Secret menu items from your favorite food places
Secret menu items from your favorite food places
Hidden from plain sight, far away from the menus designed for so-called “regular” people, there exists a world full of culinary possibilities and gustatorial delights. This is the world of the secret menu. Restaurants all over America offer off-the-menu items to please their most discerning fans. These concoctions are occasionally created by the restaurant itself, but more often than not, the secret menu items are Frankenstein-like creations made by menu mad scientists who combine elements of other dishes for their own gastronomic pleasure.
This list divulges 30 secret menu items from your favorite food places all over the country. Stacker scoured the internet to find the most unique menu items from fantastic online resources like hackthemenu.com, which is a virtual treasure trove of off-the-menu goodness. Some of these items are ordered on a regular basis from restaurants where the secret menu is more of an unpublished extension of the main menu, while others are fan food fantasies that need to be willed into existence.
To order off-the-menu, the best advice is to be kind and patient with the employee and explain exactly how to construct the dish step-by-step, because sometimes the secret menu is secret even to the staff of the restaurant. Carefully examine this list to stock up on secret menu items—from mix-and-match McDonald’s favorites to a KFC Canadian import that’s perfect after a night at the bars.
Turn everyone’s favorite campfire treat into a S’mores Frappuccino by getting creative with ingredients found in every Starbucks. Start with a Java Chip Frappuccino, then add a pump of Cinnamon Dolce syrup and one of Toffee Nut syrup to create the graham cracker flavor. Blend in whipped cream to act as the marshmallows and the S’mores Frappuccino is ready to go. Starbucks actually offered their own official version of this tasty creation but it’s now discontinued.
In-N-Out is famous for its secret menu which came about because burger fans had to get creative when the only items on the official menu are “Hamburger, “Cheeseburger,” and “Double-Double.” While everyone knows about the Animal-Style Burger, few are aware that fries can also be served Animal-Style just by asking. Animal-Style Fries come topped with a slice of American cheese, grilled onions, and a heaping serving of spread (aka thousand island dressing). Those truly in the know add chopped chilies to seriously amp up the spice level.
Fast casual Mexican chain Chipotle first earned fans by offering tacos and burritos completely tailored to the customer’s preferences. Chipotle super-fans realized that the ultimate in customization was combining two items from Chipotle’s menu: the burrito and the quesadilla. The result is the Quesarito, which can be had for an extra $3.50 by requesting a quesadilla and then opening up the melty treat, filling it with burrito fixings, and then wrapping the whole thing back up like a burrito. A second version, called the Double-Wrapped Quesarito, involves making a two-tortilla quesadilla and using the non-cheesy side of one tortilla as the base for a standard burrito.
Arby’s uses its commercials to proclaim that they have the meats and the Meat Mountain is the perfect secret example of how many meats they have. For $10, the meat gods will offer two chicken tenders, 1.5 oz. of roast turkey, 1.5 oz. of ham, one slice of Swiss cheese, 1.5 oz. of corned beef, 1.5 oz. brisket, 1.5 oz. of Angus steak, one slice of cheddar cheese, 1.5 oz. roast beef, and three half-strips of bacon on a standard Arby’s bun. Unofficial analysis has put the sandwich at 1200 calories and 48 grams of fat, making it a mountain that may be difficult to justify climbing.
No Noodle Pasta
While most of the items on this list veer into high-calorie “Man vs. Food” territory, Olive Garden actually offers a good-for-you option on their secret menu. It’s not a well-known menu hack, but Olive Gardeners can substitute any pasta with vegetables, eliminating the high level of carbohydrates that noodles provide with a much more heart-healthy alternative. The restaurant even recently started offering spiralized vegetable noodles mixed in with traditional pasta recently, but guests can opt for a no-noodle pasta whenever the mood strikes.
Pink Starburst Smoothie
Smoothie chain Jamba Juice prides itself on its customization, so it’s no surprise that it offers a full range of off-menu items. Case-in-point is the Pink Starburst Smoothie, which mimics the flavor of the chewy candy by combining six ounces of lemonade, six ounces of soy milk, one scoop of raspberry sherbet, one scoop of plain sherbet, one scoop of frozen yogurt, two scoops of strawberries, and ice.
Double Grilled Cheeseburger
This Five Guys hack is not listed on the menu, but it’s an incredibly simple tweak that combines two of the world’s favorite sandwiches. Essentially, the Double Grilled Cheeseburger is a cheeseburger that swaps out its bun for two full grilled cheese sandwiches. The result is a gooey, cheesy, beefy mess that’s sure to win over even the toughest of critics.
