We tried Shake Shack's new summer barbecue sandwiches -- here's the verdict

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderShake Shack has a new lineup of barbecue items for summer.
  • Shake Shack has debuted several limited-time barbecue items for the summer.
  • A burger, grilled chicken sandwich, and fried chicken sandwich are the three main new releases.
  • We tried all three, and while the grilled chicken wasn’t very impressive, the fried version and the burger were superb.

With the warm weather in much of the US, it feels as if summer has more or less arrived – and with it comes the inevitable limited-time barbecue fast food. Shake Shack is now serving three options: the BBQ Cheddar & Bacon Burger, the BBQ Cheddar & Bacon Griddled Chick’n, plus a fried chicken version of it.

The items were launched last week as app-only exclusives and are now available nationwide (excluding airports, stadiums, and ballparks).

While everyone seems to love barbecue, not everyone agrees on which American barbecue style is best. Carolinian, Texan, Alabamian, Kansas City – the various regional delectable dialects are too numerous to name in full. And Shake Shack’s new items aren’t just barbecue – they’re heavy on the bacon, too.

We grabbed the new items from Shake Shack to find out if they’re absolute barbecue gold or sad charcoal bricks:

All three items follow the same formula, more or less: pickles, BBQ sauce, bacon, and cheddar cheese.

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It sounds like a delicious formula – and for the most part, it is.

Let’s start with the $US7.35 burger version. Like any Shake Shack burger, you can order a single or a double version. We grabbed a single here.

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Putting pickles on burgers is a great way to bring some acid to the flavour equation and help lend some brightness to an otherwise very greasy, rich meal.

And it works. It’s an incredibly rich, savoury burger, even with one patty — the slab bacon and lightly sharp cheddar cheese take care of that.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Luckily, the pickles balance out the taste – but were this a double patty burger, I fear the tangy yet sweet intricacies of the barbecue sauce would be lost in the beefy mass.

Then, there’s the grilled chicken barbecue bacon cheddar sandwich. Grilled chicken is a “healthy” option, but slapping cheese, bacon, and BBQ sauce on it kind of nullifies that.

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Shake Shack’s grilled chicken is … odd. From past reviews, we know that there’s some undefinable quality to it that is disappointing.

So while the toppings are delicious, it’s another example of the whole not equaling the sum of its parts.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The bacon is deliciously smokey, the pickles piquant, and the cheese rich – but the chicken falls short. It’s almost dry, but not quite, and the seasoning is heavy on salt. This sandwich isn’t satisfying enough to justify the $US7.95 price.

The fried chicken barbecue iteration is, however, a masterpiece.

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You can just see that the chicken is fried to a golden crisp – Shake Shack’s fried chicken’s crispy breading is one of its greatest and most satisfying strengths.

This is just as strong as the original Shake Shack fried chicken sandwich, but for entirely different reasons. While the original is a shining feat of mellow, languid flavours, this one is deliciously bold.

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It’s bacon, chicken, pickles, BBQ sauce, and cheddar, all crunching and crisping and melting and melding into a rich, smoky, sweet, salty, and vinegary delight. The differences between the fried and grilled chicken may be small materially – and they cost the same – but it makes a big difference to the taste buds.

These new barbecue sandwiches are absolutely delicious, except perhaps the grilled iteration, but they are certainly not healthy.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

If you’re looking for a healthier option at Shake Shack, try the recently released veggie burger – it’s surprisingly good, and I’m not even a big veggie-burger fan.

But if you’re looking for a smoky, summery, bacon-heavy feast, go for the BBQ burger or the BBQ fried chicken sandwich.

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