This Vegan Copycat Shack Burger Is The Perfect Weekend Cooking Project

The ShackBurger is one of the best cheeseburgers in the fast-food game. It’s very simple: toasted bun, smash patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, sauce. That’s it. Of course, those ingredients and how they’re prepared are what make the burger special. And meat and cheese are the centerpieces among those ingredients. Will this dish hold up without the beef and dairy?

Today, we’re going to see if we can make our own ShackBurger, but with vegan ingredients. And since we’re clearly being healthy, we get to double up! Maybe in the process, we’ll build the vegan burger Shake Shack has always longed to make. Yes, we know that Shake Shack serves the ‘Shroom Burger, but that’s just vegetarian. We want to go all the way and see if this works 100 percent animal-free.

To accomplish our vegan feat, we’re using Beyond Meat’s new Beyond Burgers (which have been reformatted to be juicier and meatier). We’re also using a vegan cheddar that’s specifically designed for melting on top of cheeseburgers. In fact, it almost melted too well. (We’ll get to that.)

Okay, let’s make a vegan double ShackBurger!

Vegan Shack Burger

Zach Johnston


  • 2 1/4-lb. Beyond Meat Beyond Burger patty
  • 2 slices vegan cheddar
  • 1 leaf butter lettuce
  • 2 slices tomato
  • 1/2 cup vegan mayo
  • 1 heaping tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 heaping tablespoon yellow mustard
  • Pinch of onion powder
  • Pinch of paprika
  • Small pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Dill pickle juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

This is pretty straightforward. I’m using Beyond Meat, obviously, Simply V Burger Slices, and Hellman’s Vegan Mayo to supplement any animal-based foods. That mayo from Hellman’s is indistinguishable from the egg-based version, and I say that as someone who likes mayo.

I forgot that ShackBurgers use Roma tomatoes. So, I got the wrong ones. Sorry.

As for the Shack Sauce, I used the copycat recipe from Binging with Babish and Alvin Cailin. It feels right and tasted pretty spot on.

Other than that, we’re just making good ol’ burgers on the stovetop.

Zach Johnston

What You’ll Need:

  • Skillet w/ lid
  • Heavy spatula
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen knife
  • Small mixing bowl
  • Spoon
  • White paper
Zach Johnston


  • Prep your veg first by picking a nice lettuce leaf and washing it, slice the tomato, and ready two slices of cheese.
  • Next, make the Shack Sauce by combining the mayo, ketchup, mustard, onion powder, paprika, cayenne, and pickle brine. Stir with a spoon until fully emulsified.
  • Add a very thin layer of olive oil to a skillet on medium-high heat. As soon as it’s heated, place the bun, cut side down, in the pan to toast.
  • Once toasted, set the bun aside.
  • Use the paper the Beyond Burger comes in to lay the burger patty in the hot skillet. Hit the patty with a pinch of salt. Use the spatula to gently smash the burger patty a bit (maybe make it half as thin as it was). It’ll bounce back a little as you “smash.”
  • Once the patty starts taking on a Maillard sear around the edges, use the spatula to flip the burger patty.
  • Place a slice of vegan cheddar over the patty, lower the heat all the way to its lowest setting, and place a lid over the skillet.
  • About a minute later, remove the lid from the skillet. The cheese should be melted and gooey and the burger will be cooked through. (Note: My cheese melted very quickly — think 30 seconds — and got very gooey. So know your vegan cheese’s melting point).
  • Stack and place the burger on the bottom bun. Top with two slices of tomato and the lettuce leaf.
  • Sauce the top bun and place it on top of the burger and wrap it in white paper to serve.
Zach Johnston

Bottom Line:

Zach Johnston

Wrapping this up in paper really helped save my hands from a gooey, burgery mess. It also helped hold in all the burger and cheesy goodness.

Overall, this was damn close. The meat didn’t quite “smash” as much as I wanted, or as much as the loose “meat” Beyond Meat does. Still, this was clearly meatier and juicier — little pools of beet-red juice came to the surface of the patty during the cook.

The sauce was spot on and the lettuce and tomato were a nice, simple accompaniment. The lettuce was fresh and soft. The tomato was bright and refreshing.

This was simple, delicious, and definitely a vegan burger I’m going to make again. The meatier Beyond Meat was really hard to ignore as a damn close substitute to the real thing. This was 100 percent meaty from the first bite to last. And the gooey cheese and burger juices started to mingle in the white paper near the end, creating an almost glaze or reduced sauce that helped further flavor the last few bites of the burger. A big win and a perfect weekend project for a one-or-two-day-per-week vegan!

Zach Johnston