Frozen Hot Chocolate
Dairy Queen has actually offered Frozen Hot Chocolate as a seasonal and regional specialty item, but there’s an easy way to get this oxymoronic drink at any DQ if you know what to ask for. While the official version combines vanilla soft serve with rich cocoa fudge, ice, and various flavors, the secret menu edition is much simpler. Just ask the employees to take cooled hot chocolate and blend it with ice and any other toppings you crave for a slushy, chocolatey treat.
The Chili’s menu is ever-changing but some items never go out of style at the Tex-Mex chain. One of those items is the Triple Dipper, a make-your-own combination appetizer platter. Most people opt for single orders of three different appetizers, but to get the largest order possible of Chili’s famous Chicken Crispers (their version of chicken fingers) without wasting time on side dishes by ordering the entree version, order triple Original Crispers. The result is nine Crispers and no sides, an 80% increase on the number of Crispers that come in a standard entree order.
The folks at #HackTheMenu describe this Sonic Drive-In specialty as “a heaping pile of Fritos smothered in chili and nacho cheese.” While Sonic doesn’t always have Fritos on the menu (depending on what special items they’re currently offering), they do have chili and nacho cheese, meaning you can pounce on the Frito Pie train whenever those Fritos are in stock. Fans have fallen so hard for the secret menu item that they’ve started a petition to make it permanent.
The Sour Patch Kid
Lovers of Sour Patch Kids candy prize them for being sour then sweet. The Jamba Juice menu hack attempts to replicate the opposing tastes with four types of sherbet (lime, orange, pineapple, and raspberry), plus a scoop of blueberries and lemonade. Be as descriptive as possible to the employee making your beverage, as not everyone who works at Jamba Juice knows how to make every item from the extensive secret menu.
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
This Chick-fil-A secret menu item feels like it should have made the menu a long time ago. The chicken chain already offers a Spicy Chicken Sandwich as well as containers of buffalo sauce for dipping. To create the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, merely pour the buffalo sauce on top of the spicy chicken patty. True buffalo connoisseurs also add crumbled blue cheese (available from the Market Salad) and a dollop of the restaurant’s Garlic and Herb dressing to complete the experience.
Doritos Shell Anything
Taco Bell had a huge hit on its hands when it introduced the Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Taco (and its cousins, the fiery Doritos Locos Taco and the Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco). What most people don’t know is that you can turn anything on Taco Bell’s menu into a Doritos Loco Taco of any variety just by requesting it. For example, the Double Decker Taco Supreme, the MexiMelt, and anything else that involves a hard tortilla can be upgraded to a Doritos Locos version just by asking to sub in the Doritos shell of your choice.
Loaded Grilled Breakfast Sandwich
With Jack in the Box starting to serve breakfast all day, this secret menu item becomes a star not just in the morning but all day long. Take the standard Grilled Breakfast Sandwich which comes with two eggs, two slices of ham, two bacon strips, and two slices of American cheese on Jack’s grilled artisan bread, and start loading it with upgrades like sausage, turkey, fried chicken breasts, burger patties, and whatever else your heart desires. The options are only limited by what your stomach can hold.
100 x 100
The In-N-Out menu is simple but eminently customizable. The Double-Double is two burger patties and two slices of cheese, but that’s just a starting place. The beloved fast food chain will actually build your configuration of burgers and cheese to any quantity—officially, they’re capped at 4x4, but it really all depends on the individual employees tasked with creating your order. The legendary 100x100 was ordered back in the mid-2000s with a price tag of $97.66, but conventional wisdom now holds that you’ll have to order 50 Double-Doubles to achieve the feat manually.
Gingerbread Eggnog Chai
Celebrate the holiday season with a little ho ho ho overload by ordering the Gingerbread Eggnog Chai. It’s a Chai latte (or Frappuccino) spiked with gingerbread syrup and made with eggnog instead of milk. Eggnog is only available during the late fall/early winter holiday season, so plan your schedule accordingly to get a taste of this Yuletide frankendrink.
Chicken Parmesan Sliders
True Italians will roll their eyes at the sacrilegious nature of this dish, but it’s technically possible to make Chicken Parmesan Sliders at White Castle. Order the Chicken Ring Sliders and a separate order of Mozzarella Cheese Sticks. Top the chicken with the mozzarella cheese sticks and the “zesty” marinara sauce that comes with the sticks and mama mia! You’ve got a chicken parm slider.
