Food Fight: In-­N­-Out vs Shake Shack

In another matchup of East vs. West, New York’s Shake Shake takes on California’s In-N-Out to determine who’s the real burger king.

In another matchup of East vs. West, New York’s Shake Shake takes on California’s In-N-Out to determine who’s the real burger king. Along the way, let’s break down the other staples of a great burger joint to see which chain can handle the heat and take home the crown.



Yes, yes I’d say this atmosphere pleases me. Photo: @marianodivaio / Instagram

*In-N-Out: *For those who’ve never been, imagine a 1950s diner had a baby with a modern McDonald’s, and you’ll understand the vibe at any In-N-Out. There’s an old-timey charm to each location, but the customer turnover is impressively fast.


Gotta admit, it looks pretty adorable. Photo: @masaya.takahashi / Instagram

Shake Shack: A much more modern take on what a burger joint could be, Shake Shacks could easily feel at home in an interior design magazine. Abstract and sleek lines mingle in their decor but are often softened by wood and plant choices.

Treatment Of Employees


They do look happy. Photo: Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr

In-N-Out: According to, 91% of In-N-Out employees would recommend working at the company, probably because they’re some of the best-paid workers in fast food. Employees can also receive health benefits, vacation days, and 401(k)s.


I mean, nobody looks sad here either. Photo: @mitsuharu_k / Instagram

Shake Shack: A publicly traded company, Shake Shack also offers their employees salaries above minimum wage and provides the same benefits as In-N-Out. On top of that, through a program called Shack Bucks, every employee receives a cut of the company’s monthly sales, which can raise base salaries as much as a dollar per hour.

Burgers (Double Cheeseburgers)


Oh, for the love of food porn, why is this so beautiful? Photo: Krista / Flickr

In-N-Out: (670 calories) Their Double-Double is grilled with consistent finesse. The special sauce will turn you into an animal if you let it, but the veggies are fairly lackluster.


Can’t. Stop. Drooling. Photo: LWYang / Flickr

Shake Shack: (770 calories) In the other corner, the Double ShackBurger impresses with its potato bun and fresh vegetables. The patties themselves are noticeably well-seasoned, but the sauce tastes like a rookie.



Fries on fries on fries! Photo: Elliot / Flickr

In-N-Out: (395 calories) Hand-cut and deep fried on the premises, In-N-Out fries rarely need the salt packets that come with them. They’re living proof that food can be fast and fresh.


Yeah, my mouth is gonna like that. Photo: JOH_2775 / Flickr

Shake Shack: (470 calories) Crinkle-cut just like the frozen food aisle used to make, Shake Shack’s Yukon potato fries hit a nostalgia point, but doesn’t always remember to bring the flavor.



Look at all the pretty colors! Photo: @algorithimic / Instagram

In-N-Out: (~590 calories) The Neapolitan shake isn’t officially on the menu, but we needed a heavy hitter to go up against Shack’s Black and White shake. A delightful blend of real ice cream, this milkshake brings all the industrial strength straws to the yard.


The calories are almost visible—in a good way. Photo: @sugarcoatedcarter / Instagram

Shake Shack: (760 calories) Made with hand-spun custard, the Black and White shake hits a sweet middle ground between vanilla and chocolate – maybe too sweet. Its consistency ranges from Goldilocks’ thickness perfection to forgotten, melted ice cream.

Winner: In-N-Out


Could anything this beautiful NOT win? Photo: Laine Trees / Flickr

In-N-Out barely eeks out in front to claim victory. Based on this information alone, it’s clear that In-N-Out has the fundamentals nailed down at lower prices and calorie points.

Sure, you can purchase craft beer and wine, along with bacon at Shake Shack (and a lot of other things that aren’t shakes or burgers), but you don’t need all the bells and whistles to crank out consistently delicious food.