 100% angus beef cheeseburger, spiced with a house pepper blend. Inside the potato roll bun, are crispy onions (which were absent on ours), chopped cherry peppers, and ShackSauce. A single Spicy ShackMeister is 660 calories, while a double stack has 920 calories. No other nutritional information is available beyond the calories for this or the other items.

The Spicy Fries are Shake Shack's classic crinkle-cut fries spiced with the same house pepper blend for the hot burgers and chicken sandwich. Each is served with a ranch dip sauce, made from 100% cage-free eggs, cultured cream, distilled vinegar, nonfat milk, sugar, garlic powder, yogurt powder, lemon juice, and more. These fries come in at 630 calories. The Spicy Cheese Fries reads the same as above, but includes Shake Shack's cheese sauce and adds 240 calories.

When And Where To Order Shake Shack's Hot Menu Items

Shake Shack
Shake Shack - Michael Palan / Static Media

Customers who utilize Shake Shack's app have been privy to ordering these new Hot Menu items, including the Spicy Chicken since September 5. Starting Friday, September 8, they all can be ordered at Shake Shacks nationwide for a limited time only and while supplies last. The items can be ordered in advance on the app, on the Shake Shack website, in person at the counter, or at a kiosk or drive-thru where available.

The suggested retail price for the Spicy ShackMeister starts at $7.99. The regular Spicy Fries with Ranch Sauce start at $4.09, and those with cheese are $5.09. Prices vary per location and can be easily checked in advance with the app.

How To Order Shake Shack's Hot Menu Items

food posters
food posters - Michael Palan / Static Media

Shake Shack does not offer combo meals, so each item from the Hot Menu has to be ordered separately. While you can customize the Hot items any way you choose, the easiest way to do so is directly through the app, which includes removing any of the given ingredients.

For the Spicy ShackMeister, the bun can be substituted for a lettuce wrap, or for an extra charge, a gluten-free bun. Other add-ons that come at a cost are bacon, avocado, and even more cherry peppers (no more, please!). The two Spicy Fries options allow for being unsalted, and the addition of chopped bacon. For the Spicy Cheese Fries, a nice choice is to have cheese sauce on the side.

The Final Verdict

food on table
food on table - Michael Palan / Static Media

Seems like everyone and their mother are spicing up its menus this fall, but when we heard Shake Shack was back in the game, we knew it would be inventive and intriguing no matter what the results were. Hot Chicken is totally a thing, but burger and fries? Why not?

The Spicy ShackMeister we were handed was probably not how Danny Meyer-nature intended, with MIA crispy onions, and being on the receiving end of more chopped cherry peppers than what may exist in the entire solar system. The cherry peppers and the pepper spice blend rendered the cheeseburger itself mute. If only it could have borrowed the pickles or slaw that the lucky Hot Chicken comes with, which sadly are not add-on options here. Still, we soldiered on and salvaged our final bites by offsetting the spice world with all that we had available — ketchup and mayo packets. A Shake Shack shake would have also helped.

The two Spicy Fry options on the other hand are good to go as-is. The ranch sauce is the perfect cooling center playmate to the arid heat dusted all over the fries. Be sure to treat yourself to the cheese version over the one devoid of it for maximum awesomeness. Next time, we'll get the cheese on the side and perhaps use any leftover ranch to chill out the flaming Spicy ShackMeister, which still left our lips tingling 30 minutes later.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.