Many secret menu items involve piling multiple ingredients together to create a monstrosity, and Wendy’s “Barnyard Burger” fits squarely into that rubric. To create The Barnyard, one must take the base sandwich of their choice (the Spicy Asiago Club or Crispy Chicken BLT are good starting points) and add in more protein options—be they burger patties, grilled chicken, bacon, or anything else that’ll increase the total cholesterol level of the sandwich. Once multiple animals are involved, the Barnyard is complete
Superstar Tater Tots
Drive-in throwback Sonic used to sell “Extreme Tots” on their menu, but you can still get them if you put on a smile and ask nicely. The original version included tater tots topped with chili, cheese, jalapenos, onions and ranch dressing. The “Superstar” version can include all of that and more, with the only limit being your imagination. Grab ingredients from any item on the menu (spicy sauerkraut, relish, mozzarella sticks, etc.) and customize at will!
At Canadian KFC’s, poutine, one of Canada’s most sought-after dishes, is regularly available. For those that can’t get up to Quebec for this Canadian specialty made of fries, gravy, and cheese curds, a simple menu hack will bridge the gap between the nations. Order a KFC Famous Bowl, but swap the mashed potatoes for seasoned potato wedges. Get the chicken and corn on the side and what’s left is delicious poutine made from seasoned potato wedges, gravy, and a blend of three shredded cheeses.
Peanut Butter Cup Frappuccino
Making changes to your standard Starbucks is a great way to shake things up, and this Peanut Butter Cup Frappuccino may even become your go-to order. Just add toffee nut syrup to your Mocha Frappuccino and swap soy milk for regular milk. The result is a peanut butter-esque flavor that brings the spirit of your favorite Reese’s candy to your daily coffee.
Chicken and Pancakes
Whataburger is basically Texas’s answer to In-N-Out, and this secret Southern specialty is perfect for anyone craving a savory/sweet combination. The breakfast menu is offered from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m., so this off-menu treat is only available for half the day, but to achieve peak Chicken and Pancakes (a play on the chicken and waffles combination found all over the South), just top an order of pancakes with Whatachick’n Strips. Smother the whole thing in syrup and get ready for a nap.
Pepperoni Pizza Sub
It seems like Subway is always experimenting with new menu options, so it’s not too far a jump to go from the Meatball Marinara to a Pepperoni Pizza Sub. Skip the meatballs and ask for a sandwich with pepperoni as the base meat (you’ll find it on the Italian B.M.T.), a few slices of provolone cheese, and the marinara sauce from the Meatball Marinara. Add in a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and your pizza torpedo is ready to go.
Fast food chain Fatburger can be found in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington and the name does a great job of describing what they offer. For those that are watching their waistlines, there’s The Hypocrite. It’s a veggie burger topped with bacon. Some would say it’s the worst of both worlds, but those people are wrong.
Apple Pie McFlurry
McDonald’s aims to please, and the Apple Pie McFlurry is proof. The ordering process is simple: get a McFlurry and a baked apple pie. Ask the person behind the counter to blend the apple pie into the McFlurry. The result? Magic the likes of which Ronald McDonald has never seen.
Spicy Chicken, Egg, & Cheese Biscuit
The folks at Chick-fil-a are happy to accommodate special requests, so why not request a few slight changes to the menu to make your life better? Start with a chicken, egg, and cheese bagel. Swap the bagel for a biscuit and—the coup de grace—change out the chicken for a spicy chicken patty to get the Spicy Chicken, Egg & Cheese Biscuit you’ve always wanted. The last step involves parading around the dining room to show off your creation, but that’s optional.
Peanut Butter and Bacon Shackburger
Peanut butter? On a burger? Oh yes. Shake Shack admitted to having the burger on their secret menu back in 2017 and fans can have it by ordering a bacon hamburger with a side of peanut butter. Home chefs can even make the burger in their home kitchen with the help of Shake Shack’s very own cookbook.
McDonald’s secret menu is the stuff of legends, and the Land/Sea/Air is one of the shining stars of the off-menu masterpieces at Mickey D’s. It’s a combination of a Quarter Pounder (land), Filet O’Fish (sea), and McChicken (air) to bring three types of protein together in one sandwich. The sauce choice is up to the individual ordering, but Big Mac Special Sauce is probably the best way to go.