Whether you're gluten-free, dairy-free, or vegetarian, everyone should have the option to try Shake Shack. The popular burger chain came out with its first gluten-free burger on December 19th. It's different than In-N-Out's because it's not a lettuce wrap — it's an actual gluten-free bun. I was curious about what Shake Shack's gluten-free burger tastes like, so I tried it for myself. And let's just say, I would not recommend this for a friend with Celiac disease.

ham, sandwich, cheese
Marina Nazario

I'm not gluten-free. Let's get that straight. But I understand the seriousness of Celiac disease as my college roommates are both gluten-free. So when I heard that Shake Shack came out with a gluten-free burger I got excited because I can finally enjoy this amazing burger joint with them. I'm curious about how it compares to the regular bun. Are gluten-free peeps getting the same type of quality? Is cross-contamination an issue at a fast-casual burger joint? Let's find out. 

Just before I head to Shake Shack to wait in its notorious lunch line crowd, I remember that Shake Shack just launched a mobile ordering feature on its app. This will be a great opportunity to test it out.

As I'm looking through its online menu, I realize that it doesn't have a gluten-free bun option on the app. How strange. Shake Shack also claims that its mobile ordering should take no more than 15 minutes. I notice that the earliest pick-up time for an online order is 45 minutes later. I'm forced to walk to Shake Shack and wait in a line that's out the door. I want to see if waiting in this line takes less time than mobile ordering. It's 12:55 pm. Let's see how long this takes.

wine, beer
Marina Nazario

I walk up to the register and ask the lady for one regular bun ShackBurger, and one gluten-free bun ShackBurger. She hesitates when I say gluten-free.

"Do you have an allergy, or do you just want gluten-free?" the employee asks me.

I want to put myself in a true gluten-free person's shoes, so I say I have an allergy. She gives me a skeptical look, then continues to place my order. I notice a sign on the cash register that reads, "Food allergies? Let us know!" 

Finally, the buzzer goes off in my hand and I perk up to grab my order. I look at my watch and notice that it's 1:20 pm — so it does take less time to actually go to Shake Shack than to do mobile ordering. Good to know.

When I pick up my order at the counter, I look into the bag and have one question.

hamburger, lettuce, cheese, bun, sandwich
Marina Nazario

"Which one is the gluten-free burger?" I ask. The burgers are both touching and the non-gluten-free French fries are everywhere. The lady's eyes grow wide and she looks into the bag. After a long inspection she says, "That one." Pointing to the burger at the bottom of the bag. 

"Do you have any allergies?" she asks me again.

"Yes, why? Has this been cross-contaminated?" I reply. 

"Yes, that's inevitable," she says.

cheese, sandwich
Marina Nazario

Shake Shack's gluten-free burger bun looks like two bottom buns — which is a bit unappealing. The gluten-free bun is falling apart and doesn't hold the burger well. I think I need a fork and knife. The actual taste of Shake Shack's gluten-free burger bun is very bland. It lacks the sweetness of the regular bun. 

Although this is a step in the right direction for Shake Shack, it's important to remember that fast-food restaurants are at high risk for cross-contamination. Sure the bun might be gluten-free — but this is a better option for someone who is on a GF diet, rather than for someone with Celiac disease.